Jump to Navigation

CalArts Plays Itself Project Descriptions

Art Exhibition


Amanda Montei (Critical Studies)

What does it mean to be a foreigner? In what ways are we marked by the history of African colonization? How do we carry these traumas with us? And in what ways does the West remain complicit and economically supportive of the violence the post-colonial vacuum created? Mzunguexplores a Western artist's ongoing travels to Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania--East African nations that have been home to brutal humanitarian crises for decades--and have been effectively ignored by Western powers. A series of text pieces invites viewers to respond to questions regarding foreignness, forgiveness, color, and the Western technologies that continue to source their minerals from conflict regions. The piece will culminate in a reading by the artist of a collaborative text produced by visitors interacting with the installation.

Lonely Traveler

Ellen Reid (Music)

A site-specific sound installation Lonely Traveler uses sound to engage the imagination and explore four diverse musical landscapes: rural Tennessee, New York City, Bangalore, India, and Bangkok, Thailand.  Lush soundscapes are created from field recordings, and composed electronic synthesis.  This work draws from the experience of traveling through foreign landscapes alone, the unexpected surprises and rhythms that unfold themselves to the Lonely Traveler

Concrete Situations

Fiona Connor (Art)

Fiona Connor meticulously and expertly reproduces architectural elements of the spaces she works in. At CalArts she has been investigating the perceived permanence and permeability of architecture. In Concrete Situations, Connor uses concrete, a material associated with permanence and structure, to start a conversation with the spectacular industrial architecture that serves as a backdrop for the festival.  She is interested in the possibility of a work being both a representation of and intervention into a space.

drive by

Francisco Janes (Film/Video)

drive by is a project that started in early 2010 and includes an ongoing set of installation, video, and sound works based on experiences in the city of Los Angeles. For this show, the artist introduces and presents another part of the project in the form of a new site-specific installation.

Encounters I May Or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin

Mariah Garnett (Film/Video)Two 16mm projectors cycle a single 30-meter loop of film through a series of installed spools throughout the space.   The images from the projectors are splintered and refracted off the surface of a slow moving mirror ball across the walls, floor and ceiling of the gallery.  Within the fractured projection Garnett poses as Peter Berlin, an icon of gay male erotic imagery from the 1970s.  The piece recasts obvious markers of identity politics in a formalist context and highlights a labor of narcissism. Encounters I May Or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin was installed at Human Resources Gallery in Los Angeles 2010.  


Jumana Manna (Critical Studies)

Coach is an exploration of the intimacy that arises between a swim coach and a female athlete.  In the film, the swimmer returns to the Wingate Institute of Sport five years after dropping out of her last competitive swim meet--the national championships.  The swimmer, now an artist, asks the coach to give her a massage as he frequently did in the past.  He complies and she massages him in return. Thereafter, they discuss her performance as a swimmer, her current difficulties and her character.  
HD, 22 min, 2011 

Who For/What For

Mélodie Mousset (Art), Zachary Sharrin (Art), Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttr (Music)

Who For /What For is a multimedia performance investigating the Artists' process of siphoning experience into practice, and the spectator's role of receiver and interpreter.  Seven performers utilize installation and sculpture by Mélodie Mousset, audio performance scores by Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir, and choreography by Zachary Sharrin.  Drawing on texts from art criticism and popular culture, the Who For/What For project examines paradoxes of artistic inspiration and production, as well as its social, political and ontological aspirations and limitations.


Monica Rodriguez Medina (Art)

A performance that consists of a choir from the local community of Essen singing a song--the lyrics of which derive from various letters, found on the internet, written in protest of human rights violations. By focusing international attention on sites in which human rights are violated these letters give voice to the oppressed, generate action, prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and demand justice for those whose rights have been violated. I am very interested in the use of letters as a form of protest, as a means for making one’s opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion, government policy or to directly enact a desired change.

Forms of Protest (Bandanas)

Monica Rodriguez Medina (Art) 

The work Forms of Protest (Bandanas) consists of 15 black bandanas. Each one has a different political slogan written on it. The slogans are taken from images of protest placards and banners found on the internet. Each bandana functions as a representation of a different political issue.

