Alchemic Filmmaking: Artist Rachel Rose

Alchemic Filmmaking: Artist Rachel Rose


Welcome to the Nasher’s 360 speaker series
I’m curator or Education, Anna Smith and today I’m pleased to introduce artist Rachel Rose
Artist Rachel Rose creates deeply experiential works in video that investigate how we define
mortality amid our shared current anxieties. Manipulating sound and image, Rose brings
together found footage and her own in what she has described as an alchemic process that
occurs through pushing together different parts of time in an image. In her videos disparate histories and eras
coalesce flowing through subjects that range from zoos and cryogenics, the american revolutionary
war Philip Johnson’s Glass House and the sensory experience of walking in space. Rose’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions
at Bilar Croias gallery in London, Museo Cervales, the Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, The Whitney
Museum of American art in New York, Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London and Gastello Dirivoli
in Turin. She has recently been included in group exhibitions
at Hayward Gallery in London, and the Sao Paulo Biennial. I know we have some great fans of Rachel’s
work on our staff and we have been quite excited for the opportunity to bring her to Dallas. So I expect we are in for a lovely thought-
provoking presentation this afternoon. Please join me now in welcoming Rachel Rose. Hi I’m Rachel nice to see everyone here on
such a beautiful day. I don’t know how familiar you all are with
what I do so I thought I would actually speak about my work from the very beginning and
talk about it chronologically and feel free to interrupt me if speaking in a way that
is confusing…yeah if something’s opaque let me know. I actually started my career I guess as a
painter I was making abstract paintings very much in a studio practice structure I did
my undergraduate at Yale and I studied with a painter named Robert Reid who is recently
deceased but influenced two generations of artists he taught alongside Joseph Albers,
he actually taught Richard Serra and Matthew Barney and Sarah Sze and just a whole history
of artists have come through teachings of Robert Reid. His approach was very formal, strict practice. I don’t know how else to put it. And I was really taken with that and in a
way turned myself into a kind of bubble around art very limited formal perspective. I thought ok that’s what I’m gonna do, I’m
gonna deal with the problems of being a painter and these minor issues about color and composition
and the history of painting and that’s what it’s going to be. When I went to do my MFA at Columbia I soon
felt that this was a very boring trajectory and a deeply unsatisfying life for me personally. I would go to the studio sit alone check my
email go on Facebook, check the internet go talk to my friends and that would be a day. And it just felt like this is a waste of my
time, this is waste of money, this is a waste of all life, I want to do something that has
meaning that allows me to explore the world, what’s happening now, that feels urgent to
me and I actually thought consciously, okay that means I can’t be an artist which in some
ways seems counterintuitive but I had such a negative almost apathy towards the formal
problems that play in art that I just thought fuck it, I’m done with art. but I had another year left at Columbia so
I thought at the time I would try to make a documentary film and not do a film that
would not exist at all in the art world or place me as an artist or anything like that. It would just totally begin a new career somewhere
else doing some kind of political activist work I didn’t know. So this is the first work that this is still
from on the screen and it’s called sitting, feeding, sleeping. And what I tried to do was in a sense take
this apathetic depression that I had about my life, about art and find it in real places
in the world that I could connect this feeling to. Some of that is projection and some of that
is actually true aspects of what was happening in these various places. So the three places that I went to film were
a cryogenics lab in Arizona. A cryogenics lab, there’s two in America. The one in Arizona called Alcore. It’s supposedly where Walt Disney is and other
celebrities. It’s where they take your body after you die
and they basically put freezer fluid–they take out your blood and put freezer fluid
in your body. The idea is that you could be revived a hundred
years from now when the technology exists which is kind of what this whole singularity
thing is about. So then I shot in zoos across the county–west
coast, east coast. And when i shot in these zoos, I started to
notice that the zoos were local expressions of other ideas. So for example the Smithsonian in D.C. functions
kind of like a museological thing like the animals are almost presented as artifacts. Whereas in Santa Barbara, the zoo is much
more like a theme park. In New York it’s much more like a small public
space. And so I was thinking about what the actual
lives of these animals were within these, in a way, projected spaces of human imagination. The last place I shot was a robotics perception
lab in San Diego where…I don’t know what slides are in here, I should just see…uh
