Home »

  • Song of the River

    Song of the River

    Children of the rainforest /
    intrinsically woven into the fabric of life /
    with one spirit, one voice, one people /
    that the song of the river is your own–

    Barbara L. Sykes.

    “Based upon my poem of Borneo’s indigenous cultures, ‘Song of the River’ is as much a visual poem and mystic story as it is an experimental ethnographic documentary. Shot while traveling up Sarawak’s Rajang River to various longhouses of different indigenous tribes, this tape is an intimate and personal portrayal of the harmonious relationship Borneo’s indigenous people have with one another, and with the river, animals, birds and rainforest. It is a devotional piece honoring the spirituality, wisdom, integrity and essential qualities of respect and appreciation for life that these people have.

    ‘Song of the River’ is the second tape produced for ‘In Celebration of Life…. In Celebration of Death…’ a series of tapes shot during my fourteen month sabbatical and Chicago Artists Abroad Artists Residency in intensive research and videotape production in primarily Asia, and later, the Mid-East and Africa. The series reveals the religious, cultural and philosophical beliefs of various indigenous cultures by exploring their rituals, dance, music and daily activities.

    From birth to death, special rites and ceremonies mark the important events of one’s existence, assuring a symbiosis of body and soul with the divine. This deep relationship between the people and their gods are reaffirmed through daily activity. At times, the person symbolically becomes god, strengthening their own sense of sacredness and self-respect.–Barbara Sykes Continue reading

  • Shiva Darshan

    Shiva Darshan

    “Based upon the poem I wrote of my travels through India and Nepal, ‘Shiva Darsan’ is as much a video poem and mystic story, as it is an experimental, ethnographic documentary on Hinduism, holy men, spirituality and transcendence. Shiva is the Hindu lord of procreation and death. Darsan is sacred perception. Darsan is as much to see, as it is to be seen by that of the worshipper and the deity, holy person or sacred place. It is as much the spiritual that yields to be grasped, known, touched and experienced, as it is the worshipper who is there to receive the divine. This piece is also a personal reflection on the Shivaratri Festival at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, the birthday celebration of Shiva at one of his most important pilgrimage sites in Asia and at the most sacred of Nepalese shrines.

    ‘Shiva Darsan’ the first tape produced for ‘In Celebration of Life…. In Celebration of Death…’, my series of experimental, ethnographic documentaries shot during my fourteen month sabbatical and Chicago Artists Abroad Artists Residency in Asia, the Mid-East and Africa. This series reveals the religious, cultural and philosophical beliefs of indigenous people from various cultures by exploring their rituals, dance, music and daily activities that revolve around life and death. From birth to death, special rites and celebrations mark the important events of one’s existence, assuring a symbiosis of body and soul with the divine. This deep relationship between the people and their gods are reaffirmed through daily activity. At times, the person symbolically becomes god; strengthening their own sense of sacredness and self-respect.”–Barbara Sykes Continue reading

  • Kalyian

    Kalyian

    “Kalyian was inspired by the blind princess from the island of Samar, a freedom fighter and founder of the Philippine martial art Kali. Blind since birth, this legendary princess possessed an extraordinary sixth sense and sensitivity towards energy and life forces that she could not be defeated by even the fiercest of warriors. Kalyian is a modern-day personification of the female warrior spirit. It depicts the timeless battle of women, whose inherent warrior qualities are first fought, then realized, and eventually developed into harmony with the total self. It is the same force that gives women of this nature, the strength to survive and succeed. Kalyian combines technology with techniques drawn from Kabuki Theater, dance and Kali to depict both a primordial and futuristic sensibility.

    In the tape, Kalyian encounters a figure clothed in black, face concealed. Narrow beams of light cut across a darkened space. Like two cats, they move about, appearing and disappearing into the shadows. At one point, the figure in black eludes her by leading her into a maze. As soon as Kalyian enters the maze, the space becomes alive; a montage of images bombards her. She responds instantly and attacks. Eventually, she becomes aware she is fighting her own fears, anger and aggression. The more conscious she becomes of this, the less fighting and destruction occurs. From this realization, Kalyian transforms her weapon into a flute to communicate through music to the figure in black. The figure responds to the music through dance. Image after image of the figure in black join in, moving together in harmony, they become one. Then, the figure reveals to Kalyian, her past actions and moments of self-realization. More and more, Kalyian recognizes parts of herself before her, until once again she is face to face with the figure in black. At this point, Kalyian realizes her subconscious has been her guide, leading her into self-realization and eventual transformation into a higher form of awareness. Kalyian has resolved her internal conflicts and is in harmony with herself.”–Barbara Sykes Continue reading

  • d/stabilize/d

    d/stabilize/d

    “d/stabilize/d is a document of a 3-channel video installation with stereo sound which premiered at ARC Gallery in Chicago in 1987. d/stabilize/d offered the viewer a chaotic environment poised on the verge of balance. Entering the gallery, one was immediately confronted by a nonsensical arrangement of floating doors, doorways and monitors. On the monitors, random fragments of natural phenomena, such as fire and pounding surf, were set in opposition to more domestic scenes of deterioration, centering on a farmhouse in ruins. A further exploration of the space revealed these elements, as subtly engaged in a systemic and coherent exchange between order and disorder, harmony and imbalance.”–Barbara Sykes Continue reading

  • Amma, A Documentary Of A Living Saint

    Amma, A Documentary Of A Living Saint

    Demo reel of “Amma, A Documentary of a Living Saint,” an intimate portrayal of a woman spiritual leader and internationally acclaimed global social activist by Barbara L. Sykes. Continue reading

  • Image Union, episode 0211

    Image Union, episode 0211

    This episode of Image Union is a remake of Image Union #1. See http://mediaburn.org/video/image-union-episode-1/.
    Continue reading

  • Image Union, episode 0001

    Image Union, episode 0001

    Hour long compilation episode of Image Union featuring “TV Magic Ballots” by Nate Herman and Warren Leming, “Assassins” with Joe Mantegna and Jack Wallace, “Chicago Blues” by Jim Passin and Nancy Grosse, work from Jane Veeder, excerpts from “Now We Live On Clifton” by Kartemquin Films, stopmotion animation, an interview by “My Sister’s Cutting Room” during a dog’s birthday party, and “The Bums” by Scott Jacobs and Valjean McLenighan 1976.

    The second half of the episode features “Electronic Masks” by Barbara Sykes, an excerpt from “Paper Roses” by Maxi Cohen and Joel Gold, and “Television Delivers People” by Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman. Continue reading