ISOLATED EXPERIMENTS-CLéMENCE THERIN
During this period of global public health-sanctioned isolation, Millennium Film Workshop, like many other organizations has sadly had to postpone many of our planned events for the Spring season. We’ve decided to continue to showcase in the meantime, great work from great artists here on our own website, in a new weekly series we’re calling “Isolated Experiments,” accompanied by comments from the artists themselves. Sign up for our mailing list via our contact page to get email updates about new films as we post them weekly.
This week, we are featuring “When I Cry“ a three minute video piece made by artist Clémence Therin.
MFW: Your video presents us with a series of images (the old couple/the moon/the tides/the bird/the kite) and sounds (the fable of the bird/Chopin/city sounds) paired up and re-matched in succession. suggesting various relationships between them. Can you discuss any of those relationships?
CT: I don’t know why there was something about the image of this old couple that was calling to me. I tried for awhile to edit something around this take without finding the right angle. Two years later, I almost accidentally paired it with the bird and it suddenly made sense. The other rhymes came naturally in between to articulate this sort of mental waltz. As all waltzes are ternary, I built the split-screen around three images.
Regarding the sound, I usually work with a lot of layers and desynchronization. On this particular project I tried something different by only using the direct sound from each take without cleaning it (with the exception of a bird's squawk that comes from my archives. It's actually the images of the kite that gave me this idea because I was listening to Chopin on my speakers while I was trying to capture this flying jelly fish on Rockaway Beach. It fell perfectly into place and that's where the architecture of the waltz started.
MFW: Is the narration about the bird something you wrote?
CT: Yes, the text usually arrives in the process right after the final cut. I try to write the voice over as far away from the editing as possible because I always fear what we could call "the subtitle effect": when the words underline the pictures or are too close to them. It forbids any space or meaning in between.
Here I used the bird to invite in this daily yet discreet melancholy we can feel when we notice the stubbornness of time that magically makes everything disappear.
MFW: Is that same melancholy the source of the crying referred to in the title? I notice it falls among some of your other films with similar titles; "When It's 3 AM Without You", "When I Am Dead" etc.
CT: Yes absolutely, When I Cry is indeed part of a series I started three years ago with "When I Am Dead." I'm exploring this super short homemade format trying to build it as a necklace of fragile glimpses echoing with each other.
MFW: Any plans as far as were you see this cycle headed?
CT: It's not complete, I hope to get the next one done for this winter. Without being sure where it is it will end, I really want to try to exhaust this series until every neglected corner is explored.
MFW: Has the events of this tumultuous year changed and affected your vision for it as it's developed?
CT: Yes, it's definitely been a strange year, but on my side it allowed me to reconnect with empty spaces. I am deeply convinced that one of the most important first steps for creativity is boredom, there is no better trigger for the imagination. The way our cities and the instantaneity of our screens prevent any second of boredom or emptiness can really make me feel miserable. Maybe I'll have the opportunity to visually explore this idea in a future project.
Clémence Therin is a French director and cinematographer based in Brooklyn. She studied documentary and art history in Paris where she also worked as an editor. In 2015, she moved to New York and began working as a lighting designer and cinematographer on fiction, commercials, and music videos.