What got you interested in movies?
I travelled around a lot as a kid, so moving images were generally a kind of solace, from Super Mario Bros. 3 to Star Wars or Rossellini films. There were naturally junctions where someone’s influence mattered greatly and which led me on paths I wouldn’t have taken otherwise.
I don’t care much for the word “movies.” It’s a fine shorthand, but I don’t find it a useful word to talk about the scope of the art. “The pictures” or “flicks” are both a bit more encompassing actually, though obviously goofy.
What is your favorite movie related memory?
The time I saw Jeanne Liotta’s Observando El Cielo (2007) at the New York Film Festival was one of the most hypnotic experiences I had in a theater. I try to show it with some regularity, I love that film.
The time I screened Anthony McCall’s Line Describing a Cone (1973) in Istanbul was also pretty special. The film is supposed to be projected in a foggy/hazy room, while the audience is invited to walk around the room—there are no chairs. If it was projected without fog, we would literally just see a thin white circle slowly being drawn on a black backdrop. With the fog however, there’s this gorgeous cone formed by the beams of light, and you get this wonderfully instructive and inspiring work on the possibilities of the very machinery of cinema.
So I was really excited to show it in Istanbul, where it had never been shown before as far as I know. I lugged a 16mm projector over to Turkey, found the proper electrical converters for it, and a fog machine. We had a packed audience. We got the fog machine running, but kept it on just a little too long. It became so thick that no one could see each other! The main door opened to the outside world and there were huge pillows of fog coming out every time it opened to this residential neighborhood; I was worried the neighbors were going to call on us or that we would get busted by the Fire Department.
Someone also said, while “touching” the beams of light, that it was like petting a kitten, which is probably one of the cutest things I ever heard.
How did you end up in Buffalo?
I ended up in Buffalo twice: first in 2001 to study at UB and then when I started my current position. I love this gnarly town.
What do you want to see more of in Buffalo?
More resistance and proper recognition of what a Buffalo “renaissance” actually means, who it leaves out, and what we can do about it. There’s a lot of great people fighting to make sure it’s right and I think there’s still time to make it a bit less violent and a bit more equitable than what has happened to other towns that boomed. Putting together the words “boom” and “Buffalo” might seem hilarious to some, but I do believe that any and every city is doomed to have $10 hot dogs with feta cheese on top. But we can still do some things about it.
Other than that, Buffalo should do what it wants. One of my main goals being at Squeaky is to be here for any artists in the region that want to work together. We have gear, we can teach you how to use that gear, you can show what you make with that gear, and perhaps even take it beyond Buffalo. If I can help that’s great. We’re a community center, so I am interested in challenging the idea of curator as gatekeeper and really earning the word community.
What are your essential film books?
Film as a Subversive Art by Amos Vogel is currently the main film guide that I’m trying to watch everything mentioned within. There’s still quite a bit to go.
Hollis Frampton’s collection of writings, most recently released under the title On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matters, remains the most foundational.
My next three purchases that I’m excited about are:
• On the Eve of the Future: Selected Writings on Film by Annette Michelson
• After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation by Erika Balsom
• Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema by Giovanna Fossati, Tom Gunning, Jonathon Rosen, Joshua Yumibe.