Trailer Trash (Coffee with a Nomad)

Sam Breen (Theater)

Sam Breen is a recent graduate from CalArts School of Theater.  His work addresses the possibility of using performance as a way to engage in real time with new communities and to in fact, build an expanding community through this formal interaction.   By collecting and sharing artifacts from his own life and the lives of those he encounters, Coffee with a Nomad hopes to encourage conversation with audience and disrupt traditional boundaries of theater.

KarmetiK Machine Orchestra GanaPatiBOT v.4

Ajay Kapur (Music), Michael Darling (Theater)

The KarmetiK Machine Orchestra began as collaborative teaching experiment between sculptor Michael Darling (Head of Technical Design and Direction in the CalArts’ School of Theater) and composer, programmer and digital artist Ajay Kapur (Head of the Music Technology:  Interaction, Intelligence and Design Program in the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts).  It has grown into a performance group and think tank for both student and professional musicians.  Since its incarnation in 2008 the goals of the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra have included teaching robotic instrument design, the production of live musical interfaces and engaging the asthetics of performance by incorporating various forms such as theater and opera. KarmetiK has also been developing robotic instruments as teaching tools for schools around the world.  GanaPatiBOT v.4 is just one member of the KarmetiK Orchestra! http://www.karmetik.com/

AH! opera no-opera Interactive Multi-touch Table

AH! opera no-opera:  David Rosenboom (Music), 
Martine Bellen Multi-touch table:  Owen Vallis (Music), Jordan Hochenbaum (Music)

The Multi-touch Table grew from a performance collaboration between David Rosenboom, Dean of School of Music and Martine Bellen titled,AH! opera no-opera.  Inspired by the nonsectarian spirit of the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, the opera uses a generator in the shape of a Mandala (Wheel of Life) with 13 interlinking, hyperlinking stories, and their movable parts and pathways.  It is an interactive, creative process that integrates sound and word composition—producing many possible operas. Owen Vallis (CalArts alumnus, now faculty) and Jordan Hochenbaum (CalArts alumnus) were invited to implement an interactive installation for audience members attending AH! opera no-opera.  The two created a multi-touch and tangible user interface table.  The idea for the table emerged from a conversation between Jordan and Owen, both musicians, in which they discussed, how to sonify data in a way that was both musical and meaningful for the user.  It was installed in the lobby of the theater during the AH! opera no-opera performances at REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater in downtown, Los Angeles, CA in September 2009.

The Expanding Archive

Scott Barry (Art), Neil Doshi (Art)

The history of design at CalArts is rooted in thinking about design as an active mediator of culture. Once a single link in a discrete chain of tasks, now the designer finds him or herself taking up multiple roles as content-generator, editor, programmer, distributor, and so on. Just as the new, expanded role of the designer brings with it the precariousness of mobility, constant change, and temporary employment, it also offers an unprecedented sense of possibility.The project is an on-site design “studio” that will produce an expanded archive displayed throughout the walls of the PACT house and a publication created on-site documenting the conversation between the public, the participants, and the CalArts historical archive. The expanded archive will consist of reproduced historical materials and design ephemera from the CalArts archive.  This dynamic material will be reproduced at large scale and installed throughout and activating the space.  As the exhibition progresses, documentation produced on site will be juxtaposed with the historical material. The material will reposition and accumulate for the duration of the event.  Two designers will work full-time using the space as a temporary “studio”. The studio is ‘open-aired’ in a larger hall of the space inviting the public to engage with the production and creation of the publication and archive.  Using on-site printing and production means, the studio’s publication will document the expanded archive’s evolving conversation with the public and the participating artists.  An edition of 100 finished publications will be produced at the conclusion of the exhibit.

Untitled (Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery)

Ramak Fazel (Art)

In Washington D.C. the Smithsonian’s Freer | Sackler Museums house collections of Asian Art.  But on January 20, 2009, during the inauguration of U.S. President Barak Obama, the Freer Gallery, a public museum, became a shelter for more than just art.  Ramak Fazel’sUntitled (Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery) photographs capture a moment on the fringe of U.S. political history when the museum was more than just an exhibition space.  The Freer Gallery became a refuge with unimpeded public access for spectators of the inauguration of the first African American President of the United States.

Performance Program List


Chiara Giovando (Film/Video), Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir (Music), Stephanie Smith (Music)

DARK FARE is an experimental performance trio comprising Chiara Giovando, Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir and Stephanie Smith.  DARK FARE utilizes live interactive processing with video and sound.  The Trio’s instrumentation includes violin, viola, electronics and voice.  The music merges extended technique on strings and vocals with traditional folk ballads, classical training and “dark noise.” The trio draws from a wide variety of sources to weave a dense sonic fabric.

