Jennifer West at Andy Perry’s house

Carpenteria home of surfer Andy Perry by Jennifer West, scene of West's HOME SHOW, REVISITED project. This photo pre-party (just).

Carpenteria home of surfer Andy Perry by Jennifer West, scene of West's HOME SHOW, REVISITED project. This photo pre-party (just).

A party is a flat space in time where a million streams of life come together and mix things up.A party is a flat space in time where a million streams of life come together and mix things up.

A party is a flat space in time where a million streams of life come together and mix things up.

Party to celebrate Jennifer West's film and the participants: makers and riders of the waves, all. (Be those waves of water or of light.) This and above photo by Elizabeth Harper.

Party to celebrate Jennifer West's film and the participants: makers and riders of the waves, all. (Be those waves of water or of light.) This and above photo by Elizabeth Harper.

Do you know? The photos I got for this Jennifer West post are just beautiful, and even the incidental ones are filled with electricity and excitement. Sad is the wordsmith.  (But happy are the lookers!)

When we met, Jennifer talked about growing up in Topanga and being aware of surfers as a community. Note that is a community rather than a lifestyle – I understood from Jennifer that she saw them as a group of individual outsiders, opposed by the larger culture even while they stayed to themselves. As an example she offered a community of beach shacks in Lower Topanga Canyon that for years had been home to surfers, artists, musicians and other beach people that and was demolished make way for Topanga State Beach. “The misfits no longer fit in.” One story has it that the last ramshackle structure was burned to the ground in a final act of defiance. We all know that the California beaches are littered with millionaires now and free spirits must find a way to adapt to remain.

Early showings of surf films to their audiences was the job of an itinerant group of exhibitors who would carry the films from high school auditorium to community center and so on, charging a couple of bucks and offering an open-minded venue. Typically beer was present and bottle tops would be launched at the screen. Teenagers, youths and unruly romantics - sounds like some good days, huh?

Early showings of surf films to their audiences was the job of an itinerant group of exhibitors who would carry the films from high school auditorium to community center and so on, charging a couple of bucks and offering an open-minded venue. Typically beer was present and bottle tops would be launched at the screen. Teenagers, youths and unruly romantics - sounds like some good days, huh?

Jennifer also talked of being inspired by such early surf film-makers as Bud Browne, John Severson’s THE ANGRY SEA, and films by George Greenough.

Great images of Lower Topanga from the 1960s courtesy Brass Tacks Press, also some from the 1970s.

Great! Original first six minutes of LOCKED IN – Bud Browne’s famous (legendary) 1964 film. Really cool deconstruction of surf action plus a sweet echo echo echo chamber effect on the first mention of the film’s title “Locked In.”

Hmm. To help us understand just what heaven might be like and why it is exactly that people surf, watch Greenough’s 1973 CRYSTAL VOYAGER in ten minute chunks. Sure glory. (And, it being the 1970s, the music was great, too. Link to entire 23 minute Pink Floyd “Echoes” a main part of the soundtrack.)

I understand that Jennifer West first discussed working with an older film such as one of these for her source, and that the enthusiasm of surfer Andy ‘No – you should make a film!’ Perry helped make up her mind. (Having seen the result, I say yay to filming anew. You will, too.)

The above film stills are all credited as follows, as indeed are the additional film stills that I shall upload soon. This second batch I hoovered up off of Facebook.

Film still credit:

Dawn Surf Jellybowl Film (16mm film negative sanded with surfboard shaping tools, sex wax melted on, squirted, dripped, splashed, sprayed and rubbed with donuts, zinc oxide, cuervo, sunscreen, hydrogen peroxide,  tecate, sand, tar, scraped with a shark’s tooth, edits made by the surf  and a seal while film floated in waves- surfing performed by Andy Perry, Makela Moore, Alanna Moore, Zach Moore, Johnny McCann – shot by Peter West – film negative sanded by Mariah Csepanyi, Andy Perry and Jwest), 2011
16mm film negative transferred in Hi Definition Video, projector, projection screen, beer bottle caps, blankets, pillows
Commissioned by the Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, California

Courtesy of MARC FOXX, Los Angeles

More stories, more photos soon. It is 6:11 pm on Monday – some Monday – in May.

Cheers!

The more: (It is 7:04 am on the following Tuesday – the sun is shining through the shades and into my eyes, the sound of traffic on Melrose provides a background rumble to my various YouTube meanderings and I am ready to rock n roll.) Lately it’s Husker Du “Celebrated Summer” and Michael Jackson “First Moon Walk Ever.”

West talks a lot about the community who makes her films with her. Check again the full title of this “Dawn Surf” film – each participant is named and each action is documented. I think this is not a strategy of denying authorship, rather West wants to – and wants us to – acknowledge the authorship of social activity. While the work is guided by Jennifer West’s singular creative intelligence, the means and methods are in the hands of a community of sorts. In the case of “Dawn Surf” it is a community that preexists West’s film-making (as a group of individuals and as a tradition) and that shares her spirit of adventure.

