Walker Virtual Cinema: New Coded Bias Documentary and Free Experimental Films from the Collection
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Walker Virtual Cinema: New Coded Bias Documentary and Free Experimental Films from the Collection

Shalini Kantayya, Coded Bias, 2020. Photo courtesy the filmmaker.
All screenings take place in the Walker Virtual Cinema, at walkerart.org/cinema

Coded Bias
Directed by Shalini Kantayya
Tuesday, October 6–Monday, October 12
$10 ($8 Walker members)

Limited tickets will go on sale for this virtual screening beginning at 10am on Tuesday, October 6.
Coded Bias takes you to the front lines of the digital revolution.” —Chicago Reader

In Shalini Kantayya’s provocative new documentary feature, MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that facial recognition technology does not see race and gender accurately. As it turns out, artificial intelligence is not neutral. What does it mean when artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly governs our liberties? And what are the consequences for the people AI is biased against?

Coded Bias explores the fallout of this discovery and weaves in the stories of an emerging generation of women working as data scientists, mathematicians, and activists in the United States, the UK, South Africa, and China. Together they lead the fight to protect our civil rights in the face of increasing corporate surveillance and algorithmic oppression. Drawing from stylistic sci-fi elements to visualize its concepts, Coded Bias inspires and engages audiences to reimagine tech and civil rights around the world. 2020, US, digital, 90 min.

Artist talk with filmmaker Shalini Kantayya
Thursday, October 8, 7pm, Free

Meet filmmaker Shalini Kantayya during our related panel Futures Focus: Race and Technology with Valeria Lopez (UMN College of Design), and guests from the Walker’s Design for Different Futures exhibition, on October 8 at 7 pm.

View Coded Bias Trailer
Hollis Frampton, Surface Tension, 1968. Image courtesy the Walker Art Center.

Collection Playlist: Surface Tension This Action Lies
Tuesday, October 13–Monday, October 26, Free

A classic experimental film from the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection is paired with a contemporary work that is not in the collection. The two works resonate with timeless, conceptual connections.

Hollis Frampton helped define conceptual filmmaking in the late 1960s and ’70s. In doing so, he reinvented the way we view cinema and challenged expectations of form in this medium. Similarly, James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s films use language and semiotics to advance Frampton’s concepts. By only showing a discarded, everyday object placed on a pedestal, Wilkins creates a stand-alone, 21st century tour-de-force cinema experience. Total run time: 43 min.

Surface Tension by Hollis Frampton
Confounding the relationships between image, sound, and language, Frampton challenges the traditional associations of the senses. “Surface tension” is the property of a liquid that allows the surface to resist an external force, serving here as a metaphor between sound and image. The film is told in three parts: a man talking over a telephone ringing, a time-lapse trip from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park; and a goldfish at the beach—all contradicting one another through playful conceptual film techniques and visual effects. 1968, 16mm to digital, 10 min.

This Action Lies by James N. Kienitz Wilkins
This film is about the limits of observation, about staring hard at something while listening to something else. It unfolds as an unreliable monologue analyzing a common and underappreciated commercial product, a Styrofoam cup, elevated through cinema to the status of a near-Platonic form. The early works of Hollis Frampton can be seen in Wilkins’s witty yet serious take on the mundane. 2018, digital video, 32 min.

Hollis Frampton is known for the broad and restless intelligence he brought to the films he made from the early 1960s until his death in 1984. An important experimental filmmaker, he was also an accomplished photographer and writer, and in the 1970s made significant contributions to the emerging field of computer science. He is considered one of the pioneers of structuralism, an influential style of filmmaking that uses the basic elements of cinematic language to create works that investigate form at the expense of traditional narrative content. Along with Michael Snow and Stan Brakhage, he is one of the major figures to emerge from the New York avant-garde film community of the 1960s.

James N. Kienitz Wilkins is a filmmaker and artist based in Brooklyn, New York, His work has screened at the New York Film Festival, Toronto, Locarno, Rotterdam, Berlinale, CPH:DOX, BAMcinemaFest, and beyond. In 2016, he was awarded the Kazuko Trust Award from the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In 2017, he was included in the Whitney Biennial, and a retrospective of his work was showcased at RIDM (Montreal). He has had solo exhibitions at Gasworks (London), Spike Island (Bristol, UK), and Kunsthalle Winterthur (Switzerland). He is a graduate of the Cooper Union School of Art in New York.

Shu Lea Cheang, Fresh Kill, 1996. Image courtesy the Walker Art Center.

Collection Playlist: Fresh Kill & The End of the World
Tuesday, October 27–Tuesday, November 10, Free

A classic experimental film from the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection is paired with a contemporary work that is not in the collection. The two works resonate with timeless, conceptual connections.

In the mid-1990s, Shu Lea Cheang made a mark with Fresh Kill, her speculative feature about an apocalyptic New York City. Part eco-horror, part camp comedy, this impressive directorial debut from the world-renowned Taiwanese multimedia artist remains an underseen radical feminist gem. The film explores issues of environment, race, and class that still resonate today. It is paired with a simple one-take video by Bruce Farnsworth that captures the mood of this dreadful year. Total run time: 83 min.

“Shu Lea Cheang’s wicked directorial debut is a lethal comedy swimming through a torrent of toxic multinational treachery.” —BOMB Magazine

“People say the film is futuristic. It’s amazing. It’s happening now, right next to you. What’s futuristic about it?” —Shu Lea Cheang

Fresh Kill by Shu Lea Cheang
This post-apocalyptic world finds a lesbian couple (Sarita Choudhury and Erin McMurtry) living on Staten Island  at war with a multinational corporation that is slowly poisoning working-class citizens via toxic cat food, contaminated sushi, and nuclear waste Cheang’s witty narrative challenges normative American concepts of identity and multiculturalism with her dystopian vision of a high-tech, transnational consumer society gone to hell. She unites form and content using rapid fire editing, suggesting that we live in a culture of constant interruption. TV commercials intrude on narrative scenes and characters drop-in when least expected. With activists busting in on corporate broadcasts, a raging virus, and dreamlike erotic scenes taking place in cyberspace, Fresh Kill’s transgressive, futuristic comedy plays to present-day existential horrors. 1994, video, 70 min.

End of the World by Bruce Farnsworth
Using subtle humor and mid-twentieth century tropes to highlight an apocalyptic theme, a sculptural installation by artist Stephen Grey is the portal into this funny, sarcastic, yet poignant ode to 2020. 2020, digital video, 3 min.

Shu Lea Cheang is an American artist and filmmaker. She lived and worked in New York in the 1980s and ’90s, relocating to the Europe in 2000. Active in experimental video and net art since the early 1980s, her work deals with the techno-body and queer politics. Following her first feature Fresh Kill (shown at the 1995 Whitney Biennale), she was commissioned by the Walker to create a cybernetic Bowling Alley installation linking public spaces and bowling through ISDN lines and digital sensory data. Cheang premiered her sci-fi porn I.K.U. at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000.

Anchorage-based writer, artist, and community organizer Bruce Farnsworth is the founder of the MTS Gallery in Anchorage and its director from 2005 through 2011. He is a founding member of Light Brigade, a multimedia collaboration of artists who stage site-specific urban art interventions in the built and natural environment, cofounder of Track & Field, and co-lead artist of Track & Field’s 8Boxes Project.


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