Fever, Murmur and Rattle are the 3 films that added up to my MFA Thesis at the University of Iowa, Cinematic Arts, in 2016.
The texts below are fragments from my written thesis The Story Never Ended.
Fever DUR:2:00 min/US 2013
Fever presents itself as a combustible array of sparkly ornaments, insects and animals. Lace has history, the glove has history, the doily used to be a treasured thing. Colonial, bourgeoisie, kitsch, maybe, but precious things nevertheless: marbles, porcelain, mannerisms and customs, pressing flowers in French novels and drinking rose colored tea. And then there’s “the abject”, the bugs, the toothy nature, the hints of the visceral. Fever holds together both frills and bug goo by the equal fascination they can produce. It is also pushing a non-commitment to one facet, or rather iteration, of an object/event. More importantly, Fever is a film about leaving things aflutter and documenting what they do. When editing previous films I did on occasion feel that when objects are placed in proximity to each other, or fragments of footage are sprinkled on a timeline, they tend to combine as if under a foreign will. I think of it as the ouija board effect of filmmaking - you know you are subjected to a psychological trick but it still feels like the occult. Maybe that’s where I would also place the “film magic” that people talk about
Murmur DUR: 3:00 min/US 2014, HD
Murmur is a four minute spastic video I have shot mostly in, or looking out from, my apartment. There are a few things recorded in the Ozark Mountains and Romania in there as well. For a while it lived in various folders as footage recorded years apart, then my friend Mike left me a Cedar Rapids Museum poster with the Four Exits painting by Marvin Cone which I really liked because I sensed within its claustrophobic territory a faux schema of escape where all variants are equally valid, and equally void and terrifying. But that was just the jumping-off point. This same-ish paralysis of choice mentioned in the Fever part, has produced, within Murmur, a space dream-dissolved and open for objects/images to take ownership of themselves and for events to happen without seeming causally linked. In other words, I thought of Murmur as an open invitation with the possibility of some scary RSVPs --- something like a tea party between a storybook, a projector, bug husks, rocks, furniture etc. The Romanian band Environments produced the sound for Murmur and would not accept any money for it knowing I wasn’t financially well off and even though they were not either.
Rattle DUR:12:00 min/US 2016
With Rattle one image asks for a particular other image, a faulty frame might convert others to faultiness, the software pulls in some direction, rules change, itineraries modify, the destination becomes opaque. The preplanned things never work out but I don’t expect them to either, or rather I hope for and depend upon their failure because that’s how phosphorescent new routes appear. So I really want to say that I only curated Rattle, and that it made itself somehow and it’s not at all mine - a side effect of working in solitude but with the feeling of encountering agency from the things themselves, so that, as if processed through a black-box, the way that the final render-output looks is a bit of a mystery. My job it is to snap all the distortion to a video plane. Your job might be to find the subject position already inserted into the work.
“ Art could be a means of liberating the people, a training to see oneself and the other more clearly. Here is when a film can be very simple too. The film for instance is a combination of the muffledness of wool and the clean echo of glass.” Van der Keuken
I know that my films can’t be everybody’s everythings but I hope that at least they have aperture, some aspect of an invitation. What they have in common for me is a foregrounding of the futility of attempting to fix the ground, of locking into coherence both the immediate and the distant. In a more mundane way, they have also been an education, not only in the becoming-professional sense, but also in expanding my thinking capabilities and speculative powers and, at last, they have been something to try and grow eloquent about.
Some images from that time: