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♇ (the empty sign) is a cinematic essay folding together a demoted planet, an MIA General (with my surname) and a commonwealth US territory to examine the scientific, militaristic and historic rationalities surrounding them. Focusing on narratives of discovering and forgetting, the film weaves the story of the dwarf planet (née “Planet X”), brigadier General Howard K. Ramey’s disappearance in a plane called Pluto and the Air Force base named for him on the disenfranchised US territory of Puerto Rico. The cross-inspection of these accounts raises an army of questions that challenge the validity of our collective historical recollection, most importantly: What discourses of power undergird these histories and what are the residues of these processes in contemporary life? These three main narratives combined with the historic imaginary of contemporary individuals create a multivalent portrait of the United State’s military and technocratic ambitions over the Caribbean in the 20th century.
Kathryn Ramey is a filmmaker and anthropologist whose work operates at the intersection of experimental film processes and ethnographic research. Her award winning and strongly personal films are characterized by manipulation of the celluloid including hand-processing, optical printing, and various direct animation techniques. Her scholarly interest is focused on the social history of the Avant-Garde film community, the anthropology of visual communication and the intersection between avant-garde and ethnographic film and art practices. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including the Social Science Research Council on the Arts fellowship, the LEF New England moving Image Grant and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship. She has published articles in Visual Anthropology Review and The Independent as well as the anthologies Women’s Experimental Cinema (Duke), Made to Be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology (U of Chicago), Anthropology and Art Practice (Berg), and Experimental film and Anthropology (Berg) has screened films at multiple film festivals and other venues including the Toronto Film Festival, the TriBeCa film festival, MadCat Women’s Film Festival, 25fps Experimental Film Festival in Zagreb, Croatia and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC.Her book Experimental Filmmaking: Break the Machine is due out from Focal press in Spring 2015. It is a thinly veiled experimental ethnography on the contemporary experimental film scene masquerading as a textbook on experimental film techniques written in the freehand voice of a zine.