liquid blackness, a research group on blackness and aesthetics presents a study of

The Arts and Politics of the Jazz Ensemble

A public screening and symposium on legendary jazz film Passing Through (Larry Clark, 1977): September 18-19, 2015

Main Event  |  Year-long Study

The Symposium on The Arts and Politics of the Jazz Ensemble brings together a variety of perspectives on the film itself and the surrounding art scene with particular focus on the figure of Horace Tapscott. It will feature talks from two scholars of sound/image relations—James Tobias (UC Riverside), author of Sync: Stylistics of Hieroglyphic Time (Temple University Press, 2010), and Chip Linscott (Ohio University) who focuses specifically on the visual and sonic rendering of blackness—Daniel Widener (UC San Diego), historian of black arts in LA, author of Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles (Duke University Press, 2010), Matthew Duerstan, freelance writer working on L.A.’s underground jazz scene, and two celebrated experimental filmmakers, Kevin Jerome Everson (University of Virginia) who will be sharing a short film made in response to Passing Through and L.A. Rebellion filmmaker Barbara McCullough (SCAD) who will be showing clips from her current project, Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot.

The Symposium continues an experimental research already undertaken by liquid blackness throughout the year. Liquid blackness has collected resources on the film and the filmmaker, organized presentations, workshops with the filmmaker, and will issue its fifth on-line publication featuring essays on the film and other forms of relations between arts and politics. To facilitate a repeated engagement with the film, which has never had a theatrical or video release, liquid blackness organized a public screening last April in collaboration with the Atlanta Film Festival and the Plaza Theater Foundation, CENCIA, the Creative Media Industries Institute, and the School of Music at GSU, and Emory’s Department of Film and Media Studies and Film Love.


Friday, September 18, 2015, 6 p.m.

Kopleff Recital Hall (10 Peachtree Center Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303)

The doors open at 6, screening begins promptly at 6:30.

The screening will be followed by a brief roundtable discussion with symposium participants


Saturday, September 19, 2015, 9:30–5 p.m.

Department of Communication (25 Park Place, Room 830, Atlanta, GA, 30302)

The Symposium will foster a conversation between artists, scholars and curators surrounding ideas of aesthetic liquidity and blackness in contemporary visual and sonic culture.

Symposium Schedule

9:30 a.m.– welcome and coffee

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.– Opening remarks – Alessandra Raengo (GSU) and liquid blackness

10:15 – 12:00 p.m.– Free Jazz and Community Politics: The Work and Vision of Horace Tapscott

Matthew Duersten, “‘Passing it on’: The Cultural Prerogatives of Horace Tapscott & The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra”

Barbara McCullough, exhibition and discussion of clips from her documentary in progress, Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot

12:00 – 1:15 p.m.– lunch

1:15 – 3:00 p.m.- Action, Location, Creation: Thinking the Art of Political Praxis

Danny Widener (UC San Diego), “The Art of Creative Struggle”

James Tobias (UC Riverside), “Composing (Media) Memory: A Montage of Displacement and Belonging, from Angelou’s Blacks, Blues, Black! (1968) to Clark’s Passing Through (1977), and Beyond”

3:15 – 5:00 p.m. – Ensembling: Creative Insights/Creative Responses

Chip Linscott (Ohio University), “Jazz Is … Jazz Ain’t: Blackness and Improvisation in Symbiopsychotaxiplasm”

Kevin Jerome Everson (University of Virginia), Screening and Discussion of Auditioning for Nathaniel (2016)

Drawing Through

A spinoff of the experimental collective research initiated by liquid blackness is the project Drawing Through designed by Craig Dongoski, Professor of Art and Design, (with Kristin Juarez acting as liaison) with GSU students and alumni in occasion with Larry Clark’s visit and screening of Passing Through in April 2015. Bringing together painters and musicians, Drawing Through unfolded as a study in group meditation, sound visualization, and improvised creation. The LP containing the tracks recorded at the workshop will be released in a companion event at the Mammal Gallery, to conclude the Symposium.

On Saturday, September 19, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Mammal Gallery (91 Broad Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303), the event will include: an exhibition of artwork produced by GSU students in response to Passing Through, a gallery talk, a recreation of the meditation exercise first conducted with Larry Clark, and a performance of Free Jazz by local musicians, with music inspired by the film.

** The LP was realized with the support of CENCIA, the Center for Collaborative Scholarship in the Humanities, the Creative Media Industries Institute, and the Welch School of Art and Design.

It is in the experimental nature of all liquid blackness projects to be constantly evolving. Please visit for updates and links to research and visual materials, bibliographies, a visual dossier on the film, and an extended interview with the filmmaker.


Matthew Duerstan is a Wisconsin-born freelance writer now based in Los Angeles. His pieces have been included in the anthologies Da Capo Best Music Writing and L.A. Now. He first entered the blogosphere in 2006 with the music site Downbeast, an offshoot of the L.A. indie-jazz label Cryptogramophone. He was also a senior editor of Glue magazine and has written for numerous publications including L.A. Weekly, No Depression, All About Jazz, Variety, Los Angeles magazine, Time Out-New York, Flaunt, Oxford-American, Black Book, New Times, Extraordinary, and more. Currently, he is working on a book for Asahina & Wallace publishers on L.A.’s underground jazz scene.

