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

Crossroads, Apparent Motion section - focus on Rubix II by Rose Kallal

Sara Bonaventura

«When our eyes touch each others, is it day or night?»
J.Derrida (Toucher, Jean-Luc Nancy)

[Clicca qui per la traduzione italiana]

I decided to start this article on a long night spent at Philadelphia airport, a non-place in an extra-time dimension. In a drifting crossroad, a night-time interstitial suspension, a psychic dimension, not only spatial.

It seemed the perfect atmosphere to talk about the work of Rose Kallal, one of the two artists of the live cinema event - "Apparent Motion" - of the last Crossroads. Rose brought Rubix II, sum of her works with multiple 16mm projections, accompanied by a soundtrack performed with modular synths. I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions, after seeing an on line edited version of Rubix II, originally comprised of three 16mm projections (three together installed outputs). Looking at it again and again I started seeing H bombs, Rose assured me she did not edit them for purpose, but I keep doing this association with her explosive work.

She is Rose. A multi-instrumentalist musician as well as filmmaker, with a strong propensity to the analogue.
Her works are accompanied by a soundtrack she performed, very often live improvisations of modular synthesis, in a unique combination of different 16mm loops, sequences with different length, speed and circular rates.
The sculptural form and the rhythmic structure of her video installations recall the brutalist architectural juxtapositions of some of her early works, both photographic and 16mm, like Analemma, shot  in Toronto, Scarborough campus.

Her more mature work retains tensions and resolutions of the early works, but the boundaries burst into circular continuity and dissolve into more plasticity. Vision and tactility, distance and proximity cross like a chiasma. The different projections are intermingled and at the same time distanced, within that frame of the frame where all the axioms related to the notion of margin, limit and threshold penetrate ach others; that notion of frames that in English is both content and perimeter. Each single projection focuses and disperses the gaze, in a hypnotic sensory overload.
Some readers who have seen her in Italy in 2013, at the Live Arts Week, or at last Berlin Atonal, had a chance to find themselves immersed in a constant flow of connective patterns, with no boundaries between micro and macrocosmos, a feedback with continuous in motion center, in a dark atmosphere where the obscure universe meets the inner consciousness, as in the fractal animation of the lava enveloped in her Rubix II.

Her works are echoes of major pioneers, Oskar Fishinger and Hans Richter, Harry Smith and John & James Whitney, Jim Davis and Jordan Belson. Like in Belson's films1, the experience of vision is continuous, orchestrated with no cuts but rather overlapping with fades, in a pantheistic universe where matter and form infinitely flow into one another (see. Apeiron).

Compared to Belson's cinema, that sense of widespread harmony, reflection of a peaceful mindset, is missing; Rose is the expression of a more restless mind and the atmospheres resemble the imaginary of distant 70s science fiction (sometimes literally quoted like Zardoz in Mobius Coil).

A new age sucked in the contemporary void, where there is no visible left, just a chance to see otherwise. Blind eyes digging inside, but open to the eyes of the world. Between these eyes there is void, which is suspension, rhythm, duration. An interstice, a boundary that is both internal and external to the semantic and communicative space defined by it, so it is both a passage and an impassable boundary, both the condition of the opening of the event and the gesture of closure, both meeting and refusal of the other.

As you can possibly understand from her work, Rose is laconic but very straight, reserving the right to wrap up some issues in mystery, but also revealing some secrets. Here is an excerpt of our conversation.

You are originally from Canada, right? When did you move to NYC? Can you tell me a little bit about your background, music, studies whatever…

Yes, I'm originally from Canada, but have lived in NYC for past 15 years, I'm a permanent resident, planning to get my citizenship. I’ve lived in NYC earlier though, starting in late eighties, so I have a long history with NYC. Spent most of the 90's in Toronto. I was exhibiting photography mostly then… I pretty well consider myself American at this point... I made a couple of short films while I was in Art school in Toronto and NYC in late 80’s… and then focused on still photography for quite a few years, exhibiting, I started shooting 16mm film again in the late 90's. Started doing my live film loop performances in 2006. I come out of gallery and music communities more so then film world. I did a fairly wide range of photography, weird landscapes etc, similar to my early films. [Rose is represented by New York gallery Lyles and King]

How was the Crossroads festival? How was your set up? Have you performed with the modular and how long? Does the title refer to something in particular?

