Wouldn't this make a great story?
PXL THIS 20, the 20th annual toy camera film festival featuring Pixelvision films made with the Fisher-Price PXL-2000 camcorder, screens May 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. PXL THIS, the second oldest film festival in LA, celebrates visionary moving image artists from 4-years-olds to professionals.
for immediate release
contact: Gerry Fialka 310-306-7330
firstname.lastname@example.org Visit: http://pxl2000.blogspot.com/ and http://sites.google.com/site/pxlthis/ and http://www.laughtears.com/ and http://www.youtube.com/user/pxlthis
PXL THIS 20, the 20th annual toy camera film festival,
screens Thursday, May 19, 2011, 8pm at Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N Alvarado St. (at Sunset Blvd.) Los Angeles, CA, 90026, 213-484-8846, admission $5, http://www.echoparkfilmcenter.org/ (where one can actually rent a PXL 2000 camcorder & past PXL THIS dvds). More PXL THIS info: 310-306-7330 http://www.laughtears.com/
Preshow features a sneak preview of Wickstead's Wonder - an interview with James Wickstead, the inventor of the Fisher Price PXL 2000 camcorder. Wickstead email@example.com is available for interviews. Scroll down to read a recent article on him.
PXL THIS 20 press:
PXL THIS celebrates its 20th year of creativity by everyone from kids to professionals. One of the most unique film festivals ever, PXL THIS has been attended by Oliver Stone, Daryl Hannah, Kim Fowley among many more. Pixelvision has even made it onto the big screen via Richard Linklater (Slacker), Michael Almereyda (Nadja, produced by David Lynch) and Craig Baldwin (Sonic Outlaws). The irresistible irony of the PXL 2000 is that the camera's ease-of-use and affordability, which entirely democratizes movie-making, has inspired the creation of some of the most visionary, avant and luminous film of our time. "If movies offer an escape from everyday life, Pixelvision is the Houdini of the film world."
- SF Weekly
PXL THIS, featuring films made with the Fisher-Price PXL 2000 toy camcorder, is one of the longest running film festivals in the entertainment capital of the world. Celebrating "cinema povera" moving image art, it evokes Marcel Duchamp's axiom "Poor tools require better skills." Pixelators from across the globe hoick up inventive approaches to the unassuming throw-away of consumer culture. These low-tech hi-jinx films come through loud and clear by reframing a new cinema language. Past PXL THIS participants have included Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Chris Metzler (Fishbone & Salton Sea documentaries), James & Sadie Benning, Joe Gibbons, Cecilia Dougherty, Peggy Ahwesh, Jesse Drew, Margie Strosser and Michael Almereyda.
"Gerry Fialka’s annual PXL THIS is a reliably surprising and seductive round-up of recent work achieved with the PXL 2000 camera. This humble outdated “toy” continues to bring out the visionary child in filmmakers and viewers alike, and no one has kept the PXL flame burning longer or brighter than Gerry."
- Michael Almereyda, director
"Gerry Fialka's PXL THIS festival snaps, crackles and pops off the screen with the funky, user-friendly energy of real first-person cinema. Goofy, gorgeous, and altogether groovy, his provocative program of pieces produced with the Fisher-Price PXL 2000 toy video camera is not only downright entertaining, but more, its blipping and buzzing black 'n' white picture-bits coalesce into a veritable inspiration to all those who cherish the playful, spontaneous gestures and low-cost of electronic folk art."
- Craig Baldwin, director & curator.
"All the PXL THIS videos reflect festival organizer Gerry Fialka's commitment to the freedom produced by making art without financial constraints. PXL THIS is a welcome highlight in the Los Angeles media scene celebrating the rich lexicon available in a tool which might initially seem rather limiting."
- Holly Willis, LA Weekly.
"PXL is the ultimate people's video." - J. Hoberman, Premiere Magazine
Hollywood Reporter called Pixelvision a "precursor of today's DV filmmaking."
