A'ssia Rai

Date of Award


First Advisor

Dien Vo

Second Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer


This thesis acts as a documentation of the process of making the video Cowpoke (2023) dir. A’ssia Rai. Cowpoke is a formalist experimental piece that incorporates found footage from disparate indexes on the internet, unidentified home videos from, and semi-intentionally filmed and choreographed performances from student actors. Cowpoke makes use of artificial soundscapes, geographically and temporally varying (both filmed and found) footage, performance art, music, and visual art, to create a narrative of natural disaster and wider ecological devolution. The video is only accessible through an online, free-to-access Index. The very crux of Cowpoke is in the editing itself. All thematic, visual, and sonic decisions are rooted in one simple goal; to match cut on action. The commitment to a consistent cutting on action, which can be seen in every single cut of the video, is why I was drawn to footage of catastrophe, violence, and storms. The shaking and glitching of the camera masks and allows for the connection of disparate types of footage and sounds, disrupting the way we spatially and temporally situate visual stimuli. The thesis in and of itself gives readers access to the direct sources of found footage, and a comprehensive visual understanding of the editing process. Down to the prose and poetry of the process notes and illustrated pairings, the video’s formal and thematic qualities, and its distribution; Cowpoke and its creation is an ambivalent love letter to, and dispatched eulogy for, the Anthropocene.

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