Spectral Transmissions 

Wendy Ewald, Robin Amer, Rodrigo Reyes, Scott Daniel Ellison, Kelly Pratt, Courtney Stephens, Rumi Koshino, Emily Chenoweth, Nelson Lowry, Danny Grody, James Davis, Shannon Stewart with Adam Sekular 

 Multimedia Selections 

Radio Contributors 

Donal Mosher, Robin Amer,Colter Jacobsen,

James Davis, Electric Emma from Sweden,

Sara and Howard Jaffe, 

Jeanie Finlay and Steven Schiel 

and Mystery Guests 

Tune into our audio broadcast here:

Wendy Ewald - Collaborative Work With Children

"In my work with children and women I encourage them to use cameras to look at their own lives, their families and their communities, and to make images of their fantasies and dreams. While making my own photographs in the communities, I ask my collaborators to alter my images by drawing or writing on them, challenging the concept of who actually makes the image – who is the photographer, who is the subject, who is the observer and who is the observed. My work questions the conventional definition of individual authorship and casts into doubt an artist’s intentions, power and identity "

                                                                                                       Wendy Ewald

 

"I Dreamed The Twins Tried To kill Each Other" Denis Dixon , Kentucky; "River Monsters" Javier Bautista, Mexico; "The Devil Is Spying On The  Girls" Sebastian Gomez Hernandez, Mexico; "The Sleepyhead” Luis Arturo González, Colombia,:" A Boy Is Dressed Like A Girl" Sebastian Gomez Hernandez, Mexico": I Am Dead” Palesa Molahloe, South Africa; "Dream Of My Sister And her Baby" Natasha Primsloo, South Africa: "A White Swan In The Middle Of The Polder” Miranda Plooij, The Netherlands.

 

 

Robin Amer - Ghosts Of Gary - original full length podcast episode

ghosts-of-gary-pic.jpg

(click image to play)

Rodrigo Reyes - from 499 Anõs

Danny Grody - Ohr Ein Sof / River Of Light

499 Años (499 Years) A film by Rodrigo Reyes

499 Años  examines the brutal legacy of colonialism nearly five centuries after Cortez arrived in the Aztec Empire. Bold, unique, and strikingly cinematic, the film uses magical realism, combining documentary and fiction to show how past traumas continue to affect contemporary reality, while challenging us to overcome our histories of violence.

Rumi Koshino - Solo Walks

Courtney Stephens - from "Improvement" by Robert Ashley

00:00 / 05:10

Kelly Pratt - Drone In C

Nelson Lowry

Emily Chenoweth

    A couple of weeks ago, my friend Steve texted to see if I wanted to drive up to the mountain and cut down a Christmas tree.  

    I emphatically didn’t. It wasn’t that we already had a tree—though we did, twinkling in the corner of our living room—but that was the excuse I gave. I wouldn’t have wanted to go anyway. But the real reason was just sort of a bummer.

    Five or six years ago, when our daughters were little, we took them to a cut-your-own tree farm. The day was gray and cold, and we walked around in foot-sucking mud along with hundreds of other parents trying to create holiday magic for their kids. 

    My husband held our younger daughter in the crook of his arm like a Christmas ham while the older one and I trudged though the muck, dedicated to finding the best and most wonderful tree. After a frigid half-hour, we saw it, in all its green, pine-scented splendor. 

    This is the one, we all agreed. It’s perfect. So Jon put the toddler down and took up the handsaw he’d been given. He knelt at the base of our magnificent tree and then, with great effort and no great speed, he severed it from the earth where it belonged.

    Our older daughter started to cry, and thus so did her sister.

    Dragging it back to the car, I honestly couldn’t believe what we’d done. Together we had searched for something special and beautiful, and when we’d finally found it, we’d killed it. And later that evening, we’d stood its corpse in our living room and hung glittering balls from its arms.

    That was the reason I didn’t want to go to the mountain. 

    So Steve and his family drove up with other friends, got a cutting permit at the ranger station, and walked into the snowy woods to find and kill their Christmas tree. 

    Three days later I got another text from him.