Crossroads festival took place at the SFMOMA theatre, so it was projected on screen, and they had a proper sound system etc. I was on stage with synth for 25 minutes. My performances are usually 30 - 45 min long. I usually sit in front sort of below the projections. I consider the performances equal parts visual and sound, and I don't perform my projects much. Crossroads will probably be the only performance of Rubix, I did a variation of it at Lincoln, but that kind of wraps up that footage.
Next time I perform I will shoot a new piece. Some of my sound pieces have names of Stars (Murzim) and the film piece Aldebaran is a star - twin red star, the bulls eye in Taurus. Rubix sounds like a star name to me, but don't think it is a real one.....The word sounded to me of Red and square.

The source material, I see feedback but also computer animation. How do you process the animation and how is it then reversed on 16mm? In particular my attention was driven by that kind of fluid red magma floating in the middle projection. How was that generated?

I capture my video synthesis experiments and then will edit them on computer, and then I will shoot the footage off my computer monitor with 16mm camera... most of my other film loop pieces also incorporate some graphics that I do on light table, and use some double exposures etc, but Rubix is fairly simple. The middle red thing is a computer animation of some sort of fractal that I shot off of Youtube... I'm giving away my trade secrets here... Most of my found footage I shoot from youtube, so I don't collect it really. I always mix in my own footage as well. In recent couple years, it's almost all my own footage that I use.

It's really mesmerizing how the three projections quite melt, even more performing live I am sure. How do you adjust them? They are overlapping and interblending somehow, but how do you construct this triple expanded vision?

I have used a variety of projection configurations, but the triptych is always nice, I just position projectors so the images overlap, and the loops are all a bit different lengths so the repeating images sometimes sync up and are always reconfiguring themselves. I see it as pointing to elemental processes.

Then soundtrack. You composed most of your score, it’s usually drone and minimal, on modular synth but also drums. You were saying your background is also as musician, right?

I've played music since early 90’s… I started playing drums and guitar, and then synth. My sound performances are semi improvised, I usually spend quite a bit of time working on the modular synth patches before I perform, so it's fairly worked out before hand.

We know you realized some split with Mark Harris (Napalm Death, Svorn) e Karl O'Connor (Regis), Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe/Lichens, Mark Beasley, currently Performa curator, Mark Pilkington, with whom you released then also an ep, Implicate Explicate, on We Can Elude Control, all eclectic figures like you probably, film maker, sound artist, what else?

The Mobius Coil piece was performed live in London UK for an exhibition called Narcissus Trance curated by Paul Purgas and Shamma Khanna, Mick Harris and Karl O'Connor did a collaboration together, and we both performed at the opening, Paul Purgas put the split 7" out as part of the exhibition, so that's how it came about. So we didn't collaborate, but shared a bill and record together. Yeah, I've collaborated with Robert Aiki Lowe a number of times, as well as  Mark Beasley and Mark Pilkington... all good friends...

Do you wanna say us some spoiler about the new album out for We can elude control?

Yep, I have a record coming out soon, it is on a UK label - We can elude control run - by Paul Purgas, who's a musician in Emptyset, and he is a curator.  
I was just in touch with Paul, regarding record, seems release date will be sept 1st. The title of album is Perseus. The sound I had on the Murzim (or Rubix) vid is from the new album, the vid may be used as promo vid for it, but not sure yet… the track is called Murzim which is why I titled it that....

Rose's laconic answers are full of suspension points, breaks that unfold endless thresholds, initiatory trance conditions and hypnagogic hallucinations, fluctuating openings between a black hole and the ever-expanding cosmos (Solar Arc). Reflections of gravity’s rainbows and lost consciousness (Lady of the Lake), echoes of past futures in an extra-temporal dimension of perpetual immanence. An unlimited but insatiable kaleidoscope.

I'm flying towards the Old Continent now. Thinking of last century four pillars, celluloid and tape, cutting and splicing. I feel like oscillating between old and new, synchronous and asynchronous. Absorbed in an eternal collapse, reverberating in the glow of technologies on the brink of obsolescence. A loop of the past to the present. And all this with its inertia motion could only come from the New Continent, from San Francisco; through NYC with its hectic entropy, the apparent antidote to an horror vacui ever closer to the point of no return of our humanity.


1. Ideological adherent of this type of cinema, such as Youngblood, believe that the resultant simultaneity of (non dramatic) action, proceeding within a space-time Continuum, most accurately reflects, among the various film styles, the era of relativity and that superimposition must take the place of montage (Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema, New York, Dutton & Co., 1970 pp. 86-7).


Analemma 16mm film, 2002

The History of Magic 16mm film, 2004

Solar Arc – 16mm film loops, 2007

Mobius Coil – 16mm film loops & sound, 2010

Lady of the Lake – 16mm film loops & sound, 2011

Apeiron – 16mm film loops and sound, 2013

Ho visto cose


Speciale Crossroads 2017

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