Yes it's true: so much is happening that I'm falling behind. Without writing about it, I've been writing, editing and submitting various physics papers, coordinating my colleagues taking apart PHOBOS, and preparing for my future. But it doesn't mean I can't try and keep up.
So last night I managed to see an amazing event: the 2nd Annual Benefit Concert for the Film-Maker's Coop at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in the lower east side of NYC. Even besides the event itself, the Orensanz Foundation is an intense place, a barely-converted synagogue built in 1849 that once served as a sculpture studio and now hosts large cultural events like this. The Coop itself is an artist-run organization that keeps a large collection of experimental and avant-garde film, classics of which were shown during the evening.
OK, I say "classics" in an attempt to keep in the spirit of the thing, but the truth is was that this was my real introduction to experimental film. I admit that I grew up watching experimental video installations with my dad, who was a real afficionado of the stuff, but I can't say I've kept up since 1983 (adolescence does that to a guy). However, it turns out that an older post on this blog, where I stumbled on an event display of a heavy ion collison from 1986, attracted the attention of the woman who made the poster including said event, and who runs a recurring film series downtown. She and her colleagues are really interested in the connections between science and film and wanted to collaborate. And so after accepting her invitation to make some kind of presentation at one of their events in January (I usually accept first, and panic later), I decided I better get educated. Thus, she suggested I tag along to this benefit, and there I went. In the meantime, she herself became a blogger - musing about experimental film and beyond: check it out.
So that's how I got there, but I should say a few words about being there, since it was a pretty unbelievable event. Beyond the space itself, which was vast and ornate, and lit in such a way that it felt like daylight was seeping in late in the evening, it was a heavy-duty lineup of avant-garde musicians (this i could vouch for) and filmmakers (which i took on trust, and verified). They had Steve Reich and his ensemble drumming polyrhythmically to a Ken Jacobs film which manipulated old footage of trains, creating a flickering, halting, reversing sequence of images. Then Philip Glass playing solo piano (amazing) to a Harry Smith film (my favorite of the evening, being animations that were colored by hand, frame-by-frame, on the film...). Todd Reynolds performing solo violin (with computer) to a Bill Morrison film, transforming 100+ year old footage of trains running back and forth over the Brooklyn Bridge. Elliot Sharp (shown here on the right) accompanying two Jenn Reeves films, frenetic washes of colors and lines. And so on - there was more than I have the time to describe here - I even left during Lee Ranaldo's piece, since it was a school night. Anyway, if you want to see more you can check out a small set of (unfortunately-blurry) photos here.
But a funny thing happened on the way home. First of all, I managed to catch an F train heading up town. That's pretty funny in itself on a Tuesday night. Then I bumped into some friends of a friend of mine, neiher of whom I had seen for a while. Unusual, and not exactly funny, but a nice surprise. Then we got on the 1 train for the last leg from 96th street uptown: which turned out to be transporting several large, leafy plants to 137th st. I thought that was odd, and funny, as did most of the passengers. MTA - take note.