Similar the written word, video has become an increasingly ubiquitous part of our public and private every day lives – from surveillance cameras, to video chats. Virtually everyone has a movie studio in their pocket. In my own work, film and video has been a significant component from short films and video art pieces to animations, installations, live streams, cinema created for live performance and even influencing the way I write performance texts in the language of film.
In Raggedy Ann to Real Doll, I transformed the storefront window of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions into an operating theatre where one of America’s most beloved dolls went under the knife. In Raggedy Ann to Real Doll I examined how we negotiate our idea of identity in an ever-shifting landscape of technologies that can drastically alter and re-map the body – dissecting what is just beneath the surface of our collective preoccupation for physical perfection. Projected video and remote voyeurism from a live stream provided multiple onsite and virtual opportunities for spectatorship – with the possibility to experience the installation from the gallery sidelines, externally through the windows, or directly engage in the cosmetic procedures I performed.
Object of Her Affection was a solo puppetry and object performance art piece centered on a woman, who in her search for true love develops intimate relationships with inanimate objects. The performance follows the emotional journey of protagonist, Andrea Lowe, after she has mysteriously fallen from a building. In her last moments, she reflects on her meaningful relationships starting with her first love, a baby’s blanket. As an adolescent, she loses her virginity to a bad-boy hunting rifle and subsequently becomes infatuated with a misunderstood wall. As Andrea evolves, so do her desires. In adulthood, she forms doomed relationships with monumental structures: a high-profile statue, tragic twin skyscrapers, and a bridge who cheats. Each of these relationships has a profound effect, shaping Andrea’s views on life and love. Finally, she finds solace in Roy, a crumbling tenement who ultimately fails her. I used live feed in a section of the performance where Andrea lands in New York City and scale suddenly shifts from the intimate and domestic to the larger than life.
The Gun Man
The Gun Man was a short surrealist animation of figurines, toys, dolls, drawings that explored violent acts in crowded spaces. I screened The Gun Man at Standard ToyKraft in Brooklyn.
Buffalo Bill – It Gets Better, was a short film I wrote and voiced with Feast of Fun‘s Marc Felion and Fausto Ferños as a celebration of a problematic, gender non-conforming movie villain (who we always wanted to win). The film was a mashup of Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill and glitter-bombing victim/survivor, Dan Savage’s It Gets Better campaign. Buffalo Bill – It Get’s Better was initially released on the web to critique online slactivism and the simplistic notion of happy endings. Buffalo Bill – It Get’s Better was covered by the WOW Report, Queerty, the Real Steve Gray, and was screened at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco before Peaches Christ’s Silence of the Trans stage show with Sharon Needles. “I understand that when Dan Savage saw the video in the It Gets Better offices his mouth dropped open” – Fausto Ferños.
For the initial workshop of Bride of Wildenstein – The Musical, I created pre-cinematic kinegrams that feature drawings of lions enjoying each other’s company and Jocelyn Wildenstein – the real life Bride of Wildenstein – captured by paparazzi at an outdoor cafe consuming a snack. A kinegram is an analogue animation effect created by taking a striped transparent overlay and moving it across an interlaced image. In Bride of Wildenstein – The Musical, an aging socialite grows fur and claws to recapture the attention of her philandering game hunter husband.
Growing Up Linda
Fudgie’s Death was a stand-alone segment from Growing Up Linda, that followed the troubled daughter of a famous ice cream mogul and her downward spiral into frosting, substance abuse, and Fudgie the Whale. In Fudgie’s Death, I transformed table-top pop-up books into full-screen cinema using magnification from a choreographed security camera.
For Birthday Trauma, I created a stop-motion puppet animation segment that was used as a projection in the performance Growing Up Linda, in which the fictitious daughter of a famous ice cream mogul must come to terms with her troubled past. Birthday Trauma was the inciting moment in Carvel’s life when at her fifth birthday party when her father strong armed her into dismembering her friend, Cookie Puss (a talking ice cream cake) for the consumption of her blood thirsty relatives.
