Friday, July 24, 2009

Five15 Arts -- August Show


Hi, I am Alison Sweet and I am having my debut solo show at Five15 Arts this August. Five15 Arts is a contemporary art space in downtown Phoenix. It is part of Roosevelt row and is a main stop on the Art Detour shuttle bus that runs on the First Friday of the month which for August 2009 is Friday the 7th. So, please come down and check it out if you are available. Support the arts and have a beer or a glass of wine with me and check out the new work.

The show is a series of light boxes of various sizes that display and illuminate strips of 16 mm film made primarily in the 1970's. They consist of educational films such as a film about grocery stores, sking and women’s bodies -- home movies of fishing trips and birthday parties -- and of course, my personal favorite pornography both homemade and professional.

The films have primarily been acquired through the widespread wonder of ebay, that facilitates both preservation and acquisition by wanting parties of objects that may otherwise be thrown away or left to deteriorate.

Sixteen Millimeter film was first created by Kodak in 1923 as an economical amateur alternative to the larger 35 mm film. During the mid-century, 16 mm film was increasingly used to make educational films, safety films, and news reels for government agencies, businesses, medical practices, and classrooms. Due to its affordability and relative ease of use the format played an important part in the growth and use of motion pictures outside of the official Hollywood movie. It was important stepping stone in audio visual history to get to the place we are now in our current cultural relationship with video and moving images.

Series of frames from 1970 Kaleidoski French Ski team 16 mm film

Sixteen millimeter film is fascinating to me, as an object, because it so clearly captures movement one beautifully exposed, tangible, frame at a time. You cannot pause digital video and get the kind of clarity that film provides and you certainly cannot pull it out of its casing to study the visual breakdown. It truly captures moment after moment of a very specific time and place.

Frames from a 1972 16mm Blue Movie

I am interested in the visual breakdown of movement due to my ongoing obsession with making stop animation which involves creating a series of images that when played together depict motion. I am also a product of the 80's and the dreaded VHS thus I had never really previously been exposed to tangible motion picture film frames and the concept of your eyes ability to see objects after they have been removed, which is the phenomenon of perception of vision.
I have used a variety of films in the show but my favorite light boxes are the pornographic pieces.

Single frame from 1972 16mm Blue Movie

I find the pornographic films so engaging because of its special visual breakdown, its history and its cultural context. Pornography, despite society’s attempts to sweep it under the proverbial rug, infiltrates all mediums and makes up a significant portion of production due to its never waning popularity. This is especially true for 16mm film; the first “hardcore” action ever publically shown was shot on 16mm film which largely replaced the 35mm sexploitation films of the previous generation. *Hardcare is defined as visual penetration, and was referred to as "the meat shot". In the fifties and sixties penetration was not shown on film, there was rarely any sort of plot and the sex was equated to violence and morbidity. In the seventies with the vantage of 16mm film younger people made films dedicated to total explicitness and attempted to portray it in a more artistic light.

Single Frame from 1972 16mm Blue Movie

To construct the light box pieces, I took selected sections of the various films, primarily strips I found to be the most visually interesting and laid them out side by side on a piece of glass. This allows visual inspection of the progression of the movement being captured on film frame by frame in addition to giving the viewer an overall impression of the style of film as a whole. Some of the light box pieces show the film in the order it was on the reel, other boxes show a collection of selected subject matter, such as the close ups of the faces talking, in non-sequential order to create my own subject matter or stories.

Series of film strips from a 1973 educational 16 film about food and grocery stores.

The process shared similarities to my more common personal practice of video editing, which is the medium I usually work in as an artist. It was a reversal of my roll of a stop animation artist. Usually I am taking photos and converting them into motion while this was taking this motion picture and converting them into kind of a large illuminated photo.

On many of the films I have cut off the sprockets used to send them through a projector because I found them distracting when illuminated but there are a few pieces that leave a few sprocket strips on as well as a few strips that leave the audio strips attached when relevant. The audio strips are rather interesting because you can visually see the change in the audio track as the film progresses.

Series of arrange film strips from 1973 educational 16mm film about food and grocery stores.

The show does not have a cheesy title to clue you in or lead you down the path to artist enlightenment. I am not against titling a body of work if the title seems fitting but I didn’t want to throw some cheap over-arching vague designation just to fulfill the equation that is the standard art show. So thus other than my name, the show is untitled. It is a showing of my interest in the motion and history of 16mm film by mean of illuminated light boxes hung on the walls.

I have an amazingly cool postcards of my artwork with the gallery hours on the back -- I have a ton of them so if you would like one, please send me your physical address and I will gladly mail you one -- or more. Contact me at shoemadeofcheese{at}

The gallery hours are below, so if this sounds remotely interesting to you I encourage you to come down and see me in the gallery.

Thank you!

Gallery Hours:
Friday 5 pm - 9 pm ... or so....
Saturday 1 pm - 5 pm ... or so....
Please call me and let me know if you would like to come down and see the show on a weekday evening or on a Sunday. I will gladly open the gallery.

First Friday is August 7th

Artist reception will be August 21st.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I met you briefly in the Lost Leaf last night - I was the guy in monk's robes.

Your art is cool. I'll come by the gallery and see it soon.