Andrew Rybarsyk reviews Konrad Steiner

Andrew Rybarsyk reviews Konrad Steiner’s performance at the Dreamland Theater that was part of this semester’s BathHouse Reading Series:

Konrad Steiner at the Dreamland Theater

I attended the early show of Konrad’s work at the Dreamland Theater in Ypsilanti Michigan; I was curious how his work would appear in an actual live reading and I wasn’t disappointed. The Dreamland Theatre was a very small hole in the wall theater that was dimly lit and furnished with old wooden benches.  Attendance was high and a majority of people had to stand during the show.  The show in general was quite interesting and had a full spectrum of works that kept the show fresh and entertaining, including experimental films, dubs, and readings.

The first work that was presented was an experimental film. It had a much worn appearance and the constant theme was old buildings and balloons to a somewhat creepy soundtrack.  I didn’t like the film; it was too abstract compared to what I’m used to viewing and left me more confused than anything else.

During the night he showed his dub to Minority Report, I had seen this previously for my contemporary forms class.  Konrad attended and spoke to my class regarding the creative process and some background into the making of this piece.  Though I expected it to be an identical showing to the in class presentation Konrad performing live to the audience was very riveting and was completely different and had more life and soul.  Though I fully enjoyed the in class presentation because it gave me a background to his creative process and the tools and materials that he used to make the piece.  I was able to connect with that piece more than any other piece because of this extra info that I had received.

By far the most interesting work that Steiner performed was a dub from an old Nazi film.  The film itself had a intensely high contrast to where everything was either black or white.  Konrad donned a white American Apparel dress and stood in front of the projector so the film played off of him.  He then proceeded to move about the room dubbing over the language with language of his own, purposely covering up portions of the screen.  His use of himself as the canvas was brilliant and the way that he moved around the theater kept the whole audience guessing to what he was going to do next, by far my favorite of all the works he had done that evening.

Konrad’s work at the Deamland Theater in Ypsilanti was quite an experience; I got to see an abstract artist present his work live and in person.  I walked away with a greater understanding of his work and the emotion that goes into this art form that a person watching on the internet wouldn’t fully understand.  Though it didn’t make me a full lover of Konrad’s work I feel I can now make an accurate review of his work since I had listened to the inside info from Konrad himself out of the presentation spotlight, and seen him perform his work live.  For this I am glad that I attended his showing at the Dreamland Theater.

Emily Riopelle reviews Konrad Steiner

EMU student Emily Riopelle reviews Konrad Steiner’s recent appearance at the Dreamland Theater:

Speaking to the Movies

By Emily Riopelle

Konrad Steiner’s presentation at the Dreamland Theater was wonderfully varied and engaging. Steiner presented a collection that demonstrated his range of work including short, abstract films, films in combination with poetry, and his most recent venture: Neo-Benshi. Neo-Benshi is a great example of hybridity in the writing and art world. Steiner not only incorporates literary hybridity by writing his own works and also appropriating from outside sources, but presents a media hybridity as well.

Neo-Benshi can be approached in many different ways, as Steiner detailed after the event. This is part of its appeal to the poetry community. The concept is to take a film clip and write narration or dialogue to be performed in conjunction with it in front of a live audience. The idea dates back to the beginning of movies and was most prevalent in Japan, where narrators spoke with American movies in order to explain the content and context of the Western silent films.

About 15 years ago, Steiner had the idea of bringing the form into the San Francisco poetry world and since has produced several performances with many poets who had many different approaches. The different approaches to the medium range from completely overhauling dialogue and acting as a ventriloquist, choosing a non-dialogue scene and adding disembodied narration, or completely forgoing the movie clip form and turning a clip into, say, an infomercial (as some poets did with an Indiana Jones film).

At the Dreamland Theater, Steiner himself performed his narration to scenes from recent films, Minority Report, and Blade Runner, as well as two scenes with Carla Harryman in conjunction with older Italian films. Steiner’s solitary performances seemed more congruent and connected with the images from the film. In his Minority Report clip, he quoted the Tibetan book of the dead, and also incorporated dialogue for the characters. This clip was also unique in that he carefully edited the footage to incorporate cultural logos and icons as well as news footage covering the Iraq war.

Steiner stated that within this medium his goal is to “not bully, but finesse latent meaning,” from the films.  The Blade Runner clip was more lyrical, and less politically driven. He edited together four different versions of the same scene and narrated with a piece he had written. The piece he read with Carla seemed at the end of the spectrum, only slightly related to the images on the screen. The two read together, slightly overlapping at times and it seemed the film served more as a background and supplement to their poem than anything else.