Luminis Sphaera

Archie Carey (Music), Kerstin Hovland (Film/Video), Heather Lockie (Music), Natalie Metzger (Dance), Kalean Ung (Theater)

Set within a simple world of spherical objects and light, Luminis Sphaera is a performance group that incorporates sound, movement, interactive technology and projection.   The piece utilizes graphical scores that reference the elemental building blocks of the iron and steel industries central to PACT’s history. 

Costume Designer: Amanda Lee  
Development Credits: Adeline Newmann,
 Gilbert Molina,
 Matthew Goodrich,
 Kyle Stockburger,
 Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir,
 Alexandra Herboche.


Milen Kirov (Music)

“2” is a performance for piano and multimedia projections composed by Milen Kirov as part of his doctorate studies in The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts.  Utilizing animation and film elements created by Kerstin Hovland and Emilie Sabath, “2” employs the sounds of an electric piano together with prerecorded and live-triggered sounds.  What is 2? The simple mathematical equation is the sum of 1 + 1, but are these numerals identical halves trying to merge or two unique identities combining into a new whole? This performance materializes the abstract process of two separate identities, each struggling with its own weaknesses and strengths.

Animation and Video:  Kerstin Hovland
Film:  Emile Sabath

Dance Program: Derivations

Derivations is an exploration of human vulnerability and the nuances of touch.  Elegant athleticism, theatrical introspection, and idiosyncratic distinctions of the human body investigate the potential of corporeal articulation. Innovative collaborations come together to expose unconventional beauty creating an inimitable aesthetic. 


Choreographer/dancer:  Andrew Wojtal
Music:  “Coffee Stains and Beer” by Magestic Star
Costume Designer:  Andrew Wojtal

a,e,i,o,u,y is a multilayered work that braids together different forms of physical theatre to express a singular energy through variously accrued mediums. Specifically a,e,i,o,u,y functions as a mechanism for coping or mending an area of emptiness while simultaneously functioning as a display of the age-old dichotomy between loving to live, or living to love. Through support for  the common man and woman’s entanglement in this dichotomy, a,e,i,o,u,y is an all-accommodating confession that acknowledges loss as the necessary means of understanding gain.

Symbiosis Mutualism

Choreographers:  Jordan Saenz, Cameron Evans, Princess Mecca Romero
Dancers:  Cameron Evans, Princess Mecca Romero
Composer:  Louis Lopez
Costume Designer: Lynne Marie Martens

Symbiosis Mutualism is based on an exploration of human interaction with horses. The bond between the two forms creates a single operational being. The process of learning about each other and developing a movement vocabulary based on the attempt to form one living organism and create a synchronized process of becoming one being. The result of the interaction is mutual clarity and peace, and the bond between the two becomes a symbol of friendship, love and partnership.  As trust and connection build, this bond grows stronger over time. 

a person I once was

Choreography: Rachel Boyajian

Dancers: Cameron Evans, Princess Mecca Romero and Andrew Wojtal
Original Music Composition: Louis Lopez
Costume Design: Silvanne Park
Lighting Design: Nick Percell

Through a distinct choreographic language and keen sense of invention, a person I once was explores the fragility of human cognition and acuity. Featuring three dancers and original music by Louis Lopez, a person I once was is a new work created by Rachel Boyajian.

Film/Video Program 

Steve Anker, Dean of the School of Film/Video at CalArts, is pleased to present at PACT Zollverein two evenings of student works. They have been selected from the four diverse programs within the CalArts’ School of Film/Video.  Mapping Voices to be presented by Maureen Selwood, faculty, is a selection of films from the Experimental Animation and Character Animation programs. Prepare Yourself to be presented by Chiara Giovando, is a selection of works from the Program in Film and Video and the Film Directing Program.  Both screenings will be followed by panels represented by students, faculty and alumni.

These works are examples of the originality and rigor demonstrated by the student filmmakers in the School of Film/Video. They include experimental and traditional narrative, documentary and essay, and diverse approaches to animation.  The works range from strange, beautiful and challenging to comical.   They demonstrate the cutting edge capabilities of new technologies while remaining engaged in optical-printing, drawing, hand processing—as well as pre-cinematic devices.  The history and language of film are fundamental to the conceptual development of these young filmmakers. 

