The films of young Bay Area artist Steve Polta have the trappings of generic avant-garde cinema–fuzzy, abstract images often accompanied by an ambient sound track–but they’re genuinely entrancing, actively engaging the viewer in piecing them together. In his sound films, vague blobs of color and the occasional hint of a landscape combine with sounds that could be trains or cars, implying movement through space and enlivening the dark areas of the frame by suggesting unseen action. Often we feel we’re lost in a tunnel, with trains coming from various directions; 1997A (Arrival) was actually filmed in a BART tunnel, with silhouettes occasionally visible, but spatially it’s almost as ambiguous as the other films. In 1997C (Red Sketch #1) a fuzzy light moves amid darkness, and the droning sound track of mysterious origin provides an effective parallel, both elements denying us firm ground. The silent Pastel superimposes pale fuzzy spots, recalling the paintings of Morris Louis, the gradual changes in light sensitizing us to tiny shifts in perception. On the same program, Picture Window, 1997B (Departure), Minnesota Landscape, Fluttering, and Estuary #1 (Constant Passage). Polta will attend the screening. Kino-Eye Cinema at Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan, Friday, May 14, 8:00, 773-384-5533. — Fred Camper
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.