New page on this website: Mythologies


In PASSAGES, the heart of the conflict is the philosopher King of the Gods, Sum’o’s, desire to experience giving birth like a human in his quest for transcendence.. His youngest sister, Sum’a the Enforcer hates humans because they have developed spoken language; one day during a confrontation, she accidentally kills a human. Sum’o’s older sister, Sum’i the Arbiter, is interested only in maintaining balance through observance of the laws, traditions and principles handed down by their ancestors.


“Night” is the identity chosen by The First One, who comes into existence out of the void of light and immediately hates being alive. This video exploring her character and developing her subtext is my second experiment showing her struggle to escape existence into a black hole. CREATION is a mythology based on Mbombo, the creator god in the religion and mythology of the Kuba of Central Africa, who created the world by vomiting various parts of it. I am in the pre-production phase of CREATION, composing a live action storyboard through a process of creating and uploading pre-production worldbuilding, story and character development videos. CREATION is shot splitscreen and chromakeyed; and montaged with shots from the natural world. There is no dialogue (vocalization and singing are improvised) and the movie will be subtitled and or intertitled as necessary. The sound of the world of the story will be gathered as much as possible from the characters’ movements and mixed with found sounds to enhance the ambience.


SEQUENCE 13 combines animation and live action an experimental, greenscreen art film inspired by the Central African creator god, Mbombo, who created the world by vomiting it. There is no dialogue. The soundtrack is original, minimalist music. The characters in SEQUENCE 13 are The Second One, a creator god who begins vomiting all the parts of the Universe, and one of his/her hatchlings. This is my first movie in which animation is a dominating component.

THE HARPY TRIBUNAL by Sylvia Toy, excerpt (rough) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

A goddess disagrees with her sisters about The Humans and is put on trial for treason.


The Cape Experiments by Sylvia Toy are performance art events improvised by a large, greenscreenable cape, the environment, my husband, Michael Lewis, directing behind a handheld camera, and myself. These scenes were shot in Cold Creek, Nevada USA, which is located in the Toyabe National Forest near Mt. Charleston.

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Updated page: Lucy, The First Human

LUCY, THE FIRST HUMAN by Sylvia Toy (remastered rough cut) from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

 

TITLE: Lucy, the First Human by Sylvia Toy (remastered in 2017)
YEAR: 2017
SPECS: 23:44 minutes, 16:9, H.264, AAC, Color/Stereo, Silent/No captioning
COUNTRY: United States

On Tuesday November 24, 2015, the 51st anniversary of Donald Johanson’s discovery of Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy”) at the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia, my ‘Lucy, the First Human’ trailers on YouTube got a total of five hours of airtime. That means my Lucy came up in searches and someone probably shared her. That is a real thrill.

LUCY, THE FIRST HUMAN is video art/microcinema crossing genre into nonlinear science fiction fantasy. The subject matter is paleoanthropological. The setting is a barren, shadowy, womb-like or cave-like environment. There is only one character in the movie. She is based on the hominid, Australopithecus afarensis.

This movie is composed of a series of improvisations of what the first human would do, think, feel, and how it would develop. The solitary female character is like an infant, mostly sleeping in the beginning. In her waking hours, her primary interest is herself until things begin to suddenly and surrealistically appear in her “cave.” She gradually is drawn out of her self-absorption into the real world.

Shortly after I made this #greenscreenart #video, I upgraded to #HighSierra, which is incompatible with my favorite editor, #FinalCutExpress4. I had to strip my OS, downgrade to #ElCapitan and reinstall Final Cut Express. I can’t open any of the timelines I created prior to this “disaster”. However, since this video has three layers of keyed clips (i.e., first I keyed out the green the figure is wearing, and in a new file, keyed out the red backdrop, etc.) I had begun creating  #AppleProResHQ files to used as my #source on different layers of the #timeline. It is so interesting how habits you develop as part of your #process, no matter what your practice (art, writing, law, business) can sometimes save your ass.

