In the midst of a welter of holiday advance screenings, the boldest breath of fresh air for me these weeks may be Chris Hefner’s truly memorable “Birdcatcher,” a super-8 originated collation of images that make Hefner Chicago’s own cinematic apocryphalist after the style of Winnipegger Guy Maddin. The cryptic black-and-white imagery moves from birds in flight, moving zoetrope- or Muybridge-style across the curved face of a weather balloon; a rabbit-headed man attempting to process the images winds up tumbling down a listening horn into a room alive with the wax-cylinder crackle of close yet distant sounds, the wither of a singing saw and other oddities such as dancing, floating tablespoons that seem to sing a duet. In its installation, props are presented as sculpture, and the images are fragmented into other forms in the gallery. Its press release describes “a dissection of cinema as an object, a process and result that reaches beyond both,” but I just thought it looked and sounded cool. The haunting music is by Jeffrey Bützer. (Ray Pride)
“Birdcatcher”’s exhibit opens Friday from 6-10pm and continues until a closing performance on January 6, 2007. Heaven Gallery, 1550 North Milwaukee, second floor, (773)342-4597.