I am so happy that the new online museum, Onlineum, is featuring my performance art movie VOICE through November 23, 2017. ‘A bipolar woman’s psychoses begin touring outer space …’ @ http://www.onlineum.com/exhibitions/
I have been quite grateful for all the artworld rejections I’ve ever gotten for the past week.
On November 1, I got an email saying: “We really like your work. We were wondering if we may suggest screening AND SO I SAID piece, we think it would go better with the overall flow of our program.” I submitted KILLER JANE, which is 13 minutes, to this festival – the other movie is 5-1/2 minutes.
If you participate in the art world in more than one medium long enough, you will find yourself in the same sort of situation in more than one medium. I can recall exactly how upset I was the first time I submitted two sculptures to a competition and my favorite was passed over while the other won me a prize. That experience did not make any less awful the night my scene partner and I gave a staged reading of my first two-person monologue and right afterwards the artistic director of the venue said to the audience: “I think this should be a solo performance and (pointing out another actress who was in the audience) [she] should do it.” They had to scrape me off the floor that night.
And then there’s the more than once of we-love-your-work-but-we-haven’t-made-our-final-decision-yet; and you wind up not getting selected. It takes years and years and years of rejections to recognize semi-finalist or honorable mention as currency.
So with all the rejections, disappointments and in my face ego battering under my belt, I laughed and told myself: “Don’t get too excited about maybe getting into this festival – you know the drill.”
I was going to write an essay about it however it turned out. I have been trying to get into art venues in Montreal for 20 years in three of my mediums. And I wish I could be there when Burnt Experimental Video Art and Film Festival screens AND SO I SAID.
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.
VOICE is a comedic, science fiction fantasy. Psyche Lyssa Echo Smith has entered therapy to “fix herself” so her estranged husband will come back home. All three characters want the same thing – control of Psyche, who is the Self . The conflict intensifies when Echo, the psychotic voice, discovers her personal star and pursues it into outer space. Each episode of VOICE is approximately 15 to 17 minutes total and includes at the end a 3 or 4 minutes long pre-production rehearsal as a special feature. By award-winning African-American filmmaker Sylvia Toy. Selected for TIME is Love Screening 10 (2017), HearteartH, Berlin (2016), International Video Art Exchange Program, Marrakech (2016) and Chemcraft Exhibit, CM Projects, London (2015
I have decided to put my movie project “Killer Jane” on hold. In order to make “Jane,” I would have to raise cash through a campaign and or grantwriting, hire actors and, probably, shoot out of town.
Even though I have been ambitious and pro-hyper-active all my adult life, I think no matter how much fun production was (and it would be if I got to work with two of the actors whom I’ve already talked to), no matter how good it looked, no matter how much recognition it got, it would make me miserable and unhealthy; and it would probably take me at least a year to recover.
I was so bipolar for so long this year (about 10 weeks from May 24th-August 10th) that I had to minimalize my life. I pared down my projects, stayed indoors most days, and even stayed in bed until noon a few times just as I would if I had a cold.
No medication has ever worked for me for very long. However, I have been extremely lucky in having talented therapists who recognized I am able to self-modify, and who worked with me on that. Self-modification and stress management. That usually keeps me from getting way too crazy. I believe that even if you are hard to medicate, if you have a strong constitution to begin with, can self-discipline, are glass-half-full – you’re just going to fare better.
Minimalizing my life seems to have worked; and in spite of waking up crazy every day, I did not have horrible stress like I usually do when I’m sick for almost 3 months. I am so happy right now in spite of being limited. I can’t help but wonder how much misery my ambition has caused me and people around me because I am sometimes sick from February into September. This morning it occurred to me that I should continue this daily vigilance, just like (if medication worked for me) I would keep taking my medication!!!
I will happily and solitarily (except for shoots with my husband) continue to greenscreen mythological performance art, which is my ongoing passion. We will see what happens.
The Cape Experiments by Sylvia Toy, Toyabe National Forest, Nevada. (Color/Stereo, USA, 2016)
Directed by my husband and frequent collaborator, Michael Lewis. Shot in the village of Cold Creek where my mom & dad in-law spend the summer.
Particularly in these videos, which were shot in one of the places that I have called home for 20 years and that I love the most, I am trying to capture the paradox of the individual and its solitariness inside the body and its inextricable interconnectedness with the rest of the Universe.
The earliest known example of “kill one’s darlings” was in Arthur Quiller-Couch’s 1913-1914 Cambridge lectures “On the Art of Writing.”: “If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”
I made the cape in these videos for my character, THE HARPY. It was quite a lot of work and took 3 times as long to complete as I originally thought it would, nearly an entire workweek. I had to consider whether the cape was a darling that needed to be killed. Now, in search of new back stories, I will be experimenting with the cape, however, following it around to discover new stories.
The July 31, 2016 Cape Experiments were directed by my husband and frequent collaborator, Michael Lewis. Having never before tried to greenscreen images in real environments – especially not outdoors in San Francisco, which is so beautiful and green for an urban area – I am very pleased with the clips Mike Lewis and I shot today of “The Cape.” There are stories to be made and our experimentation will help me find some of them. I have received very provocative and helpful feedback from my network of artist-peers.