Seducing Time (2011)

by | Jun 29, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Seducing Time (2011)

Videotapes by Lynn Hershman Leeson, 1984-2008
2 DVDs: Virtual Love; Seeing Is Believing; Longshot; Desire Inc.; The Electronic Diaries; Life Squared
Featuring: Rinde Eckert, Jason Lanier, R. U. Sirius, Arthur & Marilouise Kroker
Studio: Microcinema International MC-1091M [6/28/11]
Video: 4:3 color & B&W
Audio: PCM Stereo & Mono
Length: Disc 1: 133 mins.; Disc 2: 167 min.
Rating: ****

Lynn Hershman Leeson is an interesting video artist who has directed three feature films featuring actress Tilda Swinton, [we reviewed one here] and created over 50 videotapes – mostly centered around the theme of the relationship between technology and humans. One of her awards was for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art, and she is currently head of the Film Department at the avant San Francisco Art Institute – where filmmaker George Kuchar directs a longtime class of student filmmakers.

The themes explored in these six videos, which range from 75 minutes down to 4, concern such things as electronically-monitored and manipulated identities, the simulation of identities, surveillance, encryption, privacy and media manipulation.  The work goes back to as early as 1984, with a series of talking-head videos Leeson made of her personal life. One is about the unexpected responses she got from four experimental “seduction ads” she taped and put on local cable TV stations, and another is a faux documentary about a beautiful but hopelessly lost young woman manipulated by a video editor who becomes obsessed with her and tries to possess her.

Nearly feature length is the 1993 video drama titled Virtual Love. Virtual reality video gaming is the main subject, and Leeson plays a woman who falls in love with one of two identical twins who are virtual reality scientists. The twins are both played – thanks to some very effective video tricks which would be outrageously expensive to do on film –  by avant singer-actor Rinde Eckert.  Several famous experts in the virtual reality world get some screen time as talking heads propounding on the subject during the drama. Leeson seems to have a connection with an oufit offering phone sex, and a couple of her actresses come from that world, which adds some slightly sleazy interest. There are a number of draggy spots in all these videos, but if you have a high enough nerd quotient they probably won’t bother you. Or perhaps as a former filmmaker who never got into video, I’m just delivering sour grapes.

 — John Sunier

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