From an early age, fairy tales enter our lives and shape our view of the world. The classics like “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel” and “Beauty and the Beast” help to build literacy and expand our imagination. But young children aren’t the only…
Urban Video Project Opens 2022 With ‘No Emoji for Ennui’ Group Exhibition and Related Screening
Light Work’s Urban Video Project (UVP) presents “No Emoji for Ennui,” a group exhibition featuring the work of filmmakers Lana Z Caplan, Ross Meckfessel, Alison Nguyen and Matt Whitman. The installation will be on view from Jan. 27-March 26 at UVP’s outdoor projection site on the north facade of the Everson Museum of Art at 401 Harrison Street, Thursday through Saturday, from dusk until 11 p.m.
“No Emoji for Ennui” explores the difficult-to-define emotional tenor of our time—one that often leaves us overstimulated and underwhelmed at the same time it demands endless positivity. The seductive surface of the touchscreen shatters and the polygon meshes underlying our shared social reality peek out from under the digital skin.
What does it feel like to be a person in a world in which our sense of self has been thoroughly disoriented by technological entanglement and co-opted by neoliberal capital?
By turns unsettling, contemplative, humorous and filled with existential dread, the resulting show is a collective selfie of who and what we are now.
Along with the exhibition, UVP will host a free screening of the “No Emoji for Ennui” program, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m. ET.
For those unable to attend in person, we will offer the screening a second time as a livestream on Thursday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. ET. “No Emoji for Ennui” is the second exhibition in the UVP 2021-22 season, titled “It’s Not a Bug, It’s the Future.” More information is available at lightwork.org/uvp
Plaza Projection Schedule
- Jan. 27-Feb 5: Lana Z Caplan,”Autopoiesis”
- Feb. 10-19: Ross Meckfessel, “Estuary”
- Feb. 24-March 5: Alison Nguyen, “My Favorite Software Is Being Here”
- March 10-19: Matt Whitman, “CAN’T ANSWER YOU ANYMORE (ON FACES)” and “HOW MUCH LONGER”
- March 24-26: combined loop
About the Film and Artist Biographies
In order of exhibition screening schedule:
Lana Z Caplan, “Autopoiesis”
2017 | 7:15
#aerialskiers #PyeongChangWinterOlympics #divers #LeniRiefenstal #Olympia #OpticalIllusions #SpeculativelyGeneratedOuterSpace #SelfHypnosis #SunRa #SpaceIsThePlace #4ECognition #AssaultByHashtags #MeToo #BlackLivesMatter #StillMarching #GiletJaune #Brexit #IdeasofUtopia #AfroFuturism #HashtagActivism #YouAreASystem #ConstantlyBuffeted #Maintain #LoveWins
Lana Z Caplan works across various media, including single-channel films and videos in essay form, interactive installations, video art and photography. Her work is inspired by notions of utopia and the relationship of the present to history and memory. Caplan has exhibited and screened at Anthology Film Archives (New York), Antimatter Film Festival (Victoria, British Columbia), Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City), Chicago Underground Film Festival, CROSSROADS Film Festival, IC Docs (Iowa City), Inside Out Art Museum (Beijing), Microscope Gallery (New York), Moving Image Festival (Scotland), Museo Tamayo, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival and San Francisco Cinematheque’s Alchemy Film. Caplan’s work is represented by Gallery NAGA (Boston) and her films are distributed by Collectif Jeune Cinéma (Paris) and Filmmaker’s Cooperative (New York).
Ross Meckfessel, “Estuary”
2021 | 12:00 | 16mm stereo sound
When you question the very nature of your physical reality it becomes much easier to see the cracks in the system. “Estuary” charts the emotional landscape of a time in flux. Inspired by the proliferation of computer-generated social media influencers and the growing desire to document and manipulate every square inch of our external and internal landscapes, Meckfessel considers the ramifications of a world where all aspects of life are curated and malleable. As time goes on, all lines blur into vector dots.
Ross Meckfessel is an artist and filmmaker who works primarily in Super 8 and 16mm film. His films often emphasize materiality and poetic structures while depicting the condition of modern life through an exploration of apocalyptic obsession, contemporary ennui and the technological landscape. His work has screened internationally and throughout the United States, including in the Antimatter Film Festival (Victoria, British Columbia), IC Docs (Iowa City), Internationales Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg, New York Film Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque’s CROSSROADS Film Festival, The Artifact Small Format Film Festival (awarded best 16mm film) and Toronto International Film Festival.
