In conjunction with Carl Craig’s Party/After-Party (2020) at Dia Beacon, Dia presents a cumulative platform of public programs exploring the legacy of techno through summer 2021. The Carl Craig Sessions join an ongoing and multivocal dialogue about techno’s emergence in Detroit’s underground as well as its reverberations worldwide.
Originating in post-Fordist Detroit in the early 1980s, techno arose not only as an electronic music form, but also as an aesthetic and political movement committed to experimentation, counter-histories, and imagined futures. As artist and sound theorist Kodwo Eshun stated in 1995: “Detroit techno took music beyond the dance, into the chaos of electronics; inventing a history and a future, a direction and an ideal as successful as that other 1980s neologism, cyberspace.”
Inviting artists, DJs, musicians, writers, and thinkers, the Carl Craig Sessions consider the sonic influence of techno. Devoting primary attention to archives of Black experience, the sessions also consider how techno challenges the racial capitalist relationship between human and machine to articulate visions of a transformative society.
Carl Craig Sessions: Screening Series in Collaboration with Electronic Arts Intermix
This film series constellates some of the forms, mythologies, and politics present in the greater movement of techno.
The four films will be available here to view from Thursday, July 16, 12 pm (EST), to Sunday, July 19, 9 pm (EST).
July 16–19, 2020
Featuring films by Ulysses Jenkins and Cauleen Smith, the second screening in the Carl Craig Sessions film program offers enigmatic visions of current and future metropolises and the slippages between them. Spatiotemporal loopholes weave fantasy into images of the already postapocalyptic—from the industrial landscape to the extraterrestrial—redefining our relationship to the conditions of the present.
Dream City, 1983
Ulysses Jenkins composed Dream City from documentation of a twenty-four-hour performance he organized in collaboration with David Hammons, Maren Hassinger, and Senga Nengudi. A discordant, absurdist, and poetic montage, the video weaves together jazz and punk shows, recitations by Jenkins, and shots of the Los Angeles skyline and oil wells to comment on power and nation in the early years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
The Changing Same, 2001
Cauleen Smith’s The Changing Same follows two aliens sent on a mysterious mission to Earth to investigate the “incubators”: inscrutable earthlings who hold dear “ideas about freedom and a culture born from ashes.” The inhospitable climate of the city in which they find themselves—a place a lot like Los Angeles—causes the mission to end in tragedy.
THE WAY OUT IS THE WAY TWO, 2012
A constellation of short films about Afrofuturist composer Sun Ra, creative music, and the psychogeography of Chicago, Smith’s THE WAY OUT IS THE WAY TWO moves between sci-fi narrative and the documentary of the everyday, obliquely conjuring the history of Sun Ra’s time in Chicago.
Songs for Earth and Folk, 2013
A collage of found footage—scenes of nature and outer space, machines and their human operators —set to a text written by Smith, Songs for Folk and Earth laments the hubris of a human relationship to the earth premised on exploitation. Structured like a blues song, the film features an improvised soundtrack by Chicago-based band The Eternals.
Ulysses Jenkins was born in 1946 in Los Angeles, California. A pioneering video artist, Jenkins studied painting and drawing as an undergraduate at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and later received an MFA in intermedia-video and performance art from Otis Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design) in Los Angeles. His work has been included in major exhibitions including America is Hard to See at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015); Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980 at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2012); and California Video at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2008). Jenkins is currently an associate professor in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and an affiliate professor in the African American studies program, both at the University of California, Irvine.
Cauleen Smith was born in Riverside, California, in 1967. An interdisciplinary artist, Smith’s work reflects on the everyday possibilities of the imagination. Her films, objects, and installations have been featured in group exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City (2014); Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2013); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2015). Solo presentations of her films and installations have taken place at MASS MoCA, Massachusetts (2019); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012); and the Kitchen, New York (2011). Smith lives in Los Angeles and teaches at CalArts.