Friday June 19, 7:30pm
Not Always Funny – Moving Image works on Humor
Jeremy Bailey, Jennifer Chan, Adán De La Garza, Mike Flemming, LJ Frezza, Sebastian Haslauer, William Lamson, Kim Laughton, Hanne Lippard, Jodie Mack, Jesse McLean, Jonathan Monaghan, Eva and Franco Mattes, and Guy Ben Ner
curated by Nicholas O’Brien
admission $7 – several artists in attendance

Still from Kim Laughton’s VOLUMETRIC EMOTION (2013) – image courtesy of the artist

Microscope welcomes Nicholas O’Brien to the gallery as curator of  “Not Always Funny – Moving Image works on Humor” featuring film, video, animation ad performance works by Jeremy Bailey, Jennifer Chan, Adán De La Garza, Mike Flemming, LJ Frezza, Sebastian Haslauer, William Lamson, Kim Laughton, Hanne Lippard, Jodie Mack, Jesse McLean, Jonathan Monaghan, Eva and Franco Mattes, and Guy Ben Ner. With this program O’Brien reminds us that the words funny and humor are not always interchangeable and asserts that the range of emotional responses that humor can generate extends “beyond a knee jerk reaction to a punchline”.  

“Though many works in this screening are conventionally witty, funny, and joyful, they are also thoughtful in how they create empathy with viewers. For instance, placing Guy Ben Ner’s Soundtrack (a playful reenactment of a scene from a blockbuster movies with family and friends) alongside Jesse McLean’s Somewhere Only We Know (a found footage film playfully looking at the blurry lines between sincere and artificial drama of reality television) begins to outline a spectrum of humor that doesn’t solely rely on a quick laugh.” – Nicholas O’Brien

Nicholas O’Brien is a net-based artist, curator, and writer. His work has exhibited in Mexico City, Berlin, London, Dublin, Prague, among others as well as throughout the US. He has been the recipient of a Turbulence Commission funded by the NEA and has curated exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, 319 Scholes, and Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology. As a contributor to Rhizome at the New Museum, SFAQ, and Bad at Sports, he has been recently recognized as a leading voice within contemporary art by ArtFCity, PULSE art fair, and Artsy. His work has also appeared or featured in ARTINFOThe Brooklyn RailDIS magazineFrieze d/eThe Atlantic, and The New York Times. Recently he has completed a video essay for BOMB magazine, an online commission for Essex Flowers, and published an interactive narrative for NewHive.


Adán De La Garza (US)
Unfolding Confetti (11 sec), Shirt Clips (17 sec), Rat Traps (36 sec) (in playing order, throughout screening)
2012, Performance For Video

“Arising from my investigations into the social and political implications of audio deterrents, sonic weaponry, and noise music I have inserted myself into these videos involving chance and non-musical objects which generate sound for duration-based compositions. The props employed for the performances were selected for their sonic qualities or ability to produce sound through their usage.”  – Adan De La Garza

Jodie Mack (US)
Rad Plaid (4:45)
2010, 16mm Animation, w/ Live Sound recorded

Rad Plaid: a series of chromatic intersections, a celebration of cinematic togetherness, an exercise in endurance. Audience members form two teams, each vocalizing either “rad” to horizontal lines and “plaid” to vertical lines. The sonic arc rests in the diaphragms of the spectator; the more energy, the empowering the experience.

Sebastian Haslauer
Ways to Feel Better, Episode 18: Conquer Authority (2:00)
2012, Performance for Video

The globally connected youth, cool Berliners, hip Parisians, the digital Bohème and the urban working class, they suffer. Worn down between efficiency-optimized working-mania and job- search, designed ego and the first loss of hair, they donʼt see the real estate bubble bursting, but rather their own dreams. Always hip, free and self-fulfilled and on top of that: super-successful, health insured and with additional private pension insurance. That doesn‘t really work. The question is: how misty-eyed is our self-awareness due to capitalistic processes already? Do our lives have to fit the ideals of others all the time? Did I invite the right people to my birthday party? And finally how could I forget to meet my granny whilst being occupied with my ego fitness track?

LJ Frezza (US)
Nothing (6:27)
2014, Digital Video

Every shot from Seinfeld (1989-1998) where nothing happens. A video about buildings, walls, and doors – and a response to everyone I met in New York who said they’d love the city if only there weren’t so many people in it.