Alison Nguyen, “My Favorite Software Is Being Here”
2020-21 | 19:47
A collaboration between Nguyen and a machine learning program created with Achim Koh, Andra8 is a simulacral subaltern created by an algorithm and raised by the internet in isolation in a virtual void. From the apartment where she has been “placed,” Andra8 works as a digital laborer, surviving off the data from her various “freemium” jobs as virtual assistant, data janitor, life coach, aspiring influencer and content creator. As she multitasks throughout the day, Andra8 is monitored and surveilled, finding herself overwhelmed by a web of global client demands. Something begins to trouble Andra8: Her life depends on her compulsory consumption and output of human data—or so she’s been told. Andra8 explores the implications of such an existence, and what happens when one attempts to subvert them.
Alison Nguyen is a New York City-based artist whose work spans video, installation, performance and new media. Her screenings include Ann Arbor Film Festival, Channels Festival International Biennial of Video Art, CPH:DOX, Edinburgh International Film Festival, e-flux, International Film Festival Oberhausen, Microscope Gallery, Open City Documentary Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque’s CROSSROADS Film Festival and True/False Film Festival. Nguyen’s residencies and fellowships include BRIC, the International Studio & Curatorial Program, The Institute of Electronic Arts, Signal Culture, Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center, and Vermont Studio Center. Her grant awards include the Foundation for Contemporary Art, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and The New York Community Trust. In 2018, Filmmaker Magazine featured Alison Nguyen in their 25 New Faces of Independent Film. In 2021, she received a NYFA/NYSCA Artist Fellowship in Video/Film.
Matt Whitman, “CAN’T ANSWER YOU ANYMORE (ON FACES)”
2019 | 2:19 | Super8 film transferred to video | Silent | Color
Matt Whitman, “HOW MUCH LONGER (ON BALLONS)”
2019 | 2:27 | Super8 film transferred to video | Silent | Color
These poetically elliptical, darkly humorous pieces feature extreme close-ups of the detritus of online interaction—emojis, gifs—shot on Super8 film. This medium’s low resolution and prominent film grain defamiliarize the textureless screen images while out-of-sync framerates create a fluttering, off-kilter vision of the present as future past.
Matt Whitman is a New York City-based artist working with moving images, photography, installation, writing and performance. He has exhibited and screened his work widely at such sites as 8 fest (Toronto), Anthology Film Archives (New York City), Brooklyn Film Festival (New York City), Ethan Cohen Gallery (New York City), La MaMa (New York City), SF Cinematheque (San Francisco), The Front (New Orleans), The Kitchen (New York City), The Lab (San Francisco) and Unexposed Microcinema (Durham, North Carolina). He has taught at Parsons School of Design since 2014.
Additional Works Featured in the Screening and Q&A Events
Tulapop Saenjaroen, “People on Sunday”
Thailand | 2020 | 20:53
“People on Sunday” is a reinterpretation, a response and an homage to the 1930 German silent film, “Menschen Am Sonntag.” However, this response arises from a different context, different country, different era and different working conditions. “People on Sunday” comprises episodic stories of moving-image-related workers who work in the same performance-art-video project about free time.
Tulapop Saenjaroen is an artist and filmmaker currently based in Bangkok, Thailand. His recent works investigate the correlations between image production and production of subjectivity, as well as the paradoxes intertwining control and freedom in late capitalism. In combining the genres of narrative and the essay film, he explores subjects such as tourism, self-care and free labor. Saenjaroen received an M.F.A. in fine art media from The Slade School of Fine Art and an MA in aesthetics and politics from California Institute of the Arts.
Saenjaroen has exhibited and screened his work internationally at sites including 25FPS (Zagreb, Croatia), Asia Culture Center (Gwangju, Korea), Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival, CROSSROADS at SFMOMA, FICVALDIVI (Chile), Harvard Film Archive, Images Festival (Toronto), International Film Festival Rotterdam, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Locarno Film Festival, Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Museum of the Moving Image (New York City), Open City Documentary (London) and Seoul International New Media Festival.
Support for this exhibition comes from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the New York State Legislature. The related event is co-sponsored by the Syracuse University School of Art Visiting Artist Lecture Series.