"When the aliens are here and deciding whether to vaporize all mankind for our inhumanity, cruelty and greed, showing the aliens PXL THIS will save the world. PXL THIS shows our best nature as humanist creators and subversives against those who deserve it. Save the world. Support PXL THIS." - George Manupelli, founder of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, filmmaker, poet, collagist and political/environmental activist
Cinesource PXL article by Gerry Fialka - http://cinesourcemagazine.com/index.php?/site/comments/pxl_triple_fake/
PXL THIS Director Fialka - hires 300 dpi still with PXL Cam - http://www.laughtears.com/images/Gerry-360dpi.jpg and Bio - http://www.laughtears.com/bio.html
PXL THIS 20 will also screen in San Fran in 2011 tba
PXL THIS 20 highlights include:
Always a favorite at PXL THIS, L M Sabo's OIL KILLS takes you on a journey of America's love affair with Big Oil and the devastating consequences. Press ready stills: http://members.cox.net/l.m.sabo/Oil-Kills-1.jpg & http://members.cox.net/l.m.sabo/Oil-Kills-2.jpg & http://members.cox.net/l.m.sabo/Oil-Kills-3.jpg &
http://members.cox.net/l.m.sabo/Oil-Kills-4.jpg & http://members.cox.net/l.m.sabo/Oil-Kills-5.jpg
Nicole & Michael Possert's ARROYO SECO RIVER SONG, starring George Willis, is a moving tribute to the most important tributary to the Los Angels River. This historical corridor has been home to Native Americans, missionaries, rancheros, explorers, artists and dreamers who have sculpted this valley into LA's seminal region. The founding of the City of Los Angels is at the confluence of these two rivers. Press images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/2007pxl/sets/72157625268199688/
Philip Marion's SPOON & PACKET conjures a miniature parable for a larger world. Press ready stills: www.eveningalbum.com/SpoonAndPacketPXLstills.jpg
It's a family affair with visionary PXL-Dad Geoff Seelinger contributing 3 titles (two co-made with his children): BEACH DAY, LIGHT PLAY http://vimeo.com/17718439 - A dreams beach day is captured in high contrast, stuttered motion by the magic of a PXL2000. Abstractions are created through motion, reflections, hi-lights and shadow. The PXL images of beach activities to open up into an immense imaginary space.
Geoff's children: 7 year-old Donovan's SHRINGLY: SCI-ENCE http://vimeo.com/17687291 delves into the reaches of his imagination about the mysteries of extreme science. Donovan uses seeds in motion, layering and abstract images to illuminate possibilities and ideas of his fancy. A collaboration with PXL dad -- Geoff Seelinger
4 year-old Gwyneth's AND THEY PLAYED & THEY PLAYED & THEY PLAYED http://vimeo.com/17694873 shares a stream of consciousness, that includes stories from the heart, songs about poop, ugly words and other joyous indiscretions.
PXL THIS superstar Eli Elliott's ROXY RUBICON EPISODE 5 alternatively energizes Menippean satire and time warps all systems from collapsing, just in time to save the future. His SUZY & BRAD'S PINCHBACK bellows Bessie Smith blues big time.
With jubilant innocence four-year old Anwyn Lees remakes THE WIZARD OF OZ on the front porch with Mom & Dad.
Jesse Drew's DOLBY - Technocultural professor's industrial shots of factory job recalls Russian Constructivism.
Seminal cinema experimenter Bryan Konefsky's FERTILE GROUND CORPORATE SLUG suggests the nitty gritty influences of media visionary, Gene Youngblood (author of the ground-breaking book Expanded Cinema) as described by investigative journalist Greg Palast. http://vimeo.com/17020232
Award winning filmmaker Terri Sarris contributes three: DEAD MAN'S CLOTHES (Sarris & Frank Pahl - Oh, the stories second-hand things might tell...) and SPARKLE (Fourth of July, 2010) and GLITCH. http://vimeo.com/user3842874 Every decade sees one PXL that really captures the inherent uniqueness of Pixelvision. For example, James Benning's TABLETOP in the very first PXL THIS, and Lisa's Marr's RUGRAT in 2004. Sarris astutely utilizes PXL's innate characteristics in GLITCH.
Moving image artist extraordinaire David Sherman's PROJECTION/EJECTION shutters the ephemeral light in blinding the baseness of bodies in motion.
Squeezebox tickler Nick Newlin's TWICE AS NICE feels the love. Newlin interprets Thelonius on the accordion in MONK.
Michael Vile's THE MADGICIAN astounds with a floating cigarette.
PXL Pioneer tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE's PHILOSOPHER'S UNION MEMBER'S MOUTHPIECE yelps with fresh ideas from modern thinkers: Alan Rabbit Suit, Richard Tryzno Ellsberry and John Berndt.
Six-year-old Chester Burnett's CALIFORNIA STUDIOS playfully quakes the Hollywood template.
Paul Yates' DRAWBRIDGE demonstrates how surreal PXL in-camera effects can be. http://www.vimeo.com/4319553
Robin Carter's intriguing PYTHAGORAS AS POET explores the birth of science, mathematics, and philosophy. When the Phoenician's brought their writing system to the Greeks, it started a revolution of mind. In the midst of this, Pythagoras emerged in 500BC as the first philosopher. Myth and magic were as much apart of his world as number and theory. Since time immemorial the archivist of cultural knowledge was the poet, and Pythagoras followed this tradition and divined the properties numbers and space from the gods. The alphabet changed the world forever, as it changed the minds of the ancient Greeks. As the alphabet anchored in culture after culture, the mind of humankind has been shaped in kind, but as digital technology usurped the power of reading, what does that mean for us?
TROG ALLEY is another installment of Will Erokan's epic pxloitation compendium, Las Trampas, Joe recalls a highly transformative visionary experience, involving black magic, brotherhood symbolism & crystal meth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSK4SSqLUGM
Venice Boardwalk performer Joe Nucci's SEE NOTE is the fourth episode in the captivating trilogy of hilarious limo driver recollections.
