Before his death in 2005, avant-garde filmmaker Mark Lapore spent many years traveling the world documenting people and places with a rare intensity and unequivocal gaze. His 35-minute black-and-white film Kolkata, for example, is a riveting poetic portrait of Calcutta featuring superlong takes of faces shot in close-up and relentless tracking shots that glide along crowded streets. Striking attention is paid to the textures of crumbling cement, shiny glass jars stacked on shelves, and piles and piles of paper, all of it captured in the lush emulsion of 16 mm film. On the soundtrack, a voice repeating an indecipherable phrase over and over creates a sense of unsettled angst — a feeling echoed in Lapore’s 2005 digital video Untitled (for David Gatten), made in collaboration with filmmaker Phil Solomon using footage shot with the gaming engine of Grand Theft Auto. While this project moves in a completely different formal direction from Lapore’s ethnographic studies, it nevertheless displays a similar combination of fascination with its subject and respectful restraint. Here, Lapore and Solomon take advantage of the odd reality depicted in machinima projects as they follow a character dashing through a barren landscape in the pouring rain. Rendered in the less-than-real video vernacular of 3-D virtual environments, the piece nevertheless conveys a deep melancholy and loneliness, inexplicably made all the more palpable by the images’ very lack of verisimilitude. Curated by Mark McElhatten, this program of five films offers a chance to experience a kind of visual and aural meditation — one designed to transform consciousness through intense reverie. (REDCAT; Mon., April 23, 8 p.m. 213-237-2800 or www.redcat.org)

LA Weekly