liquid blackness is undertaking a long term research project on the legendary yet seldom seen film: Larry Clark’s 1977 Passing Through. Studying the potential of the arts and politics of the jazz ensemble, we are developing an experimental project of collective research that will unfold throughout the year, and culminate in a public screening and symposium in Fall 2015.
Considered part of the “L.A. Rebellion,”i.e. the independent cinema made at UCLA by students of color in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, Passing Through follows a jazz musician’s struggle against the recording industry while in search of a “sound” that would reconcile his personal artistic vision with the sensibility of his community and the political urgencies of his highly repressive historical moment. It is a film that reflects on the political potential of the forms of sociality that coalesce around the jazz ensemble and on free jazz as a form of political praxis.
liquid blacknessis interested in leading a study of the film. Study, in the sense defined by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten in The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, is a non-institutional way of “thinking with others,” where “thinking” offers the possibility to experiment with different forms of sociality. So much so, that the process of studying is just as, if not more important, than its outcome. We are undertaking what we call an “object oriented research,” an approach to form that allows the existence of the object to dictate the appropriate modes of access to it. This way, we believe, we’ll be able to uncover and amplify some of the cultural and critical work that the film performed throughout its exhibition history.
We also recognize that the study emerges during a contemporary moment when music and film are once again being activated in relationship to revolutionary potential. As black independent films are being viewed with renewed interest, D’Angelo is said to have demanded the rush release of Black Messiah (2014) following the failure to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner. Since its release activists, filmmakers, and scholars have called Black Messiah the vanguard sound echoing the revolutionary impulse behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
To coincide with the special research project, liquid blackness will publish its fifth issue dedicated to a range of topics as well as methodological and theoretical questions prompted by, but not at all limited to, the study of the film. We welcome submissions on a variety of objects that might pose similar questions or methodologies from a variety of disciplinary traditions including Film/Media Studies, New Media, Visual Culture Studies, Art Criticism, and Critical Theory. Possible topics include:
- The archival impulse in African American art and cinema
- The possibility of politically oriented art and study to help us “pass through” and connect various notions of space, including the academy and everyday life
- Forms of collectivity in artistic practice, exhibition, and study
- The geopolitics of independent black film exhibition
- The role of digital humanities in black film study
- The ethics of black film study
- The visuality of the jazz ensemble
- Artistic experimentations with the visualization of sound
- Sensitometry in the 20th and 21st century
- The shareability of artistic and political improvisations
Please send a (maximum 500 word) abstract, 5 bibliographical sources and a short bio to firstname.lastname@example.org later than April 6, 2015. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by April 20 and complete essays (2,500-3,000 words) will be due on June 20th. For more information contact liquid blackness at the above address.