PSALM 4 "3" + ME by Giuseppe Nuccini evokes the Venetian Rock Opera.
Mary Jane Shoultz's SPILTERACY probes the death of the visual, linear straight-jackets of books as a plus. Schoultz, education professor, founder of the "open" school movement and a close advisor to Marshall McLuhan, Norman Mailer & Ivan Illich, updates our consciousness with the electric environment as the major learning tool. "Our young people are not illiterate, they are post-literate. Today's students want immediate roles, not far-off goals." - McLuhan. The "S" is SPILTERACY should be a dollar sign $. "The trouble with a cheap specialized education is that you never stop paying for it." - McLuhan
Stormin' Norman & Suzy Williams' VENICE LULLABY swings rag'n'roll with joyous passion.
Jason Danti's BIRD merges bebop visuals with music as ideas.
Robert Dobbs' SEX, DEATH & PIXELVISION reignites the Menippean marshalling of McLuhan's science and the certainty of obscure artifacts.
In WASTING TIME LOOKIN' IN THE MIRROR, Pixelator Dahvi Bolog realizes his life.
Mariko Drew's IT'S A LEMONHEAD - Grade school gals profess quizzical inquiries about life.
Rex Butters' 7 DUDLEY conjures a montage of Sponto Gallery home movies filmed in words.
Maureen Cotter's COWBOY PUSSY recounts her experiences as a chaplain in a mental hospital.
Gerry Fialka's PARALLEL WORLDER doubles the single unified theory as Martha Graham and WC Fields dig duality dancing in mysterious metaphors of Beefheartian time & Vorticist space.
PXL innovator Doug Ing provides two engaging shorts: DEATH (Ruminations on death by the Loor Children and 65 year old Phil Kaplan) and BEST LAVA VIEW RIGHT HERE (Ing, his father and friends explore the aftermath of a recent volcano eruption on the island of Hawaii from the balcony of a house amidst the lava field).
Pixelvision avatars Lisa Marr and Paolo Davanzo's GOOD GRIEF repurposes pop culture with pixelated wit
Arthur Coleman's FOG ON GLASS breathes gray azure over the mirror. His MARIGOLD SERENADE mutes ambient birdsongs.
Clifford Novey's ROUNDS comprehensively circles illusive visual domains.
Elric Kane's SLOW DRAW appropriates bad action films evoking something more intimate than mere on-screen carnage via Pixelvision.
PXL Pioneer Paul Bacca's TETRAHEDRALLY trips the light fantastic in grass roots guerrilla radio waves fashion, Former Second City Music Director and comedian Jonathan Menchin's HEY YOU IN THE FUTURE alerts wanna-bes not yet born.
Called the female Robert Johnson, Sunny War's SHEEP grazes musicality supreme.
Denny Moynahan's KING KUKULELE KOGNITION joins Denny's live self and PXL-self as they ruminate on his 46th birthdays' inner thoughts.
PXL THIS 20 premiered Monday, Dec 13, 2010, two different shows 7 & 9pm at the Unurban Coffeehouse, 3301 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA, 90404, 310-315-0056, free admission. More info: 310-306-7330 http://www.laughtears.com/
1- THE WIZARD OF OZ - Anwyn Lees, 8 minutes*
2- CALIFORNIA STUDIOS - Chester Burnett, 3m*
3- AND THEY PLAYED & THEY PLAYED & THEY PLAYED - Gwyneth & Geoff Seelinger, 5m
4- BEACH DAY, LIGHT PLAY- Geoff Seelinger, 3m
5- SHRINGLY: SCI-ENCE - Donovan & Geoff Seelinger, 5m
6- 7 DUDLEY - Rex Butters, 3m*
7- TWICE AS NICE - Nick Newlin, 4m*
8- FOG ON GLASS - Arthur Coleman, 2m*
9- OIL KILLS - L. M. Sabo, 2m
10- PROJECTION/EJECTION - David Sherman - 3m
11- PYTHAGORAS AS POET - Robin Carter, 5m
12- SUZY & BRAD'S PINCHBACK - Eli Elliott, 4m
13- DEAD MAN'S CLOTHES - Terri Sarris & Frank Pahl, 3m
14- SPARKLE - Terri Sarris, 3m*
15- GLITCH - Terri Sarris, 3m
16- SPOON & PACKET - Philip Marion, 12m
17- SEE NOTE - Joe Nucci, 6m
18- PSALM 4 "3" + ME - Giuseppe Nuccini, 1m*
19- BEST LAVA VIEW RIGHT HERE - Doug Ing, 4m*
20- IT'S A LEMONHEAD - Mariko Drew, 3m*
21- DOLBY - Jesse Drew, 3m*
22- KING KUKULELE KOGNITION - Denny Moynahan, 4m
23- ARROYO SECO RIVER SONG - Nicole & Michael Possert, 4m
24- ROUNDS - Clifford Novey, 6m
25- FERTILE GROUND CORPORATE SLUG - Bryan Konefsky, 4m
26- DRAWBRIDGE - Paul Yates, 3m*
27- SLOW DRAW - Elric Kane, 7m
28- THE MADGICIAN - Michael Vile, 3m*
29- VENICE LULLABY - Stormin' Norman Zamcheck & Suzy Williams, 3m*
30- COWBOY PUSSY - Maureen Cotter, 4m*
31- PARALLEL WORLDER - Gerry Fialka, 10m*
32- HEY YOU IN THE FUTURE - Jonathan Menchin, 4m
33- GOOD GRIEF - Lisa Marr & Paolo Davanzo, 2m
34- DEATH - Doug Ing, 5m*
35- TROG ALLEY - Will Erokan, 6m
36- ROXY RUBICON EPISODE 5 - Eli Elliott, 6m
