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January 27, 1999 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-27

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U The Hopwood Underclassmen Awards will be presented today.
In the annual tradition of recognizing excellence in creative
writing, the Hopwood Room of the department of English litera-
ture and language will host Pulitzer Prize winner Ysef
Komunyakaa, who will be reading a selection of his poetry.
Rackham Amphitheater. 3:30 p.m. Free admission.

Ie £ttj§U Dt

Weekend, etc. Magazine will bring you an in-depth view of
the Michigan Union Pool Hall, home to loads of fun and
January 27, 1999




IMMEDIA '99 shows
unique digital art

Banks to speak
at Nolte film

By Jenny Curr.n
Daily Arts Writer
Those who passed through the
Diag last night and witnessed hun-
dreds of tiny blinking contraptions
scattered about may have been per-
plexed about their mysterious ori-
Upon closer observation, each
one of the lights, or LEDs, carried
an address for a Website. The
address belongs the University
group Entity, a University organi-
zation committed to the evolution
of art through the incorporation

By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
Russell Banks insists his life
hasn't changed much in the past
wo years, despite the fact that two

Starring Nick
At State Theater
Tonight at 8 p.m.

of his novels
have been
adapted into
films. He leads
a quiet exis-
tence in the
writing stories
that take place
in cold snow-
bound lands
that these days
Hollywood and
alike seem to
title of his latest

love. And as the

The novel is a structurally sim-
ple affair, with one narrator and a
story that runs its chilling course
from end to end. This is a marked
difference from Banks' previous
novel-to-screen movie, Atom
Egoyan's "The Sweet Hereafter."
That book featured four narrators
giving deposition-like accounts of
a school bus crash that killed many
of the town's children and decimat-
ed the spirit of almost everyone in
Egoyan was forced by the limits
of the medium to pick and choose
how he would tell his story and in
the process (and because of budget
concerns) had to drop much of the
novel's action, including a key
final scene. "'Affliction' is much
closer to the book. The story is
quite different in that it's very
straightforward so you didn't have
to restructure or reorganize."
The differences between the two
books were in some ways mirrored
by the two very distinct directors
who brought them to the screen.
The films were in production
simultaneously on opposite sides
of Canada. "I would fly back and
forth (between the two). 'The
Sweet Hereafter' was like hanging
out with a bunch of really bright
graduate students. Working with
Schrader was much more of a
Hollywood set," he says, referring
to the differences between the peo-
ple involved in the production,
particularly the actors.
"Both of (the directors) were
very generous. I think Atom was a
little more concerned that I like
what he was doing, probably

and development
Media Union
Saturday 69 p.m.

of new digital
media. The
Diag lights
were a publici-
ty gimmick to
opening of
Immedia '99:
Digital, an
annual show
featuring a
vast collection
of digitally-
based artistic

adaptation suggests, they are tales
of people scarred by circumstance
and history, afflicted by the past.
Banks arrives in Ann Arbor this
evening to screen the latest film
version of one of his books,
"Affliction." Directed by Paul
Schrader and starring Nick Nolte
(who has received several awards
and looks like a sure bet for an
Oscar nomination for his role),
James Coburn, Sissy Spacek and
Willem Dafoe, "Affliction" is a
tale of a man's struggle to make
sense of his failed existence and
Oetermine precisely what being a
man means. The story is framed
around a murder and the main
character's own descent into his
father's legacy of destruction and

Coutesy of Lion's Gate
Nick Nolte is expected to gain an Oscar nomination for his role in "Affliction."

because of the age difference.
Atom is a bit younger, in his 30s
and Schrader is closer to my age."
Although his role in the produc-
tion of "Affliction" was much
more minimal than that of "The
Sweet Hereafter" (which he not
only consulted on during produc-
tion, but did a book tour with and
helped with materials and a com-
mentary track for the DVD release
of the film), it apparently whet
Banks' appetite for involving him-
self in cinema. After simply
authoring the two novels for the
films, he is now writing his own
screenplay for his novel "Rule of

the Bone," which Anthony Drazan
("Hurlyburly") will direct. Banks
says that producing and adapting
the work himself allows him
"more control" both creatively and
in the background of the produc-
tion, and it comes both as a prize
and a price. "There's a lot more
work and a lot more pleasure," he
If the previous two versions of
his writing are any indication,
"Rule of the Bone" and any subse-
quent film work by Banks should
be a welcome sight to behold.
Begin tonight with the second film
in a great author's canon.

