Everything Normal

A grainy black & white photography of a docked spacecraft.
Andrew Kotting, Otolith Group, Everything Normal, 2003.

Film event with a selection of short films from the cold war era, and more modern offerings

 
'I see the earth from space: it is beautiful.' These words have gone down in history as the first official utterance made by Yuri Gagarin in space. In reality, the flight transcript from Commander Gagarin's Vostok craft reveals that the pioneer Russian cosmonaut's actual first words translate more as, 'Everything normal - the equipment is working perfectly'. Gagarin's observation shows a touching faith in his instrument panel.
 
Everything Normal presented a selection of original short films from the cold war era, together with more modern offerings which paid homage to those grainy glory days - reflecting a time when men revelled in the company of their machines, the British space effort still existed, Heroic Soviet Achievements matched American Know-How, and with just a little more tinkering with our rockets we would all be living on the moon by 1980.
 
First film off the launchpad was Attention Weightlessness! - an excellent Soviet educational film from 1962 which shows scientists, cats and dogs enjoying the newly discovered joys of weightlessness as they tumble about onboard the precarious jet flights which prepared the way for gravity-defying space travel.
 
The programme continued with La Mission Priviet, a film by Raphaël Frydman, filmed in Kazakhstan in January 2003. The state of the Russian space program is discussed after the failure of a mysterious space launch of Soyuz, the Priviet Mission. The filmmaker tries to discover the truth of this mission: information or propaganda? The film was screened in French and Kazahk, with a live simultaneous translation.
 
First half also included the story of the conversion of a Latvian Radio Telescope for artistic purposes by the Acoustic Space Lab, Andrei Ujica's Out of the Present, and Louise K Wilson's film about an air-traffic controllers' cycling club who ride in formation down the runway.
 
Mission controller of the second half of the programme was British Lunatic Genius Andrew Kotting (maker of Gallivant and This Filthy Earth). Kotting showed his film Too G, made during an Arts Catalyst zero gravity flight; then presented a selection of shorts which included Steve Sullivan's A Whole Heap of Trouble, Guy Maddin's The Heart of the World, Phil Hall's Geoff World Destroyer and many other films which had absolutely nothing to do with the evening's otherwise admirable educational aims and purposes.
 
The evening included a screening of Otolith 1 by the Otolith Group.
 

Programme:

Otolith 1, Otolith Group, 22 minutes
Attention Weightlessness ETV. 6 minute extract
Out of the Present Andrei Ujica. 5 minute extract
RT-32 Acoustic Space Lab. 6 minute extract
The Priviet Mission Raphaël Frydma. 26 minutes
Born in 82 Juneau Projects. 2 minute extract
Runway Louise K Wilson. 8 minutes
Zero Genies 10 minutes
Surprise! Veit Helmer. 6 minutes
Heart of the World Guy Maddin. 5 minutes
Too G Andrew Kotting. 3 minutes
One Small Leap Edward Boase & James Walker. 4 minutes
Donkeyhead. Andrew Kotting & Andrew Lindsay 3 minutes
Busby Berkleys Tribute to Mae West. Paul Bush. 2 minutes
A Heap of trouble Steve Sullivan. 5 minutes
Geoff World Destroyer Phil Hall. 3 minutes All is Love Chris Cunningham. 3 minutes
 

Intervals (& after):

Archive film footage, including Russian Dogs in Space
Vengeance by Stefan Gec
Music DJ'd by Kodwo Eshun & Ewen Chardronnet
 
The Otolith Group was founded in 2002 and consists of London based Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun. The Group have drawn from a wide range of resources and materials to explore the moving image, the archive, the sonic and the aural within the gallery context. The research based work has focused on the essay film as a form that seeks to look at conditions, events and histories in their most expanded form. This work acts as a resource that is documented on The Group’s website and supports The Otolith Group's public platform – The Otolith Collective.
The Otolith Collective coexists by curating, programming, publishing and supporting the presentation of artists work, contributing to a critical field of exploration between visual culture and exhibiting in contemporary art. Curated and co-curated programmes and exhibitions include, A Cinema of Songs and People: The Films of Anand Patwardhan at the Tate Modern, The Inner Time of Television, The Journey, by Peter Watkins at the Tate Modern, On Vanishing Land by Mark Fisher and Justin Barton, the touring exhibition The Ghosts of Songs: A Retrospective of The Black Audio Film Collective 1982-1998, Harun Farocki. 22 Films: 1968-2009 at Tate Modern and the touring programme Protest conceived as part of the Essentials: The Secret Masterpieces of Cinema commissioned by the Independent Cinema Office.