37- WASTING TIME LOOKIN' IN THE MIRROR - Dahvi Bolog, 3m*
38- SHEEP - Sunny War, 4m*
39- SPILTERACY - Mary Jane Shoultz, 4m
40- MONK - Nick Newlin, 4m
41- SEX, DEATH & PIXELVISION - Robert Dobbs, 4m*
42- BIRD - Jason Danti, 4m*
43- MARIGOLD SERENADE - Arthur Coleman, 3m*
44- PHILOSOPHER'S UNION MEMBER'S MOUTHPIECE: Alan Rabbit Suit - tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE, 6m*
45-PHILOSOPHER'S UNIONMEMBER'S MOUTHPIECE:RichardTryzno Ellsberry-tENTATIVELYacONVENIENCE,6m*
46- PHILOSOPHER'S UNION MEMBER'S MOUTHPIECE: John Berndt - tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE, 6m*
47- TETRAHEDRALLY - Paul Bacca, 5m*
(*means this short will be shown on tour if time permits)
Blur + Sharpen If it Works, It's Obsolete by Holly Willis 12-11-10
Gerry Fialka is LA's tireless advocate for alternative media and DIY culture generally, and the creative potential of the PXL 2000, a cheap, plastic toy video camera made by Fisher-Price in the 1980s, in particular. The camera produces a glitchy, chunky black-and-white image that's, well, often quite beautiful. For 20 years, the Venice-based media proponent has been showcasing videos made with the PXL 2000 camera in the PXL This video festival, which returns with a celebratory 20th annual showcase this Monday night, December 13, with two shows (7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.) at the Unurban Coffeehouse at 3301 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica. I took the anniversary as an opportunity to ask Gerry a few questions, starting with what makes the PXL 2000 camera interesting in a world where we now have so many video camera options.
"McLuhan said, 'If it works, it's obsolete,'" says Gerry. "The PXL is remarkable because it does not work." Gerry is referring here to the fact that the camera does not even attempt to mimic reality; it's not interested in clarity, resolution or fidelity. Instead, the camera produces a glimpse of the world, one that underscores visual manipulation and dismisses attempts at perfection. "Giving the viewer less information might mean more involvement by the viewer," Gerry suggests. "It enables the possibility of 'breakdown as breakthrough.'" Considering the array of camera options, Gerry adds, "There's lots of video cams on the market that have some similar features, but none with the unique gothic dreamy look - there are lots of cool words that have described its services and disservices!"
Shooting with the PXL 2000 is also fun. It's nicely shaped, lightweight, and now, nearly 30 years after its birth, boasts a sleek retro look that the little Flip video camera will never have. Oddly enough, the camera records onto sound cassettes, and the image itself is framed with a black matte, giving the resulting footage an elegant look in contrast with the chaos of the imagery itself. When you use a PXL Vision camera, you really have to negotiate with the camera; the process is about discovery rather than capture. "We are really about McLuhan's adage, 'We shape our tools, then they shape us,'" adds Gerry. "That's the meta-cognition here." He goes on to suggest that often artists try to rekindle the visionary delight of children, and using a toy contributes to that sense of creativity and rule-breaking.
Gerry notes that technically he does not "curate" the festival. "I show every entry," he explains. "We welcome kids and homeless people and rich art kids and so on. We celebrate a tool, and we leave it to the audience and press to make aesthetic judgments." He adds that audience reactions definitely shift each year. "'Anything that's popular is a rear-view image,'" Gerry adds, again quoting Marshall McLuhan. "We are not a popular festival." That said, the show is an annual highlight for those seeking offbeat imagery and storytelling, and creativity that emerges in dialogue with imperfect and magical toy tools. More info: 310-306-7330. [Images taken from a PXL 2000 user's manual, available here.] (scroll down for the complete answers from Fialka for Holly's questions)
Toy-Camcorder Fest Focuses on Wild Imaginations by Hank Rosenfeld 12-14-10 Patch.com
http://patch.com/A-c7VP and http://santamonica.patch.com/articles/toy-camcorder-fest-focuses-on-wild-imaginationsPXL This 20, held at the Unurban coffee house, raised a junked toy to artistic heights, howls and hilarity on Monday night.
This was not your father's film festival. More like your funny uncle's.
