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"PXL This" 17: The Bad and the Beautiful

Now in its 17th year, curator/filmmaker Gerry Fialka’s "PXL This" film festival showcases short videos shot with the Fisher-Price PXL-2000 toy camera, introduced in the late 1980s. With a long list of entries (34!) spread across two shows, the festival challenges viewers to swim through waves of chunky black-and-white pixels, some really weird story fragments, a few awful musical performances, waves of stream-of-consciousness ranting and occasional moments of surprising beauty. In Geoff Seelinger’s lovely video A Tool Is a Tool, a wrench suspended in front of a camera attached to a roving bicycle renders a cubist cityscape. Realityshift,by Will Erokan and Ian Sonnemann,marries a nonstop (and annoying) monologue about perceptions of the world to fast-cut, high-contrast images of a city to create a chaotic vision of contemporary consciousness. Mono-monikered director Freya’s strangely compelling They Were Only Numbers features a series of brief shots of green-tinged abstracted planes, folds and textures that pulse and shift in time to undulations of sound. It’s a simple but powerful piece, as is L.M. Sabo’s Cataclysm,in which images of what looks like a model city become eerily timeless in the gray murk of the camera’s trademark grit. For better or worse, Fialka’s curatorial style is cheerfully democratic — 4-year-old artists mix with pros, art-house fare stands next to porn (watch out for the second show’s opener, The Disassembly Line,rife with bound and abused bodies and certainly not for the faint of heart). In each of these often relentless programs, there are moments worth waiting for, and Fialka deserves credit for his unflagging belief in the potential of the PXL camera to render something amazing. (Sponto Gallery, 7 Dudley Ave., Venice; Sat., Nov. 17, 7 & 9 p.m. — two separate programs. 310-306-7330 or www.indiespace.com/pxlthis.)

—Holly Willis