MCC and Anthology Film Archives to Host Lines and Nodes: Media, Infrastructure, and Aesthetics

As part of a three-day series of events, the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication will host a symposium on September 19, 2014 exploring the mediated and aesthetic dimensions of extraction and infrastructure. 

In conjunction, Anthology Film Archives will screen 17 films examining the diverse human-made infrastructures that shape almost every aspect of modern life, including: fiber optic systems, CCTV networks, petroleum corridors, border security zones and public transport. With films from eight countries, the series makes adventurous propositions regarding the contemporary global economy, how the Earth’s human era—the anthropocene—has transformed the planet and how filmmakers and artists are making sense of the larger forces involved: security, digitalization, migration and labor. Lines and Nodes is curated by: Chi-hui Yang, Brooke Belisle, Leo Goldsmith, MCC doctoral student Ben Mendelsohn, Sukhdev Sandhu, and MCC Assistant Professor Nicole Starosielski.

The series offers a collection of documentary, essay, animation and experimental films and videos, created from the 1950s to present. D.A. Pennebaker’s classic short film Daybreak Express (1953) follows the path of New York City’s now-defunct Third Avenue elevated subway train. Bernardo Bertolucci’s commissioned documentary The Path of Oil (1964)—rarely-screened and recently restored—traces the route of crude oil as it is shipped from Iran to Europe. The Land of Wandering Souls (1999), by Oscar nominated filmmaker Rithy Panh (The Missing Picture), exposes the back-breaking labor involved in laying Cambodia’s first fiber optic lines. Each of these films suggests news ways of examining patterns of global exchange in one’s own surroundings.

Opening the film series is an evening with Swiss essay filmmaker Ursula Biemann, who for the past twenty years has interrogated global relations amid the accelerated mobility of people, resources and information. Through meticulous studies of oil geographies, irregular human migration zones and regions of environmental crisis, Biemann offers a powerful cinematic template for investigating the unpleasant challenges of 21st century capitalism. Biemann will present four films, including her latest, FOREST LAW, an inquiry into the Ecuadorian Amazon, and the legal status of the tropical forest itself and its relationship to indigenous communities. Three thematic programs of short films — “Lines,” “Circulations,” and “Water” — also feature works by Len Lye, Pat O’Neill, Peter Bo Rappmund, Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, CAMP, Adam Diller, Sarah Christman, Ralph Keene, Hunter Snyder, and Bouchra Khalili.

This project is supported by a grant from the New York University Arts Council, with additional support from the NYU Metropolitan Studies Program; the NYU Asian/Pacific/American Institute; and the NYU Departments of English; Social and Cultural Analysis; and Media, Culture and Communication.

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Please register here for the NYU symposium.

Tickets for the film screening series are available for purchase at Anthology Film Archives.