PXL This 20–the 20th installment of the annual fest curated and hosted by Gerry Fialka–featured nearly four dozen very short films at Unurban on Monday night. They were all shot with the same kind of camera: the PXL 2000, a toy camcorder that was created by Fisher-Price and then discontinued two years later.
The market couldn't handle it back in 1987-89, but thanks to thrift stores, Web sites and family members, the camera–which sells for $40 to $60–is more popular than ever. Today, some experimental directors who dig the camera's funky, low-tech imagery have turned what was a failed toy into a cheapo art tool.
"The toy is much too important to be left [only] to children," Fialka said playfully Monday night–even though the fest included many films made by kids.
The first section of the festival featured pieces shot by children under 10 years old. "And They Played & They Played & They Played" was Gwyneth Seelinger's imaginative, sharply edited tour of her hobbies, while her older brother Donovan's "Shringly: Sci-ence" featured him explaining wormholes and time-travel.
"California Studios," a three-minute documentary, had Chester Burnett employing stuffed animals to give the history of a lost part of Hollywood history. Also featured during this segment: an eight-minute version of "The Wizard of Oz," where Anywn Lees' parents played all the parts, and the 4-year-old narrated and handled lensing chores.
"It's how we put our ideas down," 7-year-old Donovan Seelinger told the audience when asked why he used a PXL cam to explain his ideas about neutrons and space.
Can you say "inspired"?
Many of the PXL films have the grainy quality of Ingmar Bergman black-and-white starkness, or a ghostly bank-security cam.
"Marshall McLuhan said TV is tactile," Fialka explained. " 'Tactile' is exactly the chunky look the PXL 2000 illustrates. You can practically touch the roundness of the dots–all 2,000 of them."
A typical TV screen contains about 200,000 dots of light, or pixels.
"This is a magic toy," Fialka continued. "It's a utensil for creativity that reeks of humanity while Hollywood seems to believe only in spectacle."
PXL This 20 highlights included L M Sabo's "Oil Kills," Clifford Novey's "Rounds," Philip Marion's "Spoon & Packet" and Jonathan Menchin's "Hey You in the Future." Also featured were short musical delights by Brad Kay, Suzy Williams and Denny "King Kukulele" Moynahan; and the "Arroyo Seco River Song" by Nicole and Michael Possert.
Next year, the best of the fest, which included films from across the country and Europe, will play other venues, among them the Echo Park Film Center on May 19. Meanwhile, the entry deadline for PXL This 21 is Oct. 22; submissions can be sent in DVD form to Fialka (310-306-7330, firstname.lastname@example.org) at 2427 1/2 Glyndon Ave., Venice, CA 90291.
Fialka's own entry, "Parallel Worlder," was a culture-jamming mix of Georges Méliès' 1902 film "A Trip to the Moon" and local imagery. His philosophy behind the festival and his other entertainments?
"Think," he said, quoting musician George Clinton. "It ain't illegal yet." http://www.laughtears.com/
Introducing Gerry Fialka's PXL THIS 20 Film Festival by Joseph Mael 11-30-10
"Curator Gerry Fialka puts together events of films both experimental and socially conscious."
- LA City Beat
Maybe certain happenings are meant to be kept discreet but then again there is always that “A-HA!” moment when circumstances lend to the belief that a certain happening is going to blow up. For the PXL THIS Film Festival, it hasn't happened yet. Or maybe it has. Creator of L.A.'s 2nd longest running film festival, Gerry Fialka, brings PXL THIS 20 to life to continue the underground legacy of the revolutionary PXL 2000 video camcorder on December 13th, 2010 at Unurban Cafe in Santa Monica. Produced by Fisher Price (there were 400,000 units released for sale from 1987 to 1989), this “toy” renders a unique video image and now has a legendary history that has firmly left a fingerprint on the history of film-making. The camera produces an image from 2,000 “dots” that is in contrast with modern film technology, particularly when held up to the 150,000+ dots on today's televison, the PXL 2000 elicits a unique image directors enjoy incorporating with heavy duty film machinery.
I had the opportunity to ask Gerry about this year's PXL THIS this week and here's how he answered a couple questions I found relevant:
Q: Can I get a quick reflection by you on PXL THIS 20? What does it mean to you?
A: What the PXL THIS Film Festival means to me is deconstructing moving image art-making and the whole idea of a film festival. We gather the community to share in the creative process, bare bones style. Both in making and in watching, PXL THIS encourages participation, the same way that the PXL image offers little and requires the viewers to heighten their awareness and fill in the blanks. The gap is where the action is - the resonating interval. In Marcel Duchampian spirit, how do you make a film festival that is not a film festival? T S Eliot said that poetry is outing your inner dialogue. What form is your inner dialogue in? Maybe its that dreamy illusive Pixelvision image for some. An extension of consciousness? The next medium ? The Non-physical? The possibility of a world without words? Low definition can mean high participation. PXL THIS means to me connectedness not consumerism, hoicking up an ecstatic new state of tribal immediacy and involvement, simultaneity, all-at-onceness. The Balinese have no word for art, they do everything as well as they can. I salute all Pixelators and PXL THIS audience members who for two decades have mustered up multi-dimensions and multi-sensuousness.
