The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts supports embedded arts research through critical exchange

Laurel Beckman’s video, “Nut” is an Official International Selection in Peru’s VideoBabel Festival, November-December 2013

originally posted by the UC Santa Barbara Department of Art
December 2, 2013

The VideoBabel Festival is a project with an international reach based in the city of Cusco, Peru, and focused on innovative expressive languages of video art and experimental audiovisual production.


HD video animation, 5 min. 24 sec.

Stage and screen space is established, collapsed, exploited and confused as 3 common edible nuts perform in anthropomorphized roles. The heroic hazelnut, trickster walnut, and humble peanut act through our notions of them as they articulate interstitial-like cracks in the narrative expectations of popular entertainment. The 3-part video employs the power of music, humor, the absurd, and the ideals of cinema, street theater, classical opera and musical theater in exploration of the in-between moments as experienced through the film trailer, the intermission, and the finale. The dual meaning of ‘nut’ (an edible kernel and the eccentric or crazy person) is fully embraced in this affectionate inquiry into the structures of meaning and experience in theater and film. 2012

Part 1, Hazelnut:
Against the setting of a wild hazelnut orchard and heroic film trailer theme-music, a nutbud drops from a branch into a mysterious hole in the ground. An agitated gopher looks on as the now fully formed hazelnut ascends majestically for our pleasure. Suddenly our hero spins with a surprising crown of vaudeville posters. Advertising the magical and delightful, the posters transition to a series of transcendental superhero film posters as the hazelnut turns to reveal an internal auditorium.

Part 2, Walnut:
A classic street con, the shell-game, is played out to the sounds of period organ intermission music; the type used in early film screenings. Three walnut shells and a pea toy with our capacity for attention and desire to win, to know. Equal parts scam and entertainment, the old bit of street theater provides an enduring break between moments of certainty.

Part 3, Peanut:
The noble and useful peanut appears here in its alternate persona, a humble and tragic character. As an actor cast in a staging of Puccini’s opera, La Boheme, the lowly peanut tugs at our impulse for empathy and projection. The high drama and pathos of La Boheme’s finale transitions to the more optimistic finale of its modern makeover- the stage and film musical Rent. Set in relief against a backdrop of architecturally grand, international theaters, our protagonist peanut and friends carpet the floor with their unassuming exoskeleton shells.

Posted in: News