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Breathing Artifacts Film Series at Barking Legs is a ‘social experiment’
There is no "appropriate" way to enjoy art. It is, and always has been, a subjective personal experience. Granted, this is something of a paradoxical statement coming from someone whose job hinges on passing judgment on the creative works of his betters, but it remains true nonetheless.
Roger Ebert referred to art appreciation as something akin to evolution. Fans of Adam Sandler or Michael Bay get something out of those works because they haven’t yet stepped foot into a larger world. The overall purpose of living is to grow and change and experience.
Consuming art is a part of that—the further the boundaries are pushed, the less emotionally satisfying easy experiences become. Lovers of the arts are always looking for new ways to recreate a powerful experience, and like a drug addict, seek experiences that are more and more potent. But do not dismiss the journey.
The Dilating Nexus series describes itself as “a monthly series of non-conventional events and ritualized social experiments housed in a variety of ‘total environments’ throughout Chattanooga.” It aims to “stimulate rarefied, esoteric, and unknown actions within the region, while honoring and highlighting cutting-edge work that has been or is already in existence.”
To the uninitiated in this type of art, much of the description may be confusing. That’s fine. If art is an evolutionary process, then it’s important to experience works that can be confusing, to make sense of the process and reserve judgment through remaining open minded.
Of the events in the Dilating Nexus series, the Breathing Artifacts Film Series is an event unlike any other in the area. While initially seeming like a celebration of experimental film, Evan Lipson, artistic director for Secret Weave, sees the festival differently. According to Lipson, “Breathing Artifacts isn’t so much of an experimental film festival as it is a social experiment.
“Non-scripted transformative experiences will likely be taking place more so on-stage and in the seats than it will be on-screen. All of the artists involved will be presenting 100 percent completely realized and highly meticulous visions. Experiments have largely been left on the cutting-room floor.
“Although all of the works included in Breathing Artifacts contain various qualities that differ greatly from conventional cinema, unlike the drab ghetto of experimental art/film, we genuinely expect this to be the most entertaining and mind-blowing event of our lives.”
Collaboration between artists and audience seems to be an important aspect of the series. Breathing Artifacts is not designed to be a passive experience. Lipson says: “We’ve gathered together the most unbridled, obsessive and innovative minds currently operating in the North American underworld (and beyond) for a celebratory summit of unknown sights and sounds.
“Those planning to attend can expect to embark on a phantasmagorical journey through the rabbit hole—boldly exploring uncharted realms of cinematic expression. It will be a wild night full of spills and thrills. Our enthusiasm has reached a fever pitch.”
Several artists in particular stand out in the line-up for Lipson. For instance, he describes Tom Boram, just one of several performance artists, as “one of the last great mad scientists with a strong penchant for what might be described as ‘involuntary bodily phenomenon’ (especially of the olfactory variety) and the ribald relationships between man and machine.” It will be a unique experience, to be sure.
According to Lipsom, the goal of the Dilating Nexus series is simple: opening the minds of Chattanoogans. He says: “More often than not, Chattanoogans have displayed somewhat of a propensity for being baited and hoodwinked by red herrings, political squabbles, and simpering cults of friendship.We increasingly felt an intense desire to draw a line in the sand and fill a deep cultural chasm in tandem with the Shaking Ray Levi Society…offering these events and others…for the wonderfully brave and intrepid souls who have managed to retain some sense of curiosity, wonderment, humor, fun, and adventure.”
While this is a noble goal to be sure, it seems a bit at odds with their #REJECTCINEMA hashtag. Obviously a dig at the Chattanooga Film Festival and MES crowd, who implemented the wide use of #RESPECTCINEMA, the mild joke seems unnecessarily antagonistic for what should be an inclusive and interesting event.
I know what the film scene was like before these groups and I’d hate to return to that desert. Remember, there is no correct way to enjoy art. Maybe we should change the hashtag simply to #RESPECT. Support local film.
Breathing Artifacts Film Series,
4 p.m., Saturday, July 19.
Barking Legs Theater,
1307 Dodds Ave.