Magic Lantern Cinema Presents: From Mouth to Hand

Featuring films and videos by Martin Arnold, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Amy Halpern, Peter Kubelka, Sara Magenheimer, the Motormouth Robot KTR-2, Sarah Pucill, Martine Syms, and C. Spencer Yeh.

What is the mouth? It is that which ingests, drawing external objects into the body’s interior. And because it initiates this process of metabolism, transforming edible matter and finally extruding it as waste, the mouth looms large in our unconscious life as primordial dungeon or, worse yet, as gateway to Gehenna.

What is the hand? It is what grasps and releases, manipulating objects to suit its own ends. It is the preeminently human attribute, the thing one employs in the handling of tools and in the skilled manufacture of such tools as one handles. It acts as intermediary between world and mouth, carrying foodstuffs from the one to the other; and indeed there would be no “objects” at all were we unable to stave off that predatory process which must by necessity end in our mouths.

Yet the distinction so prized by philosophers, which would relegate the mouth to the archaic and bestial while lauding the hand as our spur to civilization, seems everywhere undercut by the attributes they share. Mouth and hand are the vehicles of speech, making something like communication possible; they have equal capacity for tenderness and violence; they are predisposed to gesture, hence they are expressive. It is precisely this continuum running from a mouth to a hand that the works in this program collectively explore; for each among them has taken as its subject, with peculiar intensity, one or both of these anatomical marvels.