Saturday, April 26, 2014

Visiting Artists at MCA


Head of the Digital Media department at MCA, Jill's work primarily focuses on video and motion-picture entertainment. However, she wasn't always interested in film; her original study of interest in school was science, but she had to take a film class in order to graduate, and she loved it. She has a thing for glitter as well. She says that editing is a lot like weaving, something she enjoys to do. It all started with her MFA in the traditional film editing program at Northwestern; her talk focused mostly on the films that were stumbling blocks in her body of work and her process and discussed how she overcame those obstacles and learned from her own work and work ethic.

She opened her lecture slideshow with this image of a liquor bottle, mentioning how she likes to sort of party and interact with people. The first video she showed us was more of an animation entitled Boots wherein heterosexual strife is explored between a couple. The audio was tough to hear. Another key point that this piece explored was the importance of anger and frustration as emotions. That idea intrigues me; I had never thought of them as important emotions, necessarily, just that they sort of happened. It makes sense though, we can learn a lot about ourselves in our reactions to things.
"Women fix themselves by fixing their hair." Jill said this in reference to learning how to direct. She learned how to take control of herself and her projects through the mistakes she had made and seeing how they looked on-screen.
I really like her sense of humor and sort of light-heartedness about her work. Her feature-length production Welcome to Cooksville (see photo below) had an abundance of violence and no soul, as she put it, laughing a bit. She talked about a problem she had that many artists share: coming up with too many ideas for projects, so much so that it ends up spoiling the piece. However, she reminds us that she learned the do's and don't's of directing yet again. She made a good point that I agree with in saying that film makers don't have to do feature-length films in order to be legit, just like a writer doesn't have to write 700-page novels to be a writer.

Her talk reminded the audience about keeping your chin up in times of artists' block or other struggles. Just when we think we have reached a roadblock in our body of work will something new arise and we find things to learn from.


Mark Dion, like Jill, is very interested in science. However, unlike Jill, scientific methods of collecting, analyzing, ordering, and displaying data and artifacts are the basis of his works. He did excavation digs in Venice, London, and other places, gathering data and pieces of work to display in order to see the differences in the artifacts from different places. The artifacts that he finds lend an insight about the places from which they come. Mark likes to consider humans versus the natural world, societal structure, and everyday implements and inventions. He also likes to play around with the idea that no matter how much he collects, there is always more. To me, that is a refreshing thought, because with my work I sometimes feel like I reach a wall or a stopping point in ideas, but Mark reminds us that there are always more places to look and things to find. One of my favorite works of his that reflects his love for the natural world and touches mine is located in the Tiawana Estuary. He build a small building to be used by any passerby in the middle of the desert that is filled with knowledge about and tools for bird watching, as well as information on other animals in the area. His thirst for scientific classification touches my sort of type-a side. I respect his organization and the way that he thinks.


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