Q: Is PXL THIS the largest publicly accessible pixelvision collection in the world?
A: YES, our archives are stored at The Academy, which is truly a major hoot. The cheeziest genuine fake film festival in the world is treated by the most important Film Archives in the world with respect. They feel that its worth storing and preserving. It reflects what humans can do. As McLuhan said, we shape our tools then they shape us
Fialka, self-described as a para-media ecologist based in Venice, CA, is the visionary behind the PXL 2000 fetish. To say he has a way with words is an understatement. He describes the festival by stating, “PXL THIS features films made with the Fisher-Price PXL 2000 toy camcorder, is one of the longest running film festivals in the entertainment capital of the world. Celebrating "cinema povera" moving image art, it evokes Marcel Duchamp's axiom "Poor tools require better skills." Pixelators from across the globe hoick up inventive approaches to the unassuming throw-away of consumer culture. These low-tech hi-jinx films come through loud and clear by re-framing a new cinema language. Past PXL THIS participants have included Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Chris Metzler (Fishbone & Salton Sea documentaries), James & Sadie Benning, Joe Gibbons, Cecilia Dougherty, Peggy Ahwesh, Jesse Drew, Margie Strosser and Michael Almereyda.” When he describes how the outside world has described PXL THIS he proudly states, "We really love that the “New York Times” called PXL THIS “small” and that lots of our best entries come from Venice California’s Boardwalk performers (as in “houseless” — not homeless because the earth is everyone’s home)."
Pixelvision's history as a tool of choice by experimental filmmakers took off after a grant by the Rockefeller Foundation was awarded to Sadie Benning for her work with the PXL 2000 in 1993. PXL 2000 footage was used in the films Slacker (1991) and Hamlet (2000). Over time, from its brief period on the shelves as a toy for for children to current day, the PXL 2000 format has resurfaced from a failed technology to a prized cult object that even became a thesis topic for some students (McCarty, 2005).
“There is something about the quality of the image that is really dreamlike and it has a feeling of being in the past already even though you just shot it. It is not quite reality or not quite representational of what's really happening at that moment, so it already has this distancing effect of feeling like it's already in the past somehow. “
– Sadie Benning, Award-winning Pixelvision artist
Most of the videos included in the PXL THIS 20 film festival are between 3 and 6 minutes in length though some of the gems in past PXL THIS festivals extended over ten minutes in duration. The festival's following is quite dedicated but it somehow keeps a low profile. If you missed the October submission deadline, don't fret, this film festival has a cult-like following and Fialka receives a growing number of entries each passing year. If you have old PXL 2000 films laying around, your entry into the next PXL THIS is always welcome. Fialka says, "Pixelators return to innocence by using, and even misusing, moving image art to view worlds that usually go unnoticed, evoking children's spirited desire to explore."
Low brow, or high brow? You decide, but as J. Hoberman of Premier Magazine said, “PXL is the ultimate people's video.”
Gerry Fialka believe's PXL THIS is best described by his hero, George Manupelli, founder of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, who said, “When the aliens are here and deciding whether to vaporize all mankind for our inhumanity, cruelty and greed, showing the aliens PXL THIS will save the world. PXL THIS shows our best nature as humanist creators and subversives against those who deserve it. Save the world. Support PXL THIS.” Yep, that's a tough thought to top.
The Show Details
The PXL THIS 20 film festival screens December 13th at the (underrated) Unurban Cafe in Santa Monica (3301 Pico Blvd.), and admission is FREE.
The 6PM pre-show features a sneak preview of Wickstead's Wonder - an interview with James Wickstead, the inventor of the Fisher Price PXL 2000 camcorder! In October, PXL THIS 19 was held in San Francisco, and Wickstead introduced the first (and possibly only) PXL 2000 color camcorder. No word on if this will be part of the L.A. festivities, but perhaps there is a chance.
"Gerry Fialka’s annual PXL THIS is a reliably surprising and seductive round-up of recent work achieved with the PXL 2000 camera. This humble outdated “toy” continues to bring out the visionary child in filmmakers and viewers alike, and no one has kept the PXL flame burning longer or brighter than Gerry." - Michael Almereyda, director
more PXL THIS 20 press:
PXL PERFECT? by Gerry Fialka - Answers to four Holly Willis questions for
her blog http://www.kcet.org/socal/voices/blur-sharpen/
HW-1• there's been a tremendous proliferation of inexpensive video cameras in the last few years, including the Flip: what makes the PXL 2000 camera remain remarkable? Can people still find these cameras? And is there any similar camera currently on the market?
GF- McLuhan said, "if its works, it obsolete." PXL is remarkable because it does not work. It depends on what you mean by remarkable, one audience member said that with all the great new digital effects/equipment seems as though you could "fix" the picture...duchamp said that poorer tools require better skills...without even making a value judgement, i'd say that one can make moving image art BOTH with expensive or non expensive tools.. we are really about mcluhan's "we shape our tools, then they shape us," that's the meta-cognition hEAR.
