Audiences are invited to join Princeton University students to screen recent independent films and meet filmmakers, musicians, and scholars as part of a semester-long series focusing on sound in film, Sonic Cinema: Sounding Resistance. The series is presented by the Visual Arts Program of the Lewis Center for the Arts in conjunction with the spring course “Sonic Cinema: Music, Noise, and the Moving Image” taught by Visiting Associate Professor Amy Herzog, who curated the series. Films and videos will be screened each Tuesday starting March 7 and continuing through the end of April. Filmmakers, musicians, and scholars associated with the work will be on hand to discuss their work and answer questions from the audience.
The first installment in the series, titled “Unreal Estate,” will feature the films Glass House and A Model Family in a Model Home by Zoe Beloff and Broker by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy on March 7. These works center on questions of home, real estate, and architectures of surveillance. Herzog notes that sound and music function as active forces in each of these projects, sounding out space, invoking contesting histories, and channeling precariously embodied voices.
Glass House is based on Sergei Eisenstein’s notes and drawings for a science fiction movie that he pitched to Paramount Studios in 1930. Its theme is the architecture of surveillance. Bertolt Brecht’s ideas about working people and the home serve as inspiration for A Model Family in a Model Home. Having fled from the Nazis and settled in Los Angeles in 1941, Brecht read an article in Life Magazine that sparked his ideas about the home as a stage upon which larger political and social forces are played out.
Set in a 77th floor apartment in one New York City’s many Trump Towers, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy’s Broker centers on a high-end real estate broker, portrayed in the film as the physical embodiment of the constantly accelerating pitch of luxury merchandising. With songs by Lori Scacco, this “filmed musical” magnifies the logic of marketing, the surfaces of luxury, and the sound of electronic speech, creating a sound and image world just on the edge of plausible.
On March 14, “Call to the Front: An Evening with Wynne Greenwood” features the artist who is the creative force behind Tracy + the Plastics, an extended project in which Greenwood played all three members of a post-riot, girl, queer, art-punk band. As Tracy + the Plastics, Greenwood performed live as vocalist Tracy, accompanied by the electronic manifestations of keyboardist Nikki and drummer Cola. The collective appeared in various guises, synched and layered, in both rock and art venues from 1999 until 2006. The project was reborn and re-performed in recent exhibitions at the New Museum and Reed College. Greenwood shares this work and will discuss the fragmentary power of the voice, flatness and depth, glitches and stutters, archives, activism, noise, and silence.
Zoe Beloff is an artist working in film, installation, and drawing. Her work focuses on drawing new timelines between past and present to promote thinking against the grain of reactionary ideology. Her projects include “The Days of the Commune” and “A World Redrawn: Eisenstein and Brecht in Hollywood.” She is currently producing an exhibition, “Emotions go to Work,” about the commodification of affect and the “Internet of Things.” Beloff’s work has been featured in international exhibitions and screenings in venues including The Whitney Museum, Site Santa Fe, the M HKA museum in Antwerp, the Pompidou Center in Paris, and Freud’s Dream Museum in St Petersburg. She is a Professor at Queens College CUNY.
Jennifer and Kevin McCoy’s multimedia artworks examine the genres and conventions of filmmaking, memory, and language. They are well known for constructing subjective databases of narrative material and making fragmentary miniature film sets with lights, video cameras, and moving sculptural elements to create live cinematic events. The McCoys’ work has been widely exhibited in the U.S. and internationally — their exhibitions include the Pompidou Center, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, BFI (British Film Institute) Southbank in London, Hanover Kunstverein, the Beall Center in Irvine, California, pkm Gallery in Beijing, the San Jose Museum of Art, Palazzo della Papesse, the Addison Museum of American Art, the Sundance Film Festival, and Artists Space in New York. Their work can be seen in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the 21C Museum, and the Speed Museum. They received a Creative Capital Award in 2003, the Wired Rave Award for Art in 2005, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011, and a Headlands Alumni Award in 2014. Their work is represented by Postmasters Gallery in New York City and Johansson Projects in Oakland, California.
Wynne Greenwood is a queer feminist artist who works with video, performance, music, and object-making to practice culture-healing. Her work has been included in performances and exhibitions at independent and institutional spaces internationally, including the Tate Modern, Whitney Biennial, the Kitchen, and On the Boards. Greenwood’s recent installation and object-based work continues to pursue questions of form in relation to feminist and queer praxis. In 2016, Greenwood’s “Kelly” was featured in an extended residency at the New Museum and featured a solo exhibition and a series of performances, panels, concerts, archival exhibitions, and readings.
The artists, scholars, and films in the series were selected by Herzog, a media historian whose research spans a broad range of interdisciplinary subjects including film, philosophy, popular music, urban history, pornography, gentrification, parasites, amusement parks, and dioramas. She is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Queens College and Coordinator of the Film Studies Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. Herzog is the author of Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same: The Musical Moment in Film (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) and co-editor, with Carol Vernallis and John Richardson, of The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media (Oxford, 2013). Her writing has appeared in several collections and journals, and she has presented her work at numerous venues including the Guggenheim Museum of New York, the New Museum, Dixon Place, New York Academy of Medicine, and the Coney Island Museum. She is currently serving as Programmer-in-Residence at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn. Her most recent research project explores the history of peep show arcades in New York City’s Times Square.
The course explores the use of sound in relation to moving images, including film scoring, musicals, soundtracks, music videos, and experimental sound and video art. Class discussions focus on digital technology and media soundscapes, and screenings include Hollywood blockbusters, immersive media, fine art, video games, and independent cinema.
Other speakers scheduled in the series include musicologists Suzanne Cusick and William Cheng on April 4, also at the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater; hip hop legend Darryl “DMC” McDaniels on April 11, filmmaker Lizzie Borden on April 18, and artists Valerie Tevere and Angel Nevarez on April 25 will all be hosted at the Garden Theatre in Princeton.
This series is supported through the John Sacret Young ’69 Lecture Series fund. Sacret Young is a 1969 graduate of Princeton and an author, producer, director, and screenwriter. He has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards and seven Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards, winning two WGA Awards. He is perhaps best known for co-creating, along with William F. Broyles Jr., China Beach, the critically acclaimed ABC-TV drama series about medics and nurses during the Vietnam War, and for his work on the television drama The West Wing. Young has also received a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award, and his original mini-series about the Gulf War, Thanks of a Grateful Nation, was honored with his fifth Humanitas Prize nomination.