Single Channel Video
Joseph Brainard (1942 - 1994), was an American artist, writer, and poet who operated throughout much of his life until his self-imposed retreat from the art world in the 1980s. Brainard died in 1994 from AIDs induced pneumonia. Brainard’s body of work that was left behind includes assemblages, collages, drawings, and paintings, as well as designs for book and album covers, theatrical sets, and costumes. Brainard is best known for his innovative 1970’s memoir, I Remember.
I Remember follows Brainard's life growing up in1940’s and 50’s Oklahoma. The book also covers his young adult life in New York City during the ’60s and ’70s. The book is written in fragments each beginning with the words “I remember”. Brainard followed I Remember with 1972’s I Remember More and 1973’s More I Remember More. The book was praised for its originality and its disjunctive form. I Remember has been paid homage by countless artists and filmmakers. It has unintentionally been paid homage to by elementary school teachers using the simple “I remember” structure without knowing its origin.
Sadie Benning (1973 - present), is an American artist, who has worked primarily in video, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and sound. Bennings is known for her experimental films and explores a variety of themes including surveillance, gender, ambiguity, transgression, play, intimacy, and identity. Benning became a known artist as a teenager, with their short films made with a PixelVision camera that have been described as "video diaries".
Benning’s first film, 1991’s 14 minute short titled, A Place Called Lovely, references the types of violence individuals find in life, “from actual beatings, accidents, and murders, to the more insidious violence of lies, social expectations, and betrayed faith”. In this film, Benning collected images of this socially-pervasive violence from a variety of sources, tracing events from childhood: movies, tabloids, children’s games, personal experiences, and those of others.
What does that mean for this work?
My piece, Avoiding Nostalgia, is a combination of the works and legacy of these two artists. The first half of the piece is a direct homage to Brainard’s I Remember by pulling from a collection of personal memories from my childhood and teenage years. While the narrative does pivot in the second half of the video, to a reflection on identity, growth, and nostalgia in the vein of Bennings, the connection to Brainard's work is ever-present. The title of this piece plays initially as a joke, as the first half of the piece comes across first as personal nostalgia in video form. In the second half of the piece, the narrative voice-over shifts, into the realization that nostalgia is deceitful, hindsight is 20/20, and that closure comes from acceptance, avoiding nostalgia.
In the creation of this piece, I filmed in my childhood home, and in the suburban neighborhood in which I grew up in the style of Benning’s early works. In creating this piece I knew I wanted the visuals to match the atmosphere of memory. For me, this meant creating visuals that were imperfect, not entirely sharp, and with some form of grain. I filmed the video with an addition of a ProMist Filter to bake in softness in the highlights. In color grading the footage, I worked to emulate the Kodak Vision Color Print Film 2383 within Davinci Resolve. In the editing of the footage, I created the slow creeping zooms through keyframing footage in order to create a constantly moving camera, nearly always moving forward.