On using other people’s music:
“Music has such an emotional and defining effect that if you use it as a major part of your video it’s almost like the musicians are making your artwork. Excerpts, like a DJ uses, are fine. For the Münster Walk I had used some small excerpts from the film Fahrenheit 451 because I wanted it as a reference to the burning of books… to get people thinking about what happened in Nazi Germany and how knowledge was treated in the novel, so I used small excerpts of the soundtrack as a reference to add to the content of the walk.”
Feedback on individual films:
“I find the first one the most interesting, I can see that in a very dark room, quite large… because it’s quite ominous and I don’t think you need very much sound at all. I think it still needs work because the pacing isn’t quite right but I think that when you’re looking at it and you see it and all of a sudden the black blob comes a bit closer to you, it actually creates an emotional effect. I think it’s really strong, I wish it were longer though. I’m not sure how much longer you would need to have it but formally… I think it’s interesting the way you’ve done it - having this white coming across, revealing something, so that the viewer is looking at that and trying to figure out what it is. The cut at the end creates a disturbing absence – maybe fade it out to black or have the figure come closer and then fade out to black – something that’s a little bit longer. It bothers me that it gets cut right at the end. In art there is an exchange between the viewer and the artist, it’s kind of an unwritten contract in ways, that you’re giving something, they’re taking and sometimes if they feel short-changed then it’s not a complete interaction or exchange. Like in a story, the ending is so important, if you give too much [there’s an anti-climax] and if you give too little, then they are also having a disconcerting response… I could play with this ending abruptness with the walks because of the intimacy that was established…because of my voice being right at the back of their heads and them walking with a virtual body that they hear breathing and walking and talking as if it is their own body noises… so then part of the concept was of leaving them kind of abandoned…making them aware of that “wow, I was really connected to a piece of tape or audio file” – and realizing the strangeness of that. It’s hard thing figuring out different endings. Some writers, I really like because they let you finish it off and with some writers I feel “aaah I really want to find out a little bit more”. Maybe you can go to black and your soundtrack just continues. The “screechy yowls” [that you used before] won’t work because they’re too much. Just think the way poetry’s put together, you might see this as a sort of a triptych – [figure] and then it goes to black, and then there might be some sound, or some voice or something that is quite different but it goes together the way that poetry can. They’re not the same but it’s a juxtaposition – just like I talked to you about Eisenstein’s collage editing - montage – how you can put two together and create an effect. I always find that you get frustrated at a pairing, I think triptychs work better than diptychs when it comes to doing that sort of thing because you can do some sort of abstraction then you might want to finish off by giving a little bit more of the answer to what is in the blackness of the thing that comes out, that creature that is jumping around the window. I don’t know if you want to give any of the answer but you might want to come back sort of referring to it – maybe not in the same style – which is quite effective but maybe continuing with language of the moving camera – because you go to the centre and then you have all of a sudden this blackness… because I liked the panning of the camera – that adds another level, which is stronger than the first [version] that was stationary, so you might want to continue it… even if the panning went from reference to the figure and it just went to a cup of tea on the table or cat or something, maybe you need something that’s just real and normal versus this crazy figure that looks like it’s a reference to some kind of witch, that’s what works – it’s very subtle… I love the panning – even if you just go to somebody’s physical hand… it might be nice to continue it… or even going to darkness and doing a pan of your apartment in the night time – that might be interesting. Keep the same speed of panning… maybe something to do with the sound in the middle, maybe an intimate sound like a cough. A technique I use is to sit quietly and just imagine in my mind sounds I can think of and then imagining which one gives me a good feeling with the other element – you could read something but that’s really hard to really make it work - I think it would be stronger with more abstract sounds.
The other two I didn’t find as interesting, I mean the second one is kind of a neat gimmick and it’s quite complete in itself, the soundtrack works fine, it synchs up enough as moving image and film, sounds like a projector or something. It’s pretty much complete. I don’t think it has the possibilities to be as strong as the other one but the mechanical sound works quite well with the turning of the skull.
The sleeping one, I immediately start thinking of several artists who work with camera in the 60s - a camera watching someone sleep… and the cats are interesting. I think it’s like a sketch, but it’s important to have these sketches – like sketching in your notebook – and to have lots of them and just go with them. For me, art can engage me in ways that I can’t intellectually understand necessarily – with the video of the skull – I see what you’re doing and it’s neat the way the skull just appears and the arms disappear – that’s a nice trick but I can understand it completely… whereas with the first one I can’t, but what I don’t understand, the figure, creates quite a shock almost, an emotional response – it’s unnerving and I still don’t have all the answers when it’s finished.
I think you should do more – like a sketch video notebook – just do a variety of different things, because it helps you figure out what you’re interested in… and when you show it to different people you start to figure out what comes out strong in video, but little short videos are nice for people to look at. I got a connection with Maya Deren’s work [looking at yours] – is there sound in that? Some of those Surrealists have very interesting sounds in films: like Cocteau and the cutting of the eye, because I think your work connects to Surrealism. For your thesis show it will be really important to have a really dark room and a very good quality projector. The presentation is tricky because it adds a lot of content, if you have your films on a TV set in a living room situation that says one thing and if you present it in a theatrical setting is another thing. Sometimes different pieces require different presentations.”
Proposals – “They vary but keep it to a paragraph or two, describe the work, describe how it would be displayed, and a little bit on your ideas. For our work, if a city wants to buy it, they need to know the budget, but if you’re just showing video then it’s not really relevant. People are only going to skim it, so keep it short, you have to be quite straight forward and then if you were really applying – actually you don’t get to apply for shows like Documenta - in Canada we have tons of artist run galleries across the country and that’s how we all start out. We’d send off a CD or image files and then a description and that’s how a young artist gets to apply for shows – it’s good practice. That’s why a lot of artist coming from Canada use media because alternative spaces run by artists can show work other than what you would show in a commercial gallery and that would not be able to be sold, so it’s created a whole community of artists who have experience in showing, so have maturity but are maybe not sellable. It’s good experience to write one but don’t get too heavy.”