By Kerry Laitala
Kerry Laitala is an award-winning moving-image artist who uses analog, digital, and hybrid forms to investigate the ways in which media influences culture-at-large. Laitala's work involves science, history, technology, and her uncanny approach to evolving systems of belief through installation, photography, para-cinema, performance, kinetic sculpture, and single-channel forms. She is the current recipient of the San Francisco Arts Commission's Individual Artist Commission to create and display a new series of electrophotographs.
On October 1, 2015, Laitala will give a talk titled Historic Techniques—Aura and the Spectacle of Light at the California Historical Society's San Francisco Headquarters. Learn more about the event and purchase tickets here.
I don't usually like to toot my own horn by writing about my own work, but I do enjoy talking about it, so I thought it would make the most sense to have my friend Brian Darr of the blog Hell On Frisco Bay ask me questions and transcribe the interview for this blog piece.
Brian Darr: Can you give me a brief history of your contributions to the San Francisco art scene in the last twenty years?
Kerry Laitala: From 1995-1997 I went to the San Francisco Art institute for my MFA in filmmaking, and I studied with some amazing filmmakers and curators. People like George Kuchar and Ernie Gehr and Michael Wallin and Mary Tsongas and Steve Anker.
I didn't really start exhibiting until 1997, the year I graduated. Actually in 1996 I did have an installation at the Art Institute, of a kinetic sculpture called the Retrospectroscope. In 1997 I started showing film work out there in the world, and I was lucky to have a short called Secure the Shadow Ere the Substance Fade programmed at the San Francisco International Film Festival. That was my entree into more mainstream venues, being able to screen at an international film festival at the Kabuki Cinema, and to see my work on the big screen.
Beginning in the late 1990s I screened at Other Cinema, Craig Baldwin's Saturday screening series which is currently in its final season at A.T.A. I also started screening at the Exploratorium. I was invited to curate a show called “revealing bodies” where I was able to show Secure the Shadow in the context of other films that had to do with imaging the body. It was really exciting to screen works that had inspired me and were interesting to me, and be a part of that large series that Liz Keim had worked hard to program.