yeah so this is the zoo in New York, well okay….A robotics perception lab in San Diego
where, at the time they were working on developing this giant baby robot that would be able to
read human emotion. So if you smiled in front of it you would
know you were happy, if you cried it would know you were sad. And so this very short 8 minute, what became
an artwork Sitting, Eating, Sleeping, was about finding the through line between the
zoo, the cryogenics lab and the robotic perception lab. And for me what they shared was this flatness
that…this confusion between life and death, this state of depression, this maybe in a
sense a sculptural quality was shared by all three. Animals in zoos especially for example the
polar bear living in a tiny, basically on a tiny set with props that sort of image what
his life might have been like in Antartica or somewhere else. It’s basically like he’s living within a sculpture
or something like a theatre set. And the same is true for the bodies and for
the robots. So that’s what that became. And that sort of got me noticed by some curators
at my show for Columbia and that sort of began me being an artist and not a political activist
or documentary filmmaker or something else like that. The next work I made was called Palisades
in Palisades. In this work I was thinking about inverting
the process I had done in Sitting, Feeding, Sleeping. In that work I had taken this very real emotion
to me, this kind of depression and flatlining it and projected it out into these sort of
external spaces across the country. And in Palisades and Palisades I wanted to
pick a sort of ordinary place anywhere. It could be this room, it could be the sidewalk,
anything and just try to learn about what’s happened there on different moments in time. And connect those things together to look
at what time really means and place really means. And so I chose this very small park which
is across the Hudson River just over the George Washington bridge in Manhattan that sits atop
this cliff and the cliff is actually this 200 million year old formation that you would
expect to find actually in the west. It’s like this very dramatic, sublime, rock. And on top of it sits a kind of 19th century
Olmstead style mini park it’s like an acre and a half, it’s tiny. And actually this site that I found I learned
was where the battle of Fort Lee took place during the American Revolutionary war. So it was actually where all of these people
had died. And it was also where the first serial film–almost
like a TV show–called The Perils of Pauline was filmed and it was that cliff that the
term ‘cliffhanger’ came. So there were things about film history, things
about American history, things about death, things about time, that supersedes human life
span and all of humanity….They were all there. This is the installation at The Serpentine. So uhm as you can kind of see in that short
clip, you can see the park a little bit, but uhm the way that I edited it was through a
kind of trompe l’oeiling of space so trying to match the cut and also overlay different
sounds that come from different times within the shots to create this sense of circularity
or interiority within the work itself. And my friend Deana who’s basically just standing
in different positions in the park as I film her….Everything she’s wearing is like the
park just basic, everyday–a sweater, jeans, a jacket–becomes actually a tool for me to
use to trompe l’oeil the edit. So this particular sweater she’s wearing matches
one of the jackets of one of the soldiers and uhm the canvas, her coat is actually canvas,
and I was able to use the weaving of the canvas to cut into the back of a canvas depicting
soldiers in that space. So I was thinking about this closeness between
our bodies and our skins and the edit. And I also worked with a camera that I hadn’t
worked with before which is very simple just a rig on a person and myself and another person
pulling the focus so that you could get from very far away to very close up without cutting
the shot so that everything inside could be in focus. Which is sort of what I was thinking about
in terms of the space itself, trying to bring everything into focus and bring depth to where
maybe we don’t normally see it. So when I showed this work at The Serpentine…just
to go back…oh I guess I can’t…oh sorry…I guess I can’t go back but….When I showed
it at The Serpentine I took the sounds that you hear like the bullet shot, the sound of
wind and I separated them out and had them circulate around the gallery as a way of actually
masking the sound within the video and this next work which I’m going to talk about which
were shown alongside one another. Because one of the problems with showing video
in museums and galleries contexts is sound and natural light. And I tried to always work with the way I
edit the video itself to be adjusted for the conditions of what it means to show a video
work in an art context and not a cinema context. So that’s one example of how the sound worked
in The Serpentine. So the next work I made happened after hurricane
Sandy in New York which was really scary time for anyone concerned about natural disasters
and global warming and the future of human kind. It was like all of a sudden New York was completely
blacked out and I had to stay at a friend’s house for a week and it just everything was
