Mock Up On Mu
Los Angeles Filmforum presents Mock Up On Mu, the newest film by Craig Baldwin, In collaboration with REDCAT.
Filmforum welcomes the latest work from master collagist and filmmaker Craig Baldwin
“…an allegorical cyclone of images and ideas haunted by sardonic humor and gnostic longing” — Erik Davis, Techgnosis
Born in Oakland California, USA, Craig Baldwin attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, University of California at Davis, and San Francisco State University (Masters, 1986). In the Dept. of Cinema there, he studied under Bruce Conner and became increasingly drawn to collage film form.
His interest in the re-contextualization of “found” imagery led him to the theories of the Situationists, and to various practices of mail art, ‘zines, altered billboards, and other creative initiatives beyond the fringe of the traditional fine-arts curriculum. His desire to liquidate the formal distinctions between high/low and private/public categories through a proliferation of discursive modes expressed itself in several photo-essay, installation, video, and Super-8 projects previous to his first16mm production, Wild Gunman (1978). This dense montage of cowboy iconography, advertising campaigns, and geopolitical conflicts features playful optical printing of trailers, newseels, and penny-arcade amusements. Baldwin’s audio-visual argument against neo-colonialist ideology was further developed in RocketKitKongoKit (1986), which utilizes several narrative voices in an accelerating cinematic broadside. His next film, Tribulation 99 (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. The SF Bay Guardian bestowed their annual Goldie award on Baldwin that same year.
His following project, ¡O No Coronado! (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. His 1995 film Sonic Outlaws is an experimental documentary on the emerging “electronic folk culture”, exploring the legal, political, and artistic implications of the audio-collage work of culture-jamming collectives like Negativland, Tape-beatles, Emergency Broadcast Network, and the Barbie Liberation Organization. The piece was named Best Independent Film of the Year by the LA Film Critics Circle.
In 1999, Mr. Baldwin completed Spectres of the Spectrum, a sci-fi spoof utilizing early educational kinescopes to criticize the corporate control of electronic/communication technologies. Grants from the Alpert Foundation and Creative Capital supported the production of this feature-length “compilation narrative” and its eventual international screening tour and distribution on DVD.
Working under a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, Baldwin has recently completed Mock Up On Mu, an experimental/speculative treatment of California’s post-War subcultures of sci-fi, aerospace, Beat art, and cult-religion, played out against the impending militarization of space.
Mock Up On Mu
Directed by Craig Baldwin (2008, color & b/w, sound, 109 min.)
A radical hybrid of spy, sci-fi, Western, and even horror genres, Craig Baldwin’s Mock Up On Mu cobbles together a feature-length “collage-narrative” based on (mostly) true stories of California’s post-War sub-cultures of rocket pioneers, alternative religions, and Beat lifestyles. Pulp-serial snippets, industrial-film imagery, and B- (and Z-) fiction clips are intercut with newly shot live-action material, powering a playful, allegorical trajectory through the now-mythic occult matrix of Jack Parsons (Crowleyite founder of the Jet Propulsion Lab), L.Ron Hubbard (sci-fi author turned cult-leader), and Marjorie Cameron (bohemian artist and “mother of the New Age movement”). Their intertwined tales spin out into a speculative farce on the militarization of space, and the corporate take-over of spiritual fulfillment and leisure-time.