The Playground Of The Imagination: New Frontier On Main

Ian Calderon in the New Frontier on

Now in its second year, New Frontier on Main has become an essential stop in the Festival experience. Located in the bottom of a galleria, the basement space has been transformed into a dimly lit, mysterious world filled with quivering colored lights and drifting shadows.

Originally the New Frontiers was a patchwork of different presentations. New Frontier films – the more arty and experimental selections – were programmed as simply a film category, the one least visited by Hollywood agents. The Digital Center, a meeting place for filmmakers interested in the newest technologies, used to be housed in a meeting room at the Prospector Lodge, often feeling more like a computer convention than a springboard for digital innovation.

Under the guidance of Ian Calderon, Director of Sundance Digital Initiatives, and programmer Shari Frilot, New Frontier on Main presents a technical playground for those digitally oriented. The Microcinema houses six panels ranging in topics from web entertainment to Cyborg culture, and in the Outerspace Cinema space, Sony, Panavision and Avid provide ongoing presentations of their technical innovations. In addition, New Frontier films are programmed in different cinemas.

And in their gallery, Frilot has curated 15 provocative, visual pieces from the world of fine art. Each piece speaks to different issues of the cinematic imagination, and extends the conversation between cinema and fine art that the festival initiated several years ago. For Frilot, “we are convinced that the art world in a unique way is contributing to independent cinematic vision. The works that interest us use a cinematic language to do their thing.”

Mike Kelly

Some of the work, like Doug Aiken’s SLEEPWALKERS [] – which was originally a video project on the entire side of New York’s Museum of Modern Art – are basically films, especially with its cast of Tilda Swinton and Donald Sutherland. Other works rethink our use of video and projection. Jennifer Steinkamp []’s “Mike Kelly,” which projects high-def video images of electronic trees in growth, pushes our sense of what digital video can do. Daniel Rozin []’s “Snow Mirror” presents a wall of video snow that on which the shadows of people slowly surface when they walk in front of it. Jim Campell []’s “Home Movies 300” makes light sculptures of sort form LED panels. Other artists define the cinematic imagination in more conceptional ways. Hasan Elahi’s “ Tracking Transience: The Orwell Project []” names the FBI as his artistic collaborator by maintaining a detailed surveillance of himself.

Snow Mirror

Each work reframes and rethinks what we mean by cinema in very different ways. But taken as a whole, the whole exhibition reminds us that cinema is not a matter of celluloid and projectors, but means of showing each other what we see.


Peter Bowen