***remarkable that PXL is a failed toy yet continued to be used as a creative tool (or as the la weekly said one year - a tool for creativity AND adolescent regression, whatta want from a kids toy? amy taubin said just pickin one up is breakin the rules, aren't artist tryin to evoke children's innocence, it continues to delight the visionary child in pixelators, so why not just start out with a kids toy, the balinese have no word for art, they do everything as well as they can...like the joke: kid comes of age when he realizes his dad goes to work, kid- dad what is your job? art teaching dad-i teach people how to draw, kid- you mean they forgot?).
***it's remarkable because giving the viewer less info might mean more involvement by the viewer (user as content) or simply have folks react with "this sucks"...so it enables the possibility of "breakdown as break-through"...
"Anything that's popular is a rear-view image" -McLuhan. We are not a popular festival.
YES, you can still get one of the 400,000 that were made - on ebay, or thrift shops or garage sales, etc
There's lots of vid cams on the market that have some similar features, but none with the unique gothic dreamy (lots of cool words that have described its services and disservices) look and this amazin analog to digital bkgrnd and history
HW- 2• have there been any noticeable aesthetic shifts in the videos you've programmed for this year's festival as opposed to festivals in the past?
GF- i don't really program, i show every entry, we celebrate a tool, we leave it to the audience and press to make aesthetic judgements, opinions..havin studied and developed my own personal aesthetics, yes there are shifts every year and the same ol'thing, but a rare gem comes thru, not worth stopping.
but every year the audience reactions change...defining what you and me mean by aesthetic shifts and what the normal person on the street is different.. we welcome kids and homeless people and rich art kids and so on..
********MOST IMPORTANT= SEEING AND ATTENDING our festival LIVE is really what its ALL ABOUT.. the highly desired communal experience that expands cinema by combining performance art, poetry (thats what pxl really is poetry, outting your inner dialogue, your inner consciousness, poerty/pxl can communicate before its understood, both of these are applied "t s elliot"), music, dance with film has been featured for years at PXL THIS and a critic cannot experience it fully by seeing a video document of it in their lonely teenage room on a TV set (referring to King Kukulele's 10 years of combing his filmic self with his PXL-self). Then again, evoking Zappa, we are satirizing the tribe, rugged individualism and perpetutaing the myth.
HW- 3• as video becomes more and more an everyday vernacular, what makes a video festival-worthy, in your opinion?
GF- any and every gathering of people to discuss the effects of our inventions is worthy, even if its nano-community, we are fine with being called a "small " festival in the NY TIMES, and, at the same time, thriving for 20 years, and being shown in New Zealand, UK and across North America & US with fiery discussions always included. In pizza parlors and art museums.
***worthy to study the hidden effects of hybridizing a light through medium (TV, video) and a light on medium (film, stain glass) (seeing it in the movie theater setting, with a video projector)..
***worthy for festivals like PXL THIS to hoick up satire to uncover the hidden environments of moving image art...we are a genuine fake film festival - havin no entry fee, no budget, no nothing...(sometimes staring at a blank screen, which is what has happened at past PXL THIS festivals, that's the McLuhan "Media Fast," that media ecology, that's sustainability.)
***a video festival enables people to be antenae of the race, thats what ezra pound called artists - "the antennae of the race" broadcasting the hidden effects of what we invent, so we can learn how to COPE with these effects. As James Joyce said to all us finnegans "WAKE," "wake up and learn and unlearn what video festivals, tv, pixelvision all do to you." Needle the somnabulist to cord-cut the cloud?
HW- 4 • if you had to single out one or two of the most significant cultural shifts related to video in our culture, what would they be?
GF- "Culture is our business" - McLuhan.
The opportunity to actually read, study and discuss McLuhan, Joyce & Robert Dobbs via free events like http://www.venicewake.org/ and http://www.venicewake.org/Events/current.html Delving deep into McLuhan's translation of FINNEGANS WAKE by james joyce (he invented facebook and disguised it as a book). Dobbs' translation of them both transforms and reinvents percept plunder for the recent future. Video screenings are available in public meetings and online to uncover the hidden effects of video, and why we ignore the hidden effects.
"The next medium - whatever it is - may be an extension of consciousness. It will include television as its content, not as its environment and will transform television into an art form." - McLuhan.