Artist’s Statement – October, 17, 2017

I applied for a high profile grant/fellowship last month. It’s not a matter of whether I get selected or not (I won’t), it’s a matter of my having that much faith in my work. Faith in one’s work is important.
I have sold a lot of sculpture for someone who was a career paralegal at the time. I have been paid as an actor more often than the average for someone who was a professional sculptor and a career paralegal at the time. Two of my plays were produced at no expense to me by an Equity theater, which is a lot for someone who was a touring actor, a professional sculptor and a career paralegal at the time.
I have sold sculpture, been paid as an actor and received grants, fellowships and residencies. I am at a point in my career as a filmmaker when one SHOULD be applying for grants, fellowships and residencies. However, since I’ve had grants, fellowships and residencies in other art careers already, I am 101% sure that while grants, fellowships and residencies might increase my profile in the artworld, they mostly will not help the work itself like they did in the past in my other art forms.
Theater folks will understand what I mean when I say I’m concerned about “legitimacy.” Non-union actors likely don’t have agents or managers, especially actors like me who work in “small theater,” which one of my art dealers whose husband was both SAG and Equity called “community theater.” Theater folks will also understand why I say “ouch.”
Because I have developed as filmmaker mostly on my own, I have been concerned with, distracted by, obsessed about achieving legitimacy, professionalism and mastery of tech in a way that people who’ve been to film school (whether they finished the program or not) probably don’t. Continuity, in my opinion, is the measuring stick of professionalism in film and also is at the heart of the craft. I believe continuity is never completely mastered because it is an art in itself and therefore, like any art, is always a higher goal to be achieved You learn continuity by doing it – no book can teach it to you – and I have suffered and slaved over it and lost sleep over it. However, my work is being recognized as peer work through official recognition by film festivals that are part of The Industry.
I often tell the story about an art professor I was chasing before I met my husband. He came to the opening of a two person gallery show where my new body of sculpture was being shown. I asked him what he thought of my work – I knew it wasn’t his cup of tea by the way he looked at it and I told him I knew that. But his response to my question was: “Well, I didn’t think you were stupid.”
It’s important to me to keep putting my work before film festivals because  I have faith in my work and I know after having achieved maturity in other art forms that I am approaching maturity as a filmmaker. I want to contribute to what I’ve always called the “body of thought” because I know that while I’m not always right as a filmmaker, I am not stupid.

Selections

Official Selection, running out, Pineapple Underground Film Festival, Hong Kong (2014)

Grand Jury “Femmes Fatales” Award, Killer Jane and Indigo Lady monologues, L.A. Neo Noir Novel, Film and Script Festival (2016)

PASSAGES A MYTH-Discovery of the Pregnancy of the King-Sylvia Toy USA Ⓒ 2016 Still-3

Selection, PASSAGES, A MYTH: The Discovery of the Pregnancy of the King, Fest Miden (2016)

Honorable Mention, VOICE A PERFORMANCE ART MOVIE, Los Angeles Underground Film Forum (2016)

Official Selection, THE HARPY, Bucharest ShortCut CineFest (2016)

Honorable Mention for Best Cinematography, before chill, Creative Arts Film Festival (2016)

Official Selection, VOICE A PERFORMANCE ART MOVIE, Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival (2017)

Official Selection, VOICE, Underground FilmFest (2017)

Portfolio: Video performance art, 2008-2014

A portfolio reel of video performance art created between 2008 and 2014 (Color/Stereo 34:10 mins USA). The second movie, Depression as Geography 2009, was selected for CologneOff 7.

As I plan a video essay about greenscreening and collect my thoughts, including why I greenscreen, I have begun to look at my older video works. I realized that almost as soon as I bought my first camera, I was taken with layers, beginning with shadows and reflections; and that eventually led me to keying out the visible world and replacing it with imaginary environments.

As an extremely introverted person with Asperger’s, I learned the hard lesson that if I do not consciously take my inner life with me everywhere I go, I feel awkward, uncomfortable, frustrated, unhappy and dissociated.

It seems such a paradox that staying inside my head, my comfort zone, helps keep me in the moment and grounded in the “real world.” In a way, greenscreening allows me to create a real geographic location out of my inner life.

My movie, “before chill,” selected

before-chill-selection-laurel-small

I am very pleased that”before chill” was selected for 2016 Creative Arts Film Festival and nominated in CAFF’s ‘Perfect Spirit Award’ category. This movie is a video poem about aging/the changing of the seasons. It was inspired by the signs that winter is about to happen here in San Francisco, this town that “has no seasons.” Just like everywhere else that I’ve lived, however, there is a pungency, a dryness in the whispering breeze that will grow into a raging wind in a few weeks, a stillness and a beautiful pearlescent sky. I shot this movie on my way home from dayjob as I the scenic route through San Francisco’s beautiful Civic Center. I edited this movie in first-gen Splice on my IPhone. What a lovely way that was to begin twilight. A limited edition DVD is available on Saatchi Art

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