Artist/Filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson was born and raised in Mansfield Ohio. He has a MFA from Ohio University and a BFA from the University of Akron. He is currently a Professor of Art at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville Virginia. He has made eight feature length films and over one-hundred and twenty short films, including such award winning films as Park Lanes (2015) The Island of Saint Matthews (2013), Erie (2010), Quality Control (2011), Ten Five in the Grass (2012), Cinnamon (2006), Spicebush (2005), Stone, Pictures From Dorothy (2004), Century (2013), Fe26 (2014), Sound That (2014), Sugarcoated Arsenic (2013) with Claudrena Harold and Emergency Needs (2007). Everson’s films and artwork have been widely shown, at venues including Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Oberhausen Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Whitechapel Gallery in London, National Gallery in Washington DC and Centre Pompidou in Paris. The work has also been recognized through awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Alpert Award, a Creative Capital Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, NEH Fellowships, Ohio Arts Council Fellowships, and an American Academy in Rome Prize.


Charles P. (“Chip”) Linscott teaches at Ohio University, where he recently completed his PhD. His dissertation, Sonic Overlook: Blackness between Sound and Image, deals with sonicity as it intervenes in black visuality. Chip’s writing has appeared in liquid blackness, the anthology At the Crossroads, and is forthcoming in Black Cinema Aesthetics Revisited. His piece for In Media Res, entitled “Southern Reconstruction,” was an Editor’s Pick for 2014.


A native of New Orleans, Professor Barbara McCullough spent most of her life in the Los Angeles area.  Experimental film and video were her first love as she strove to “tap the spirit and richness of her community by exposing its magic, touching its textures and trampling old stereotypes while revealing the untold stories reflective of African American life.”Her film and video projects include: Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification, Shopping Bag Spirits and Freeway Fetishes: Reflection on Ritual Space, Fragments, and The World Saxophone Quartet. Currently, she is completing a film project, Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot, a documentary on the musical genius, community activist and mentor to a generation of accomplished jazz musicians. A twenty-year-plus veteran of the visual effects industry, Professor McCullough is currently Chair of the Visual Effects Department at Savannah College of Art and Design – SCAD.

James Tobias is an Associate Professor of cinema and digital media studies in the English Department of the University California, Riverside. He is the author of Sync: Stylistics of Hieroglyphic Time (Temple University Press, 2010), a study of musicality at work in the synchronization of streaming sound, image, and gesture from Eisenstein to contemporary digital media art. His research interests include music and musicality in audiovisual media, theories, representations, and affects of gender and sexuality, digital art, and histories and theories of avant-garde time-based media. Recent publications include “Musicianship and Data Virtuosity” (in Sound Musicianship: Understanding the Crafts of Music, ed. Andrew Brown, Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2012), “Essays Without Words or Writing: Motion Painting #1 and the Ornament” (in Oskar Fischinger 1900-1967: Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction, Cindy Keefer and Jaap Guldemond, eds., EYE Film Institute/CVM/Thames and Hudson 2012), and “Digital Arts and Hypertext” in the Oxford Handbook to Science Fiction (2014). He lives in Los Angeles.

Danny Widener is Associate Professor of History at UC San Diego and teaches African American history, cultural studies, and twentieth-century political radicalism. He began his educational career at the Echo Park-Silverlake Peoples’ Childcare Center. He studied at Berkeley and New York University. He has written on the politics of black culture in postwar Los Angeles, black-Latino and Afro-Asian issues, and the Korean War.  He is the author of Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles (Duke University Press, 2010), a co-editor of Black California Dreamin’, with Ingrid Banks, George Lipsitz, Gaye Johnson, and Ula Taylor. (Santa Barbara: Center for Black Studies Research, 2012).

Past Dates:

September 18-19, 2015

Florence Kopleff Recital Hall, Georgia State University
Symposium and public screening of Passing Through (Larry Clark, 1977)
Co-sponsored by CENCIA (Center for Collaborative and International Arts), Film Love, and the GSU Department of Communication

April 9, 2015

The Plaza Theatre, 7:30pm
Public Screening of Passing Through (1977) with the filmmaker
1049 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

The free screening and filmmaker’s visit are made possible by the generous support of:
Creative Media Industries Institute, GSU
CENCIA (Center for Collaborative and International Arts)
Emory’s Department of Film and Media Studies
School of Music, GSU
Visual Scholarship Initiative, Emory
The Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design

and is organized in cooperation with the Atlanta Film Festival and Film Love.
Digital presentation courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive

March 19, 2015

Space 2, The Sound Table, 7:30pm
483 Edgewood Avenue Southeast, Atlanta, GA 30312

Join liquid blackness for drinks and discussion on  Passing Through,
and the influential role that radical politics, jazz, and modern painting had on the filmmaker.
Open to the public.

February 20, 2015

CURVE space, Library South, Georgia State University, 4-5pm
Join us for a presentation on developing research around Passing Through.
RSVP is required to