After the performance, Steiner went into detail about the range of options available within the medium, from pulling meaning from the clip, to creating a subversive text meant to challenge the way we watch a well known film, to juxtaposing a lyrical text over an unfamiliar image. Each of the approaches contains different goals and implications and Steiner encouraged the audience to play with the medium, and “take back the movies,” ourselves.

Reminder: Konrad Steiner – The New Talkies – March 12-15

This is it!  The big week is here: The New Talkies with Konrad Steiner will be taking over Ypsi through a trio of events, March 12-15, including lecture demonstrations, performances, and a cabaret, co-organized with Carla Harryman.  All events are free and open to EMU students, the EMU community, and the public.

Mon., March 12, Live Film Narration at Mix Market Place
200 W. Michigan Ave., 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
A lecture demonstration on poets’, writers’, and the filmmaker’s adaptations of the tradition of live movie telling.

Wed., March 14, Konrad Steiner at Dreamland Theater
26 N. Washington St. First show 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Second show 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Film/text and film/music collaborations with live performances by Steiner with a guest appearance by Carla Harryman.

Thurs., March 15, Cabaret at Mix Market Place
200 W. Michigan Ave., 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. 
Local artists and EMU folks will be mixing it up with performances of intermedia works by Jeff Clark, Nick Compton and Matt Mapes, Rob Halpern, Carla Harryman and Konrad Steiner, Christine Hume, Walonda Lewis, Evan Mann, Katie McGowan, Miranda Metelski and Jonah Mixon-Webster, Nicholas Mourning and Friends, and Elizabeth Mikesch and Brenna York.

Find out more about Konrad Steiner here.

 

BathHouse Reading Series – Updated Event List

Konrad Steiner’s upcoming BathHouse reading is only one part of a trio of unique events that will be taking place in March.  Read on…

Konrad Steiner’s The New Talkies: Lecture Demonstrations and Interdisciplinary Performances – March 12, 14, and 15

Biography
Since 1981 Konrad Steiner has been making short non-narrative films in the American experimental tradition of unipersonal production. He uses the moving image as a medium for compositions in language, sound and cinematography. An active participant in San Francisco Cinematheque, he co-founded and produced with Irina Leimbacher the screening and performance series kino21. His recent work has increasingly involved live cinema collaborations with musicians, including SF Bay Area composers Jon Raskin of ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Matt Ingalls of SFSound, new music ensemble and big band leader Graham Connah and poets Leslie Scalapino, Steve Benson, Brent Cunningham, Carla Harryman and Jen Hofer. His collaborative work extends to writers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago, Buffalo and New York producing shows dedicated to the renewed interest in adapting the tradition of live movie telling, often referred to as “neo benshi,” an art brought to its apex in Japan, Korea and other East Asian nations during the silent film era.

Schedule of Events
From March 12-15, Steiner will be present The New Talkies: lecture demonstrations, performances, and a cabaret, co-organized with Carla Harryman.

All events are free and open to EMU students, the EMU community,and the public.

Monday, March 12, Live Film Narration at The Mix Market Place
200 W. Michigan Ave., 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A lecture demonstration on poets’, writers’, and the filmmaker’s adaptations of the tradition of live movie telling.

Wednesday, March 14, Konrad Steiner at Dreamland Theater
26 N. Washington St. First show 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Second show 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Film/textand film/music collaborations with live performances by Steiner with a guest appearance by Carla Harryman.

Thursday, March 15, Cabaret at The Mix Market Place
200 W. Michigan Ave., 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Local artists and EMU folks will be mixing it up with performances of intermedia works by Jeff Clark, Nick Compton and Matt Mapes, Rob Halpern, Carla Harryman and Konrad Steiner, Christine Hume, Walonda Lewis, Evan Mann, Katie McGowan, Miranda Metelski and Jonah Mixon-Webster, Nicholas Mourning, Aaron Smith and guests,and Elizabeth Mikesch and Brenna York.

BathHouse Event: Konrad Steiner, March 14, time TBA

Mark your calendars for the next BathHouse Event of Winter ’12 semester, featuring Konrad Steiner.  This event will take place on Wednesday, March 14 (time TBA) at the Dreamland Theatre.  This is a free event and is open to the public (and also counts as a General Education LBC credit).

Steiner makes short non-narrative films in the American experimental tradition of unipersonal production, winning awards and screening in festivals worldwide. His primary interest is to use the moving image as a medium for compositions in language, sound and cinematography. Read more about him here.