Portland-based artists Bill Daniel and Vanessa Renwick, of the Oregon Dept. of Kick Ass and Lucky Bum Film Tour, are hitting the road, hauling their latest program of documentary and experimental video up I-5. The duo brings their 90-minute show to the Columbian Theatre at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11. Admission is $5.
"Collectively, the videos on the Heart Attack Island Tour poetically explore reality and redemption," said Renwick, "and offer critical perspectives of life in these times that range from the allegorical to the expository." The show is comprised of single-, double- and triple-projection pieces, and utilizes creative approaches to nonfictional material, such as the juxtaposition of raw archival footage with experimental music.
The program begins with Renwick's "Britton, South Dakota," a mesmerizing eight-minute film constructed solely of haunting portraits of children filmed standing in the street of a desolate town in 1930. Awarded Best Experimental Film by James Benning at the 2003 Northwest Film Festival, the work is made all the more melodramatic by Portland artist Johnne Eschleman's emotive score.
Next is Travis Wilkerson's "National Archives V.1," a daring exercise in agit-prop that utilizes imagery obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, in which gun-camera footage of U.S. bombing runs over Vietnam is disturbingly and poetically juxtaposed with a soundtrack created by Sonic Youth's Jim O'Rourke.
The screening climaxes with Renwick's new 25-minute, three-screen projection piece, "Hope and Prey," which features stunning wildlife cinematography of animals hunting and being hunted. In composing three reels to play side-by-side in a panoramic view, Renwick notes, "The view is like that out in nature, it's a wide landscape where a predator could come at you from anywhere. It is also playing with the fact that predators have eyes on the front of their heads, while prey have eyes on the side of their heads. In this movie, the audience definitely has to keep an eye out for danger." The adrenal-pumping dramatic and sometimes brutal nature cinematography is transformed and elevated through black and white high-contrast recomposition and a hyper-dynamic score by Portland's infamous underground composer, Daniel Menche.
The second part of the program, Bill Daniel's "Ponder Yonder," is a video essay on counter-cultural survival strategies in the post-oil age that is projected onto sails rigged on top of a 1965 Chevy van. The sailvan - a two-masted gaff-rigged schooner built by the filmmaker - functions as tour vehicle, while its sails provide a projection screen for the two-projector video piece. The video is based on the story of Noah's Ark and explores issues of social and ecological collapse as told through interviews with a salty crew of characters that include a homeless street preacher, a punk pirate-styled young woman who builds traditional wooden boats without using electricity, an early 1970s hippie houseboater floating in San Francisco Bay, as well as some urban anchor-outs who live free aboard their boats anchored out in Vancouver's False Creek. The video installation suggests a thematic parallel between the global flood described in the Bible and our current petroleum-based catastrophes.
On why he was motivated to rig sails atop his van, Daniel explained, "I've always wanted to build my own sailboat and escape society. The romance of boatbuilding and sailing seemed the perfect antidote to this ecological anxiety I feel about the fate of the planet. So the closest thing I could manage was to build a boat out of my van and use that as a platform for a video about these impending tribulations. Oil wars, global warming, hi-tech alienation ... all of this stuff I could address with this simple metaphor."
The Columbian Theatre is located at 1102 Marine Drive.