A POTENTIALITY (2020, digital, 16mm film, 16 minutes)
Winner of the Alice Guy Prize Special Mention at FID Marseille 2020. Notes from the Jury: A film which meticulously reflects upon the materiality of time following specific histories. While focusing on details, the images prevent us from accessing the whole. This gesture reflects the subject where voice has been violently stripped from the people, left silenced. The Special Mention for Prix Alice Guy goes to “A POTENTIALITY” by Dana Berman Duff.
A POTENTIALITY is a continuation of my interest in using film to shoot printed material, as in the Catalogue series. I'm especially interested in the equivalence of the film grain to the halftone print dot at the base level of the construction of reproduced image and language.
This piece is built on a graphic project by Susan Silton in which she reprinted five pages of the New York Times from the 1930s. Her project has a disturbing resemblance to present day newspaper reports.
Opera "The Emperor of Atlantis" composed in 1944 by Viktor Ulmann, libretto by Peter Kien.
DEAR ARCTIC FRANKENSTEIN
A collaborative project with Alan Berman for the Arctic Circle ship sailing in 2022. We propose to broadcast out onto the tundra the recording of an original song to the lost creature of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, a song of apology begging the forgiveness of the creature who was rejected and reviled by his creator, hence distorting him into a monster. In the book, the creature was last seen in the Arctic, jumping from a ship and disappearing onto the ice floes, promising suicide.
Yet, it has been noted that the creature is intelligent, ingenious and might not have been sincere in his final statement. He is portrayed as super-human and expert at survival and could very well still be at large in the Arctic...
Composition by Alan Berman, Lyrics by Duff, sung by the Los Angeles Grand Arts High School chamber singers accompanied by Sarah Parkins (violin) and Maggie Parkins (cello).
The creator of the “monster,” Viktor Frankenstein, personifies the hubris, ambition, and greed of men who have disordered nature, resulting in catastrophic conditions of suffering. The ship captain, too, is driven by ambition, risking the lives of his crew simply so he can reach the North Pole. The monster embodies the state of the world in climate crisis—the current conditions of the arctic ice—vulnerable and for whom the creator takes no responsibility. Instead, creator denies his own creation, turning it into a monster.
Poetical as well as political, dramatic rather than documentary, the performance brings a sense of tragic blunder to the scene of a disappearing world. The human-made creature and human-made climate collapse are colossal mistakes the song says we want to amend, sins for which we beg absolution. Climate collapse is our creation, our monster. But monstrousness can be destroyed by love.
The recorded song will be performed by the Los Angeles Grand Arts High School chamber singers, who will work with Mary Shelley’s classic book as their voices are carried to the
North Pole. The singers will be accompanied by accomplished musicians, violinist Sarah Parkins and cellist Maggie Parkins.
The music is built of colliding monophonic sections, echoing the ice floes' inexorable movement. In the context of the vast frozen emptiness, the song being broadcast is witnessed with a sense of sad futility in the knowledge that there is, in reality, no receiver of the song other than the witnesses on the ship and the local animals, who merely “overhear” it. Duff will record whatever response comes back from the ice to play upon returning.
Duff and Berman will undertake the journey to the Arctic spending least amount of carbon fuel as possible by riding a train across the United States and a freighter across the Atlantic Ocean to get to Norway.
The video and audio recordings and a live performance of the song by the musicians will be presented in Los Angeles once the artists return.