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.
World Upside Down with Shirley Tse
at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, 2014
My favorite sculptor, Shirley Tse, invited me to create a video installation on top of her sculptures during her show at Shoshanna Wayne in 2012.
When researching my projects about medieval carnival I encountered the concept of "World Upside Down" or WUD, an anthropological term used to describe a function of medieval European carnival in which, for a day or two, everything is inverted: the prostitute becomes a queen, the donkey rides in the cart as the farmer drags it, the mice chase the cat, and so on. This inversion served to allow the peasantry to blow off steam, which averted revolt.
Shirley's ephemeral sculptures evoked a sense of horizon, of above and below, inviting the vision of a "world upside down," realized by the image of an inverted forest, whose colors are also flipped to the negative. These inversions are carried through in the audio, which is run backward. Reversing the audio happened to make whispering voices sound like chirping birds,
perversely appropriate for our upended and inverted forest.
The backward whisperers are reciting a poem by William Butler Yeats, "The Stolen Child," the refrain of which entreats the human to go down, under the water . . .
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
The sculptures are illuminated by moving searchlights, reminiscent of Rodney Graham's "Edge of a Wood" from 1999, wherein searchlights scan trees at the edge of a forest, ineffectively penetrating the dark woods and envisioning the forest as a site of disappearance and mystery.