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tom moody

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Reviews of 8 BIT are coming in--so far, except for The Reeler, they've all been from the game world. There's one at Game Set Watch, and another at VH1 Game Break. While enthusiastic overall, these game scene reviews seem ill-at-ease or defensive about the film's art context. The writer at, however, is comfortable talking about that and makes some good points about the movie's relationship to art theory, e.g.:
...[A]rtist/scholar Mary Flanagan approaches the topic from a more theoretical level, which is incredibly helpful to an informed outsider but also frustrating simply because theory, especially when coupled with too much deconstructionism, can pretty much be death to art and creative thinking. Maybe thatís just the chip on my shoulder. Flanagan, at any rate, asks some really important questions about the impact of games and gaming technology on our culture and, therefore, on ourselves, and she seems eager to stress how important is it not to allow these questions to go unanswered. Peel away the temporary DIY art-trends and this moment with Mary Flanagan is the secret heart of 8 BIT.

The film spends a little too much time proving it knows itís beyond modernism and postmodernism, which is both an easy out and obvious, and therefore boring. I would have liked a little more talk about what the creative movements going on in 8 BIT mean for the future of this strange crossroads between games, technology, and art, and a little less PoMo (or po-PoMo, I guess), but on the whole 8 BIT rocked my world. If youíre an art dude, a game girl, a culture maven, a theory freak, or just plain interested, youíll be glad you saw it.
I like the way the relative "hotness" of the movie's talking heads comes in as an evaluation criterion in this review. (Alex Galloway, call your agent.) It's true, some folks featured in the film are exquisite and that might subtly affect how you view the subject matter, but mostly it will not be mentioned by critics. That is, since it's supposedly a documentary and not a star-driven movie. Elements of the latter inevitably creep in, though, especially when the cast is as well-lit and shot as they are in 8 BIT. The two films I would most compare 8 BIT to are Painters Painting and Iara Lee's Modulations. Concerning the latter, I remember a friend commenting that "the British critics (Simon Reynolds and Kodwo Eshun) have beautiful mouths and teeth." When you're sitting in a dark room and the parts in question are enormous, you notice these things.

- tom moody 10-13-2006 9:51 pm [link] [add a comment]

Vermiform Tag

- tom moody 10-12-2006 9:16 pm [link] [12 comments]

Kung Fu Baby [750 KB .GIF]

Ee-e-e-oh-wa... (etc)

I happened to catch this young master on cable and was delighted to see that the artistry continues on the Net.

- tom moody 10-12-2006 11:28 am [link] [7 comments]

It's fall, and that means it's time for another installment of Thor Johnson's Texas State Fair Photos. The collection is here: [2.6 MB flash file]. And below are a few examples. I never cease to marvel at the overeating epidemic that seems to have struck the state since I left in '95. More of Johnson's photos, videos, and music here, and an earlier post on him is here. The photos really strike a chord with me--they're like the perfect combo of love and hate, sarcasm and pathos. It's unusual to see this kind of clarity of vision in a photographer--most get all absorbed with technique, as opposed to being a raw, outraged eye opening itself up to all the available stimuli in an environment like this. Somebody could probably take the same "kind" of photos at Coney Island in NY, but I don't think anyone here hates Coney Island or its denizens. Whereas, Texas (especially Dallas, where these are taken) has this layer of righteousness that suffuses ordinary ignorance and exploitation, making it seem more pernicious. I know Johnson loathes the false piety but as I said, there is also love in these photos. I went to the State Fair a number of times and it was always a kick.

Thor Johnson 4

Thor Johnson 3

Thor Johnson 1

Thor Johnson 2

- tom moody 10-11-2006 8:52 pm [link] [14 comments]

Trailer Park Boys on YouTube (a fine Canadian export--much better than American TV, IMHO).

The "What in the Fuck Happened to Our Trailer Park?" episode, with all the bad language intact. Unfortunately the sound drops out 2/3 of the way through Part 1, but by then you've seen enough to skip ahead to Part 2. There's more to this episode but I can't find it.

- tom moody 10-11-2006 9:48 am [link] [7 comments]

Some indispensable SCTV YouTubes. Watch'em before the Man steps in and shuts down our fun.

Jerry Todd - Video Dating
"Just because you love video doesn't mean you can't love a human."

Jerry Todd - Video Dinner

Ride Like the Wind
The original "yacht rock" parody.

Garth and Gord and Fiona and Alice
Until about 3 years ago, this was all I knew about Canada.
Part One
Part Two

Whisper of the Wolf
Count Floyd screens "scary" Ingmar Bergman parody ("Who booked that? Prickly, was that you?")

Caution: not parent friendly.

- tom moody 10-11-2006 9:00 am [link] [3 comments]

Sawyer and Rock

- tom moody 10-10-2006 5:52 am [link] [28 comments]

Notes on the 8 BIT premiere at MOMA, Oct 7 (work in process)

--the 420-seat theatre was 5 seats shy of being completely full, I was told.

--My description of Game Boy music as "that tuneless stuff Malcolm McLaren likes" and Nullsleep's vituperative response from a live stage got a laugh. I'm resigned to my role as "the heel," as it is called in professional wrestling. Post-screening comments about that "battle" were interesting: a media critic who attended called it a "mods vs rockers moment" and a higher-up in a media arts non-profit said to me: "I was surprised--I thought you supported our music." I do, most of it--I guess this person hasn't been reading my blog lately.

--The movie favors a sociological, narrative, theoretical style of art. A different 8 BIT would tilt more to the crazy, pointless, Dionysian (but not wholly uncritical) side, represented by Paper Rad, who use game imagery and techniques extensively in their online and offline cartooniverse. Kristin Lucas's pioneering game-based videos emphasizing (Modernity-damaged, personal) psychology over Marxist socio-crit could also be included.
--Rumor has it JODI footage will be inserted--I love them, but they were established Internet-dismantlers before they became game dismantlers (correct me if I'm wrong). They would be the logical centerpiece to 8 BIT: The Return. 8 BIT already borders on long--not sure it can handle much more run time.
--If 8 BIT as currently constituted seems balanced (and it does), it is because the music clips and the montages of game "trash" supply the ebullient, anarchic counterpoint to institutional critique.
--the audience laughed at the funny parts and everyone seemed into it, including many who hadn't encountered Super Mario Clouds before.
--the movie is driven by excellent music and, as mentioned, relentlessly tasty videogame imagery--these are the glue binding together what is otherwise a series of (intermittently great) talking head interviews.
--Music-wise, Bodenstandig 2000 is a perfect mix of gritty chip tone techno-rave, Nitzer Ebb white b-boy rapping/chanting, and Laibach-ian Euro-gloom: they're accomplished "major label" musicians keeping it real with gear anyone can own. Snippets of other outstanding performances keep the film humming.
--the other thing that drives the movie is, once again, a busy visual sensibility centered on games. This has less to do with the individual artists featured than the producers' in-depth research and use of found clips that show a real love for the idiosyncrasies and poetry of games. This unified visual style supplies the feeling of an art movement--even when the artists actually have quite different backgrounds and intents. (I personally see the DIY, WTF work of Bodenstandig and the BEIGE crew as being opposed to the overdetermined, overproduced global capitalist apologetics of, say, John Klima.) Producer/Co-director/Director of Photography Justin Strawhand deserves special mention for this unifying use of images and clips mined from the net and creatively montaged. (Not to slight the contributions of Director and original concept-er Marcin Ramocki)

MOMA 8 BIT page (there's a second screening on Wednesday, Oct 11)

8 BIT website

- tom moody 10-10-2006 5:03 am [link] [add a comment]