ISOLATED EXPERIMENTS-Katie Colosimo
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 “Moments of Genesis“ a four minute video piece made by artist Katie Colosimo.
MFW: Was this a project where the concept preceded the imagery, or did a particular image come first and the concept unfolded, or did it come together in some other way?
KC: The concept came first! I was thinking a lot about values and how people form them. I started looking for some sort of academic research about the formation of values, and one line really stuck with me: “Values arise in experiences of self-formation and self-transcendence.” That sentence was really the beginning of this project. From there I started to build images which then turned into the five characters/loose plot lines.
While I think that values are formed in many different ways and over time, I wanted to focus on this specific idea of a moment being so overwhelming or powerful that it felt as if it changed the way you view the world. I wanted to explore this idea through visuals and sound.
MFW: Do you see these moments as constituting a singular subjectivity, or do they signify something more collective?
KC:They are all intended to be individual moments happening to five different people, but they’re connected in the sense that they are all experiencing a similar feeling. To me, it was an interesting way to abstractly get inside the heads of a few very different characters who go through similarly impactful moments but would ultimately live out the rest of their lives in very different ways.
MFW: There’s a succession of images at the end and the beginning, reappearing intermittently throughout that take it out of the subjectives of the characters and define a sense of place-an unkempt backyard, a blue car, apartment buildings. Can you talk a little bit about the idea of place here, its relationship to characters’ memories, and how it frames the picture?
KC: Generally, these images are there to remind the viewer of the mundane. A telephone wire, a car driving by, and trash in the backyard signifies that even though these people are going through something big and dramatic, they are still normal. However, they are also supposed to build a world that feels a little weird, odd and sinister because that’s what it can feel like in these moments.
I think you’re right also, there is definitely a cohesive sense of place formed by these images, and in retrospect the kind of dirty, eerie and isolated atmosphere they create is really reminiscent of the towns I grew up around in the midwest. The town I come from was actually for the most part pretty affluent and a typical American suburb, but it was so spread out and had such a weird mix of rich, country club families and scary dudes who lived on farms and flew confederate flags from their cars. A lot of my visceral memories from growing up there revolve around being surrounded by a lot of creepy, open and dark space, dirt roads and trash which is kind of dark, but this is a dark film!
MFW: It is dark, but the feeling that to me is most palpable about these moments is one of tension more so than trauma. Does the idea of tension come into play when you’re considering memories like this, whether meaning the tension of a particular moment, or just the tension between now and then ?
KC: I agree, the music (thanks to John Sciortino and Jonathan Franco!) and the editing especially tend to give it that feeling. I remember feeling anxious watching it and not being sure if that was good or bad, but the buildup that I hope comes through, in my eyes, resembles something like an eruption or water boiling over the pot.And yeah, those memories are riddled with a constant strain/tension to be a certain way since where I grew up was super uniform and full of Catholics. I think that partially changed the way I view my hometown and others similar to it. I also think that some of these characters are acting out because of their own anxieties. A good way to describe it along with tension is that these characters are all struggling with something.
MFW: OK one last question: This is a new video, completed 2020—was it finished before or during the pandemic, and since it concerns memory, does that context add another layer for you? Has this situation brought new inspiration to you, or new struggles that carry their own new moments of genesis?
KC: I finished shooting in early February I think, so before we knew how serious the virus was. I let it sit for a while and then when the the lockdown actually happened I started the editing and scoring process.
The film really emphasizes experiencing these moments alone. I have often seen others brand being alone as something to be avoided and a negative thing, so it has been really interesting for me to think about how everyone in the world is forced to experience it. Not that I want people to be alone, but it’s just been weird noticing a lot of new and different behaviors in some of my family members and friends. I’m sure that I have changed as well.
I think my internal struggles during this time are probably similar to what other people are going through. In Moments none of the characters have any idea that they are forming strong ideas and thoughts, so while I’m not sure if this moment in time will generate any new values, maybe in time I will find out!
Katie Colosimo is a Brooklyn based filmmaker, visual artist and video editor. Working primarily with super 8, HD video, VHS and 35mm photography, she is mostly interested in exploring how the many circumstances and occurrences throughout a lifetime tend to code human behavior and belief systems.
Original score by John Sciortino
Additional music by Jonathan Franco