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New Improved Review of Tribulation99 dvd by Craig Baldwin

Ever since I first saw Craig Baldwin’s RocketKitKongoKit in San Francisco in the late 1980s, I knew I had stumbled across a major form of alien intelligence: a heady mixture of manic inventiveness, political commitment, formal mastery and pop cultural sensibility, not encountered elsewhere on this planet. Though the lines can easily be drawn to collage master and fellow San Franciscan, Bruce Conner, Baldwin’s work is unmistakably Baldwin. Both are San Francisco anti-institutions of long standing. But Conner’s decades of imaginative leaps into the film cultural void seem classicist at this historical juncture by comparison. Baldwin’s work has a DIY down and dirty aesthetic, which never gives in. Baldwin’s love affair with celluloid is always tempered by the knowledge of its status as a disease-carrying organism—the central means by which the spectacle is disseminated. Nor does Baldwin fetishize film over video. It is the spectacle against which and in the midst of which he makes his stand. And while no one would ever confuse Baldwin’s work with that of Debord or Viénet, there are commonalities of interest in the anarchist work of demolition. The difference is that Baldwin has a genuine passion for pop culture. He never positions himself outside it, but always inside, punching his way out through the super-collision of the shots he slams into one another for the entire durational dance of each one of his films. Instead of giving up on montage because of its authoritarian past, he forces it to mutate under Xtreme pressure.

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