This clip of protesters in Bil'in, Palestine dressed as Na'vi from James Cameron's Avatar circulated widely across the internet this week, and that, paired with the recent announcement that Avatar is nominated for 9 Oscars, made me feel that it was about time to present a round-up of the more thoughtful articles I've collected on Avatar. Feel free to post links in the comments section - I'm hoping this post can become a resource for those who might be interested in additional reading concerning the film.
► "Avatar and Invisible Republic" by Rob Horning [From PopMatters]
By coincidence, I began reading Greil Marcus’s Invisible Republic, which in part is about the demise of the 1960s folk movement and Bob Dylan’s role in destroying it after having come to exemplify it. The folkies, in Marcus’s depiction, had the same patronizing attitude toward Appalachian poverty and civil-rights injustices (the Other America, as Michael Harrington dubbed it) that the makers of Avatar seem to evince about colonization. Capitalism sullied and exploited the pure rural people, as clear-headed bourgeois liberals can best recognize. To adherents, folk music (and Avatar) offers us glimpses of pre-capitalist America, a “democratic oasis unsullied by commerce or greed” in which art seems “the product of no ego but of the inherent genius of a people.” The Avatar planet is such a product, for the race occupying it and the film-industry execs who made it.
The substance of this fantasy about indigenous people at harmony with their appropriate environment is the denial of individual subjectivity (the overriding value of the folk revival, according to Marcus), which is rendered unnecessary and impossible. Everyone is at one and merged with one another. Just look at the blue people in the movie sway to the unsounded ...
Below are excerpts from the 1991 VHS compilation of experimental animated shorts Tony Vegas' Animated Acidburn Flashback Tabu.
The current exhibition at Art in General is “Erratic Anthropologies", which features Guy Benfield, Shana Moulton, Rancourt/Yatsuk, and Hong-An Truong, who construct narratives through video and performance that investigate a host of social subcultures (from hippie crafters to failed south Florida housing developers). In collaboration with Performa 09, a special series of performances have been organized to accompany the show. Last Wednesday, November 10, Benfield, Moulton, and Rancourt/Yatsuk performed in temporary environments in the gallery space. They will perform again tonight at 7pm. Rhizome Curatorial Fellow Jenny Jaskey writes about Shana Moulton’s "The Undiscovered Antique."
In a crowded room on Wednesday night, video and performance artist Shana Moulton presented the ninth installment of Whispering Pines, a series in which her alter ego Cynthia relishes the life-changing potential of home décor, beauty routines, and self-help mantras. Cynthia’s obsession in this episode, entitled The Undiscovered Antique, focuses on her journey to confirm the value of personally meaningful domestic artifacts á la The Antiques Roadshow. Moulton’s work is a layering of video, performance, and prop staging that is, in its more effective moments, abstract and dreamlike. In the spirit of Sara Goldfarb minus the amphetamines, Cynthia fantasizes about the transcendental payoff of her kitsch consumer fetishes, which include a head massager and footbath. Moulton achieves this sense of escapism by fully integrating her character into a two-dimensional digital landscape: projected objects move in choreographed syncopation with Cynthia’s body, sometimes appearing to control its movement or color its surface.
Moulton’s work makes us particularly attuned to the social structure surrounding its protagonist through its exaggerated and fragmented representation of Cynthia’s environment. It uses this fiction as a means for creating a kind of framed anthropological analysis ...
There seems to be an unshakable division of labor between two of our major senses. 'Sight and Sound' and 'Audio and Visual,' are often paired as binary opposites, understood both as semantically and biologically distinct yet totally interdependent. “See This Sound,” an exhibition currently on view at the Lentos Museum in Linz, Austria, delves deeply into this co-dependent relationship. Far from another "art and music" show, the exhibition looks at numerous cultural, metaphysical, biological and neurological explorations of these senses - and how artists have mined them for decades. By highlighting their distinct and convergent streams of influence, “See This Sound” uses sight and sound as a metaphor for similar divisions and dependencies between "visual," "sound" and "media" art.
cfp: Online interactive works in the Digital Humanities
Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Technical Coordinator