    Steve: Its bigger than our living room and like something out of a Victorian nightmare. Spindly and dark, it sucks the light out of the room and devours ornaments. Switches and coal, Sinter Claus style tree. Erin calls it the monster.

    He sent a picture. It didn’t look like a tree. It looked like a haunted spectral skeleton of a tree.

    Steve: It’s like living with a forest curse.

    He explained how he’d had to hang a sheet over the wall to protect a painting, and now he felt like his living room had “a morgue-like vibe.” 

    I looked over at our tree, which I my daughters and I had picked out at the Fred Meyer Garden Center. Yes, it’s a real Douglas fir, because it turns out that I am a creature of both tradition and hypocrisy. I still want a Christmas tree every year; I just need to have someone else cut it down for me.

    Me: Suddenly I feel like my tree is really basic. 

    Steve: I will trade you.

    This isn’t to say that I don’t experience sadness and regret as I watch my lovely, once-living tree slowly wither beneath its ornaments and strands of white lights. But the feelings don’t sting quite as much, because I wasn’t the direct, immediate agent of its death.

    I’m not saying this is defensible. It’s just how it is.

    Steve: I also think my tree might be poisonous.

    Steve: I think it’s a hemlock.

    Steve: I think it might kill us with fire.
    Merry Christmas.

Scott Daniel Ellison

Shannon Stewart with Adam Sekular - Some Day

James Davis - Sprite Limits - Full Version

 

There have been ghosts in video games almost as long as there have been video games. Even non-gamers will recognize the iconic quartet of Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde from Pac-Man. They are just as cute as the hero himself, if not cuter, with their signature candy colors and their big blue eyes that shift directions as they scuttle around the corners of the maze. To a developer in 1980, a ghost was a convenient enemy, graphically simple, easy to animate, yet widely recognizable as an antagonist. But these ghosts seem like more than a programming convenience, don’t they? Don’t we sympathize with their plight, their hunt for yellow Pac-Flesh through the pellets and cherries they cannot eat, their turning blue when vulnerable, their endless cycle of deaths and rebirths from their inviolable central incubator? Are they ghosts of former Pac-People? If so, what do we make of eating them?

 

The Pac-Man ghost is a distilled sheet ghost: rounded top, straight sides, zigzag bottom as if cut by pinking shears. The ghost I love most, Boo from the Super Mario series, alters this classic shape slightly but meaningfully. A Boo’s bottom tapers to a fine point, like a speech bubble. Boos also have fins, which, together with their mouthful of fangs and their sleek, almost cartilaginous bodies, suggest a shark. Boos float, or rather swim, through the air of their platformers, stalking Mario behind his back but covering their faces and turning translucent once he turns to confront them. They are made adorable, like the Pac-Ghosts, through their fear, their vulnerability. 

 

I don’t believe in ghosts; I believe in sprites. Like a ghost, a sprite is a loosely embodied consciousness, sometimes the developer’s, sometimes the player’s and the developer’s together, occasionally neither. Like a ghost, a sprite is easier to recognize than it is to explain. Sprites consume memory. Too many sprites onscreen, and the game will begin to act strangely. The frame rate will slow to a crawl. Sprites will start to mutate, to take on the properties of other sprites, sometimes several at a time, forming chimeras the developers never intended. A key will turn into a coin that glides and destroys anything in its path like a Koopa shell, sailing at Mario and killing him instantly, a glitchy capitalist parable. Every sprite is vulnerable. Every code can be broken.

 

There’s a picture of me playing Nintendo in the late ‘80s, before I had even turned five. I’m sitting on a lawn chair in the basement of my childhood home, wearing thick glasses and a Super Mario Bros. baseball cap, looking over my shoulder at the photographer, impatience in my eyes, as a paused frame of The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle waits grainily behind the slightly convex glass of a 40” Sony TV. If I had been a child in Japan, it would have been Roger Rabbit waiting in the Crazy Castle, not Bugs. Like the US Super Mario Bros. 2, the Bugs Bunny game is a reskinned version of a Japanese game with different intellectual property. There is no Bugs, there is no Roger. There are only sprites.