Mike Fleming            
Hair Flip (The End of Authentic Gestures) (video documentation, :35)
2014, 20′ x 6′ x 8′, mannequin head, pvc, steel base, plastic barrel, pneumatics, air compressor, vinyl backdrop, backdrop stands, microcontroller
In this kinetic sculpture, an ocean sunset backdrop frames a blue barrel and a steel stand. Once every 5 minutes, a female mannequin head comes whooshing out of the barrel-­‐ her hair trailing water-­‐ and whips back. Her hair creates an arc of water, which instantly disappears… This is a recreation of a photographic meme known as a hair flip, in which bikini clad females whip their heads out of the ocean water at sunset while a photographer tries to capture the arc of water before it disappears.

Jesse McLean (US)
Somewhere Only We Know (5:12)
2009, Digital Video

What can a face reveal? Balanced between composure and collapse, individuals anxiously await their fate.

Jonathan Monaghan (US)
Rainbo Narcosis (9:00)
2012, Computer Animated HD film

Rainbow Narcosis is a 9 minute computer animation following a headless lamb through a series of otherworldly environments. With a visual style that shifts between photo-realism and video games, the work highlights the increasing disconnect between what’s real and what’s mediated. From the Palais Garnier to an art-filled modernist loft, the subject matter references wealth and power, while maintaining an unsettling ambiguity.

Kim Laughton (UK)
Volumetric Emotion (2:07)
2013, Digital Animation

“In this short work audiences traverse a variety of collaged contexts and scenarios where avatars placidly cycle through prefabricated animation cycles. These “default” idle expressions show a cast of characters lost and isolated in their own repetitive banal environment. Though sequenced together these empty vessels seem part of a rich open-world where the strange juxtapositions of animals, brands, and landscape seem commonplace.” – Nicholas O’Brien

Jennifer Chan
[[[ I’ll Show U HD ]]] (3:13)
2012, Digital Video

“A-Z in new media.” – Jennifer Chan

Eva and Franco Mattes (Italy / US)
No Fun (15:34)
2010, Online Performance

No Fun (2010) is the edited video of an online performance in which we simulated a suicide and filmed viewers’ reactions. It is staged on a popular website that pairs random people from around the world for webcam-based conversations. Thousands watched Fraco hanging from the ceiling, swinging slowly for hours, without knowing whether it was real or not. They unwittingly became the subject of the work.

William Lamson (US)
Emerge (2:12)
2007, Digital Video

“Emerge is a meditative video of simplicity and wonder. Balloons surface mysteriously from a placid body of water, although how they got under the depths is beyond the comprehension of the audience. As they float away downstream, a quiet yet solemn tone washes over the screen.” – Nicholas O’Brien

Hanne Lippard
Beige (6:05)
2010, Digital Video

Lippard’s practice explores the voice as a medium. Her education in graphic design informs how language can be visually powerful; her texts are visual, rhythmic, and performative rather than purely informative, and her work is conveyed through a variety of disciplines such as film, audio and performance. Since 2010 she lives and works in Berlin, and she is the recipient of the Ars Viva Prize, Association of Arts and Culture of the Germany Economy at the Federation of German Industries, for 2016.

Jeremy Bailey
The Future of Television (4:10)
2012, Performance for Video

Created on the occasion of Random Acts: Artist Interventions into Broadcast. Commissioned by Omar Kholeif for FACT, Liverpool and Liverpool Biennial in partnership with Channel 4 and Arts Council England.

Guy Ben Ner (Israel)
Soundtrack (11:33)
2013, Digital Video

In Soundtrack (2013) an epic narrative is subversively domesticated; Ben Ner, his family and friends re-enact eleven minutes of Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds”. Tom Cruise’s dysfunctional yet heroic father protecting his children from the world-conquering aliens is recalibrated sound for sound by Ben Ner, whose own drama is set in his family’s apartment in Tel Aviv. Small kitchen disasters of exploding blenders and stoves, broken bottles, flying fried eggs and falling toys are a stand-in for the extraterrestrial horror story, occasionally punctuated by real-life video footage of the Israeli-Lebanon and Palestinian conflicts streaming on the family laptop. Heroic and pathetic gestures are forever intertwined as we are left with the question which of the movies is more real. “In the end you have two movies, like Siamese twins, sharing one and the same organ: The Sound. Needless to say, one of the twins is a thief. The other- a property owner.” (Guy Ben Ner).

Still from Jesse McLean’s Somewhere Only We Know (2009) – image courtesy of the artist

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