David Gatten: Working with Words


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david-gatten-01David Gatten: Working with Words

Still image from the film The Extravagant Shadows
Over the last 19 years, David Gatten (b. 1971, Ann Arbor, Michigan) has explored the intersection of the printed word and moving image. The resulting body of work illuminates a wide array of historical, conceptual, and material concerns, while cataloging the variety of ways in which texts function as both language and image in cinema, often blurring the boundary between these categories. These movies measure the movement of desire across distance, and the manner in which words, books, letters, and other written or printed communications might both produce and mediate that distance.

Using traditional research methods (reading old books) and non-traditional film processes (boiling old books) Gatten’s films trace the contours of private lives and public histories, combining philosophy, biography, and poetry with experiments in cinematic forms and narrative structures. Exploring the archive in unusual ways and making connections across categories of knowledge and fields of meaning, Gatten’s movies construct new compositions and generate unexpected conclusions from 19th-century scientific treatises, “out-dated” 20th-century instructional texts, and rare books from 18th-century personal libraries.

His latest major work, The Extravagant Shadows, was ranked the No. 9 film of 2012 in the Film Comment international film critics poll of the “50 Best Independent Films of 2012.” Feature articles about and reviews of The Extravagant Shadows have appeared in Artforum, Film Comment, Reverse Shot, Fandor, and IDIOM, among others. This series is sponsored by The Media School, The Media School’s cinema and media arts program, and IU Cinema.

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