A Film by Janie Geiser
Digital Video (color) 11 minutes (2017)
Sound Collage: Janie Geiser
Sound Mix: Kari Rae Seekins
Digital Mastering: Astra Price
Look and Learn excavates the visual vocabulary we use to operate and construct our daily world. Look and Learn explores the juxtaposition of two material image forms: instructions (furniture assembly diagrams, how-to manuals, safety instructions, maps) and photographs—here mainly 1950’s era school class photographs and images from photography manuals..
The instructions fight for time with the school photographs, the kind that place a group of individual students into an unforgiving grid. The school photographs suggest a more orderly time, when the instructions might actually be followed. The photographs themselves become another kind of diagram, forming barely glimpsed guides to the students’ future world. They look ahead, to the 60’s and 70’s, when the imagined order of things will be exploded.
In the final section of Look and Learn, the images are harder to grasp, as Geiser moves the school photos, along with documentary photographs of anti-war and civil rights era protests, quickly under the camera as she shoots. There is a sense of chaos, of a rushing forward and backwards, of time out of reach, of the impossibility of holding onto change—then, now, later…
The sound collage includes found soundtracks, institutional alarms, contemporary field recordings, and fragments of speeches from the 1965 Berkeley Teach-In. Perhaps some of these students found themselves there.