Brent Hayes Edwards, Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, will present his digital restoration, from the original 16mm reels, of the legendary short film Sweet Willie Rollbar’s Orientation. Featuring an original soundtrack by saxophonist Julius Hemphill, the film was made in the spring of 1972 by Hemphill, the poet K. Curtis Lyle, the actor Malinke Elliott, and other members of the Black Artists’ Group of St. Louis. An astonishing document of the post-Black Arts period, the film includes a series of fragmented, surreal “trickster tale” vignettes set in the detritus of the St. Louis inner city. In his keynote directly following the screening, Edwards will place the film in the context of the Black Artists’ Group, and more broadly in relation to other black experiments in multimedia aesthetics in the early 1970s.
This screening and lecture is part of the "Sound Knowledges" series, a Humanities Council Magic Project curated by Gavin Steingo.
About the Series:
In the past decade, “sound studies” has developed as a major field of scholarly investigation. Often conceptualized as an alternative to visually-oriented studies of media and society, sound studies has foregrounded otherwise neglected histories of listening and the acoustic, and has situated audition as a central figure in the production of cultural, social, and scientific knowledge. But despite continued calls for an approach that would cut across different modalities of knowledge production, research on sound remains woefully compartmentalized. By bringing together theorists, artists, and practitioners, this series promises to foster a more robust and genuinely crossdisciplinary approach to sonic knowledge.