Mapping Voices 

Thursday, 29 September
Works from the Experimental Animation Program and Character Animation curated by Maureen Selwood, Faculty, Experimental Animation 
TRT: 87 minutes

Mapping Voices is a selection of films from the Experimental Animation and the Character Animation Programs  at CalArts’ School of Film/Video.  In this group, it may not be obvious in which program each film was produced. These works represent the deeply personal choices that independent animation artists bring to the world of animation. Their decisions show that animation can be richly varied, serious, humorous and original, while exploring and struggling with the many new technologies that make the study of animation a complex process.  Dislocation, parental love, the lost city and commentary are themes that create a map of voices from around the world. This program brings these works together to be viewed as a whole.

  • Our Lady Divine by Blake Young, 8:51 minutes
  • The Gossip Collector by Mina Park, 4:45 minutes
  • SPECTACLE! ARTIFICE! JIGGLING! by Janelle Miau, 3:00 minutes
  • One Sided Love by Jin A Yoon, 4:15 minutes
  • SHAPE by Eusong Lee, 2:36 minutes
  • Interdimensional Headphase by Dillon Rickman, 2:35 minutes
  • The Wing Eater by Nicole Emmons, 10:55 minutes
  • Dad? by Zesung Kang, 3:46 minutes
  • 38 – 39° by Kang Min Kim, 8:00 minutes
  • Little Boat by Nelson Boles, 4:00 minutes
  • Pummel Nankeen by Ismael Sanz Pena, 3:00 minutes
  • The Kool-Aid Wino by Moises Jimenez, 5:45 minutes
  • BRAVE by Jasmine Lai, 2:31 minutes
  • Pickles for Nickels by Danielle Ash, 8:00 minutes
  • Weather Report by Olivia Taussig, 4:00 minutes
  • The Renter by Jason Carpenter, 9:52 minutes

Our Lady Divine by Blake Young takes place in a destroyed city where an individual confronts divinities forcing him to question his identity. Does he adopt these sublime entities as icons of a new religion or does he look elsewhere for his own version of divinity?  

In The Gossip Collector Mina Park creates a film about solitude and the hidden sorrows of women.  She combines film and animation techniques to illustrate surrealistic human psychologies. 

SPECTACLE! ARTIFICE! JIGGLING! is Janelle Miau’s humorous and absurd debate about high fashion, Jell-O and urban isolation. 

In One Sided Love, Jin A Yoon creates a series of small commotions that despite a daughter’s bad behavior toward her mother, love is not easily withheld. 

In SHAPE by Eusong Lee, bold black and white abstract compositions animate to represent two characters struggling to communicate by transformation while tumbling into each other.  

In Dillon Rickman’s Interdimensional Headphase, he filters Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam, a 1982 Turkish B movie, commonly known as the “Turkish Star Wars”, reconstructed and reworked as transmutation, texture and transience.  

In The Wing Eater by Nicole Emmons, a memory of injustice from the past, insinuates itself in the mind of a young woman.  Leaving the past behind may mean a tough journey but the use of various techniques in this stop-motion creates a haunting journey. 

Cultural tensions rising between generations as parents leave their homeland and raise children in a strange land are among the issues confronted in Dad? by Zesung Kang. Objects and patterns reappear inducing a desire of a son to rid his father of a birthmark they both share. 

Their past relationship ignites in 38 – 39°  by Kang Min Kim in which he seamlessly combines two dimensional and stop-motion techniques.  

A simple film about a journey of a skiff recalls the city of New Orleans, the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the home of the filmmaker in Little Boat by Nelson Boles.  

Pummel Nankeen by Ismael Sanz Pena, is a collection of scenes inspired by the narrative line of Dostoyevsky’s short story The Christmas Tree and the Wedding. The filmmaker’s observations of social class and human interactions lead him to discover universal patterns of human behavior. 

These tensions manifest again as the impact of poverty on an accident permanently alters a life in The Kool-Aid Wino Moises Jimenez’s adaptation of a short story by Richard Brautigan. 

In BRAVE by Jasmine Lai, her Taiwanese-American background inspires stories that explore her cultural roots, and question the meaning of "home" when life is literally threatened. 

