Critical Writing Index

Quest for What: Jim Supanick locates the HalfLifers in the video badlands

by Jim Supanick

Film Comment Magazine, Sept. 1999, v. 35, no. 5, pp. 52-53

An appreciation of the videotapes of Bay Area performance-video artists Anthony Discenza and Torsten Z. Burns, together known as the HalfLifers. The author remarks on the duo's cultivation of "video's negative attributes," noting their "poisonous," "crude," but oftentimes beautiful lo-fi aesthetic. The HalfLifers' anarchic and energetic hijinks are compared to silent comedy -- e.g., their use of comic fast-forward seems equivalent to silent comedy's undercranking. As performers, the HalfLifers directly address not the audience but each other, engaging in manic "adventure/dramas" defined by "narrative disjunctiveness, ill-defined conflict, [and] reinstatement of the fourth wall." The videotapes and the performers' behaviour "dramatize the results on our psyches" from a lifetime spent distractedly consuming film and TV images.

ITEM 1999.097 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Actions in ActionHalfLifers

Fear of RescueHalfLifers

Return to RescueworldHalfLifers

Control CorridorHalfLifers