When people ask me what I do for a living it has always been a difficult question to answer. Admittedly this question comes up much less in Europe as they engage in conversations not so specific to work but rather life’s experiences. I usually answer with “Artist” and then I am plagued by the retort, “What kind of art do you do?” and I become tongue tied.
I’ve taken to explaining in a tangent that I am a Choreographer/Writer and that I like to work with different media as a multidisciplinary artist. I have tried and failed to streamline my ambitions because it is an impossible undertaking. I have managed to shed a few of my abilities due to economic and social hurdles (i.e. acting and painting) and I have done my best to avoid taking on any new extensions of my repertoire. Until now.
I am completely obsessed with making art through film now. I have always been a big film buff and I have had the wonderful opportunity to work on both sides of the camera in the past. I think that film is the genre that has the most potential to include many different types of art forms. There is the medium itself, the performance aspect, the design (costumes, sets, art production), music, and many others. It gives the audience a vicarious point of view of the work and it can be inspired by anything from text to visual representation and so on.
Most of my other endeavors have taken a backseat to my video work. I have been creating video self-portraits since the summer along with portraits of the cities I have visited in Europe over the past few months.
Last month I received and award for my short film “YouBahn” that is part of my ongoing research on subway environments. This particular segment took place in Berlin where I juxtaposed visual footage of the movement culture of the city’s U-bahn system. It was a nice surprise when I found out the news.
I won the 3rd place prize for the MOB Competition sponsored by CIANT (The International Center for Art and New Technologies). The contest called for film work that was taken with a mobile phone. The selected winners were artists who successfully demonstrated “a unique opportunity to look at the urban space through an unusual medium.”
I was invited to Prague for the MOB Conference. This conference was led by executives of CIANT and there were presenters who gave demonstrations of innovative art & technology projects. At the end of the conference, the winning videos for the competition were shown.
I was very impressed with the other two films that were selected. The 2nd place prize went to a duo from France who submitted a film about harsh conditions of homeless people in a suburb in France and the means in which they used their environment to survive. The winning film came from Iran and depicted the current cloud of violence that is rampant in many communities there.
It was nice to see that the other films were so socially and politically relevant and they both were very arresting visually. They both managed to capture the issues in a simple yet provocative way. Though I was curious about the validity of my work since it was not drawing on the sociopolitical, I am proud that I was selected as part of the winning works.
The whole trip was a very inspiring experience for me. The presentations at the conference were thought provoking. There were a variety of artists and scholars who showed their work that ran a formidable gamut, from new technology applications to funded research programs to performance art. I was very impressed by the work of Marcel lí Antúnez Roca (http://marceliantunez.com) who showed us much of his past and present projects, none of which can be pigeonholed into a specific category.
It was a nice treat to have all of these art nerds in one room conversing about many different aspects of the role of art and technology and its current state in the world. Many people had very thoughtful things to say about my film “YouBahn” and it inspired me to continue my work in this genre.
Prague is a beautiful city. I spent the first day mostly at the conference and then socializing with the conference attendees. The next day I walked to Old Town where much of the historic architecture and buildings were. I was constantly recording footage with my iPhone and I edited a portrait of the city into a film:
Though I am still hellbent on continuing my work as a writer and choreographer, I have been pulled into the undertow of film making. Since I have been in Berlin I have been mostly recognized for my film work and I hope to continue this trend.
The only problem is that my subject matter could use some refreshing inspiration. Since I have pretty much alienated myself from my life in the states and I haven’t been afforded much time to collaborate with other artists here in Berlin, my work right now is very self-contained and I feel like I am thoroughly engaged in Narcissistic work. I have many ideas and scripts that I hope to produce within the next year, and most (but not all) of them involve characters besides myself.
I love the intimate feel of using my iPhone and my webcam to capture the elements of my work but I would do pretty much anything to gain access to some more professional equipment. I think with the right camera, I could make some more beautiful work that doesn’t focus on me.
All of my self-portraits and my city portraits are a statement on accessibility of social media. In a way I am satirizing the way we capture memories and information today. There is a certain obsession in us all with ourselves, and I wish to document that in a meaningful way.