 

Videogames reskin their players. Videogames turn their players into ghosts. The avatar is a ghost of the player, who becomes a ghost of himself through his depletion into the avatar. This is what parents recoil at when looking at the faces of their children engrossed in a videogame: the slack jaws, the grimaces and rapid eye movements, the wash of blue light upon the skin. It is as if, like the confronted Boos or the vulnerable Pac-Ghosts, they have become translucent, as if you could reach right through them or gobble them up. To interrupt the possession, to accidentally reset the console or unplug the controller, is to sever the delicate bond between the physical and spiritual worlds the child is inhabiting. It is to wound us with the real, to show us, suddenly and starkly, how unreal we have become.

 Some Recommended Ghost Songs For Every Season

Andy Cabic - Ghost Riders in the Sky,  Ghost Town by the Specials

Chanti Darling - Ghost Boobs by Gravy Train, Kim Petra’s Halloween Albums

Chris Johanson - Come Back To Me by X

James Davis - Ghost House by Koji Kondo for Super Mario World, Forest Interlude by David Wise for Donkey Kong Country 2,  Ghost by Neutral Milk Hotel.

Kelly Pratt - Ghostbusters Theme by Ray Parker Jr.,  As The Cold Wind Blows by Ween.

Sandi Tan - She’s Not there by The Zombies

Yance Ford - The Ghost Of Tom Joad

Cliff Hengst - Strangers by Portishead

Margaret Brown: In the Pines  (various versions)

Rumi Koshino - Our mister and If I Die by Doji Morita 

Dominic Davis -The Curse of Milhaven by Nick Cave,  It’s The Ghost In my Machine by Annie Lennox

Nick McCarthy  - Tears In The Typing Pool by Broadcast

Christine Sheilds - Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush

Colter Jacobsen - Walking After Midnight by Patsy Cline

Rob Epstein - I  Put A Spell On You (various versions), Thriller by Michael Jackson

Chris Nealon - Dearly Departed by Shakey Graves

Eric Hynes - In The Garden (traditional Hymn)

Bradford Nordeen - There Is A Ghost by Marianne Faithfull

Nathan Truesdell - Circe by Ghost

Sara Jaffe - Comet #9 by Helium and  Paris 1919 by John Cale

Howard Jaffe - Ghost Riders In The Sky  by Johnny Cash

Courtney Stephens: The Ghost in You by The Psychedelic Furs,  Song to the Siren by This Mortal Coil

Nelson Lowry - Ghosts By Japan, I See A Ghost by Concrete Blonde

Ivette Lucas - Where The Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, A Forest by The Cure, La Llorona by Chavela Vargas

Johnny Ray Huston -  Ghost Rider by Suicide, Johnny Remember Me by John Leyton, Casper the Friendly Ghost Theme by Daniel Johnson

Steven Sheil - The Cruel Mother by Gretchen Peters

Jeannie Finlay - Wuthering heights By Kate Bush,  Villa-Lobos: Suite Bachianas Brasileiras No’s 2, 5, and 6

Derek McCormack - Haunted heart  by Jo Stafford ,This house is haunted by your last goodbye by the Roy fox, Monsters Go Disco by Count Chocula, Grim Ginning Ghosts from Disney's Haunted Mansion

Turner Ross -I walked with a Zombie By Roky Erickson, Ghost Song by Air, Magic by Mick Smiley

Audio Broadcast Credits 

Intro - From “Between The Lights” by E. F. Benson

Donal Mosher “Low Star”

Robin Amer “Ghosts of Gary” (excerpt)

Colter Jacobsen “Bottom of a Glass”

Mystery guest (reading Dickens)

1910 recording of Silent Night

James Davis  “Sprite Limits”

Mystery guest “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen

Electric Emma “Under Ice”

Howard and Sara Jaffe “The House That haunts Me”

Steven Sheil and Jeannie Finlay “ A Cold and Quiet Evening”

 

 

Produced and Directed by Mike Palmieri and Donal Mosher

Music composed arranged and performed by Mike Palmieri 

Sound editing and design by Mike Palmieri 

Additional music by Kelly Pratt,  Donal Mosher, Mudboy, Black Forest/Black Sea

Presented in association with The Portland Art Museum and The Collolabratory of The Northwest Film Center.

CONTRIBUTOR BIOS

Wendy Ewald was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1951. She has spent more than 40 years collaborating with children, families, and teachers all over the world. In her work, she encourages her collaborators to use cameras (as well as using the camera herself) to record themselves, their families and their communities, and to articulate their fantasies and dreams. Ewald often has them mark or write on her own negatives, thereby challenging the concept of who actually makes an image. She has had solo exhibitions at the International Center of Photography in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of American Art, the Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland among others and participated in the 1997 Whitney Biennial. Her many honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim 

Fellowship.

 

Robin Amer is the senior producer of Audio Features at The Washington Post.

She is also the host, creator, and executive producer of The City, USA Today’s investigative podcast that explores how power works in urban America. The New Yorker called The City one of the 10 best podcasts of 2019. Her work has been featured by Vox, the Center for Public Integrity, Pop-up Magazine, Love + Radio and the location-aware walking-tour app Detour.

 

Rodrigo Reyes is an award-winning, Mexican-American filmmaker whose work has screened in nearly 50 film festivals around the world, including the LA Film Festival, BFI London and Guadalajara International Film Festivals, as well as the Documentary Fortnight at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, garnering rave reviews in the New York Times, Variety and other media outlets. His film PURGATORIO won several awards, including the Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the New Orleans Film Festival, while his hybrid-narrative LUPE UNDER the SUN won a Special Jury Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine, he is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow at the MacDowell Colony and was selected for the National Mediamaker Fellowship by the Bay Area Video Coalition. His work has received the support of Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Institute, California Humanities Council Film Independent, Pacific Pioneer Fund, NALIP, both the IFP Narrative and Documentary Labs, as well as the Mexican Film Institute 

 

Derek McCormack is a novelist, essayist, and playwright who lives in Toronto. His previous books include The Show that Smells and The Well-Dressed Wound (Semiotext(e)). His latest book “Castle Faggot” is available in November.  Edmund White says of  “ Castle Faggot” the mystery of objects, the lyricism of neglected lives, the menace and nostalgia of the past—these are all ingredients in this weird and beautiful parallel universe.”

 

Courtney Stephens is a non-fiction and experimental filmmaker based in Los Angeles Her recent feature, The American Sector, (made with Pacho Velez) documents fragments of the Berlin Wall installed as monuments around the US. The American Sector, was named one of the best films of 2020 by The New Yorker.

 

Jeanie Finlay is one of Britain’s most distinctive documentary makers, telling intimate stories to international audiences. Whether inviting audience behind the scenes of Teesside’s last record shop in her home town (SOUND IT OUT), uncovering a rollercoaster Nashive fable (BIFA winning Orion The Man Who WOuld Be King), to share the extraordinary journey of a British transgender man, pregnant with his child (BIFA nominated Seahorse) or onto the set of the world’s biggest television show (Emmy nominated Game Of Thrones: The Last Watch), all of Jeanie's films are all made with the same steel and heart, sharing an empathetic approach to bringing overlooked and untold stories to the screen. www.jeaniefinlay.com 

 

Steven Sheil is a writer and filmmaker based in Nottingham, UK. His work has previously appeared in Black Static, Horla, The Ghastling and as part of the Black Library anthology Invocations. His first feature Mum & Dad was released by Revolver in 2008. His second feature Dead Mine, will be released by eOne later in the year. He also one of the co-directors of Nottingham’s Mayhem Film Festival.

 

Kelly Pratt is an arranger and multi-instrumentalist best known for his horn work with David Byrne and with the bands Beirut, Arcade fire , LCD Soundsystem, Coldplay and more. He is currently arranger and conductor for Father John Misty. His solo work can be found under the names Bright Moments and Sir Kelly Pratt. 

 

Rumi Koshino is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in San Francisco. Her intuitive process of making art is informed by everyday experiences as well as social, emotional, and political climates that surround it. She has exhibited her work in the cities along the West Coast and Japan; including the Catherine Person Gallery and Vignettes in Seattle; Right Window in San Francisco; and Sweeney Kay Gallery and The Chetwood in Oakland. Rumi’s collaborations include The Wing Luke Museum and Prairie Underground Clothiers in Seattle. She recently published a limited-edition art book, *Solo Walks -The First 100 Days*, from RITE Editions. Rumi will be a resident artist at AGA Lab in Amsterdam in 2021. She holds a BFA and MFA from the University of Washington. 

