Focus Group: Screening Room featuring Ed Emshwiller

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 7:00pm9:00pm

Art Building, Room 1.102

Free and Open to the Public

Still from Screening Room with Ed Emshwiller
Still from Screening Room with Ed Emshwiller, 1975

Focus Group is a screening series centered on experimental film in its various formats, including but not limited to 16mm, 8mm, and digital video. Focusing on seminal filmmakers from the past and their contemporary counterparts, the screenings are introduced by artists, filmmakers, critics, and curators who additionally present discussion topics ranging from innovative approaches to the medium to issues in contemporary film culture. Through this exposure to unique and often rare films, as well as the critical dialogue surrounding them, Focus Group enables a broader understanding of the possibilities of cinema.

Screening Room, a 1970s television series that aired in Boston, invited independent filmmakers to screen and discuss their work on a commercial affiliate station (ABC-TV). The unique program, developed and hosted by filmmaker Robert Gardner, gave equal exposure to animation, documentary, and experimental film by artists such as Jean Rouch, Jonas Mekas, Hollis Frampton, Yvonne Rainer, and Michael Snow. Each episode featured conversations with filmmakers about their work, as well as excerpts, and often full-length films. The filmmakers that were presented on the show are now considered among the most influential contributors to their respective genres. Produced and released by Studio7Arts, an organization founded by Robert Gardner to support nonfiction media, the rarely seen Screening Room episodes are still invaluable today to creative thinkers, regardless of what medium they work in.

This spring, as part of the newly branded series, Focus Group, the VAC presents a different episode of Screening Room each month, providing a wide range of anecdotes, explanations, and methodologies from pioneers in film. Videos and films hand-picked by members of Experimental Response Cinema precede each screening.

For February’s edition, the VAC presents the July 1975 episode with Ed Emshwiller. Emshwiller began as an Abstract Expressionist painter and an award-winning science fiction illustrator before becoming a major figure in avant-garde cinema and the experimental film movement of the 1960s and 70s. Becoming a highly respected video artist and dean of the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of the Arts, Emshwiller always looked for ways to push the boundaries of what film and video could be. He was a pioneer of computer-generated video, which combined technology and art. In this episode of Screening Room, Emshwiller screens and discusses the films Chrysalis, George Dumpson's Place, Carol Emshwiller, Thanatopsis, Film With Three Dancers, Scape Mates, and Crossings and Meetings. Preceding the episode, Experimental Response Cinema representative Paul Gansky will screen and discuss the Emshwiller films: Thermogenesis, Transformation, and Sunstone.

Paul Gansky spends his days tacking through the vapor of doctoral work for the Radio-TV-Film Department at The University of Texas at Austin. His evenings are given to dreaming about Bakelite telephones, the effects of bad weather both human and natural upon media, obsolescence, haptics, insanity, and CHiPs. He is the co-editor of Flow, an online journal of media studies, and co-director of The Mad Stork Cinema.

Special thanks to The University of Texas at Austin Fine Arts Library and its staff for supporting the educational mission of the Visual Arts Center through acquisitions of works like Screening Room  

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Experimental Response Cinema is an Austin-based collective of avant-garde film and video artists, devoted to bringing local, national, and international experimental films to Austin screens. They strive to show all media (16mm and 8mm film, digital video, and others) in its original format, under the best possible screening conditions.