Vs. at the Latvian House

Earlier this year, I ran into Alissa Firth-Eagland and Gareth Long on Queen St, and I witnessed an handover. She had just given him a video tape, which he in turn was to give to Jeremy Drummond. The ultimate result was seen on Saturday night at the Latvian House (491 College St), the Pleasure Dome screening of a 640480 production called Vs.

The 640480 collective (whose members are Jeremy Bailey, Patrick Borjal, Shanan Kurtz, Phil Lee, Jillian Locke, and Gareth Long) had a great idea, have one video-art-star shoot something, and have another edit it. The screening consisted the pairings between

Benny Nemerofsky-Ramsay vs. Copper Batersby,
Vollrath (Conan Romanyk) vs. Daniel Borins
Steve Reinke vs. Jubal Brown
Emily vey Duke vs. Daniel Cockburn
Tom Sherman vs. Tasman Richardson
Will Munro & Jeremy Laing vs. Aleesa Cohene
Alissa Firth Eagland vs. Jeremy Drummond
Steve Kado vs. Kika Thorne

I think it's fair to say that the match up between Alissa Firth Eagland and Jeremy Drummond was the night's worst video because Jeremy inserted text from a torture manual, which seemed to make everyone uncomfortable. From reading some of his previous artist statements, and from seeing other pieces of his work, I understand that Jeremy is interested in the vile aspects of masculinity - the capacity to be brutal and cruel, but all it ends up doing is rehashing the worst of pop-culture, as if we didn't get how awful it was the first time. The torture manual thing seemed to get under everybody's skin, and one person beside me actually stopped watching, which seems pretty counter-productive as a video artist. I'm no fan of Drummond's work - it ends up just being assaulting.

Another artist who's work lends itself to assault is Jubal Brown - a friend of mind got a little motion sick watching his edit of Steve Reinke's apparently 45 minute video of him walking around downtown which he improved using fast forward. From Scott Sorli's essay in the catalogue, I am told that originally Reinke sung along to Patti Smith's "recent anti-war albulm Trampin'." With Jubal's edits in place, we are left with Reinke saying, "I'm pretty much pro-war. Um, not politically, of course, but aesthetically".

Jubal's partner in the Famefame collective, Tasman Richardson, edited a Tom Sherman video, which almost didn't get screened. Apparently Sherman hadn't been happy with Richardson's edits and had wanted it pulled, but in the end let it go ahead. In this case, a man in the forest wearing an mosquito-net yells insults into the camera and had some people laughing because the anger was so out of context, its ridiculousness was apparent.

My favorite was Cooper Batersby's edit of Benny Nemerofsky-Ramsay's video, a still of which is pictured above. All of these works were really worth seeing, and they were also very much about the editing power of computers. This show was a tribute to Final Cut Pro.

The Q & A afterward brought out some of the ego-clashing that must have been going on behind the scenes, but I was surprised by how many people split the place as soon as they could (because of Drummond's edit?). All in all though, it's another score for 640480 who already wowed us earlier this year with their video embroidery project at Zsa Zsa. I for one am totally looking forward to whatever they come up with next.

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