disrupted and changed and it happened just so quickly. After that, a few months later I was in a
coffee shop near my apartment, you know, hurricane Sandy was over everything sort of back to
normal and all of a sudden this crazy gust of wind with rain just comes out of nowhere
and you could actually almost see it -almost a form- and everyone in the coffee shop was
just silent and uh…like staring at what happened like a kind of fear that this was
what had just happened again. And I started thinking about that small experience
after Sandy again and again and about glass and why buildings have glass in them and what
glass means in terms of our vulnerability to the outside world and our sense of protection
and maybe visibility from the inside. So because I live in New York where there
are so many skyscrapers and in such a place of the development of the skyscraper, I got
interested in that and the history of the use of glass in buildings which led me to
the international style which led me to this architect Philip Johnson which led me to his
house, this glass house. This house was so filled with so many of these
issues around natural catastrophe actually and ways that we built our environment that
are so incongruous with the problems that we are soon going to face. The house has no circulation so the day I
shot there it was like 110 degrees probably 130 degrees inside the house. It has-because it’s basically a greenhouse-it’s
all just glass it’s constantly developing mold and there’s a famous Poussin painting
inside the house it’s called [The Funeral of Phocion]…yeah this painting. It’s just literally constantly being destroyed
and they have to be re-fixing it which again felt somehow true to this issue of sustainability
and vulnerability of our time. So what I did when I shot there is I took
an old VHS interview with Philip Johnson right before he died yeah right before he died where
he was giving a tour of the house. I replicated the camera movements and the
time of day and the light and the angles the best I could from this original interview
without him there so filming in the present and then I basically hand cut him out of this
VHS video through rotoscoping which is basically drawing around something in a frame and if
there’s 24 frames per second you can imagine that’s 24 drawings per second for a 5 minute
video that’s a lot. A lot of episodes of The Real Housewives that
I was simultaneously watching. Anyway that took a few weeks. So I cut him out of that and then I sutured
them together so when – I think the clip you’re going to see, you see it- there’s a weird
feeling of which kind of time you’re in, are you in his time or are you in my time? Or our time now? And I was interested in that in terms of this
question of what this glass house means now symbolically. And the other thing that I did is I was searching
for a long time for a real life clip that showed this transition from total calm and
obliviousness to total trauma and craziness. It’s something that you see all the time in
block buster films through special effects and compositing this kind of pasting of different
things within one frame. And it’s something that we experience like
in Hurricane Sandy but it’s not something that you actually see in real life filmed
very often because why would they be randomly filming two seconds before something happened? So I found this kind of famous footage of
something uh..a hailstorm in Siberia. And I ended up combining that hailstorm with
this house. So the uh…I can show you a clip of that. Yeah this is the hailstorm in Siberia. I don’t know if you guys saw this like about
3 years ago. Oh it should be..oh okay..yeah okay, this
is the clip. Yeah so you have a sense of this suturing that I was talking
about. Okay go to the next work. Okay, yeah. So the next work I made I should say about
a minute ago this whole work with the compositing of cutting Philip Johnson out of one piece
of footage and putting him into another and looking at how compositing works in Hollywood
film. So like for example a tractor just fell through
the ceiling that would be a compositing the, maybe the rendering of the tractor would be
special effects but the actual cut and pasting in the frame is a compositing thing. And so I was thinking about Hollywood special
effects and collaging and the way in which catastrophe in a way is like collage. You’re experience is one way in one second
and another way in another second. So it’s been the two have been cut and pasted
together like there isn’t the transition that I was maybe thinking about recuperating in
the work before in Palisades and Palisades. So that meant that when Interstellar and Gravity
came out I was like super excited and really interested in paying a lot of attention. I remember when I came out of seeing Gravity
in the movie theater in New York I felt this very confusing sense of displacement from
earth. Like I almost felt wobbly when walking on
the street and I remember it took almost until having dinner after that I was like okay,
here I am on earth, in this condition. I really felt displaced and what I was actually
struck by wasn’t that it had occurred through special effects and amazing 5:1 sound design
and being in a dark space but actually that it had occurred through simply the projection
of light on a screen and me sitting in a chair hearing things. That felt so basic and so much more basic
