Columbia Global Centers | Paris, 4 rue de Chevreuse, 75006 Paris
Intra-. Infra-. Ultra-. Auto-. Four prefixes designating four positions, or situations, in relation to the visible, sensible world. Four beginnings that announce some of the various impulses traversing this selection of video works by G. D. Cohen. In one sense, the pieces presented here describe four modest ventures in “experimental cinema,” broadly construed, each paying its homage—whether subtle or explicit—to certain touchstones in a long tradition: Frampton, Beydler, Akerman, Scheugl, Benning.
The tools and the aims that give rise to these works, however, are decidedly concerned with the present. Small works of “portable cinema” and restrained essays in audio-visual attention, Cohen’s videos arise from a conviction in the capacity of recorded sounds and moving images to “exercise the sensorium.” As such, they seek to activate and cultivate the distinctly human faculties of perception that allow us to locate and recognize ourselves in the material world. One suspects it is a goal devised with the tacit sense that everything in our media-saturated milieu today seems intent on diminishing, if not abolishing, those very faculties.
Four prefixes, then, four intimations of the positions one might assume with respect to places and objects: as landscape, as infrascape, as mnemoscape, as autoscape. In each of the pieces presented here, what emanates from or revolves around the self, or the same, stands either in concert or in tension with the material world, its discrete locales, its inscrutable sounds, its contortions of time and recollection, its myriad and merciless erasures.
To be sure, a finite, corporeal sensorium—a body that sees and hears and records—does reside somewhere near the center or near the edges of these works. Yet this homo sentiens may be scarcely more than a prefix itself, an appendage to the tangible places and ineffable moments it sets out to render in moving images and recorded or appropriated sounds. If certain, diverse topoi perhaps emerge as the objects or the effects of these videos—territories or regions at once external to and indivisible from the ego or the cogito—none, it would seem, can truly be comprehended but from within, from beneath, from beyond, simultaneously. Intra-. Infra-. Ultra-. Auto-.
—Vadig de Croehling,
Founding Director, REASArch
(group for Research in Experimental Accumulation and Speculative Archives
G. D. Cohen (https://reasarch.com) is an artist and scholar of visual culture living in Los Angeles, California (USA). His work in video, photography, and multi-media installation draws on a wide range of interests, from urbanism, landscape, and aesthetic philosophy to cultural memory, experimental archives, and the intersections of art and politics. Recent exhibitions include the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art; the Videoholica International Video Art Festival, Varna, Bulgaria; the Cairo Video Festival, Medrar for Contemporary Art, Cairo, Egypt; the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (USA); and the Institute of Cultural Inquiry in Los Angeles. Among Cohen’s major ongoing projects is The Valaco Archive, a multi-media, speculative archive that continues to evolve at https://valacoarchive.com. Cohen currently lectures on Latin American cinema and visual culture at the University of California, Los Angeles, and serves as Associate Programmer for Los Angeles Filmforum, one of North America’s longest-running screening series for experimental film and video. Since 2012, Cohen has also worked as Co-Curator of The Festival of (In)appropriation, an annual, international showcase of experimental found-footage film and video.
Phillip John Usher is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at New York University. He is the author, translator, or editor of six volumes, most recently Epic Arts in Renaissance France published by Oxford University Press in 2014. His work has appeared in places such as MLN, Diacritics, and elsewhere. His current research focuses on the interplay of early modern literature and the Anthropocene, an intellectual sandbox he calls the 'Humanist Anthropocene'. He is also interested in, and has published on, modern film and contemporary art."