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Experimental Film Series #12 - Pigeon, Come To Rest On The Prow Of A Weary Ship (1992)

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Published on Aug 1, 2012

This fancifully-titled entry marks the very last time I was able to work with real film (Super 8 silent). I was full-bore into Claymation at this time, as well as my continued experiments with what one was capable of with real film, such as scratching part of the picture away with a razor blade, hand-tinting, and just scribbling all over the film strip with a crow quill pen. I've often felt that technology in the last 30 years has made us less and less able to do hands-on repair and experimentation. With real film, you can repair it yourself, cut it, splice it, create the reel you want. When VHS came in, the ability to repair was still there, but hardly anyone tried cutting and splicing the tape, largely because it was damaged by contact with the oil in one's fingers. Then we went to DVD, and no hands-on physical modification was possible at all. There is a parallel here with the progression of reel-to-reel tape, cassette tape, and CD. The best guess I have is that, and this covers many things, manufacturing corporations do not want people to be able to fix and manipulate things themselves; they want us to be absolutely helpless and stuck in a cycle of buy, use, discard, buy. End of rant. In any case, I had more success in focusing in and capturing the action than ever before, largely because I wised up and started making much bigger clay models than I had before--say, 1 foot tall instead of 3 inches. I did miss one sequence where apparently I thought I was filming but i was not--an old man's head turns into a mouthful of yellow teeth. As I recall, the transformation was nice but did not get recorded. Otherwise, there are some nice things. The sequence at the end was created by covering a plastic replica skull with clay 'skin' and teeth. As the film moves forward, increasingly looking like concentration camp footage, the skull is "tortured" and its skin, eyes and hair gradually destroyed. Why I created such a macabre sequence is beyond me. One note about the soundtrack: It was made by cutting up short lengths of reel-to-reel tape and reassembling them at random, which is an endless job just like claymation--so I thought they belonged together. Enjoy the film!
--Toni G. Engle, director, 2012

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