This year's exhibition is the
largest the group has sponsored
since its creation in 1995, drawing
in more than 70 submissions from
students and professional artists
from the local community as well
as nationally, and has even
received entries from Asia,
Europe, Australia and South
The extravaganza will occupy
the majority of the first floor of the
Media Union, in various areas spe-
cific to their genre. Digitally com-
posed music will pulsate from DJ
booths on the upper level while
various film projections, slide
shows, 3-D work, performances,
and demonstrations titillate the
senses in the Video Studio.
Among the entries displayed in'
the Video Studio will be the silent
film, "Take Three," a collaboration
featuring the film art of Entity's
curator and event coordinator, Art
and Design senior Jennifer
Concepcion, with two area artists:
poet Shawn Durrett, who wrote the
script, and composer Steve
The Media Union Gallery will
house diverse 2-D art, algorithm-
based designs, and mixed media
projects, all created digitally.
But the crowning glory of this
year's show is the Virtual Reality
CAVE, which, according to
Engineering sophomore Ross
Barna, is a room housing state-of-

the-art equipment that simulates
whatever fully interactive environ-
ment the artist creates.
Barna's project "Sculptor" will
be featured in the CAVE, as well as
several projects from a University
class, and the work of a visiting
CAVE artists, whose innovations
are the only ones of their kind in
the world.
Of his project "Sculptor," Barna
explained, "I wanted to make an
application that people could use
easily, be creative with, and have
multiple people use it and see the
effects of other users." Participants
can expect to encounter a virtual
landscape upon entering the
CAVE, through which they can
wander, using a hand-held wand to
form geometrical sculptures
around themselves.
The use of the CAVE in Immedia
'99 is a triumph for the members
of Entity, who claim they have
fought a battle with the University
administration to secure access to
work with it. Barna says it took.
much campaigning and "screaming
and yelling," to get an opportunity
to work with the CAVE.
Art and Design senior Dan
Hacker, Entity's director, believes
the University's astounding com-
puter design and virtual reality
facilities are not being used to
their full potential, due to adminis-
trators and faculty who are hesitant
at entrusting the multi-million dol-
lar equipment to students. But
Hacker claims that change, though
painstaking, is visible, due in part
to new faces in top positions.
"The New Director of the Media
Union, Barbara O'Keefe, is part of
the reason we've been able to do
all this," he said.
Because of limited cooperation
from the University in the past,
Entity looked outside of the acade-
mic realm to private companies for
sponsorship. Now the group boasts
big-name support from such com-
panies as Apple, NIQ, WCBN,
Mouser Electronics, and Silicon
Music senior Gabriel Regentin
sees the show as a way to give
small programs like the
Performance Arts Technology pro-
gram a boost. Thorough increased
artist visibility, the small programs
that allow technological innovation
and personal flexibility gain sup-
port from the University.
"This show allows people like us
to show what we can do. While we
don't necessarily put oil on canvas
or sculpt out of marble, ... we can
sculpt in a virtual world or create
sound art... We wouldn't be able to
do this without the show," he said.

Russell Banks
Harper Perennial
In Hollywood, there are only about four or
five ideas going around at any given time. So if
a nonentity like John Grisham can become a
cottage industry, why can't an unsung standout
'ike Russell Banks catch fire?
With "Affliction," the second seemingly
uncinematic Banks novel in a year to be cine-
matized, the upstate New York author is just
beginning to attain widespread recognition.
After more than a dozen novels, most of which
are now being re-released in paperback,
"Affliction" looms particularly large as a stan-
dard bearer for American fic-
The novel is deceptively
*nassuming in a number of
ways. It is not overlong,,
checking in at 350 pages
that move quickly via
Banks' studiously simple
prose. It is almost instantly
accessible, but instead of a deni-
gration, that is perhaps its highest
praise, when combined with its stir-
ring artistry and magisterial portrait of a
character, and, through him, much more.
The character is Wade Whitehouse, who by
*rtue of his gone-but-not-forgotten star status
in high school baseball, is the only policeman
in Lawford, New Hampshire, population 757. In
Lawford, that job consists mostly of knowing
people's names, operating the snowplow and
serving as crossing guard for children on their
way to school. As a result, Wade supplements
his income working as a foreman for the oil rigs

