July 14, 2013

MiffOnEdge seeks to blur lines between cinema, stationary arts

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — Visitors to the 16th annual Maine International Film Festival this year can meet at a new location — the intersection of moving pictures and stationary art.

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Karen Young watches a MiffOnEdge presentation of Nam Jun Paik's "Global Groove" from a bean bag chair at the old post office in downtown Waterville on Saturday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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A Maine International Film Festival-goer enters the lobby of the old post office in downtown Waterville on Saturday, as Alejandro Cesarco's "Scrabble" is projected on the wall as part of the MiffOnEdge presentation.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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MiffOnEdge, an installation of experimental video, music and kinetic sculpture, opened Saturday in the old post office building in downtown Waterville.

"A lot of people have preconceived notions of what cinema is or what a moving picture is. Here it's a different kind of moving image than what people are used to experience," Festival Director Shannon Haines said. "There are five video pieces and one mixed-media sculpture; it's the newest part of program."

The pieces are shown in various connecting rooms at the old post office.

Visitors are greeted with a video projection of a Scrabble game on the wall in the old building's domed lobby. In that piece, four sets of hands are seen assembling the tiles quickly to form the names of artists, art historians, theorists and a rock band, challenging the viewer to anticipate the next name.

"What were seeing in MiffOnEdge is a series of explorations of boundaries of how we think of moving images," said Steve Wurtzler, Colby College's director of cinema studies and a member of the Maine Film Center's board of directors. "All of the works here encourage us to think about the moving image in different ways. There's a range, from the quiet and contemplative to the more assaultive, visually."

In the main room of the installation is the 28-minute "Global Groove" by Nam June Paik. The video compilation, shot in 1973, is a collision of sight and sound, celebrating the history of video art, Wurtzler said.

"This is one of the earliest examples of video art," Wurtzler said of the piece. "He originally produced it for a television broadcast for a TV station in New York City. In some ways it explores the state-of-the-art video technology in the early 1970s. The artist was trying to anticipate what TV might be like decades in the future."

The most recent pieces were made by experimental filmmaker Kerry Laitala, who uses digital and analog moving images to show contrasting colors, pulsating light and depth perception to bring the videos up close and personal. Laitala's "Chromadepth Works" are in 3D, and glasses are provided.

In adjoining rooms are pieces by Robin Mandel, including "Motion Studies," in which Mandel uses a device that spins the camera while it is recording images.

Greg Roberts, of Benton, who was visiting the installation with his wife, Laurie, said "Motion Studies" reminded him of a slot machine — three spinning images that suddenly come to a stop.

"This is all very interesting; unexpected," Roberts said after viewing the video art.

"Very creative," Laurie Roberts said. "I like it."

Mandel's works also features a mixed-media sculpture titled "Perennial," in which a single beam of light from the ceiling is fixed on two small mirrors mounted on a revolving platform on the floor, sending moving orbs of reflected light onto the wall.

"The two dots are moving in a kind of dance, to me," Wurtzler said. "It's kind of an abstract film projected on the wall, only it's a film that's the product of a kind of live mechanical performance."

In another room at the old post office is Michael P. Barry's eight-minute video "E.M.I.T — Everything Matters Involving Time," in which a landscape scene is shown from two different timelines, each dissolving into one another to create illusion.

MiffOnEdge is open daily during the film festival from 2 to 9 p.m. Admission is free.

The show also will include a video from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture at 5 p.m. today at Common Street Arts and Kerry Laitala's expanded 16-millimeter cinema performance at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

MiffOnEdge closes with a party featuring music videos by Pam Wise at 9 p.m. July 27, a day before the film festival ends.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Additional Photos

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A Maine International Film Festival-goer watches Kerry Laitala's "Chromadepth Works" at the old post office in downtown Waterville on Saturday.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans


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