than many other ways that people can feel de-conditioned from their experience like
going to outer space or even taking drugs or something like that. It was just simply absorbing in a way frequencies
that had produced this effect in me. A few months later I was cleaning my apartment
and I heard this interview with this astronaut named Dave Wolf and he was describing an experience
he had doing a space walk in outer space. He was doing repairs on the international
space station and as he was doing them they had a half an hour of a break and it was night
on that side of the earth and he turned away from the space station and describes just
floating in this complete darkness and then watching this sun come up on the earth and
experiencing color at a frequency that he didn’t know his eyes and his body could intake
and perceive. And again I was doing something very basic
just cleaning my apartment and I felt completely like removed from my environment, taken somewhere
else and it was just through hearing this story on the radio. So that’s set out on kind of like an adventure
to try to find, to speak with Dave about his experience. I just basically stalked him, like hand-written
letters and called very place he had spoken to try and get his contact information and
eventually I did and he was willing to let me interview him for this project. So I interviewed him about this experience
of perception coming back to earth and the experience of perception within his body being
in both pure darkness and then being subsumed in the color of our earth. And then I shot, I shot the video in two other
locations. One was at a neutral buoyancy lab- can’t see
it super well in this image, let’s see if there’s well I think you’ll see in the video,
but uhm…which is where astronauts go to learn how to space walk and what was so striking
about this was that it’s actually just a pool of water. Like a five-story tall pool of water. And again that’s so basic. There’s nothing crazy or even technical about
that- that water could be an analogy for being in outer space felt very profound to me. And then I shot it also at, in my apartment
using..let’s see, just using things that I could find in my kitchen so food dye, water,
oil, milk….I was looking at artists like Jordan Belson who had experimented with this
also Douglas Trumbell, the person who did the special effects for 2001 Space Odyssey. Many of the special effects were not done
in a computer they were done just by hand with micro and macro lenses. So I tried to replicate that and I shot it
on a piece of glass and when I showed it at The Whitney I showed it on a translucent screen
against a window so I was hoping there would be this one to one relationship between how
I shot it against this translucent thin thing and again how you see it in the space. And then the last place I shot it was and
then I also got found footage for it, was at EDM concerts which is like a growing thing. And I randomly had a friend whose now kind
of a famous EDM guy and he let me shoot there so I shot some stuff of crowds and then I
worked to make it look bigger and more than it was. And then I used those chemicals for the kind
of household objects or the materials I was describing, to displace this camera movement. I think you’ll see it the clip. So as the video goes on this shot which is
already as you can see if already displace here, but this shot of the neutral buoyancy
lab becomes increasingly corroded by the chemicals. (music playing…male voice begins speaking
about space walk: “When I first came back to Earth after 128 days in space I thought
I had ruined my life. Just walking, I took a few steps off the space
craft and then decided to go ahead and use..to lay down on the stretcher and be carried because
gravity felt so heavy my wristwatch felt like a bowling ball on my arm… uh the weight
of your body. Even my ears felt heavy on my head. But some senses are increased for example
when you are in space the air cleaning systems are so effective there are very few odors. The filters are so good and when the space
craft door the hatch is opened, you’re overwhelmed with the smell of the air and you must feel
like a dog feels when you smell bushes as you walk by them. You’re sensitivities are so increased because
they’ve been absent for so many months.”) Rachel Rose:So the voice you hear at the beginning
is the voice of Aretha Franklin. One of the things that I wanted to do was
work with music as a frequency and work with a kind of harmony between the way he’s speaking
which I emphasized its flatness. I emphasized the way in which it sounded like
a radio transmission. When I did the interview with him I actually
did it in a sound studio we were doing it through, I had a problem with the microphone
and I ended up having to put my phone on speaker phone and then put the microphone above my
speaker and it just totally corroded how you heard his voice. So when I was editing I tried to actually
work with that- thinking of his body, like light-and that sound was also a frequency. And then this is the most recent work that
I made called Lake Valley which I just finished in September. This work actually came from thinking about
childhood maybe through questions around mortality and lifespan. The idea of childhood is a relatively modern
