I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Rose Kallal: Experimental Dreams

by Casey Dewey
Feb. 4, 2017

The video installations of Rose Kallal are some of the best experimental films being produced today. There’s a feel of yesteryear to them; they wouldn’t be out of place at a Tangerine Dream concert at a university in the 1970s. Combining 16mm film loops with droning music by the likes of Mark Pilkington, Mick Harris (ex-Napalm Death) and others, Kallal’s films are spellbinding and hypnotic.

Utilizing three overlapping projectors, Kallal combines her own photos and exploding, 3D fractal animations. It’s akin to taking the brown acid at a laser light show. Suns and stars float by while laser beams cut through the ether. All the while sounds as beautiful as the harps of heaven and deadly as the horns of hell are played live with modular synthesizers.

There’s very little press on Kallal’s work, but in one article her work is related to experimental filmmaker Bruce Conner. Conner, who died in 2008 and is perhaps best known for an unofficial music video for new wave pioneer mutants Devo’s “Mongoloid,” is enjoying a popular resurgence at the moment. Conner, like Kallal years later, was a master manipulator of found film footage. Conner combined newsreel footage, home movies, his own material and a plethora of other resources to create new pieces. He was also one of the first experimental film makers to combine pop music with the visuals, thus making him a precursor to the MTV era.

In the same article, another inspiration cited for Kallal is the little-known artist Jordan Belson. Belson specialized in “film paintings”, utilizing scroll paintings and sound manipulation by sound artist Henry Jacobs. Together these two outsider artists almost single handedly invented the laser light shows of the ‘60s that were so popular amongst the Haight-Ashbury crowd. Later, film director Philip Kaufman would draft Belson to do the special effects for The Right Stuff, Kaufman’s film based on Thomas Wolfe’s book about the Mercury space program.

Kallal's installations, like Belson’s and Conner’s before her, are uniquely fresh and invigorating. She’s steeped in a tradition that seems to disappear frequently, but is always welcome when it returns. Here’s to more of her art.

Casey Dewey resides in Tucson, Arizona. He's a film writer for the Tucson Weekly and host of "Deep Red Radio" , a radio show dedicated to film soundtracks on 91.3 KXCI FM. He enjoys tacos, cervezas and garlic in everything. He wakes up every morning to a fresh pot of black coffee and at least two hours of Dragnet on TV.