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.
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.
TITLE: Lucy, the First Human by Sylvia Toy (remastered in 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.
SPECS: 02:40 hours (159+ minutes), 16:9, H.264, AAC, Color/Stereo, English subtitles/No captioning
COUNTRY: United States
VOICE, A PERFORMANCE ART WEB SERIES is a 159 minute movie about Psyche Smith, a bipolar woman whose psychoses begin traveling in outer space just as she enters therapy. VOICE was shot splitscreen/greenscreen with one actress playing all three characters.
The world of VOICE is composed of original montages incorporating NASA footage, anatomical diagrams of the Human nervous system and documentary-style outdoor footage.
While the psychoses, Echo & Lyssa, tour outer space dressed to the nines in beautiful clothing, often including hats, Psyche – when not wearing the uniform of the depressed, a bathrobe – begins to find her own heart and starts painting again.
Psyche’s therapy sessions are portrayed through monologues given directly through “the Fourth Wall” to the camera.
VOICE is not an autobiographical downer confessional about bipolar disorder. VOICE is about the infinity of freedom and joy that one can achieve through self-discovery and following his/her bliss.
VOICE was an official selection of Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival, 2017, and received an Honorable Mention from LA Underground Film Forum in 2016. Since 2015, VOICE festival cuttings have screened in venues and festivals around the world – London, Marrakech, Berlin, Barcelona, Milan – including VisualContainer TV, HearteartH Project, International Video Art Exchange Program, and CM Projects’ Chemcraft Exhibit. Most recently (2017), VOICE FESTIVAL CUTTING 3 was selected by Underground FilmFest and Black Underground FilmFest, and given an Honorable Mention nod by Experimental Film Forum (Los Angeles).
I made this movie all by myself in my livingroom except for 2 follow shots by my husband. I created the montages. I created the sounds using my own voice and everyday sounds in my environment. There are 24 teasers in this Vimeo album:
“This is called Voice because she has a lot to say. And she makes you think.” Pamela Pitt review.
A limited edition of professionally authored DVDs is available on Etsy and Saatchi Art. Prices on my art films are equivalent to moderate prices on artist’s prints and or unique drawings and small paintings and sculpture.
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.
[I laughed when I first saw this review the morning after the show opened at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. My husband and the director, as well as my friends were enraged – though a few appreciated my dark sense of humor enough to understand why I laughed. My mother said, “Well, she just didn’t know what she was talking about.”
My mother was right: 30-seconds matters when you stand up to your aggressor, his threats escalate and noone in a crowded elevator will have your back.]
February 21, 1994
‘CUSTARD PIE’ DOESN’T CUT IT: 30-SECOND INCIDENT IS THIN FODDER FOR PERFORMANCE ART
Author: JUDITH GREEN, Mercury News Theater Writer
“INDIGO Lady” persuaded me that Nena St. Louis was a writer to watch. But “Essays on Anger and Custard Pie” proves she’s not a performance artist.
Moreover, just as one swallow does not a summer make, one fine piece does not keep a writer immune from cliches, purple patches and inflation — the tendency of performance art in general to make something out of nothing.
“Custard Pie,” which leads the 1994 “Lift Every Voice” festival at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, makes far too much out of a 30-second incident of sexual harassment in an elevator. St. Louis plays herself, three junior executives and a wealthy client, three secretaries, two street toughs who leer at her and a timid black woman who effaces herself against the paneling.
She also plays the spirit of her feisty great-grandmother, whose custard pie, a remedy for pre-menstrual blues, was a family tradition. (Beating eggs for the custard worked off the tension and eased the cramps.) However, the spirit visits her as the result of a piece of custard pie at lunch, so St. Louis prefaces Grandmother Lilly Griggs’ remarks with a belch, which grows more and more unlovely with repetition.
That’s the first half, which is tolerable. In the second, a nightmare sequence, all these characters come back and visit.
The elevator incident can’t carry the kind of spiritual or social epiphany with which St. Louis burdens it. Besides this, the piece is grossly overwritten and the characters shallow. As an example of both, she calls the junior executives, who won’t defend her against the mashers, “the cowardly curs they surely were” — a lot of bad writing for such a short passage!
The piece has improved (some) since I saw its first draft last fall at the Marsh, and the hand of director Ifa Bayeza is apparent in the staging and, especially, the lighting, which isolates St. Louis in the elevator or her own bedroom, as need be. But the director can’t create an actor where there isn’t one. St. Louis’ mugs and grimaces aren’t acting, and her girlish voice hasn’t enough color or texture for character.
Nena St. Louis wrote “Essays on Anger and Custard Pie” — and tries to act it.”