The New Frontier

Every January the streets of Park City, Utah become clogged with actors, producers, directors and studio executives in town for the country's most visible showcase for independent film, the Sundance Film Festival. Sundance has long been known for its independent spirit, and this year's featured exhibition demonstrates its ongoing interest in experimental forms of moving image and electronic art. Entitled "New Frontier on Main", the program presents a line-up of installations, screenings and performances by a diverse group of filmmakers and media artists. Chinese video artist Yang Fudong's sublime work, Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest Parts 1-5 (2007) employs traditional Chinese aesthetic and narrative forms to examine the role of the intellectual in China's contemporary ideological landscape. Computer animations by Jennifer Steinkamp and Marina Zurkow present an open-ended meditation on our ever-changing natural landscape. For Mike Kelly (2007), Steinkamp employs her signature wall-to-wall projections to render trees seemingly blown by a multi-directional wind. In Zurkow's works The Poster Children (2007) and Children of the Revolution (2007), pre-pubescent girls wander through a rapidly melting arctic landscape with polar bears and floating piles of discarded electronics. Performance also plays a large role in New Frontiers' offerings. Highlights include a screening of animator Brent Green's signature dark, eerily playful stop-motion animations alongside a live score provided by his band Calitone, as well as a screening of Cory Arcangel and Paper Rad’s Super Mario Movie (2005) accompanied by a live performance. (Unable to attend, Arcangel performed from his home in Brooklyn, live-broadcast from his bed.) The exhibition's impressive roster also includes Doug Aiken, Robert Boyd, Jim Campbell, Cause Collective, Hasan Elahi, Braden King and Shahzad Ismaily, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid and Stephanie Rothenburg & Jeff Crouse- all artists selected by the festival because their work heralds new directions in art and independent cinema. - Caitlin Jones

Image: Jennifer Steinkamp, Mike Kelley, 2007