Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program

Film and Electronic Arts

Project Advisor 1

Peggy Ahwesh

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This project began as an attempt to make a portrait about a place. I wanted to go back to California, my home, and try to address the way its representation in popular culture, its status as an icon, affects an individual relationship to the actual landscape. The relationship I was addressing was mine, whether I wanted to admit it then or not. I began to problematize this impulse to take video of my home- beyond the conceptual front I was putting forward concerning myth, reality, and representation, I realized in a very basic way I was trying to keep a place that is dear to me safe. It was a desire to constantly be able to return to a place that doesn’t even exist anymore.

This led me to consider the impulse to collect. I began to realize that this project was about creating a collection- a personal accumulation of the stuff that is important to my idea of home, and what I miss most about it when I am gone. I began contacting people who owned large collections in California. It started with a woman I had met two years before, who has approximately 30,000 bunny rabbit toys in her home in Pasadena, California. After contacting her and conducting an interview, I realized that this was the key to what I had been thinking about for months. The impulse to collect encompassed all of the other impulses inherent to my video-recording: trying to fight time (death), a satisfaction in having a physical equivalent for something that is not, a fear of excess, and guilt/pleasure in coveting.

I began contacting other collectors. After each interview, I would have new ideas about what I wanted to add to my collection. This in turn would lead me to a new subject to interview. When I watched all of the interviews, I realized that our desires were all the same. Through each collection- thousands of bunnies, rare minerals, or buttons- we were all looking for a way to hold onto something that couldn’t be made “real” in any metaphysical sense. Whether it was love, peace, epiphany or home, these transient and ever changing states couldn’t be kept, and so we each found a way to displace them through objects, and sought another kind of satisfaction in control.

It is this act of transcription from one medium to another that became important in my process. I was very interested in allowing this project to be as self-generative as possible, to have it constantly grow from within. I returned to photographs that were meant to be test shots for the videos, and embroidered their colors onto patches. I watched and rewatched my footage, labeled each clip, and found almost endless permutations of “sets” of clips- specific camera motion, colors, content, and sound became organizing principles.

The underlying, secret impulse behind the project is an interest in mysticism and the occult. It is about the evil desire to conjure unworldly power from worldly parts. It is about video’s ability to call upon time and people that have since passed- and so it is also about death and missing and watching. I can only hope that all of these separate ideas and parts can be experienced collectively through thoughtful installation. Ultimately, this is a project about excess, and my greatest task has been remaining articulate in tackling this deluge of video, objects, writing and sound I collected. This is a project that is far from completion, and I hope it will remain in a state of perpetual arrival.

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