Danny Paul Grody is a solo musician and founding member of San Francisco based bands Tarentel and The Drift. His first solo album Fountain was released in 2010 on Root Strata. 2013 saw the release of his critically acclaimed third album, Between Two Worlds (Three Lobed Recordings), and the following year Danny self-released, Furniture Music. His latest full-length, Other States (2016), was released by Geographic North for their excellently-curated Sketch for Winter IV series. In addition to his solo and collaborative work, Danny also composes music for film. Most recently, he contributed music for the documentary film, The Gospel of Eureka (2018), written and directed by Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri. His work can also found on the award-winning documentary, October Country (also directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher), which garnered a “Best Musical Score” at the Cinema Eye Honors in NYC

 

James Davis is the author of Club Q which Edward Hirsch selected for the 15th Annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize (Waywiser, 2020). His poems have been anthologized in two installments of Best New Poets 2011 & 2019) and have appeared in journals such as American Literary Review, Copper Nickel, The Gay & Lesbian Review, and 32 Poems. He blogs about video game music for Cartridge Lit*and teaches writing at the University of North Texas, where he is a Voertman-Ardoin Fellow and a PhD candidate in Creative Writing.

https://www.jamesdavispoet.com

 

Sara Jaffe is a writer (mostly fiction), musician (mostly treble), and educator living in Portland, OR. https://www.sarajaffewriter.com/home

Howard Jaffe: A 79-year-old grandfather, living in New York.  Worked as a writer and producer of kids tv shows, documentaries and an expansive variety of corporate balderdash.  Spends his days updating his to-do lists, jotting down notes for future writing projects and, of course, napping.

 

Colter Jacobsen is a visual artist and musician. He is a recipient of SFMoMA’s SECA Art Award (2010). His work has been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions, including hour fault, Anglim Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco (2019); Essays, Callicoon Fine Arts, New York (2018); This Is How We Walk on The Moon: Colter Jacobsen, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2014); Searchin’ vs. Buildin’, LAXART, Los Angeles (2010); and The Exhibition Formerly Known as Passengers, CCA Wattis Institute, California College of Arts, Oakland. Group exhibitions include Mythos, Psyche, Eros: Jess and California (2019), and A Slow Succession with Many Interruptions (2016–17), both at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA); People’s Biennial, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2014); Artists & Editions, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art (2013); and the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011). 

 

Nelson Lowry is an artist, art director, and production designer known for his work on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, Wes Anderson’s  Fantastic Mr. Fox and Laika Studio’s animated features Kubo and the Two Strings, ParaNorman, and The Missing Link. 

 

Scott Daniel Ellison’s work is influenced by his eclectic interest in folktales, mythical creatures, horror movies, early goth/punk imagery and music, native American and Scandinavian folk art, as well as photographers such as Diane Arbus and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. He is also interested in wildlife and the mysteries of the natural world as a result of growing up in the Hudson Valley and spending time outdoors as a child. Ellison’s work inhabits a place that is alien yet familiar at the same time, like an alternative reality populated with monsters, animals, and other creatures that exist just outside our perception.

 

 

Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher are a collaborative filmmaking/multimedia team. Their first feature as directors OCTOBER COUNTRY won the Grand Jury Prize at Silverdocs, received two Cinema Eye Honors, and was nominated for a 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. The film is a haunting portrait of American poverty, described by A.O. Scott as a “Joyce Carol Oates novel rendered as a documentary.” Their most recent feature film  "THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA" premiered at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, was released theatrically by Kino Lorber, and broadcast on POVin 2020.  Palmieri and Mosher  have worked in live cinema, performing at the First Look Festival at the Museum Of The Moving Image and collaborating with Daniel Lanois, Pop-Up Magazine, and others. They score their own films and perform their soundtracks  as live accompaniments. Palmieri’s music video director credits includes work for Sharon Van Etten, Beck, The Strokes, and The Foo Fighters. Mosher's writing can be found at Failed States Journal, Talk House, and other publications.