On Ones (and Zeroes): A Tribute to Hannah Frank

Today, the friends, family, and colleagues of Hannah Frank held a special Chicago memorial for her, hosted at the University of Chicago. I already wrote quite a bit about Hannah in the past two weeks, so for my presentation at this memorial I decided to do something different: a short found-footage celebration of Hannah’s audiovisual interests.

As you might imagine, this compilation video includes things that Hannah wrote about. But it also includes things Hannah shared on social media that she liked. And things Hannah shared on social media that she made. It includes things Hannah and I shared a mutual love of. It includes things Hannah encouraged me to teach and/or write about. And it includes things I encouraged Hannah to teach and/or write about. I’ve arranged these clips to the tune of “Deeper into Movies,” by Hannah’s fellow Hobokeners Yo La Tengo.

Special thanks to Will Carroll, Chris Carloy, Sierra Wilson, Jordan Schonig, and James Rosenow.

If you’d like to explore Hannah’s own output as a video artist and animator, check out her Vimeo page here.

If you’re curious about the sources for all of the visual bits, a full list is below the fold.

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Lewis Klahr’s Sixty Six

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Ian here—

The University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center has been having a fantastic year so far when it comes to experimental cinema. Hot on the heels (-ish) of their “Troubling the Image” series, last night they booked Lewis Klahr’s twelve-part, feature-length Sixty Six (2015), for what is I believe its Chicago debut.

Klahr was there in attendance, taking part in a very animated Q&A after the screening. I don’t think I’ve ever attended a Q&A with such an extreme questions-asked-to-time-filmmaker-talked ratio, and while some might have accused Klahr of self-indulgent rambling, I really rather enjoyed his tangents, and found that he had quite a lot of fascinating points to make about his process.

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Five Questions About We Are Chicago

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Ian here—

Wow, okay, so, deep breaths. Let me repeat the mantra: “I critique, because I care.”

We Are Chicago (Culture Shock Games, 2017) arrives at very particular time for me. I just finished up with a panel on Chicago game cultures for SCMS 2017, and I have also been working through some ideas on the limits of the concept of “empathy” in games.

Given these two facts, there’s no real way I could get away with not playing it, and not taking a couple of moments to try an translate my thoughts on it into some coherent writing. This task, though, is one that needs to be approached with care. In order to be fair, an acknowledgment of the commendable intentions of Culture Shock games must be balanced with a corresponding acknowledgment of the very real shortcomings of their final product. It does nobody any good to mince words, and to pretend that intention can overcome execution.

So, buckle up. I have five questions to ask about We Are Chicago.

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Playbor in the Loop: eSports and Athletic Scholarships in Chicago Education

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Ian here—

What follows is my talk from SCMS 2017 in Chicago, IL. It was part of the panel I organized, “Gaming’s Midway Point: Games and Game Culture in Chicago“—and I’d like to thank Julianne GrassoDaniel Johnson, and Chris Carloy for contributing papers and making that panel the success that it was.  You can follow along with my visual presentation here.

This is the website of Collegiate Starleague, a league for competitive, professional-level videogaming, or eSports, on college campuses. Collegiate Starleague holds tournaments for college players of games such as League of Legends (Riot Games, 2009) and Dota 2 (Valve, 2013), two enormously popular games in the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre, which has dominated eSports in recent years, as well as the first-person shooters Overwatch (Blizzard, 2016) and Couter-Strike: Global Offensive (Valve, 2012), and the digital collectable card game Hearthstone (Blizzard, 2014).

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Arash Nassiri’s Darwin Darwah

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Ian here—

Another quick reflection on something screened for the Film Studies Center’s so-far excellent “Troubling the Image” series. This time, Arash Nassiri’s video Darwin Darwah (2016), screened as part of their “Tales of Sound and Vision” night, last Friday. The screening was full of great stuff—including The Inner World of Aphasia (Edward R. Feil, 1958), which I would recommend to anyone who always wished Sam Fuller and Owen Land had made a film together—but Nassiri’s piece left me with the most coherent thoughts.

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Janie Geiser’s Flowers of the Sky

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Ian here—

Any occasion to see a new film by Janie Geiser is a happy one, but I am especially lucky in that the context in which I saw Flowers of the Sky (2016) was during the inaugural screening of “Troubling the Image,” a series of recent (or recently-restored) avant-garde/experimental films being put on at the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center. Programmed by Julia Gibbs and Patrick Friel, the series promises to be a stream of delights, and I’m hoping to post some more dispatches from it in the future.

There was plenty of great work on display in this first screening, entitled “Color My World.” (I was especially glad to see more videos from T. Marie, whose work I had fallen behind on in recent years. 2014’s Panchromes I-III certainly did not disappoint, together forming one of the greatest examples of “cinema as painting” that I can think of.) But I’ve decided to limit my thoughts here to Geiser, and Flowers of the Sky.

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Swimming in the Valley of the Moon

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Ian here—

Peter Hutton died on June 25, 2016. I could tell anecdotes here about having him for a professor across three courses at Bard College, about things he said to his students, places he took his students, and the impact he had on me as a young film student. I’ll spare you that, though, for now. For now, I’ll just say that I am extraordinarily grateful to Jesse Malmed and Patrick Friel for programming White Light Cinema and The Nightingale’s retrospective of Hutton’s work this past Sunday. It is, if I’m not mistaken, the first time Peter’s work has shown in Chicago since I first arrived here in 2008. It was wonderful to revisit it, and I am saddened that it took Peter’s death for this to happen.

What follows isn’t analysis, just some impressions, as a way of expressing gratitude to the programmers. I make such extensive use of visual aids normally in my writing that it can be reinvigorating to write about films that are only distributed on 16mm, and actually rely on the author to describe their experience. (I apologize if I’m out of practice!)

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