sets fiction standard

of the town's leading citizen.
The plot unfolds almost entirely in the recol-
lection of Wade's younger brother, Rolfe, who
fled Lawford directly out of high school to
escape his family. He remains within their
orbit, and seems to regurgitate the shocking
events of his and Wade's life in order to alienate
that part of his life for good.
Shocking is certainly the word for Wade's
behavior, but Banks makes it entirely compre-
hensible within his given canvas. Almost every
resident of Lawford that the reader meets seems
necessary to the total picture, and almost all are
recognizable triumphs of characterization.
Rarely, in fact, has a novel been so achingly
human, and yet so pointedly significant, taking
on an entire cultural curse: the violence that
Banks hypothesizes is an inexorable
result of the "affliction" of American
manhood. Wade is a weak man; a
bully, a coward and a hopelessly
naive romantic. He is unable to
deal with the limitations of his
existence, let alone his disinte-
grated relationship with his
wife and estrangement
from his preteen daughter.
He has no meaningful
understanding of human
relationships that is not based
on fear and power.
And yet, Wade has an inarticulate, relentless
passion to be good, to make himself understood
and worthy of understanding, that convinces the
reader that he is not just rotten clay, but has
been irredeemably tainted by the macho tradi-
tion he and all his neighbors have grown up
with. Some, like Rolfe, retreat into private
shame; some, like Wade and Rolfe's sister
Lena, into a cruel farce of evangelical religion.

The only "winners" are those who die young,
preferably in combat, like their oldest brothers,
Elbourne and Charlie, who died in Vietnam.
The rest remain jogging in place and smol-

der, per-
like Wade,
to someday
This is a
novel of a
man who
r e a c t s
ably when
he can no
longer tol-
erate the
sight of
into the
m o n st e r

Courtesy of Harper Collins
Russell Banks, author of
"Affliction," will speak at a special
sneak preview of the film at the
State Theater.
that haunts him, his father Glenn

Glenn is a figure almost incapacitated by the
ravages of time and alcohol, and through
Banks' vivid descriptions the reader can easily
imagine his remorseless sway over the
The portrayal of Glenn is so scrupulously
prepared and compensated for that it transcends
the dilapidated cliche of the dysfunctional fam-
ily. It is like the rest of Banks' novel, which
attains its success the most old-fashioned way,
through blood and sweat and honesty. The hon-
esty of "Affliction" shines through even the
bleakest words to carve a truly lasting place for
this novel in any reader's mind.
-Jeff Druchniak

- Before you gear up for the Super Bowl, don't miss...
From the Great Lakes to the
Dead Sea
The Michigan Political Leadership Conference
sponsored by:
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee
co-sponsored by: University of Michigan Hillel, IMPAC (The Israel
Michigan Public Affairs Committee), Michigan State Israel Alliance, and
the Consulate General of Israel, Chicago
Sunday, January 31, 1999
University of Michigan Hillel
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Senator Carl Levin
US Rep. Sandy Levin
US Rep. Lynn Rivers
AIPAC Lobbyist Jeff Colman
AIPAC Analyst Keith Weissman
For information call Hillel 769-0500
Don't miss out on this exciting opportunity to join students from across the state of
Michigan to explore and discuss the US-Israel relationship, the Middle East peace
process, local politics and campus activism. This
conference will provide you with the tools and information necessary
to make a difference on and off campus.

-' co

An editor from Detroit-area reference publisher The Gale
Group will be on hand in the Michigan Union's Pond
Auditorium on Monday, February 1, at 6 p.m., to talk about
careers in nublishin2 as well as educational onnortunities at

The UM Dept. of Theatre and Drama
presents the
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit

I OW&...m. LJ.


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