Artist filmmakers Mark Lyken (films, video installations and sound works) and Emma Dove (film, installation and photography) live and work together in rural Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Together they combine their experience as individual artists to produce immersive films and moving image installations.
In the interview we discuss the work they made during residencies on The Black Isle and The Cromarty Firth where they explore the relationships between nature, industry and rural life. Mirror Lands (2014) and The Terrestrial Sea (2015) have both been screened internationally, with Mirror Lands winning the Award for Creativity at Document.Art International Film Festival in Bucharest.
“..a deeply moving, absorbing and haunting film and sound study.” - The Quietus
“Genuinely breathtaking” - Aesthetica Magazine
“A surrealistic meditation on the way that different environments encroach on each other" - Financial Times
Their latest collaboration 1300 shots (2020) is A single-take portrait film that returns two ex-patrons of Dundee cinema 'The Steps' to their favourite seats, 20 years after the cinema was decommissioned. A still camera observes those ex-patrons - the artist LAW and the musician VEX - watching one last film.
We talk about this new work and the companion piece LAW, VEX & THE STEPS (2020) - a short film that profiles those two characters and Dundee’s forgotten arthouse cinema.
You can hear music from Mirror Lands and The Terrestrial Sea plus more from Mark on Spotify and Apple Music.
In her film ‘Beth’s Three O’Clock with Dr. Harlow’ Emma Penaz Eisner references psychologist Harry Harlow's 1950's monkey experiments, the clinical interview with psychopathic child patient Beth in the documentary ‘Child of Rage’ from 1990, Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,’ and Ingmar Bergman's explorations of sadistic deity in ‘Through a Glass Darkly’.
She describes the works as a “vivid study of casual brutality and failed empathy,” and beautifully presents all of this in two minutes of stop motion animation with live action sequences. ‘Beth’s Three O’Clock with Dr. Harlow’ is just one of the films I discussed with San Francisco filmmaker and visual artist Emma Penaz Eisner, and one that you can view online here.
In the interview Emma also discusses her love for the work of Jan Švankmajer, the importance of meeting with like minded people, her passion for sharing and discussing her work and how she represents dream scapes and dream logic through animation.
Stills from I Am He Who Created Himself, There's More Than One Way to Skin a Man, Beth's three o'clock with Dr. Harlow and Will I Scatter Away?
This time we have been in London to talk to members of the Exploding Cinema, a volunteer collective of filmmakers and film lovers who run an open access film show where anyone can show any film under 20 minutes. The history of Exploding Cinema is fascinating and well documented on their website. They run regular screenings across London for filmmakers who want an audience and to showcase work that may not be shown otherwise.
"Exploding Cinema was founded in 1991 in a bunker at the back of a squat – a disused sun tan oil factory in Brixton. At that time it was a gathering of media misfits rejected by the ‘Independent’ film/video establishment who decided that rather than griping about the fucked up state of the industry they would stage their own screenings in cafes, pubs and disused buildings and would set about fusing together the isolated and disenchanted fragments of the underground media. The Low/No Budget film is the source of so much talent and creativity, but they need a place to be shown. Not a sterile, unfriendly “arthouse” but a relaxed, open environment where the audience can watch, chat, discuss the film and meet film/video makers."
I met with veteran members of the collective Adam Hodgkins and Ben Slotover along with their newest member Becca Payne.
Ben has been involved with Exploding Cinema for about 20 years now, and in between shows make shorts, teaches filmmaking workshops and runs a YouTube channel devoted to filmmaking tips with an emphasis on super 8.
Becca Pyne recently joined the group after have a positive experience screening her new film ‘Everything’ at a recent Exploding Cinema event. “I turned up by myself to show my film and had agreed to do a Q&A afterwards.” She told us. “I was terrified. But I was so impressed with the inclusive attitude, the visual display, the way everyone was really kind” She left the stage feeling supported and appreciated for sharing her work and having the courage to talk about it. “To have my film seen in an environment where people are supportive, it’s non judgemental, it’s encouraging, you are doing something really empowering, and to be able to give that experience to other people and to share in their work is pretty profound.” You can see her film on her Vimeo site here.
We discuss the early days of exploding cinema, they events they run in London, and how they programme the screening given their non-rejection policy and the huge number of submission they receive.
