Film Festivals | Film Reviews | Massachusetts

Art at 30 Frames Per Second

1 Apr , 2000  

Written by Tiffany Patrick | Posted by:

The Short & Edgy Festival

Producers Irena Fayngold and Catherine Benedict wanted to see what was going on in the world of experimental video in New England, so they put out a call for entries and on March 15 hosted "Short and Edgy," a program of 16 short videos featuring the work of nine New England artists. The event, held at the Harvard Film Archive, was co-hosted by Women in Film and Video New England (WIFVNE), and featured the work of Annie Berman, Joan Braderman, Sarah Smiley, Adriene Hughes, Isa Dean, Nancy Salzer, Shannon Rose Riley, Lara Frankena, Denise Marika and Jacqueline Goss.

Joan Braderman’s "Three Video Bites for the Turn of the Century" and Adriene Hughes’ "The Museum of Irrelevant Races," a story of the eventual rise of a global uni-race made in the style of propaganda films of the 1950s, set the tone for the evening, billed as "a screening of experimental videos by women."

The well-attended evening featured works from established artists as well as young, emerging talent. Several of the women have other of their works currently on display at local galleries or performances scheduled throughout New England. Shorts came in all shapes and sizes: Clocking in at two minutes were Sarah Smiley’s "Levels of Undo" and Adriene Hughes’ "Neurosis," an extreme close-up of a ballerina’s toes on point; Lara Frankena created an eight-minute revelation of her landlord’s attempts to sell her rented apartment from under her; and in ten minutes, Nancy Salzer’s "Collectanea" excerpt recounted life’s unexpected turns of life in upheaval.

Self-exploration, self-expression and retaliation were prominent themes of this event. Besides a general notion of self, the pieces shared a range of experience of being inside a female body, such as in Annie Berman’s claymation short "I Wear a Tie to Work" and Jacqueline Goss’ "Universal Shark," a comical sequence of four dreams about fear of pregnancy and parenting in public places.

Appropriately, Denise Marika’s unique video sculptures concluded the screening by turning the traditional form of a flat, two-dimensional projection on its ear. Marika projects her work onto statues, pillars and created crevices in space only to project video into that space as a backdrop. The most familiar setting in Marika’s piece was a video projection onto pillars inside the courtyard in Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Her challenge to traditional ideas of surface was equaled by performance artist Shannon Riley’s challenge to performer/audience interaction in "Cyberdolly and Me: Dolly Dress-Up."

The body of work assembled for the event served as a snapshot not only of the state of experimental video in New England, but of the faces and voices of women in media today. At the Q&A session after the screening, the women answered questions about their own unique artistic processes, commented on each other’s work and talked about the impact of the Internet on experimental filmmaking and videography. The Internet, said one filmmaker, is perhaps "the most democratic way of showing this type of work."  

As different media continue to cross over, into and out of one another, it is obvious from these works that experimental filmmakers and videographers will stay ahead of the curve, reinventing the 30-frame-per-second paradigm frame by frame.

Next year Women in Film and Video New England will celebrate 20 years of supporting women working in the film, video and television industry in New England. For more information about WIFVNE programs or membership, call 617-924-9494 or write, or visit the Web site at