Structuring Strategies: Filmmaker David Sherman Uncovers Hidden Histories

Wasteland Utopias

From 'Wasteland Utopias' by David Sherman.

Experimental filmmaker David Sherman will present two of his films–Tuning the Sleeping Machine and Wasteland Utopias–at CalArts’ Bijou Theater tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 12) as part of the Structuring Strategies film class and series.

The Arizona-based artist is one half of the artist collaboration known as Total Mobile Home (filmmaker and artist Rebecca Barten being the other half.). The duo has been recognized for founding the world’s first “microcinema” in the basement of their San Francisco apartment in 1993. The 30-seat experimental film/video theater produced more than 120 shows, transforming the spatial relationship between film, filmmaker and audience.

His filmmaking appropriates found footage and incorporates collage to construct “hidden histories through the radical play of form and material.”

Tuning the Sleeping Machine (16mm, 13 minutes, 1996) was included in the 1997 Whitney Biennial. Using found footage, the film “maintains a dreamy oscillation between visual abstraction and a disjointedly submerged narrative of sexual menace,” noted Film Comment writer Paul Arthur. “… [It] recalls our shared experience of late-night television in which lambent images emerge from the screen and turn strange as they percolate through our half-conscious thoughts and reveries.”

Wasteland Utopias (DVCAM, 91 minutes, 2010) is part biopic and part autobiography, exploring the lives of two radically different utopian thinkers: mega-developer Del Webb and outsider psychiatrist/naturalist Wilhelm Reich who settled into Arizona’s Sonoran Desert in the late 1950s (where Sherman resides today).

Webb’s remembered for building the master-planned retirement community Sun City, and Reich’s legacy is intertwined with weather manipulation experiments using Orgone Energy.

Using found footage, documentary interviews, and narrative tableaux, the film interweaves contradictory narratives and critically poetic observations. By juxtaposing these two thinkers—who represent ostensibly opposing visions of a still-undefined future—Sherman asks viewers to consider a multiplicity of perspectives on our endangered natural and social environments.

Structuring Strategies with David Sherman
CalArts Bijou Theater
Tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 12)
7 pm

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