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"Toy”-Camera Film Festival: The Kids Stay in the Pxl

The Trimorphic Hypotheses

The highlight of PXL This 18, the annual showcase of short videos made using the Fisher Price PXL Vision toy camera, is The Trimorphic Hypotheses, a 17-minute sci-fi landscape mystery created in spectacular “PXL-RAMA,” described as “a devolutionary breakthrough in analog postproduction, turning the crisp, high-definition video of today’s best technology into the coarse, low-resolution of yesterday’s lost artistry.” The result is a split-screen, black-and-white pseudostory about a scientist who wanders a barren landscape, analyzing and measuring the Earth, using a souped-up metal detector and other wacky devices. Made by New Zealand filmmakers Struan Ashby and Roy Parkhurst, this captivating video spoofs B movies from the ’50s and ’60s while crafting an allegory about the attempt to parse nature’s mysteries with technology. It’s main charms, however, are masterful visual choreography across the three simultaneous frames and perfect sound design incorporating The Ventures’ eerie but rocking “Twilight Zone.” The Trimorphic Hypotheses captures a core aspect of PXL Vision ethos, namely the need to return to the basics of cinema to find its power. Other notable entries in this year’s survey include Lisa Marr and Paolo Davanzo’s The Fruit of Love, which mixes some colorful graphics and suitably distressed PXL Vision footage to explain the history of the banana in the U.S., and Geoff and Gwyneth Seelinger’s Birdly, a combination of home movie and motion study in which a flying bird at one point disintegrates into 8-bit graphic chunks, its fluttering motion offering the only clue to its identity. Clint Enn’s An Exploration of Digital Representation offers up meditative, pulsing imagery, with vertical lines and bursts of white light to craft a quick, abstract visual treat, while Joe Nucci’s Me, Terrence and the Boss chronicles a humorous escapade in the life of a limo driver, the camera holding on the driver’s animated face throughout. The show, as always, was curated by Venice- based artist Gerry Fialka, and is a broad, varied mix of material reflecting Fialka’s overarching agenda: like glorious PXL-RAMA, Fialka seems to yearn for the low-res in art — and in life — and its ability to spark clarity despite, or because of, reduced visibility. Unurban Coffeehouse, 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; Mon., March 9, 7 p.m., (310) 315-0056.


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