idea, Victorian idea. It used to be especially in Europe that children
were more thought of as mini-adults, they were just born an infant and then the infant
became an adult. I was thinking about my own childhood and
ways in which experiences then have shaped who I am now and maybe why I’m an artist or
why I think about things in a certain way. So I wanted to look back and investigate the
idea of childhood basically. One of the things that just kept coming up
when I started looking at the emergence of children’s books, in the 18th and 19th century
was abandonment. That in Hansel and Gretel, in most children’s
book stories that the kid is abandoned and goes on an adventure and has to find its way
back. In a way there are these mini-stories of what
it is to be an adult. Or what it is to go through any kind of struggle
and return. So what I did is I made an archive of thousands
of illustrations from mostly 19th century children’s books and working with a cell animator
so someone who hand draws animation, we kind of developed this new way–kind of new I guess
for us–new way of doing things whereby each image was constructed through collaging different
surfaces from these 19th century illustrations to be a different thing in the present. So the story that I wrote which came from
different other children’s stories, is about a kind of animal–sort of like a dog, sort
of like a cat, something in between–living in a house and asking for attention, never
quite getting it but not because the family doesn’t care or is evil or something just
because they are busy and they don’t have time for this pet. Then he ends up going on his own exploration,
leaving the house and it takes place in a contemporary suburb now….imagining a friend,
imagining connection which is in fact in the end just an object that explodes and he is
left alone again. So I was trying to reimagine everyday things
like making breakfast or flowers in a flower bed or an office park but I was trying to
reimagine them through these other surfaces to create kind of a disclarity about what
time you’re in and kind of what emotional space you’re in. So the pasta is made out of a woman’s hair
and the water is made out of waves, the flowers are made out of cloth…(video sound begins:
ambient noise and nature sounds….water flowing and birds chirping and ominous tones…) Rachel Rose: So this is when he kind of takes
off into the -what he thinks is a forest but is actually a bump of land in an enclave. This is his imagination. So how are we doing on time? Okay good. Exactly 40 minutes. I wanted to leave time for questions because
I know there’s a lot here. Questioner: I wonder about your work Palisades
and a minute ago and even about this last work in terms of the editing that you talked
about in Palisades and also maybe these surfaces in this most recent work, how some of those
concerns that you described might be a transposition or continuation of some of the concerns that
you expressed as a painter, that you had as a painter as an undergraduate with (Robert)
Reed. Rachel Rose: In a way I don’t think about
painting but one of the things that Robert Reed was really committed to was understanding
painting in relationship to time .So he would always do these psychotic exercises like we
would have to make a thousand paintings in 24 hours, or 250 paintings in 5 hours and
then sometimes he’d give us a month to do one painting, so he was always kind of pulling
stretching time. And his idea was essentially that every mark
and every gesture you make whatever amount of time it takes, matters. And all of it has equal weight. And there’s something true about that in terms
of editing. Thinking about how much time a frame is held
for means something in relationship to how you as a viewer absorb it. The rate and the tempo. And also in terms of everything else in the
complete work so if something is 8 minutes long and something takes 30 seconds within
that 8 minutes it means something different than it taking 5 seconds in terms of your
absorption. So I always think about ways of expanding
and compressing time within a certain kind of limit which is why my works are always
about 8 to 10 minutes long. But I guess separately from this I also had
the chance to interview around the time that I had The Serpentine show, a film editor named
Walter Merch, who’s a big idol of mine and he was the editor of the conversation in Godfather
and longtime collaborator with Francis Ford Coppola. And Walter Merch talks very much about not
only how the edit can express itself in the viewer’s eyes, so the rate at which you blink
can sync or not sync into the rate at which an edit is cutting, so you can actually communicate
on an emotional level with a viewer just through tempo and not anything to do with content
or anything like this. And he also talked about ways of using sound
that also communicates with the viewer on an emotional level that maybe they are not
conscious of, for example if we were filming this hall right now and I was editing it and
I put the sound of a truck going by that wouldn’t make any sense there’s no windows here, we
are in the basement, you wouldn’t hear the sound of a truck, but it could make sense
in a film and it would indicate this is near a street and it’s in the day not at night,
probably deliveries are being made. I could put a sound of a siren and then there’d
