Saturday, June 02, 2007

CAmm Cage Grand Opening

CAmm, the movie makers auxilary of the Creative Alliance, held a soiree Saturday night to celebrate the opening of the CAmm Cage and Media Lab on the second floor of the Creative Alliance's headquarters at The Patterson on Eastern Avenue (as ballyhooed by Brett McCabe in this week's City Paper, "Lights, Cameras, &tc."). I dragged my girlfriend straight from the pool to go down to this visual arts schmoozefest mainly to meet Cage Master Phil Davis, the UMBC filmmaker and film instructor whose works I had the honor to screen at Enoch Pratt Free Library's "Independents Day" local filmmakers program.

Phil had submitted a great experimental video in which he placed a video camera in a toaster oven with a remote feed, so that one could see what the world looks like through the lens of a melting camera. (It looks pretty cool! But don't try this at home, kids!) And I wanted to chat with my friend Steve Frantz, the JHU video whizkid who I had worked with previously when he got Baltimore City's public access station back up and running at the start of 2001, when it moved from its headquarters at Coppin State University to the Mayor's Office of Cable and Communicatuion at the downtown Power Plant.

I accomplished both goals Saturday and had a lot of fun in between. Of course, the first person I spied upon ascending the second floor was none other than media maven about town Michael Rabineau (obviously - there was free food on hand). Then I saw Steve Frantz, looking very dapper in a cool summer blue suit, with his lovely gal pal Eileen, who had just survived the Friday night rush hour commute from D.C. I had just survived almost running over a neighborhood dog in Rodgers Forge (where the yuppies let their well-bred pooches run irresponsibly free), so we were both justified in immediately heading to the cash bar for liquid release.

The cash bar, around the corner, was well stocked with champagne, wine and Martzens. Gathered around its comfortable reach was a who's who of area vissual artists, while screens displayed videos and short films by the aforementioned Phil Davis, Jimmy Joe Roche (How To Make a Toothbeef Sandwich, Wham City) and Mark Brown. On hand were CAmm founder Kristen Anchor, Scott Kecken (We Are Arabbers), Jack Gerbes(Baltimore Film Office Director), Lee Boot, Skizz Cyzyk (Maryland Film Festival, MicroCineFest and innumerable local bands - including The Jennifers, The Awkward Sounds of Scott & Skizz and Garage Sale), Kelly Bell (the video artist, not the musician), experimental filmmaker Stephanie Barber, rocker Joe Tropea (The Jennifers) and his wife Lisa Tropea (Program Director of the University of Maryland College Park's Hoff Theatre ) and Video Americain co-founder Michael Bradley.

Talking to Lisa Tropea, a film fanatic whose love of Bunuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is discreetly tattooed on her biceps, I learned that she is now also curating programs at the University of Maryland's Union Gallery, including the current show, "4 Frames" (May 21 - July 19, 2007). This show presents video, photography and scultupre by four Baltimore area artists - Heather Boaz, Eric Dyer, Dee Dee Thompson and Jesse Walker - whose work is influenced by cinema and filmmaking techniques.

Anyway, I couldn't leave the room as I was aurally and visually consumed by the excellent vintage 60s garage rock (including Japanese and French yeh-yeh flavorings) provided by vinyl junkie Amanda Otto (Charm City Soul Club, Reaction), and the video scramble offered up by VJ Jon Corun (AV Club). VJing is a whole new ballgame to this A/V dinosaur. When I went upstairs into the cage to see how exactly Jon Corlin "VJed," I was shocked to see a Dell PC laptop pulling the strings.

"I didn't think you were allowed in here without a Mac," I said to him. "Hey," he replied, "All my friends have Macs but I always used a PC and I'm used to doing this my way." Corlin, instead of buying a fancy digital video mixer setup, simply downloads video clips from the Internet or rips them from DVDs, loads them into his Dell laptop, and then manually selects them, adding in on-the-fly visual effects (wipes, fades, loops) with a video mixer that would make Gerry Todd soil himself. His display monitor is a simple 7-inch portable DVD player.

I was amazed at his collection of clips, footage that took me years to assemble by logging tapes for my old mostly analog-edited cable access show, Atomic TV. When I mentioned the editing acumen of such media jammers as Emergency Broadcast Network, Concrete TV and even the archtypal video mixer himself Gerry Todd (the infamous video geek portrayed on SCTV by Rick Moranis), Jon looked clueless. Ah well, it's a whole different ballgame these days. God I felt like a relic! Watching Jon take a David Hasselhoff video clip and visually manipulate it - filling the screen with 100 small images of Der Hasselghoff, looping his back-and-forth motions, slow-mo-ing him, then solarizing him - I realized how technology made editing a simple matter of flipping a knob or two. So easy a caveman could do it. (Oops, sorry Geico cavemen!). Watching the VJ work, I had an ephiphany. I must travel down this road when I win the Lottery!

This VJ stuff blows my mind. Here are some AV Club mixes.


And here's Jon Corun's viddy bio:

Jon Corun BIO

Related Links:
Gerry Todd on YouTube


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing, isn't it, how the videos it took guys like me and Tom and Huff MANY YEARS to track down and archive can now be instantly downloaded by anyone with a high-speed modem and a few hundred dollars worth of computer equipment.

5:19 PM  

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