New Artist Member: Tommy Becker

Posted February 15th, 2024 in Announcements, New Acquisitions, New Digital Files, News / Events

Canyon Cinema is pleased to welcome San Francisco-based artist Tommy Becker to the collection!

Tommy Becker attended the San Francisco Art Institute before receiving an MFA in Film/Video/Performance from the California College of Arts. In 2001, he began his work on “Tape Number One,” a never-ending mix tape that acts as a depository for his experiments in cinema.

A self-described “poet trapped in a camcorder,” Becker’s art rock films take a collagist approach to thematic investigation by combining original songwriting, spoken word, performance, costuming, animation, and in-computer design. Educational preludes, historical footage, and thematic lyrics lend a documentary component to his work that balances meaning with personal, often humorous, poetic expression.

His films have been shared nationally and internationally including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, SFCinematheque Crossroads, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Wexner Center for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Currents New Media, Perth International Film Festival, The Black Maria Film Festival, Sydney Underground Film Festival, Zebra Poetry Film Festival (Berlin), Kassel Documentary Film Festival, Experiments in Cinema (Albuquerque), Swedenborg Film Festival (London), Alchemy Film Festival (Hawick), Boston Underground Film Festival, Milwaukee Underground Film Festival and Athens International Film and Video Festival (Ohio). Becker often presents work from tape as expanded cinema with regular local performances at San Francisco’s Other Cinema / Artists’ Television Access.

He taught visual arts at Gateway High School between 2003-2023 in San Francisco and often translates his film concepts into 2D mixed media works and zine publications.

Four of Becker’s videos are now available from Canyon Cinema, including:

Elective: ART (2023, 30 minutes, color, sound, digital file)

Elective: ART is an art rock film that reflects on my twenty year journey as a high school art teacher. I combine original song writing and spoken word with performance art, archival footage and direct 16mm film elements to celebrate the freedom of imagination, autonomy in creativity and necessity of creative practices in our schools. The film depicts an art wizard unlocking a student’s imagination sending them into a surreal world where a color wheel escapes the classroom. Aided by primary colors, a hero’s journey ensues as the class clown is tasked with retrieving the wheel and freeing other students from the tedium of their school day.

The Mirror Neuron (2021, 14.5 minutes, color, sound, digital file)

The Mirror Neuron is an art rock film divided into five vignettes that investigate the complexities of interconnection beneath an awakening of the sun. Mirror neurons activate when we observe the actions of others. They allow us to empathize through feeling, not thinking. Their discovery confirms our evolutionary path to see others as similar to ourselves. The Mirror Neuron celebrates our biology through a series of musically driven gestures intended to activate our neural networks.

Emotions in Metal (2019, 21 minutes, color, sound, digital file)

Emotions in Metal is an investigative, visual/music work divided into nine vignettes that blend homemade video and music with poetry, performance and computer generated design. The short works link thematically in their investigations into human-vehicle relationships. Whether, performing instructional poetry in the garage, documenting the interiors of strangers’ cars or celebrating art world connections to the road, the work balances a playful humor with a critical eye on where society is currently parked.

Prelude and Song for Koko (2015, 6 minutes, color, sound, digital file)

An elephant escapes from the circus and begins a rampage down a city street. His trunk tosses aside everything in his path. We cheer for him. Why? A man sits on an alligator and attempts to tie his mouth shut. The alligator contorts his body, throwing the man off before turning to bite. We are unsympathetic. Why? A life force is being held against its will or once again running wild through the streets. The moment the lion lunges at the tamer we understand his motives. We relate viscerally to his oppression as we connect to the soul of its being.