Toronto
2 min

Get a date, participate, pixelate

Audre Lorde's dream of a society transformed remains

DEMENTED PINK PIXIES. One highlight of Pleasure Dome's Toronto New Works program is Allyson Mitchell and Lex Vaughn's kitschy stop animation short Pink Eyed Pet. Credit: Xtra files

Every day, every minute, every second you are being bombarded by a million information bytes and consumer options vying for your attention. New Toronto Works, Pleasure Dome’s annual collection of experimental film and video by emerging local artists, doesn’t try so hard to make you look – for good reason. And while it may not seem like the place for a homo to go on a Saturday night, bear in mind: You’re way more likely to pick up a smart trick with a hip haircut here than you are staying at home and watching an episode of Trading Spaces. Hmm?



Check it out. The program, curated by Julie Saragosa, Katie Varney and Sylvie Wisniewski, has lots for gay men and lesbians including pixels, pixels and more pixels! Yes, deconstructing video images is still all the rage. As I watched these videos and films, I kept thinking: “Wow… I believed I was looking at a burlesque dancer on the screen but it’s really just pixels!” And then I thought: “That was a cute boy on the screen but it’s really just pixels!”



The big question is this: Do these artistes expect you to enjoy their little movies? For the most part, the answer is no. I mean, they’re definitely not trying to entertain you. They’re trying, rather, to make a statement about how we are constantly entertained to a point where we are numb and dumb. They are also trying to show you that the stripper you’re paying to watch is just pixels.



Many of these new artists actually manage to be intelligent and fun at the same time.



Partners in life and low-art hijinks, Allyson Mitchell and Lex Vaughn contribute a 1970s-like kitsch stop animation called Pink Eyed Pet – and it’s a piss. So is one called Approximations: December 31st, 2000 by Johanna Householder and BH Yael, though you wouldn’t think so with a title like that. In Approximations, some dykey looking woman actually acts out 10 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey while dressed in a big space suit in her house. It’s fun just laughing at her, but it’s also a pretty powerful little video.



Of note in the “sucks” category is Nicholas Flood’s Cope/Deny. Why do queens always think whining is an art form? In another crumby video, a guy sits in a bathtub and names all these hygiene products he has on hand. Predictably, it’s called Semiotics Of The Bathroom. It’s as boring and annoying as it sounds. Any of you who go out to this hip art event with high hopes for the short called J Lo Hi Lo will be utterly disappointed. J Lo’s in it, but it’s not good.



Aside from the snotty ones, however, a lot of these little movies reveal the power that a video camera can put into the hands of everyday people. These works are shot in cluttered apartments and they capture the stuff that surrounds us all the time without our ever really noticing it. Piles of books, sharp instruments, passing strangers on the street, trembling tree branches outside the window, pixels….



Also on the 20-plus roster of artists are Scott Treleaven, Deirdre Logue, Melissa Levin, Mike Hoolboom and John Caffery.



In Day Milman’s Anxiety Resonator, objects in Zen-rock-garden-like stillness, are photographed around the video maker’s apartment. Strange items are caught on video that seem to have remained alive while the tenant of the apartment lies dead on her bed.



Perhaps the best thing about this show is that it could inspire pretty much anyone to pick up a camera and re-imagine the world. Otherwise, have fun on the couch, sucker!



TORONTO NEW WORKS.

$5. 8pm. Sat, Feb 22.

Latvian House.

491 College St.

(416) 656-5577.

www.pdome.org.