Pickles for Nickels by Danielle Ash is an offbeat visualization of a city’s rapidly changing neighborhoods,;a quirky, sly, and poignant vignette featuring two merchants (cardboard figures), who are neighbors on New York’s the lower east side.   One is a Jewish pickle vendor; the other, the proprietor of an Italian bakeshop. 

Weather Report by Olivia Taussig is an expedition into and exploitation of recent history. Exposing a fantastic version of the original (the original often derived from media images and text), it re-stages these events within a new visual and sonic landscape. Taussig’s work is a resurrection of recent affairs transcribed into graphite drawings with flakes of color. 

Finally, in The Renter, childhood appears to be taking place in an unsettling atmosphere in which savage moments seem to contradict love, learned in a house that sits among fields of weeds and rotting pears. 

Maureen Selwood, Curator
Mapping Voices
25 August 2011

Prepare Yourself 

Saturday, 1 October 
Works from the Program in Film and Video and the Film Directing Program co-curated by Steve Anker, Dean of the School in Film/Video and Chiara Giovando, alumna, Program in Film and Video
TRT:  76 minutes

Prepare Yourself is comprised of a small cross section of pieces from the Film &Video and Film Directing programs at CalArts.  It represents the breadth of subject that is engaged while only scratching the surface of a larger community of innovative, daring and provocative young filmmakers.  The Film/Video School at CalArts encourages exploration of the medium as well as the development of experimental narrative.  Students are trained in hand processing, digital effects and non-traditional shooting technique, and are immersed in a rigorous dialogue with film history, theory and the conceptual ramifications of their work.

  • Vineland (2009), Laura Kraning, DV, 10:21 minutes
  • They Even Import Coffins (2011), Heysung Moon & Kelman Duran, HD original 16mm, 15:58 minutes
  • Light Escapes (2011), Naoko Tasaka, HD original 16mm, 15:30 minutes
  • Archaic Smile (2011), Chiara Giovando, DV, 11:00 minutes
  • The Gods Are Watching (2010), Spencer Holden, DV, 7:00 minutes
  • Garbage,The City And Death (2010), Mariah Garnett, DV, 8:20 minutes
  • Hymn To The Sun (2011), Laura K. Swanson & Jahcobie Cosom, HD, 6:00 minutes

Vineland, by Laura Kraning is a stunning example of new approach to the documentary form.  Here Kraning does away with rigid representations of a historical past and instead opts for lush abstraction. At the last drive-in movie theater in Los Angeles, dislocated Hollywood images filled with apocalyptic angst float within the desolate nocturnal landscape of the City of Industry. In this border zone, re-framed and mirrored projections collide with a displaced radio broadcast soundtrack, revealing overlapping realities at the intersection of nostalgia and alienation. 

They Even Import Coffins, by Heysung Moon & Kelman Duran reworks footage shot in and around the South Korean industrial countryside.  Mr. Kim lives in Gyongido in South Korea. He is a struggling actor and works as a cleaner. 

Light Escapes, by Naoko Tasaka is a strong example of experimental film technique. With dogged determination Tasaka shot this film with high speed cameras in the middle of the Pacific Ocean often with only a two man crew.  An attempt at expressing thought without language, the film explores a tiny psychedelic universe, somewhere between southern California and the imagination.  

Archaic Smile by Chiara Giovando is a lush, sometimes grotesque series of images that recall renaissance painting and the tableaux.  A tension between nature and symbol exists, ultimately drawn from a subconscious space.

The Gods Are Watching by Spencer Holden follows a camera through the world revealing both the intrusive quality of photography and creating a triangular gaze between camera, subject and spectator.  The film raises questions about surveillance, authorship and the responsibility of the filmmaker.

Garbage, The City, And Death by Mariah Garnett adapts three scenes from a Fassbinder play of the same title, which was banned from the stage in Germany in 1985.  Performed by Garnett and her half-sister, Joanna Coleman, a couple bickers over money problems, undying love and general disgust.  Sibling rivalry is warped here by a lovers’ quarrel.  

Hymn To The Sun, directed by Laura K. Swanson and produced by Jahcobie Cosom.   Fueled by an inner vision, Akhnaten and Nefertiti transcend time… space and gender in this operatic music video inspired by the aria “Hymn to the Sun” from the opera Akhnaten by Philip Glass.

Last edited by vroveto on Aug 12, 2015
Close Menu
Open Menu