MCI Field Investigation
MCI Field Investigation
On Thursday, February 21, I went to an Experimental Film Screening in the Adams Auditorium in the UR Boatwright Memorial Library. This film was a collection of mostly already existing film clips and was compiled by four UR art students. I went to this screening with my VMAP class called Intro to Film/Sound/Video, which has been a very helpful crossover course with MCI. Since my VMAP class is the first art class I’ve ever taken, I am still learning how to interpret and appreciate art. We have definitely done some interesting things in the class, like random Fluxus performances and creating our own interpretive films. I went into the film screening with an open mind, understanding that many components of the film might be ‘out there’, especially since it is experimental. The creators picked a variety of different, raw footage and pieced it together in a collection of 7 different short films, and each one had a sort of general theme to it. Before the creators showed the film, they briefly discussed their creation process. They said that they were originally trying to follow one specific theme, but since they each had a different approach or idea of what the film should embody, they ultimately created a new term, subsensation, to describe the theme of their short film.
It is difficult for me to say what the film was actually about because it was very vague and interpretive. For example, the first of the seven short film was a compilation of clips with different machinery moving, making crisp, sharp sounds; it even included one clip that was filmed from a point of view underneath a glass bowl (low shot), with a woman’s face pushed against the glass, creating the illusion that she was drowning (Sivok, 10). Another clip was an indie cartoon, in which a woman enters a room with a man, and then they jump in some type of hole and end up in space, and I think they were eaten by some type of serpent. It was clear that each artist incorporated their personal identities, or subsensation, because the content was very specific and purposeful. Each artist had such a specific creative identity that they didn’t just want to agree to conform to one, but instead, they created a mix of all four and created their new term or collective identity, subsensation. The narrative was hard to follow because the images on screen kept transforming into one another to create a confusing, experimental, and beautiful illusion. The reason that I think I had difficulty interpreting some of these films was because I had probably stereotyped what exactly a (short) film should look like: a narrative with sound/images that you’re able to identify and make sense of. The definition of stereotype from our MCI class is: systematic representations repeated in a variety of forms, from jokes/cartoons to news to TV; shared cultural and social assumptions assigned (Seiter, 94). In a sense, I had stereotyped films in general based on my own experience and expectations. Therefore, I was constantly looking for a narrative to follow, and I became a little frustrated and bored when I couldn’t find one. If I were to see this film again, being that I have nearly completed my VMAP and MCI classes, I think that I’d try to go into it with a more open mind, not focusing so much on identifying the narrative but trying to appreciate the creative process and look for the artistic intention in the piece.
Another thing I noticed in the film were the types of shots included and how they affected the meaning of the clips. One shot that I found particularly useful was the use of an extreme close up shot (Sivok, 10). In this case, the shot showed a white sculpture, extremely zoomed in, which appeared to be some sort of marshmellow-looking belly button. I was extremely confused, until the camera slowly zoomed out and showed two human ears, touching, covered in white powdery makeup. This shot was especially effective in this case because it created suspense and made me eager and intrigued to find out what exactly the weird object I was looking at was. In another clip, which was about a girl who writes letters back home because she misses her mom, included a high shot of her walking alone on a shoreline (Sivok, 10). This high shot was effective here because it made her seem especially powerless, helpless, and alone, stranded in the middle of nowhere. The way these media techniques can used to enhance the art can connect to the identity of the artist, because it contributes to their artistic expression, but can also change the viewer’s identity, like mine. I originally judged the piece a little for not making sense or being not being cohesive, but now I have learned to appreciate the specific techniques used, and the lack of narrative to influence the individual interpretation by the viewer.
I would say that the connection to MCI was implicit, especially through the use of the keywords identity, stereotype, high shot and close up. I didn’t necessarily notice this at first glance, but after reflecting on the film and MCI keywords I can definitely notice an obvious connection.
Ed Sivok. Film Studies: An Introduction. Colombia University Press, 2010.
Seiter, Ellen. “Stereotype.” Keywords for Media Studies, edited by Laurie Ouellette and Jonathan Gray, NYU Press, New York, 2017, pp. 184–185. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1gk08zz.63.