Auspicious Beginnings

Adventures in Research Creation (ARC) had auspicious beginnings last week. Our eminent collaborators, filmmakers Midi Onodera and Phil Hoffman, joined us in Montreal for a two-day Korsakow workshop on Oct 13 & 14, with resident facilitator/artist/coach, Dayna McLeod, who provided one-on-two orientation to the Korsakow system, which we’ve invited them to explore. While seasoned filmmakers Midi and Phil, initially expressed some initial apprehension about the relation of the Korsakow system to their practices, they both launched with sweet abandon into the realm of what I nicknamed in making a Korsakow film: the ether (dreamland of ideas, love it here), production (compress your damned SNU in the right codec!) and the abyss of Korsakow mechanics (apologies to Florian and Dave, who do always make it work).

Midi is well-known since 2006 for her disciplined, calendar-structured movie-making for mobile media, with projects such as 365 Short Videos (a movie-a-day created in 2006–07), Movie of the Week (2009) and this year’s FPS which is entirely composed of still images. Movie of the Week is currently on view at the Communication Studies Media Gallery at Concordia, soon to be reviewed by anamorphic media artist extraordinaire and new PhD student, Alison Emiko Loader, in the online peer-reviewed, Imaginations. (You’ll find an earlier interview with Midi here.) During the workshop, Midi deconstructed a recently completed linear film, which she shot in Tuscany this summer (feature-length in Onodera-n terms, at 10 minutes). But then shockingly concluded that her experiment hadn’t worked! The linear hadn’t so simply migrated or unbundled itself into the non-linear. Ah, sweet sound to my ears, as I’m anxiously awaiting that she begin experimenting with her footage and photos from Afghanistan where she was artist-in-residence with the Canadian Forces in September 2010. (After her talk at our department in mid-September I asked her what she’d do differently if she were able to go for a re-shoot? “I’d duct-tape iPhones and iPads to my body so they’d be ready to go at any moment, in any direction.”

Phil was originally going to be ‘translating’ his remarkable analogue non-linear 16mm film projects, Opening Series into Korsakow, but hesitated when he decided that they were deeply committed to film (that is, the material pellicule, and the physical act of splicing that precedes each screening), and he has now changed tack. (He presented an Opening Series at our DNA Symposium in May 2011.) Phil arrived with a little red suitcase that weighed a ton, and has another project in mind that he experimented with while here. I’ll only say that it is an unfinished film that has been patiently waiting for 15 years. Korsakow may demonstrate itself to be the perfect remedy.

Visible City Project + Archive director Janine Marchessault was also in town, and she and I observed that we had radically different filmmakers at work: Midi’s fast-paced online persona gives us everyday glimpses in regulated doses, while Phil’s deliberative approach is like watching an iceberg, wherein much lies below the surface.

It was great to have our graduate students, Irene Serrano-Vazquez and Ryan Cadrette with us. Irene just started in our Joint PhD Progamme and is here from Madrid where she will continue her work as a journalist; she will be doing research on transmedia storytelling. Ryan is an MA student in our department doing research on interactive narrative, and was busily working on a Korsakow film for Matt’s course, the Media Research Lab. Our next touchdown is November 11.

— Monika Kin Gagnon