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Home Opening Photos NIGHT VISION: Experimental Cinema Series

NIGHT VISION: Experimental Cinema Series
Written by Caitlin Denny   
Tuesday, 17 June 2008 06:19
Caitlin heads over to The Climate Theatre for a Tommy Becker performance.

NIGHT VISION: Experimental Cinema Series
presents
Tommy Becker

@ The Climate Theatre, 285 9th St @ Folsom
June 8th, 2008


Every 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, Jen Cohen, Kaliisa Conlon, and Brendan Leonard curate Night Vision at The Climate Theatre in SoMA. Each show is different, ranging from solo performances, to group exhibitions. Night Vision is both a heroic and modest showcase of the best new media and film work in the bay area.

I knew about Tommy Becker. And how strange he seemed. My first encounter with Mr. Becker's work goes back to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts exhibition Bay Area Now 4 back in 2005. His video Animal Animal, in which Becker repeats the phrase "animal animal" (among others) had become a catch phrase between my mister and I, lingering on into present day:

(awkward silence)
animal animal
(gleeful giggling)

He had had an effect on my life, in a minute yet interesting way. I saw him perform live with his videos for the first time at the Pacific Film Archive in 2007. Mr. Becker's form lurching in the darkness over his microphone, ready to attack the next line was better than I had ever expected. With odd poetic insights and fragmented narratives that suggest nostalgia and reform all at once, Tommy Becker's videos and performances are unique endeavors into the melancholia of happiness.

Upon arriving to the Climate Theatre, I spotted my friends and curators of Night Vision, Kaliisa Conlon and Brendan Leonard. Kaliisa, also the bartender of the evening, gave me a beer as I wandered around.

image1.jpg

'sup sluts!

The theatre walls are painted black like the inside of Rivers Cuomo's room between Weezer's blue and green albums, but thankfully they had some bitchin' chandeliers to perk up the mood (and to make sure nobody writes music like that again!)

image2.jpg

don't fall on me

I took some awful pictures and then sat down. A few more people meandered on into the room as Brendan said hello to us all.

image3.jpg

bona fide host

Mr. Becker then handed out strange little three fingered gloves that he promised we'd use later on. He told us we could wear them or simply put them in our laps, or do whatever we wanted with them. I slipped mine onto my hand.

image4.jpg
gimme
image5.jpg
Kaliisa is happy that her hand is blue!

The lights went dim and the videos began. Mr. Becker stood next to the screen with his amp and microphone, ready to recite or talk-sing the next line. One of my favorite videos of the evening was Bobby XP1 about a robot who walks around a neighborhood befriending people. Becker uses crude and pixelated drawings that look like they're straight from a foreign language text book as his characters. I found this piece especially amusing and laughed through the whole thing, however, I laugh like a monkey, so I am sorry to anyone I bothered.

image6.jpg
"Hello, my name is Bobby XP1, what is your name? You have a pretty chair. What are you doing? Why is your neck funny? You have a funny neck? Are you sad? Are you a sad lady? Don’t cry, don’t cry sad lady. AHHHHHH, AHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. My name is Bobby XP1. Why won’t you talk to me? You are sad lady. You are working with your hands. Sad lady, with funny neck, works with hands. Could I bring you a tissue to capture your tears in? Those are bad words. You shouldn’t say things like that. I’d like to stay, but it’s getting late."

Animal Animal, another highlight of the evening, consists of all black and white images of animals, babies and politicians. The piece seemed to be making a double meaning of the word animal, one of the creatures that roam the earth, and one of the masses in the "assembly line of life".

image7.jpg

The best part of the show was sparked by the video Color Glove Exercises 1-3 . Three men wearing the same blonde wig, dressed in black, in a black room, are given instructions on what to do with their glove. They each follow the instructions and then join hands. Tommy Becker told us all to look in our gloves to find our own instructions (mine was: climb a robe while shivering), to follow them, and then join hands when the time felt right. I got very into climbing and shivering!

image8.jpg
I translated the directions into fragments of experiences and emotions put together to form another version of reality. The gloves themselves reminded me of early virtual reality games with sensored mits.

Sadly, that was the end of the performing. Becker showed a more recent piece titled 1, 2, 3 Solution which deals with the temporality of life and the moments within it. Becker experiments more with music in this piece, which I felt was successful in it's attempt to engage the viewer and transport them into a lush world that could end at any second.

image9.jpg
During a moment of musical genius

I was confused as to why more people didn't show up seeing as Tommy Becker is not only extremely entertaining and full of unique poetics, but is also a rising star in the art world - and strangely enough, a high school teacher.

image10.jpg
waving!

I went outside and waited on the corner of 9th and Folsom for my boyfriend to pick me up in his '99 chevy cavalier. As I was thinking about the evening, a man named Dwayne came up to me to introduce himself and tell me how he'd kiss my hand everyday. Thanks Dwayne! Thanks Tommy!

image12.jpg
he told me to remember his face

Visit www.tommybecker.com to view all of his videos! And don't forget to go to the next NIGHT VISION event:
June 22nd, 2008, 8pm
Climate Theatre
285 9th St @ Folsom

{moscomment}

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contact FF

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