be a sense of like panic a little bit and much of his sound editing is about making
unnatural, artificial gestures around what’s interior and what’s exterior to bring out
some kind of emotional truth to what the actual image or the narrative is describing. So I don’t know if that answers that but….Those
are the two ways I think about editing. Questioner: In using your tools to create
these artificial yet immersive environments, are you interested in or are you exploring
at all some of the new virtual reality-type shooting or the 360 stuff like for instance
what The New York Times is doing with their journalism and any of that? What do you think about that? Rachel Rose: I mean I’m really curious. I actually just had a chance to experience
a few of those technologies last week…uhm I’m personally very interested in the flatness
of video and the flatness of film. Like I mentioned how Gravity has this 5:1
sound but I prefer when there’s mono-sound, sound is coming from two spaces and I was
recently actually watching, I guess they did an episode of Mr. Robot, which is a show I’ve
actually never seen but they did it in virtual reality. And uhm one of the problems is that it is
very hard to make a cut in VR. It actually looks awkward and the way I’ve
seen it done is actually the shot will fade to black and then it fades back into the new
image. It’s very staccato experience and I think
it actually somehow produces a further …it pushes me further away from being inside the
space than I feel with this more dated technology of just projecting on a screen with two speakers
allows for. So I don’t have any ideas for that now but
maybe if there was a way to edit differently I could be interested in it. Question: I have a very simple question. When I was thinking about your work, where
you superimposed the house to the old interview, why did you choose to do the cutting of the
person by hand and it took you so long, instead of digitizing it, because in the end you were
probably working on the videos in some kind of digital environment anyway, you probably
could have done it much faster. So I’m curious about that. Rachel Rose: Well not exactly by hand, I did
it in AfterEffects, you trace around the figure. Something that is important to me in my work,
is that in each piece I’m learning something new about how to actually make something,
so not just like researching and going to a site and all of this but actually physically…I
guess it’s on the computer…but how to do something new, whether that’s working with
a new camera, or learning how to rotoscope or in this case, learning how to make a cell
animation. It’s a lot about, I guess in a really selfish
way just me getting to know how to do something. In the future if I were to work with rotoscoping
I probably wouldn’t do it myself because now I feel I have an understanding of how that
material works. But there’s all these kinds of things you
learn when you do it yourself like for example that sometimes with the brush tool in AfterEffects
it will grab onto another material like a tree and then like two frames have a tree
in them. Whereas if you have it done perfectly you
don’t have those kinds of hand qualities. Question: Do you feel like a technology leads
you to a project or a project leads you to a technology more often. It sounds like a pretty high percentage of
your time is spent thinking. Is that true? Rachel Rose: Haha yes. Most of my time is either in the Library or
sitting at my desk which looks like an office, it’s not like a traditional art studio and
spending a lot of time just reading and allowing that to bring me somewhere. So like right now I’m reading about The Enclosure
Movement and Shakespeare’s life in 1599. Not because I even necessarily want to do
anything about Shakespeare but the kind of thread of research I’ve been doing has led
me to that place. And then I saw this new film last night, Arrival,
I don’t know if you guys have seen this–you saw it? Oh it’s very very moving and amazing…ha…to
me. There are certain little things that I noticed
in the edit or ways that spaces were constructed in the film that then I’ll now go research
and from there maybe I’ll discover oh there’s a kind of camera that I want to work with
or oh maybe I want to build a set for this work…(or) how did he work with light in
this particular shot, in this set and then that opens up something new for me. So I don’t consciously go ‘I need to use a
new technology and I need a new idea’, it’s more like a free associative almost like flow
that then kind of coalesces to something and then that’s when I begin making work and so
many other things happen once the work starts. So I try to think of each of these as containers
for that process, than like end products in themselves even though I spend a lot of time
like obsessing about the end product. It’s more an excuse to be in that space. Question: Do you have a lot of projects that
are ‘on the shelf’ or not completed that you might go back to, or do you just decide not
to finish things and then you’re like done with them? Rachel Rose: Usually it’s just one work at
a time, but they kind of pick up from one another. I did one time make one video work that I
was supposed to show at Castello Di Rivoli and it was for this specific kind of installation