Madison Brookshire is an artist and filmmaker whose work crosses experimental film, music, painting, and performance. His work has shown at REDCAT, MOCA, the Toronto International Film Festival, DokuFest, Union Docs, the New York Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Bradford International Film Festival, Migrating Forms, Exploratorium, Los Angeles Filmforum, Echo Park Film Center, the Hammer Museum, and Artists Television Access. He has had solo exhibitions at Parker Jones, Culver City; and Presents Gallery, Brooklyn; and has been in group shows at the Torrance Art Museum; Gallery 400, Chicago; and Heliopolis, Brooklyn. He frequently collaborates with musicians and composers, such as Tashi Wada, Mark So, and Laura Steenberge.
We talked to Madison when he attended the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in Scotland in May 2019. During the festival he presented a talk entitled 'Time And The Untimely' and performed his expanded cinema work 'Fountain', both of which we cover in this episode.
"I believe that a philosophy of time is necessary for political action, and therefore that studying it is necessarily a political act. In my work, I study how combinations of images, sounds, and silences can produce lived experiences of time."
In the interview Madison makes reference to a number of other artists and works including Robert Rauschenberg, Stan Brakhage, Agnes Martin, Hollis Frampton (Zorns Lemma) and Tony Conrad (Yellow Movies.)
Madison performing 'Fountain' at Alchemy Film and Media Festival, photograph by Oliver Benton
For Episode 15 we talked to Canadian filmmaker Stephen Broomer who was in Scotland to attend the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival. He was one of the main speakers at the filmmakers symposium at the festival, delivering a session entitled 'Mindstrips: The Found Image as a Psychic Analogue. As part of his talk he shared his perceived heritage of film footage to the present day, one of the subjects we talked about in the interview you can hear on the player below. In his talk he mentioned works from filmmakers such as Joseph Cornell, Stan Brakhage, Barbara Hammer and Martin Arnold among others.
This list includes some of the specific works he references in our podcast interview.
Rose Hobart -Joseph Cornell (1936)
Lambeth Walk - Nazi Style - Charles A. Ridley (1941)
Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son - Ken Jacobs (1969)
Berlin Horse - Malcolm Le Grice (1970)
The Hart of London - Jack Chambers (1970)
Variations on a cellophane wrapper - David Rimmer (1972)
Stephen also presented the UK premier of his 2018 work Tondal's Vision at Alchemy. We began our chat with this where Stephen shared background on the original source material for this work and the creative and chemical processes he uses. You can see the trailer below and read more about the inception of Tondal's Vision on Stephen's blog here. To round up our chat I asked Stephen about his recent work Fountains of Paris (2018), a work created from the Jacques Madvo Collection incorporating images of the city at work, its landmarks and architecture and medieval illustrations in stained glass.
On the night that Alchemy Film & Arts launched their 2019 programme went behind the scenes and talk to the team that make this world class experimental film event happen. Interviews include Michael Pattison – Creative Director, Kerry Jones – Festival Producer, Rachael Disbury – Programme Manager and Walt Holland – Installations Manager. We discuss the creative process of bringing such a large programme together and the highlights for this year, the huge amount of work and planning that has to go in on the run up to the festival and how they produce ten moving image installations. The 2018 edition screened 133 films from 30 countries over five days, with 36 world premieres, 18 European premieres, 24 UK premieres, 20 Scottish premieres and more than fifty filmmakers in attendance.
We really enjoyed talking to moving image artist Tereza Stehlíková. Amongst other things, we discussed her recent work From You to Me: 4 Generations of Women, her 2016 impressionistic documentary Trieste : In-between states and her relationship with Jan Švankmajer. 'From You to Me: 4 Generations of Women' is an ongoing project exploring the unique and complex interconnections between four generations of women within the artist’s own family. Tereza’s collection of short experimental films, beginning in 2011, capture the unique moments of her grandmother, her mother, her daughter and herself reuniting between the Czech Republic and Britain over several years. Tereza describes Trieste : In-between states as "An impressionistic documentary, which was inspired by a conversation with John Berger. Trieste, a city with a unique history of fluctuating fortunes, is positioned on cross roads of different cultures and political states. It is a liminal place, “a hallucinatory city, where fantasy easily brushes with fact.” (Jan Morris) The film’s narrative is weaved from fragments of interviews, readings and observations and is a collaboration with writer Deborah Levy." You can see this and images from 'From You to Me on her Vimeo page.
Experimental film and installation artist Jason Moyes lives and works in rural Scotland and has been exploring the moving image since 2007. His work has been shown in the UK, North America, Europe and Asia. He is a founding member of the Moving Image Makers Collective.
Into the Mothlight is sponsored by The Film and Video Poetry Society.