Christine Lucy Latimer (2019)

Christine Lucy Latimer: Media Archaeologist
Check out the beautiful volume, designed by Sean Kilby Smith-McGregor
Published by Conversalon and Canadian Film Institute, 2019.


A Conversation With Christine Lucy Latimer by Leslie Supnet
To Christine Lucy Latimer by Karissa Hahn
Program Description by Tom McSorley (2003)
Mosaic by Jubal Brown (2002)
Letter to Evelyn by Rhayne Vermette
The Bridge View by Chris Gehman
Over {Past:Future} Sight and The Vulnerable Eye by Kelsey Velez (2006)
Just Beyond the Screen: The Universe, As We Know It, Is Ending: Impressions and Considerations by Barbara Sternberg (2008)
A Fight to the Finish by Jorge Lozano (2009)
Format by Mikhail Zheleznikov (2010)
Ghostmeat by Hope Peterson (2003)
A response to The Magic Iffektor by Meganelizabeth Diamond (2011)
The Pool by Mike Hoolboom (2011)
Nationtime by Dirk De Bruyn (2013)
Lines Postfixal by Mike Hoolboom (2013)
Physics and Metaphysics in Modern Photography by Jeffrey Paull
Words and Images in Christine Lucy Latimer’s Physics and Metaphysics in Modern Photography (2015) by Francesco Gagliardi (2014)
The Colours of Our Trade by Stephen Broomer (2015)
Fraction Refrain by Francesco Cazzin and Francesca Rusalen
Christine pic portfoliio
Cross Contamination by Clint Enns
Media Archaelogist: an interview with Alexandra Gelis and Mike Hoolboom
Introduction to Wrik Mead by Christine Lucy Latimer
Christine Portrait: artist project by Madeleine Piller

Christine Lucy Latimer is a mother of lost medias. As an artist, she is drawn to the forgotten, the mouldy trash, the refused. How tenderly she touches these pictures again, along with the shadowy figures they contain, in order to begin the work of restoring them to view. In her practice, this means straining the often fragile, even falling-apart originals, through a series of analog/digital trespassings. Her animating question is not the same as an archivist, who works to retrieve and restore inside the dystopian frame of “the original.” Instead, this artist spellcasts her found footage – whether home movies, peep shows or late night TV grabs — into something else. Like “art” for instance.

Christine’s media translations bear the marks of her looking, which means that the footage has been necessarily transformed, touched by something in the present, and turned beneath that touch into something newly alive. Her meticulous reframings offer us a reflection on how pictures survive, and what we do with them in order to ensure their survival.

As my pal Mike told me, more than once, the reason great books are so great is not because they possess “universal values” but because they can be reinvented, over and over again, as each reader uncovers them in their singularity. They are available for radical reinterpretation, and because they are able to change, they endure. Chris Marker from San Soleil: “We rewrite memory much as history is rewritten. How can one remember thirst?”

A surreal moment in New York’s Collective for Living Cinema. It’s an afternoon screening and the room is jammed, strangely enough. Half the program belongs to Abigail Child who is showing some of her Is This What You Were Born For? masterworks, still fresh then, newly minted from the lab. Some feature kinetic, jazz-inspired reworkings of original “home movie” materials, and in the required question and answer period, fringe godfather Jonas Mekas asks what happened to the original footage that Abigail used. What? It seems he was less interested in the artist’s bravura collage, than the throwaway detritus that Abigail had wondrously transformed. I could feel the generational faultlines and mutual outrage, along with the sense that every frame was a line in the sand, every cut had to be argued and won over. The exchange was quintessential New York fringe: erudite and hostile.

The godfather, so often benevolent and easygoing, spent much of his life trying to preserve the most ephemeral of film practices, so his protests might be understood as a cautionary tale. What he failed to reckon with was that nearly every image drives towards disappearance. It’s the natural lean, the most usual thing. Sure Wittgenstein could hum an entire symphony after hearing it once, but most of my Netflix-addicted pals struggle to offer even the barest hint of a plot after a night’s viewing. As if pictures are vanishing even more quickly than they appear. It’s like Virilio’s riff on hyper speed: where you arrive before leaving. Pictures are not only arriving more quickly, they are disappearing at an even greater rate. The rapid succession of pictures that nearly every movie provides takes us through this process. Movies are a demonstration of death “at work,” of disappearance, forgetting and erasure. Movies offer us the joy, the beauty, the savouring of moments that mercifully will never happen again.

Christine Lucy Latimer’s work, mostly short and silent, suggests that the only way to look is to look again, to see something for the second time. And like Abigail before her, and how many others, she is offering us her own version of disappearance, along with her own views and transformations, her own necessary reframings.

But wait, what about the work’s “content?” Shortly after we met Christine pronounced herself “a formalist” and I wondered if that was the kind of thing that could be said out loud. But of course the fragments she rescues in her work are not incidental. For instance, there is a pronounced interest in the display of female bodies, both Ghostmeat and Format rework peep shows. A Fight to the Finish display nearly naked male boxers glitching up a love clinch, The Pool offers a quartet of men in bathing suits, performing masculinity in a viscous, toffee-coloured pool that clings to everything. But mostly the pictures are “abstract,” as if the artist was looking too closely, the eye pressed right up against its subject, until it dissolves in a wash of light and line and colour. Whether it’s Nationtime’s slowed firework eruption, the traffic glaze of The Bridge View, the pinball wizardry of Fraction Refrain, or the soft Oedipal revenge of Lines Fixial (a conjoining and reworking of a pair of Norman McLaren/Evelyn Lambart films), the artist offers us geometries freed from the burden of strict representation.

In this collection of writings and pictures, artists weigh in on Christine’s media gleanings. The hope is to echo the form of her many short movies with a bevy of short takes that conjures a temporary community. How to grant these pictures time, particularly now that we’ve run out of time? How to allow them to do their work on us, to infect us, soften us, bring us to our senses?

A final aside. I’m still standing at the 2019 Rotterdam Festival, in the café, where the last complaints are fading into the good wine. My pal Andrea, who has watched at least ten minutes of every movie at the fest up in the video library, announces her two fave picks. The first is a Swedish melodrama where doubles and stand-ins create a dizzying pyramid of loves lost and won. The second is Memento Stella by Makino Takashi, an hour-long monster that combines up to 200 images in superimposition, producing what looks to me like white noise, or “clouds of light.” Andrea assures everyone at the table: “I could watch this movie for a long long time.” I think Christine might agree.