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Arts & Culture
Fri February 7, 2014
Mysterious Infomercial Airing This Weekend Showcases Denton Art Collective's Film
Public art enabled by the Nasher’s XChange project reaches into TV land's darkest hours this weekend.
The Denton-born Good/Bad Art Collective got money to make a short film and place it where infomercials usually go.
It was scheduled to air at 1:30 a.m. Saturday on WFAA-TV (Channel 8), but the art collective says there's been a change: It will air at 3 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 8) on KTXA-TV (Channel 21) and again at 1:40 a.m. Sunday (Feb. 9) on WFAA-TV.
A decade of Good/Bad's artful mischief informs the project.
“I didn’t sleep in the 1990s," says Chris Weber, the collective's founder. "This quirk of mine worked out, so that I could walk all over Denton and put up more than 100 flyers for every show we did … and stay up experimenting with video projects where I shaved half my hair and half my beard in the middle of the night.”
Or, Weber says, sometimes he’d lie awake in front of the TV watching infomercials. They weren’t always selling something, not exactly.
"Not just Sham Wow and Magic Bullet but any paid programming that includes those pitching religion, politics, or in the best case, people like Dr. Gene Scott, and other craziness that, I don’t know what they were pitching – a sense of confusion," he says.
That’s more along the lines of ‘Forever.' The film is meant to capture the delirium of longing and lack of sleep. The 28-minute short was filmed in part at downtown Dallas’ Bryan Tower (Ewing Oil headquarters in the TV show Dallas) in October, as part of Nasher Sculpture Center's citywide XChange project.
Good/Bad reunited for "Curtains," the open-call event where filmmakers in the group collected B-roll of participants crawling, dancing, then hobbling over a lit dance floor.
A teaser only shows a middle aged man in a white suit whittling away at a stick. He works in front of a curtain panel fashioned like standby color bars you’d see on a TV screen.
There is a sense of danger – of borrowed time.
This kind of ad-for-film bait-and-switch has been attempted before. In the ‘70s, LA artist Chris Burden bought his own time. Back then, you could get 30 seconds for less than $100. One station pulled the first abstract piece Burden placed, which featured the artist inexplicably crawling around through glass.
A group of pro-bono lawyers got Burden’s art back on the air – he’d paid for the spots up front. But the salesman that took Burden’s check got fired.
Weber explains ‘Forever’ isn’t meant to feel quite as out of place in the infomercial block. He won’t say much else.
"Our host is selling immortality – um, the idea of everlasting life and I won’t go into details about what that is exactly. But it’s my hope is that what Good/Bad is selling is a lingering sense of mystery and surprise," Weber says.
Read more about the music produced by local artists for the project in D FrontRow's Q&A with Weber.
Arts & Culture