Screenings: "Raphael Montañez Ortiz: Chopping Up the Classics" - Part 2
Raphael Montañez Ortiz’s film, music and video art represent a missing link in the history of experimental media in the post-WWII era that helped redefine the idea of modern art after Abstract Expressionism. Born in 1934, Ortiz is a key figure of the 1960s international “Destruction in Art” movement, U.S.-based Guerrilla Theater and Latino art (including as founder of El Museo del Barrio). His object-based work is in the permanent collections of major U.S. and European art museums. But Ortiz’s turn to destruction in art started by way of film in the late 1950s with his use of ritual and shamanic approaches to the destruction of 16mm films sold for home viewing. These recycled films are concurrent with similar work by Bruce Conner and other avant-garde filmmakers around the world, but they signal a distinct alternative to traditionally modernist work relying on classical music composition and “diagnostic” editing as a critique of media culture. Ortiz extended his work from ritual destruction to performance-based editing in the 1980s and 1990s through what he called “scratch videos.” His extensive media collection — archived at UCLA — includes footage documenting the emergence of performance, installation art and experimental music in New York City. This two-night program surveys the full scope of his media art since the late 1950s.
Series curated and notes written by Chon Noriega, Distinguished Professor, UCLA School of Theater Film and Television.
Presented by the UCLA Library Film & Television Archive in partnership with the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
Program 2: Scratch Videos
This program provides a selection from 60 videos Raphael Montañez Ortiz made between 1984 and 1997, using laser discs, a computer with joystick, an electronic oscillator and a U-Matic recorder. Ortiz would explore brief passages from a commercial film, using the joystick to move back and forth within the sequence as he recorded onto ¾-inch U-Matic tape. These videos are the result of a real-time editing process, like an improvisational dance or concert, rather than the post-production editing of footage. Ortiz would often work with and record a passage several times before he felt he had found the essence of the scene. The videos here focus mostly on Hollywood features from the 1930s to 1980s and Ortiz’s interest in exploring the unconscious of Hollywood romance, the middle-class family and the choreography of violence and power. Ortiz often returned to certain films and directors, especially Orson Welles. The last part of the program looks at later videos that drew upon scenes from two or more source films, including features, documentary and television footage, suggesting a broader exploration of media culture rather than an opening up of specific canonical films.