Monday July 31, 7:30pm
Kerry Laitala: Conjured Pictures
Films, video & live performance
Followed by Q&A w/ the artist

Kerry Laitala_1
Still from “Conjuror’s Box” by Kerry Laitala (2011) – Image courtesy of the artist

Microscope is very pleased to welcome San Francisco-based artist Kerry Laitala to the gallery for an evening of her 16mm films, the New York premieres of a new video City Blights as well as a 16mm film performance in three parts titled Astro Trilogy.

Engaged with the alchemical properties of film and pre-cinematic approaches to making, activating and altering images, Laitala’s works in the program – completed between 2000 and 2017 – often present uncanny abstract compositions of fast-moving and mesmerizing colors combined with found or original footage. Each formal intervention stems from a precise conceptual underpinning: in Conquered, cracks of light and emulsion against a dark background evoke the snow covered boy of Everest mountaineer George Mallory; in Orbit the mis-registered images caused by a lab mistake are intensified through an optical printing process; and the visual elements of Conjuror’s Box are impressed onto the filmstrip through photogram techniques hinting at the early magical ties and illusory machinery of cinema.

With sound by Wobbly, Laitala’s latest multi-projector film performance Astro Trilogy consists of three thematic sections: Velvet of Night with imagery drawn from ancient astronomy, Chromatic Wheels inspired by the history of early public lighting and the choreographed spotlight shows by Walter D’Arcy Ryan, and The Kali of Technology in which intensely merge “female-energy-infused” images.

The artist, who has been working with moving image since the 90s, today has a quite large and unique body of work comprised of videos, installations, expanded cinema performances, and a series of hybrid film/video investigations of Chromadepth 3D technology.

Laitala will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the screening.

General admission $8
Members and students w/ ID $6


Kerry Laitala is a media archaeologist whose works spans the territories of photography and expanded cinema performances to 3D single channel videos and sculptural installation. Laitala’s work synthesizes ideas and ephemera from the realms of science, history, and technology. Laitala has won two Golden Gate Awards from the San Francisco International Film Festival, was awarded the Princess Grace Award for film in 1996 and PGF’s Special Grant in 2004, 2007, 2015 and 2016. She studied photography and film at the Massachusetts College of Art and received her Master’s degree in film from the San Francisco Art Institute. She lives and works in San Francisco, CA.


16mm, sound, 2000, 15 minutes

“Collaged entirely at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, this film comes from the depths of a submerged self. Elements include found material from a German industrial film about a youth prison, a British mountaineering documentary, and my own footage. The mountain film “The Epic of Everest” condenses an attempt to reach the ultimate summit by George Mallory and Sandy Irvine in 1924. 53 years later, Mallory’s body was discovered below the North face. Killed after a fall, his innards were subsequently eaten out by Goraks. I used this Everest imagery to portray a frozen, catatonic state analogous to the darkness and the snow-covered quietude of the Schloss Solitude. Cracking the emulsion yielded a fragile, encumbered palate- a veritable testament to the forces of organic catalysts in motion.” – KL

Out of the Ether
16mm, sound, 2004, 11 minutes

“Brilliant found-footage film about extraterrestrial aliens, fear and microbes.” – International Film Festival Rotterdam

“Out of the Ether re-assembles disquieting images from decades-old hygiene and science films, merging them with the filmmaker’s own Bolex camerawork. It was re-photographed on the optical printer, toned and tinted to bring out pulsating hues of oozing greens and yellows.” – KL

16mm, live sound, 2006, 9 minutes

“Candy apple light emissions filmed at a Topsham, ME fair create a series of photic stimulating events that tickle the retinas. Orbit takes one into the realm of the mistake…. a playful pulsation of mis-registered images made when a lab accidentally split the film from 16mm to regular 8. This format was then reconstituted on the optical printer making the colors and contrast further blow out into the atmosphere. Kodachrome color fields create tremulous vibrations whose flickerings hypnotize. The hand-made soundtrack is comprised of the flutterings of optical noise reverberating to the splices of the film, intermixed with extensions of the visual plane onto the soundtrack area. Crackle! Pop! We enter through the oval window, while the Gravitron spins eternally.” – KL

Conjuror’s Box
35mm transferred to Digital, silent, 6 minutes, 2011

“…[Conjuror’s Box] uses an amalgam of techniques in its evocation of the shadowy beginnings of cinema. Sinuous abstractions (and a few recognizable objects) are photogrammed directly onto a filmstrip, then step-printed to introduce variations in tempo and bring emphasis to certain chance formations, as Stan Brakhage did with some of his hand-painted films. The striking colors of these photograms led me briefly to wonder what they would look like through the chroma-depth glasses used to view Laitala’s video works, but there was already so much apparent depth to the image that it wouldn’t be worth hazarding its filmic texture. Conjuror’s Box is soon augmented with fanciful images suggestive of magic lantern slides (that is perhaps what they are) inserted into the masked-off center of the frame, while in the periphery the film roils on as before.” – Carl Martin, Film on Film Foundation

City Blights
single-channel video, sound, 2017, 5 minutes

“San Francisco, penned in on three sides by sea, has recently been subject to a frenzy of vulture capital and technological speculation. Hand-in-hand has come the decimation of grassroots arts entities like galleries, studios, and theatres, not to mention the wholesale evictions of artists, musicians, and performers of all stripes. City Blights provides an expressionistic inquiry into the changing landscape of a once-Bohemian epicenter, inspired in part by the writings of Rebecca Solnit.” – KL

Astro Trilogy
expanded cinema performance in three parts, sound, 2016, 29 minutes
sound by Wobbly

Part 1: Velvet of Night – 16mm looper, 12 minutes
Part 2: Chromatic Wheels – 16mm, 11 minutes
Part:3 Kali of Technology – 16mm, 3 loops, 6 minutes

“Kerry Laitala looks to the heavens for inspiration for her latest trichotomous tri-projector triumph, the Astro Trilogy. She unveils the cosmic patterns we’ve envisaged our mythologies into, simulates the spectacles with which we’ve dared to decorate Uranus’ cloak, and summons the goddess of endless night to bring us into ecstatic realms with pulsations of luteal lubriciousness.” – Brian Darr

Total Running Time: 75 minutes

Still from “Orbit” by Kerry Laitala (2006) – Image courtesy of the artist

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