Cine City: Mark Leckey's "Cinema in the Round"

Artworlders turned out in droves at the Guggenheim this past Wednesday for Mark Leckey's performance-cum-lecture, "Cinema in the Round," the penultimate event in Creative Time's Hey Hey Glossolalia series. Pairing a handsome suit with his blonde, surfer shag, Leckey looked every bit the irreverent orator as he assumed the lectern in the museum auditorium and delivered a refreshingly unorthodox reading of art and cinema history. Of particular importance was the question of how something cinematic may move from a state of "pure horizontality" to that of "pure verticality," which, for Leckey, was analogous to asking how a cinematic image may become an object, sculpture, monument or "beast." James Cameron's Titanic was one of many exemplars of this process, described by Leckey as a "time-travel film" that compressed "the bookends of the 20th century" (the materiality of early industrial manufacturing, the immateriality of late software production and 3D design) and torqued this resulting hybrid around one deceptively small iceberg. At other moments, Leckey's interest in exploring the sculptural and material language of cinema led to his relating Philip Guston's "ham-fisted, meat-and-potatoes" paintings and Georg Baselitz's still-lives of severed feet to skitterish, early Felix the Cat animations and the mass-agglutination aesthetics of music video production company Encylopedia Pictura. Such eclectic sampling would seem haphazard in other hands, but Leckey's familiarity with his source material bolstered its expressive content, and the narrational pliancy he brought to the lecture's structure proved thoughtful and engaging. - Tyler Coburn

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