This film, as all Jennifer’s films do, make me consider ‘essences,’ as in “the essence of surfing” and “the integral matter of a party” and “an unspoken but shared thrill that travels through a group of people who are contributing together.” These are all things that we can’t quantify and that, rationally speaking, we shouldn’t be able to discern physically or sensually. This might be where West’s titles come in – as noted, these list all the materials, persons and circumstances of her films. So we do have cues for our intuition, should we choose to set it free. Also the medium of film lends itself to just this kind of belief, this is the much sought-after ‘power of film.’ We watch flickering lights and receive messages – if we’re alone we feel at one with the film and the actors, if we are in a crowd we begin to act as a unit – responding similarly to similar stimuli.

In an interesting way the titles of her films also serve like talismans – when I hold them in my mind as I am being seduced I am aware of my seduction and my complicity. I think this honesty and offering of critical distance is what charms me most.

Especially with this “Home Show, Revisited” film installation, shown in the front yard of a second generation surfer’s wood-framed house in Carpenteria, surrounded by the participants, other neighborhood surfers, artists from the exhibition and whoever happened to be walking by; as I watched the film and appreciated its beauty,  I also – in that fine salt air – forgot that I was looking at art.

Film still credit:

Dawn Surf Jellybowl Film (16mm film negative sanded with surfboard shaping tools, sex wax melted on, squirted, dripped, splashed, sprayed and rubbed with donuts, zinc oxide, cuervo, sunscreen, hydrogen peroxide,  tecate, sand, tar, scraped with a shark’s tooth, edits made by the surf  and a seal while film floated in waves- surfing performed by Andy Perry, Makela Moore, Alanna Moore, Zach Moore, Johnny McCann – shot by Peter West – film negative sanded by Mariah Csepanyi, Andy Perry and Jwest), 2011
16mm film negative transferred in Hi Definition Video, projector, projection screen, beer bottle caps, blankets, pillows
Commissioned by the Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, California

Courtesy of MARC FOXX, Los Angeles

Above Production Stills Credited – Photographs by Mariah Csepanyi and Jwest

At Channel Islands Surf, in Carpenteria, five hundred feet of film (that had already been ‘edited by the surf’ were sanded, scraped with a shark’s tooth, etc. in six foot lengths. On the surface of a surfboard, hence the six foot lengths. Um, six goes into five hundred around eighty-three times. Are your hands tired yet?

One final image fiesta: a surf combine grid, courtesy Jwest herself. Enjoy:

And do, when you travel up to Carpenteria to see this film and installation remember what Jennifer West told me about experiencing it:

“I was thinking of a story James Benning told me, about seeing a Douglas Gordon film screened in a drive-in theater in Twentynine Palms. It was dusk, the sky was still light and as the sun set the light of the movie filled the screen. This is how I imagine seeing “Dawn Surf Jellybowl Film…” at Andy’s house in Carpenteria.”

Blogger David Harding shares his experience of the same Douglas Gordon film at davidharding.net. By the way, the Gordon installation was titled “Five Year Drive By.” Image from Medien Kunst Netz below.

Douglas Gordon, "Five Year Drive By," link to Medienkunstnetz.de

Douglas Gordon, "Five Year Drive By," link to Medienkunstnetz.de

P.S.

Tell you what, my friends. Without haphazard input from my peripatetic wanderings on the web (meaning randomly subjected messages from friends that contain additional information I can also use) I’d never get anywhere. Intending another thing entirely a conversation mate just reminded to that East of Borneo has an interview with Jennifer West up and running. Also two films for viewing:

The Film Looks Like a Licked Sunset: A Conversation with Jennifer West (by Quinn Latimer)

Jam Licking and Sledge-hammered Film (2008)

Nirvana Alchemy Film (2007)

Plus Jennifer recommended:

This Long Century Blog

Kaleidoscope Press

Hasta.

(oops – there is much more to Home Show, Revisited)

CAF Part 1: Michele O’Marah – Video Portraits

CAF Part 2: Conversation with curator Miki Garcia

CAF Part 3: The Home Show in general – 1988, 1996

CAF Part 4: Florian Morlat – A Monument for the Dovers

CAF Part 5: Bettina Hubby for Home Show, Revisited

CAF Part 6: Jennifer West at Andy Perry’s house

CAF Part 7: Jennifer Rochlin for Home Show, Revisited

CAF Part 8: Evan Holloway: Art History = Successful Products + Time (a smorgasbord)

CAF Part 9: “Home Show” again

CAF Part 10: “One More Time For Home Show 1988

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