Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fireside Chat Artist Statement

Wow, this was an incredible assignment! I’ll talk a little bit about how I used media to illustrate my belief and then just kind of discuss the night as a whole.

           So I believe in the power of looking up. That phrase that Grandma wrote on the back of the photo of us, “Always remember to look up,” has meant more than one thing over the course of this year, but since I’ve spent so much time discussing the relationship between art and the artist lately, it makes sense that this time, I thought of art. I believe that sometimes we just need to start recording life as it happens and that we shouldn’t wait until the perfect time and the perfect equipment or the perfection of our craft. The informal documentaries of our lives that we create in the moment on our phones might even be the most important films we’ll ever make because of how special they are to the people we care about most. They’re real. They are what happens when we “look” up from our formal artistic work every once in a while and just hit record.

           I used a lot of photos from the London film trip last spring because I had a lot of special experiences on that trip personally, but I also consciously worked to improve my skill as a photographer. So I’ve got photos of both kinds, pictures that I’m proud of artistically, and stuff that frankly looks like crap but is still meaningful to me personally.

         For example, I shared this photo, which happens to be one frame of a goofy video taken on a train on the way back from Eltham Palace. Michael had been speaking in a weird accent the whole day and now he’d re-opened a cut on his finger and was bleeding all over the place, so I pulled out my phone and asked him to describe what happened in his “voice,” and the result was pretty hilarious.The video is shaky because we’re on a train and I was laughing while holding the camera, and you can hear someone blowing their nose in the background and the lighting isn’t great. So it’s not exactly an outstanding piece from a visual/audio standpoint, but I’m so glad I recorded it. Months later, it still makes us laugh, it reminds me of the friendship we developed and triggers memories of what I saw and learned at Eltham palace, and it also perfectly captures the personalities of Michael and Mariah. 

I also shared this photo, taken at Orrest Head in the English Lake District. This one I’m actually proud of. I took the time to frame it so that it captures not only the contemplative gaze of the person on the bench, but also the gorgeous green rolling landscape he was looking out at. To say it’s not meaningful to me would be a lie, because it actually captures the thoughtful side of a friend I made really well (this is actually another picture of Michael), and from that one photo I’ll always remember how beautiful that countryside was. But I’m glad I have the goofy video as well as the pretty photo, because if I’d only taken a snapshot when I felt it would look great, I would have missed an entire aspect of the trip that was just as important to me as the stuff I managed to capture well. 

Proud of this one!

On the last day of the London trip, a few of us decided to say goodbye to the city from the top of the London Eye. I managed to get a great snapshot of the cart at the very peak of the ride, and I was pretty excited. I only had a few moments to get it right before the cart descended, and I did! But we also took videos of each other recording each other and selfies while we were just hanging out. I’m glad I didn’t spend the whole ride trying to get the perfect snapshot. That would have been silly. So here’s an example of one photo that I’m proud of and another photo that I love just because of the people in it, and I got both on the same ferris wheel ride. That’s the important thing to remember. We can and should work to create artistically outstanding work. And we should also take selfies. There’s room for both. Together, they captured that one little part of our lives where we were living near friends in a city we’d come to love where we’d learned so much. I’m glad I focused long enough to take a nice photo. I’m also thoroughly glad that I remembered to look up and experience life first and record it second. 
 I just love this one because of the people in it.

At the end, I cut together some of those "informal documentaries” that I’d talked about, and used the song “The One Moment” by Ok Go. The chorus goes like this:

"And this will be
The one moment that matters
And this will be
The one thing we remember
And this will be
The reason to have been here
And this will be
The one moment that matters at all.”

            So hopefully that song helped to supplement the idea that these moments of us looking up from our professional work and living life while we’re recording it are really important. The whole song is symbolic of an artist’s life to me. It talks about building temples and monuments that we’ll just burn down in the end and how profound this one moment in time is when we’re together. I used a quote from Our Town, one of my favorite plays, at the end of the video. Not sure if anybody caught it, but I used the starry background intentionally, because stars are an important motif in that play that basically sends the message of how important and profound those tiny little moments of our lives can be upon looking back at them. Those are the moments we record when we "look up."

          The whole fireside chat was incredible. I think Erik expressed it best in class the next day: the fact that people were willing to put themselves out there and be vulnerable in front of each other while talking about things we cared about… that’s Zion. It was pretty awesome to use media as a tool to share our beliefs in front of a live audience, in person.