The appropriation of mainstream/commercial culture by artists is nothing new — you can trace it back through Negativland, Craig Baldwin and other post–hip-hop culture jammers of the '80s and '90s; Guy Debord and the Situationists of the '60s; Duchamp and the Dadaists; and probably further. But in the era of the omnipresent YouTube mash-up, it might be harder than ever to find work that approaches appropriation as an art, with or without the subversive designs of the original recombine innovators.
That's where the Festival of (In)appropriation comes in. The 2012 installment of the fourth annual festival's typically varied program includes fragmentary narratives crafted from home movies (Saskatchewan and Ghosts of Yesterday, as different as can be but both haunting); recontextualizations of footage from North by Northwest (Cropduster Octet) and the Star Wars prequels (Machine Language); a riff on the relationship between analog video technology and Felix the Cat (Cat Scanned); and much more. There's not a mere one-liner in the pack, but highlights include Scarlet, a gorgeous, moving painting–style collage tribute to Jane Fonda; Night Hunter, Stacey Steers' animated blending of images of silent starlet Lillian Gish with precinematic engravings, to create a melancholic dream/nightmare evocation of female anxiety; and Retrocognition, a weird and unsettling stew of postwar radio dramas and photo collage, bringing to life the latent rage of midcentury American pop culture. —Karina Longworth
FESTIVAL OF (IN) APPROPRIATION | Los Angeles Filmforum, at the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian | 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. | Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m.
Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes