Craig Baldwin

Born in Oakland, California, Craig Baldwin attended the University of California at Santa Barbara and San Francisco State University (MA, 1986). In the Department of Cinema there, he became increasingly drawn to the collage film form. His interest in the recontextualization of "found" imagery led him to the theories of the Situationist International and to various practices of mail art, 'zines, altered billboards and other creative initiatives beyond the fringe of the traditional fine-arts curriculum.

After several photo-essay, installation, video and Super 8 projects, he produced his first 16mm production, WILD GUNMAN (20m, 1978), a dense montage of cowboy iconography, advertising campaigns and geo-political conflicts that featured playful optical-printing of an interactive penny-arcade game. Baldwin's audio-visual argument against neo-colonialist ideology was further developed in ROCKETKITKONGOKIT (30m, 1986), which utilized several narrative voices in an accelerating cinematic broadside.

TRIBULATION 99 (48m, 1991) unspooled a satiric psycho-political rant on millenarianism, xenophobia and CIA covert-action in Latin America, with flying saucer simulations and the hypnotic music of Yma Sumac. A picture-book version of the work was published by Ediciones la Calavera. ?OH NO CORONADO! (40m, 1992) inter-cut live-action Conquistador vignettes with archival footage, video-to-film FX, and a time-warped musical mix in a black-comic critique of the Conquest. The SF Foundation recognized the effort with the 1992 Phelan Award in Film Art.

As a new generation of "media savages," our cargo-cult can sift through the debris left by the corporate producers, to construct a playful and ingenious bricolage that re-invests the older material with new, critical meanings. ... For the marginalized practitioners of this cinema povera, the appropriation and detournement of "found" pop-cultural imagery towards oppositional ends serves to render some overdue satisfaction, perverse yet just. ...

... I'm interested in black-comic social critique, and also in graphic montage, rhythm, and acceleration; but above it all, I'm interested in the mobilization and manipulation and manic play with old and new meanings, as "found" footage is recontextualized with newly-produced sound and imagery, documentary testimony and collateral text. This polymorphous collage-essay form represents an effort to create an audio-visual language that has the same metaphoric and punning qualities as spoken language; clusters of signifiers in provisional constructs cobbled together. The flotsam and jetsam of film culture can serve to stage a review of the carnival acts of history.