The Celluloid Salon

While most convergences in new media are interesting academically, few are truly thrilling aesthetically. At “The Celluloid Salon” last Friday, Chris Weingarten (@1000TimesYes) created and curated just such an event.

By DJ’ing live soundtracks to silent film shorts, he took an initially witty pairing somewhere more unique. The experience wasn’t simply a hybrid: as the short Dream of a Rarebit Fiend showed the hallucinatory night of a fall-down drunk, Weingarten’s scuzzy ambient noise and comic sound affects (created via turntable scratches) questioned the technological connotations of each. The 1906 film’s adept use of layered images and split-screen made it seem straight out of 1960s; the live turntablism recast itself as an older medium.

Here’s an image from the second short, Coney Island, U.S.A.:

The third short, NY NY, was much more experimental than the others, showing a series of (literally) kaleidoscopic images of New York City. Because of its abstract nature the images absorbed whatever music styles Weingarten could throw at them. It was like Koyaanisqatsi as imagined by the early cubist painter Charles Scheeler.

I hope programming like this continues at PS 122, and to see more of Weingarten’s work. I also picked up his 33 1/3 series book “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” about Public Enemy’s landmark record.

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