Date of Submission
Film and Electronic Arts
Project Advisor 1
What was the meaning of this so steady and self-respecting, this small Herculean labor, I knew not. I came to love my rows, my beans, though so many more than I wanted. They attached me to the earth, and so I got strength like Antaeus. But why should I raise them? Only Heaven knows. This was my curious labor all summer—to make this portion of the earth’s surface, which had yielded only cinquefoil, blackberries, johnswort, and the like, before, sweet wild fruits and pleasant flowers, produce instead this pulse…Removing the weeds, putting fresh soil about the bean steams, and encouraging this weed which I had sown, making the yellow soil express its summer thought in bean leaves and blossoms rather than in wormwood and piper and millet grass, making the earth say beans instead of grass—this was my daily work…. When my hoe tinkled against the stones, that music echoed to the woods and the sky, and was an accompaniment to my labor which yielded an instant and immeasurable crop. It was no longer beans that I hoed, nor that I hoed beans; and I remembered with as much pity as pride, if I remembered at all, my acquaintances who had gone to the city to attend the oratorios. The nighthawk circled overhead in the sunny afternoons—for sometimes I made a day of it—like a mote in the eye, or in heaven’s eye, falling from time to time with a swoop and a sound as if the heavens were rent, torn at last to very rags and tatters, and yet a seamless cope remained; small imps that fill the air and lay their eggs on the ground on bare sand or rocks on the tops of hills, where few have found them; graceful and slender like ripples caught up from the pond, as leaves are raised by the wind to float in the heavens; such kindredship is in nature. –Thoreau, Walden
He followed an intuition that concepts could not do what he had to do. So he moved away from them, even though they were his first language, his mother tongue in filmmaking. He entered an unfamiliar place where his direction became unclear to him. Should I flee from here and give up on my work? he asked himself. No, he answered. He ought to stay and work through this on his own. He then turned toward what he knew: recording the experiences in his life, documenting what he sees. But this he had done only in language. What he had done with words he would now do with images. And so he would try to not only forge art out of life, his life, but also accompany life with art. He traded paper for film, ink for light, and moved ahead.
Gradually and carefully he began to build a visual language. For its elements he chose to make these images of people and places that are close to him. They figure as strongly into his inner life as they figure into the world around him. His project concerns the subjective experience of an individual, this individual whose vision mediates his experience. He began by primarily trying to keep a journal on film, to make a journal that moves as his life moves, that is as refracted (i.e. broken up) as his life is broken up.
When the processed film returned to him, he realized that he had gathered more images than he would use in the final form of the film. Holding hundreds of feet of needless footage in his hands, he struggled to accept this excess. He felt like crying out. But eventually he realized how naturally that stems steadily from of what he is doing. What he is doing is shooting the same subject over and over, which is himself and the world. Not him in the world or him and the world, but the world as he filters it into and away from himself. This is the relationship out of which he has made this brief visual pattern, built this catalog of aesthetic experience, and from that catalog emitted an energy, produced a pulse that he will not stop trying to produce.
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Patterson, Tyler, "Winter: A refracted portrait" (2012). Senior Projects Spring 2012. 296.
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