PXL 2000 Inventor- James Wickstead (of JWDA) email@example.com,
Article on Wickstead-
Cedar Knolls N.J. inventor applying experience to new technology by Sally Silverman 11-2-10 The Daily Record HANOVER — James Wickstead is founder of James Wickstead Design Associates in Cedar Knolls, a company that specializes in product development for the medical, telecom, commercial and consumer markets. Founded in 1968, JWDA has generated more than 40 patents and product licenses on behalf of clients including AT&T, C.R. Bard, Becton Dickenson, Fisher Price, Parker Brothers, Siemans and many more. Most sought after products: "Anything new in technology like applications for software, global positioning systems and wireless applied to all products," Wickstead said. His best inventions: The Black & Decker vegetable steamer; a patient-controlled analgesia device; a device to measure the chemistry of animals by analyzing their blood called the Vettest; and the PXL-2000 camcorder for Fisher-Price. Worst invention: A device that uses high-energy plasma to cure arthritis. "We are asked to implement somebody else's idea. Whether it sells, is something else," Wickstead said. Inventor's traits: "Everybody is an inventor, but you need a massive amount of curiosity and look at things as to how they can be made better," Wickstead said. Beginnings: Wickstead was born in Pompton Plains in 1941 and grew up there. After high school, he attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he received a degree in industrial design. "While in high school, I didn't know this type of work existed," Wickstead said. "I was interested in building cars, but an uncle of mine who was a landscape architect suggested industrial design. Before that, I was considering mechanical engineering," he said. Career path: After working for several small companies in New York and Philadelphia, Wickstead was drafted to serve in the U.S. military in Vietnam. He was stationed at the Aberdeen (Md.) Proving Ground as a scientist for two years, where he worked on armor and battle tanks. "It was the think tank for the Army — they would give us a problem and want a solution in 30 days," he said. Following military service, Wickstead founded his company, fist in Maryland then in Glen Rock. "There were lots of design firms, but they couldn't make products or get them into the marketplace," Wickstead said. Back to Jersey: "I camped all over the United States to determine the best place to locate my company and came here in 1979," he said. At home: Wickstead lives in Mendham with his wife, Jean. He enjoys fly fishing, hiking and, as a car enthusiast, he still does all the mechanical work on his two "old" Ferraris.
Program Notes for San Francisco Cinematheque's AN INVENTION WITHOUT A FUTURE -
PIXELVISION: ELECTRONIC FOLK ART. (comprehensive history of PXL THIS and Pixelvision)
Andrea Nina McCarthy's 2005 MIT thesis "Toying With Obsolescence: Pixelvision Filmmakers & The Fisher Price PXL 2000 Camera" is essential reading.
Pixelvision enables filmmakers to tap into that child-like innocence all artists seek in the creative process. What could be easier than starting with a kids toy. John Lane's 2001 book Timeless Simplicity articulates wabi-sabi, "the perfect antidote to the pervasively slick style of homogenized efficency." Pixelvisionaries evoke the spirit of Wabi-sabi: "This elusive philosphy is about sufficiency and restraint. It is about simplicity, the minor and hidden, the modest and humble, the imperfect and the evanescent. It is about treading lightly on the planet. An added dimension is its implicit message urging us to forget the seductions of success - wealth, status, power and luxury."
"As for the PXL 2000 camera, because it’s a child’s toy there’s a certain naiveté which is inherent in the productions. Yet due to its technology, the PXL 2000 camera produces these edgy, gritty, “rough as a night in jail” images. I find the juxtaposition of these two attributes very interesting and useful in many of the politically oriented pieces I’ve produced. From a technical perspective, I would say my primary contribution to the field is that I created a filmmaking style using the PXL 2000 which I call Machinima Vérité. Machinima Vérité combines Machinima (creating movies from 3D PC game engines) with Cinéma Vérité techniques to create a sense of realism. So basically I produce and render the movie from a game engine on a PC, display the video on a high resolution LCD, and recapture the video on the LCD using a PXL 2000 camera. My videos “CATACLYSM” and “bursting in air” are a couple of examples of this technique. I really appreciate all of the effort Gerry Fialka puts in with the PXL THIS festival. If it weren’t for Gerry, interest in the PXL 2000 would have died out many years ago." - L. M. Sabo
PXL THIS 21 - Entry deadline Oct 22, 2011 - simply send a dvd to Gerry Fialka 2427 1/2 Glyndon Ave, Venice, CA 90291, 310-306-7330, firstname.lastname@example.org NO entry fee.
PXL THIS Director Gerry Fialka is available for Pixelvision & Media Ecology workshops. http://www.laughtears.com/workshops.html "Fialka's workshops are in depth communication of something extremely elusive - the history of the unimaginable - and his lively interpretation renders it useful." - William Farley, Award-winning filmmaker
email@example.com is making a documentary about Pixelvision.
Best Of PXL THIS (13-19) screened at Dallas Video Festival Sept 25, 2010 at 6pm http://www.videofest.org/
PXL THIS 19 screened http://www.laughtears.com/PXL-THIS-19.htmlthe Sat, Oct 23 at 8:30pm at Other Cinema, 992 Valencia St (& 21st), San Fran CA 94110, 415-648-0654, admission $6 http://www.othercinema.com/
Gerry Fialka & Jon Rappoport on Progressive Radio Network 11-15-10 http://garynull.squarespace.com/the-jon-rappoport-show/
and Gerry on Music For Nimrods at midpoint in 3 hr show http://www.mediafire.com/?daa6kzkpdodm013