Date of Submission
Academic Programs and Concentrations
Film and Electronic Arts
Project Advisor 1
Project Advisor 2
I find it slightly presumptuous and rather ridiculous to attempt to compose a conclusive statement for a piece that is still very much in-progress. My show opens on Friday May 16, at which point I will be able to offer a more fully developed explanation of the work. For the sake of the College's satisfaction though, I will attempt to offer an up-to-date description for the piece as it currently stands (over two weeks in advance of its debut).
On January 22, 2014, at approximately 12:30pm, my mother, Jeanne Shaw, sustained a major Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) inflicted by a glancing blow from a horse's hoof (she has been a professional horse trainer for over 15 years). The resultant injuries included a fractured temporal bone, a subdural hematoma, and massive swelling of her temporal lobe and surrounding tissue. She was airlifted to a trauma center where she spent two weeks on life support before finally regaining her ability to breathe without assistance. In the two months since her injury she has made tremendous progress, and has almost returned to her full functioning capacity, both cognitively and physically.
My project documents her and my experiences of our relationship and the impacts of her accident upon it. Each of the three sections or “acts” as I've taken to calling them, examine different facets, as follows: 1) “Infinite // Limited”, which offers an overview of our 22+ years of knowing each other, as told through conversations, letters and family photographs; 2) “Traumatic (Brain Injury)”, which uses graphic and disturbing images (such as brain surgery and self mutilation) coupled with overlapping layers of narration to relay my experience during the period when she was comatose; 3) “To Here Knows When”, which revisits my mother two months after her accident and beyond, utilizing extremely saturated and out-of-focus shots of her going about her daily life that gradually become sharper images as her own sense of clarity returns. Each act is a discrete work, designed to be able to stand alone, but enriched by the context of the acts that surround it. Taken individually, I would describe the videos as non-narrative, but their placement together in the traditional three act structure crafts a more cohesive narrative of a close relationship stricken by near-catastrophe.
The three videos will be shown as an installation in the Gallery of the Avery Film Center. The layout of the installation is meant to evoke a hospital waiting room, complete with uncomfortable chairs, dated magazines, artificial houseplants, and hopefully, the much-despised “hospital scent”. The works will be projected digitally onto a white wall, through a single channel, sequentially (ie: Act 1, Act 2, Act 3) and on a continuous loop; the sound is all stereo and will be synchronized to the image playback. The total runtime for the three acts is approximately twenty minutes.
Probably the most significant aesthetic and technical concern for me in this project has been the creation of texture, both visual (Acts 1 and 3) and auditory (Act 2). Visual texture has long been a major aspect of my work, and is part of what drew me to the medium of film (mostly 16mm) in the first place. This project does represent a major departure from most of my previous work due to the media switch to video from celluloid (due to time and financial constraints) but I have enjoyed the process of learning to craft my own distinctive artistic style through this new and much more popular medium, and along the way have discovered that, contrary to what I had long believed, my ability to create dense and textured work is not dependent on the medium of film. I look forward to returning to celluloid in the future, while simultaneously continuing to explore and develop my video aesthetic.
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Shaw, Victoria Batten, "Temporal Lobe: Not Quite a Tragedy in Three Acts" (2014). Senior Projects Spring 2014. 100.
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