Walker Art Center

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whiteonwhite: algorithmicnoir

A film installation by Eve Sussman / Rufus Corporation

“Sussman’s fleetingly allegorical and seemingly self-generating sci-fi film … inherits the tradition of Godard’s Alphaville, Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Fassbinder’s World on a Wire, and Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad.” —BOMB

This seemingly self-generating sci-fi film never ends, and never really begins, either. Drawing on more than 30 hours material that has been converted into digital files—each tagged with terms to identify the contents—whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir is a media piece that selects the order of those files based on an algorithm. The connections, generated from the so-called “Serendipity Machine,” are displayed on the monitor on the lefthand side of the screen. Never the same, the formula develops the story of a mysterious Mr. Holz, an informant traversing a failed utopian country in post-Soviet Central Asia.

Continuously shuffling 80 voice-overs, 150 pieces of music, and 3,000 clips shot in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Dubai, whiteonwhite offers fascinating insights into genre filmmaking. This is multimedia artist Eve Sussman’s third in a series that expands upon the images and implications of well-known paintings. Her first, 89 Seconds at Alcázar (2004), imagined the space and time surrounding Velázquez’s Las Meninas, and her second, The Rape of the Sabine Women (2007), takes inspiration from the Sabine paintings of Poussin, Rubens, and David. In this piece, Sussman—with her ad hoc think-tank collaborators, the Rufus Corporation—looked to Kazimir Malevich’s emblematic 1918 painting White on White as a starting point, building a narrative onto the Russian artist’s ideas about abstraction and transcendence to create “a gorgeous, hypnotic montage of blasted utopianism” (Art in America).


Artists’ Cinema is made possible by generous support from Elizabeth Redleaf.