Craig Baldwin

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Born in Oakland and raised in Sacramento, California, Craig Baldwin attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, University of California at Davis, and San Francisco State University (M.A., 1986). In the Department of Cinema there he studied under Bruce Conner and became increasingly drawn to collage film form. His interest in recontextualization of found imagery led him to the theories of the Situationist International and to various practices of copy-art, mail art, 'zines, altered billboards, and other creative interventions beyond the fringe of the traditional fine-arts curriculum. His desire to liquidate the formal distinctions between "popular" and "fine" art, "public" and "private" imagery, and "political" and "aesthetic" categories through a proliferation of discursive modes expressed itself in several photo-essay, video, and Super 8mm projects previous to his first 16mm production, Wild Gunman (20 mins., 1978). This dense montage of cowboy iconography, advertising campaigns, and geo-political conflicts featured playful optical printing of a (penny-arcade) motion picture amusement. Baldwin's audio-visual argument against imperialist ideology was further developed in RocketKitKongoKit (30 mins, 1986), which utilized several narrative voices in an accelerating cinematic broadside. His next film, Tribulation 99 (48 mins., 1991), unspooled a satiric psycho-political rant on millenarianism, environmental apocalypse, and CIA covert action in Latin America, with flying-saucer simulations and the hypnotic music of Yma Sumac. A picture-book version of the work was published by Ediciones La Calavera (N.Y.C.). The S.F. Bay Guardian bestowed their annual Goldie Award on Baldwin in 1991. His last film, O No Coronado! (40 mins., 1992), intercuts live-action Conquistador vignettes with farcical found footage, delirious video-to-film FX, and a time-warped musical mix in a black-comic critique of both colonialism and the conventions of docu-drama historiography. The S.F. Foundation recognized the effort with the 1992 James D. Phelan Award in Film Art.