OK, I’ve come down a bit from the high of screening at SXSW 2022. I love that there is so much support for independent film in Austin – and even for experimental film! These days that is hard to find. Sometimes, I dream of what it would’ve been like to be alive in the early to mid 20th century, when experimental film was popping up everywhere. I mean, experimentation pretty much emerged as soon as filmmaking did, but starting in the 1920s and through the 1980s (and beyond), experimental filmmaking techniques elevated film to an art form that was both high art and deeply personal.
In my teen years, I remember seeing works by Man Ray, Maya Deren, Hans Richter, and Jean Cocteau, etc. and even though I had no idea what was going on at first (lol), I was super intrigued by their departure from the formulaic and familiar. Art serves many purposes, but for me, an important one is its ability to permit us to think and feel beyond what we know and to see things we’ve never seen before, things we may not easily comprehend at first. This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities; our imaginations are pushed further and we start to see beyond the norms that have been established for us, that prevent us from experimenting with our own potential.
My first experimental film came together in 2013, though I refined it and re-edited in 2014. I say “came together,” because while I had some idea of what I wanted to do, a lot of it seemed to just emerge from me, to create itself. I took my first film class in 2012 and focused on documentary filmmaking and nonfiction storytelling, but I was drawn to experimental and abstract film. It seemed like I was on two sides of the spectrum. Since then, I’ve had a lot of satisfaction trying to merge the two approaches in certain projects, and I am exploring ways of doing experimental ethnography and visual storytelling in my future work as a social change artist.
Licht Ex is a play on German and English words: licht (light) + experiment (abbr. ex) – which also may mean “from light” if you bring Latin into it. This film was also the first of mine to screen publicly, at Harris Theater in downtown Pittsburgh, PA during a monthly Gallery Crawl in April 2014. I don’t think many people came to see it, but I will always remember the thrill of seeing my first film on the big screen.