and I basically just didn’t like the work I made and I didn’t show it like a week before
the show. It’s a really bad thing to do. A lot of the research I had done about that
work ended up actually informing….Uhm I have a show coming up at a place called Kunsthaus
Bregenz in Austria and the way that dealing with light and the screens within that building
is actually informed by some research I did that I basically killed. I’ve only ever worked on two works at once
at that one particular time and it wasn’t a good result so I just stick with one. Question: You mentioned you thinking about
the museum or gallery space that your work is going to be in and that that affects what
you’re doing and video is at least historically galleries aren’t that interested in it, it’s
non-material object and all of that. And so I was just wondering if there was anything
special you wanted to say about how you view your work in relation to that more object
oriented market have you shown your work in spaces other than galleries and museums? And what’s your relationship to all of that? Rachel Rose: Hmmmm…uhm I haven’t shown my
work…I mean maybe a few screenings or something like that but pretty much just in galleries
and museums. So like okay, I’m going to describe two separate
threads of the way that I feel video is often shown in museum/gallery contexts. Okay so like one is the thread where the artist
shows props and tchotckes from their experience of filming the work. So like they project the video and then maybe
you sit in a landscape that has stuff from the video inside of it. So they try to bring you into the world of
how the work was made or the world that the work is arguing for. Then on the other end of the spectrum there’s
a very stark way of showing a work which is basically replicating the conditions of cinema
in the gallery context. You make a black room with a velvet thing
and you project it really big with super loud sound and you sort of like shock and awe by
the spectacle of that compared to like a tiny sculpture somewhere. That’s like another option. So what I try to do is use all of the components
of what it means to show a video so that’s projector, speakers, where you sit, scale
of screen, kind of screen: is the screen a wall? Is the screen made of fabric? Is the screen made out of aluminum? What’s that materiality? Is there natural light because often in museums
and galleries there is, it’s not only a white box. Is there artificial light? What are those sources like? How do they inform your sense of place within
where you are? Your sense of interiority, your sense of exteriority. And then I try to work with that as subliminally
and also as openly as I can. So for example…I’m gonna just try to show
an example of what I mean. I mean in this case, in Everything and More,
it’s projected on a screen in front of a window. I picked this window because it’s the top
of a tree, it’s on the third floor of this huge building and the treetops are up there. So when the video has black inside of it,
it’s actually transparent so the video is kind of switched for the view of the outside. Or in the case of the Aspen art museum I was
showing in a very small room so I showed it on a very small screen and made a little window
and then I…the room was a square and I moved the wall in about five feet to convert the
room into the same dimensions as the screen so as a viewer you wouldn’t know I did that—
it’s a tiny screen but there’s something about the space and the tiny screen that pulls you
in there, or it feels in line with what’s happening in that. Another example is at The Serpentine, this
picture doesn’t show it but…I projected a minute ago onto glass and, I rear projected
it because the room was very long and thin and I wanted to compress the space. So rather than showing like a big projection
at the end of the room, by putting it…rear projecting it..it cut the room in half basically
from where you would sit. And also I hung the screen just about two
inches above the floor and what that meant—it seems like why would I do that—was that
when you were watching the video you would notice that it was hung and then you would
look up and in that window was again the treetops from the park outside that mimicked those
treetops. So, these are the kind of specific things
I think about but maybe a viewer would just walk in and think, “oh it’s just rear projected
thing and it’s just hung and whatever….” So that’s how it goes. Question: Could you please review what the
purpose of the white blotch on the video was, with all the revolutionary scenes? Rachel Rose: Yeah so uhm, I was getting all
this material from books basically and something that recurs in this work is not just the filming
on the landscape and the editing of these different things that have happened there
but I wanted to bring in the fact that I was making it, like that it was in a way it was
not just going through this woman’s body through the edit but also through my presence. So that in that I just took the flash of the
camera as I was photographing the images, the paintings, and then I overlaid it as thought
it was kind of like a gunshot, something like that. Just trying to make this continuum. Okay…thank you so much for having me. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “Alchemic Filmmaking: Artist Rachel Rose”

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