(Sally McKay is on blog-sabbatical, writing her PhD.)
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Steve Reinke launched a new book last night in Toronto. I've been a fan of his since I saw "The Hundred Videos" (which was just like it sounds) at the Power Plant in 1997. At the launch Reinke and Mike Holbloom (a Toronto filmmaker and longtime collaborator with Reinke) chatted on stage, and then screened some video. Reinke is deadpan in the extreme. His style has elements in common with both autism and psychosis, as he inhabits a voice that is clinical, abject and detached, while working with "hot" sexual and emotional content. This presence made for a great screening, and an awkward interview. Hoolbloom seemed to be pushing for a kind of boyish intimacy in his questions and Reinke's responses came across, in parts, as evasive and coy. It's my impression, however, that despite appearances Reinke is completely sincere. When asked why he is interested in Jeffrey Dahmer, his response "It's not so much the cannibalism as the zombification" could be taken as a quip (I admit that I guffawed), but it also bears the mark of much consideration.
In the interview, Hoolbloom prodded at Reinke's obvious lineage to Vito Acconci, for which I was grateful. Reinke's favourite Acconci video is also my favourite, Theme Song, in which Acconci is lying on the floor, smoking cigarettes and looking into the camera, attempting to seduce the viewer to join him. His voice silky and drowsy, his body spooning and curling on the rug, he tirelessly croons, "Come in here with me... I know you want to, come on in. Just come on in." The EAI catalogue describes this work as "perversely intimate" which applies as easily to Reinke.
Video itself comes across as perverse in Reinke's work. This is a world in which we can take pictures of anything at any time. His oeuvre ranges between sophisticated graphic animations to hand-held home-style footage, but always there is a narrative of investigation, as if every single thing in the world, including our own shames and desires, is an object to be picked up and turned over. And, in a tragic existential tradeoff, this renders the world, while infinitely interesting, a lonely and alienating place.
|This image is from one of my favourite of Reinke's works, "Afternoon, March 23, 1999," in which he verbally describes his involvement with making balls of rubber bands and his interest in following their elucidatory trajectories as they bounce in unpredicatble patterns about the room. I took the image from this page at Nach Dem Film, where there is an excellent essay by Laura U. Marks.|