New Technologies in Puppetry was a research paper I wrote on the use of live feed (also known as I-MAG or image magnification) in contemporary puppet theatre. The paper covered the roots of I-MAG from touring concerts and political rallies to corporate stages and the pulpits of mega-churches. The various examples in contemporary puppetry I examined included pop star, Beck, Tim Lagasse’s Sammy and Sofa, Brian Selznick’s Christine Jorgensen Story, the video ventriloquism of Evan O’Television’s cabaret acts, video foley in the work of performance artist Cynthia Hopkins, and Brian Henson’s Puppet Up! Uncensored,
Jackson’s Private Zoo was a short music video that celebrated the relationship between the reclusive pop star and a very special monkey. In Jackson’s Private Zoo, I cut out and animated drawings I sourced from the National Enquirer. The video’s soundtrack was an a cappella version of Beat It.
LSD Kills was a section of the performance, Growing Up Linda, that I displayed as a single-channel video installation. LSD Kills focused on a bad acid trip of the daughter of a famous ice cream mogul who must come to terms with her troubled past.
For the first episode of Abductions with Alterboy, a Chicago Access Network comedy talk show hosted by Mike Anthony, Kathleen O’Shea and I appeared as Star and Twinkie – The Giovanni Sisters. The Giovanni Sisters were identical twin sisters who grew up near a PCP testing plant outside Gary, Indiana. For the segment, I created Nursey Nurse, a surrealist video art piece with Pippin Roe to be played as we recounted our tale of alien abduction through hypnosis. While Nursey Nurse was cut from the final broadcast, I will be releasing the piece on my vimeo channel.
The King of Pop’s New Clothes was a surrealist nightmare in which a reclusive pop star’s drug-fueled attempts at being loved through reinvention go horribly wrong. In it, Jackson appears at a halftime show as an impossible spectacle – towering from atop the pedestal of ten foot stilts wearing a red dress (with extra wide panniers) that doubles as a proscenium. Performers representing the children and exotic animals of Neverland Ranch roller skate to the stage from a gold trimmed slit in the front of his dress. The skaters are joined in choreography by a performer in a motorized wheelchair who portrays both Elizabeth Taylor and E.T.. In a background projection, I remade French body artist, Orlan’s Successful Operation, in which Orlan remains conscious as she undergoes plastic surgery. Only in my version, Orlan’s part has been recast with Jackson.
What is your Gender?
What is Your Gender? was a short video art piece that explored gender as an arbitrary non-consensual category inflicted on human beings from birth and its deconstruction. For the audio track, I appropriated text from Kate Bornstein and Gus Blaisdell. I made What is Your Gender? under the mentorship of Freedom Lialios at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where it also screened.
Inner Monster was an experimental stop-motion self portrait made on a super-8 camera in which I animated sculpted mud mask, hair, and shaving cream on my own face. I exhibited Inner Monster as a looping video installation in Chicago at Betty Rymer Gallery and N.A.M.E. Gallery.
Background in Moving Images
Like many of my generation, I started experimenting with video when my family purchased a camcorder for home movies. My study of video started in Woodshole at the MBL Club (Marine Biological Laboratory) in a summer course on editing. At the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston I worked with Super 8 film, stop motion, and makeing edits and splices directly on film.
At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I worked more extensively learning to edit on an A/B roll and edit sound on an 8 track. I also studied the history of video art with Kate Horsefield, founder of the Video Data Bank, the leading library for video by and about contemporary artists. While at the Art Institute, I was also mentored by a number of artists who work in moving images including Gregg Bordowitz, John Stefano, Freedom Lialios, Jennifer Reeder, Barbara De Genevieve, Art Jones, Nancy Andrews, and Ayanna U’Dongo.
After the Art Institute, I studied non-linear video editing techniques with Tim Lagasse at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center where I made puppet films. At CalArts I worked on digital stop motion puppet animation with Laura Heit and explored pre-cinematic animation techniques with Janie Geiser.