Kerry Tribe (b. 1973)
Critical Mass (2010)
Los Angeles-based artist Kerry Tribe continues her exploration of memory, image and information with the presentation of her live performance project, Critical Mass. Tribe restages Hollis Frampton’s groundbreaking experimental film Critical Mass (1971). In the original film, an improvised performance of a young couple’s domestic dispute was filmed on two reels of 16 mm film. Through a complex editing structure, Frampton cuts and slices the dialogue so that the increasingly frenetic stuttering of the conversation breaks down the rhythm of the temporal flow of the film. As the performers’ words fracture, overlap, and repeat, the images and audio gradually fall out of synch.

Tribe restages the film shot for shot, working with two actors who have committed the complete dialogue to memory. Their performance of the text restages the linguistic breakdown of the original film; every stutter is performed so that Frampton’s celluloid procedures are resituated as live action. Tribe reverses the logic of film’s relationship to performance; whereas Frampton’s work uses film to document and manipulate an action, Tribe’s version uses live action to document the memory of the film.