- ISSN 2039-800X
Trimestrale online di cultura cinematografica
Diretto e fondato da Luigi Abiusi
anno VIII | UZAK 28/29 | autunno 2017 / inverno 2018

Zachary Epcar: Return To Forms

Nicola Tirabasso

Zachary Epcar (b. 1987, San Francisco) is a film and video maker currently based in Oakland, California, who makes moving image work dealing with the space and materiality of leisure, and the intersections between body and built environment. His work has been shown at Projections, New York Film Festival; Ann Arbor Film Festival; Crossroads, San Francisco Cinematheque; Images Festival, Toronto; and the Rotterdam, Edinburgh, and San Francisco International Film Festivals.

«Subjecting our visual (and virtual) lexicon of luxury to a series of sculptural and kinetic interventions, the film evokes a crazed anthropologist’s observations of a bizarre cargo cult— our own. The climactic vision... is typical of Epcar’s exuberant play with meaning: the commodity pulverised, reconstituted as a new order of objet d’art, and finally relinquished to the rude flow of cinema.» - Max Goldberg
A constellation of objects, each emerging into the soft peach-light void of an indeterminate condominium space.
I personally met Zacary one year ago, while I was living in Oakland (CA). We met for the first time at the Black Hole Cinematheque, it was during the screening of the Rivette’s episodes Noli Me Tangere. A casual meeting outside the Tooth’s studio (the founder of Black Hole Cinematheque also known as arc) in the middle of what it could seem a sketchy hood in West Oakland.
The Black Hole concept sprang partially from an action against the popular myth that all this knowledge and material for working in celluloid was somehow disappearing into a conceptual void. The atmosphere at the Black Hole was very intimate: a studio full of objects, cameras, books, posters and film stocks scattered everywhere; like a Chris Marker’s studio after an hurricane. Right now Zacary and Thoot are both running the Light Field festival: an international exhibition of recent and historical moving image art on celluloid held in the San Francisco Bay Area which take spaces like The Lab, Artists' Television Access, and Roxie Theater.

What was the main inspiration for Return to Forms?

The Sky Mall product catalog. Essentially all the images of this products exist with this kind of white void space on the page, and so I was interested in emulating or thinking about of what that kind of white void deserves or surrounds the commodity, how it looks like in a cinematic space? That kind of mythologization with which the media dimension has to do, creating a space around this objects, decontestualizing them. Because what we find it is not necessarily a familiar space, it's almost surreal and back to the order of commodity in that way, so it’s not natural or it’s not necessary in that domestic space, it’s more disorienting. Refamiliarizing in that way, in an ironic-mythological relation with this type of objects, hiding and obscuring that relationship.

Did you intend to express a primitive sense of the object as a relation between human and shapes? The value and desires of the object?

Yeah, I think in some ways I play with an idea of desire and representing it. I don’t think of desire as an outside form of it’s position within capitalism or taking it’s objects outside of that necessarily, but it’s almost like overwhelming or transcending that particular system and so it’s the sense of immediacy that I’m interested in. Touching and definitely thinking about these objects as a form, but also go deeper into the commodity, connect to this experience that we have or sense or smelling, tasting and touching. Engaging an immediacy.

What about Lesley Gore? Also if it’s anachronistic, reminds me of the use of music and images of Scorpio Rising.

I think that Scorpio is one of the greatest example of use of music. To me it carries a real emotional resonance, it’s not just this ironic imaginary and mythological tone, but it has this emotional value. Anachronistic. Seems to carry more reference of Kenneth Anger, providing the complexity, inspire the relation of this object to this sense of detachment, critical distance or ambilvalence.
That song can complicate, it lets the people engage with the film in a purely ironic way on an emotional purpose. It's only there in order to provide emotional tracking to the images. I think I was just interesting to break the rules introducing this pop song.

And in a way the objects are depicted with a strong symbolic value, like the scene of the plant inside the iPad.

I think that one clear distinction is to recontestualize. Imagining an object and build it, playing with the idea of disorienting and resonating with a symbiolic value. For me this kind of narrative or counternarrative to this sort of methodology against capitalism which is there was pretty clear. Where the nature will reclame, will come back, covering cities, covering commodity, retaking by and be reabsorbed into the natural order. To tease this idea and almost give that impression. The plant breaking through the iPad. A loaded symbol where people might get confuse.
Where nature will reclaim itself, even if reappropriating becomes an aestetichs or design like the condos, in particular here around the Bay. This iPad will be taken by nature, it’s a kind of joke to use a design or an architectural strategy for riappropriation.

In regards of the Bay Area, I know that there are lots of things going on about the art/ filmmaking scene: like the Crossroads and the SF Cinemateque for example, your Light Field and the Black Hole Cinemateque in Oakland, but how can all those things survive against the Bay Area predatory real estate situation?

About the Crossroads and Cinemateque: they’re growing up in San Francisco and all around the Bay. The work of Steve Polta and Christine, in term of reappropriation, is huge. The way Steve is taking excting directions, expecially this year, it's interesting. There’s so much
About Light Field, I can’t speak for the other members: the festival provides a breath, a dialogue around our art scene like what is the Black Hole. The Black Hole is still there but it is in indefinite. Corresponding in the present constant thread eviction, spaces like this are directly related to that kind of predatory real estate situation in the bay.
It’s hard to be optimistic about the future, in particular here in the Bay. People always makes analogies between now and what was the previous late nineteens internet because it’s a real explosion of property values and that means the real failure of the city to protect the spaces.


Return to Forms (Zacary Epcar 2016 / 10 min / 16mm on HD)

Renny Pritikin is an Oakland, California-based curator, art writer, educator and poet. He has been executive director of New Langton Arts, and chief curator at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, both in San Francisco; director of the Nelson Gallery and Fine Arts Collection at the University of California, Davis; and is currently the chief curator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

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Speciale Crossroads 2017

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