DESIST, Elf!

LAGonzalezWhen we started working with Marvin Heiferman about the concepts for this year’s SlideFest presentation, I knew two things: a) it was a presentation of everyone’s work within a timed frame, i.e it lasts for about an hour and everyone gets approximately 5 minutes; and b) the work was gonna be put together based on what worked well with each other in a sequential manner, this first-then that-then this in the middle-then this closes. I also knew a third thing, I was solidly certain very soon after we were introduced to this about what I wanted to do. That is, at large. The details I worked out -and many changed- through the semester, but the main bit was: use the 5 minutes to provide an intermission, to give people that moment of respite, even though they actually didn’t get any because it wasn’t an intermission (they didn’t get up to go to the bathroom, and the lights were not turned on to give such indication, and refreshments did not include hot dogs. And my name popped on the screen before the “intermission” started.)

To stay firm in the idea that I wanted my intermission, in hindsight, is revealing of how that clarity of mind moment sustained, it actually seems right now even weird (in a good way) because moments of clarity did not come to me too often during this Spring semester.

Once the framework I was gonna work with was decided upon, then came details, details, details. And they sprung (the ideas that formalized them) rather fluidly. And they came to be in approximately the following order:

Intermission time is associated with drive-in movies, the atomic 50s, wieners and popcorn and it has that ubiquitous 50s atomic/Jetsons/Bewitched star design all over the place; the messages flashed on the screen are generally homogenous: intermission, we hope you are enjoying the show, have some refreshments, the show will be back in 4, 3, etc. minutes, sometimes the wiener hops into the bun; I don’t have the animation skills -YET- to make my own moving refreshments, and I did not want to appropriate an existing intermission clip, because I wanted to be able to personalize my own message. Ok, so I am going to make my own video. Design: font (I downloaded one actually called Bewitched), atomic star, colour palette (I gathered a selection of 1950s diners and eye dropped the pastel blues of the diner barstools, and the soft pink of the neon lights). Now, music, 294381234924 options. That’s where Monty Python and the Holy Grail came to save me. It was their blatant intermission organ tune included in the movie that I had forgotten about but once I heard it again I realized: this.tune.will.never.leave.me (and my classmates had the same feeling as I saw them leave class humming it every time I showed it. It was like I was harassing them with this tune. Somehow, it is clear to me now, after I made the piece, there was also a level of harassment at passing a church basket along the audience and force them to take something. This last iteration of the piece came in conjunction with thinking and thinking and re-thinking about what intermission meant, how it’s represented in other time-based presentations/events/situations. This is how I got to feel alright thinking about the 2, 3, 4 sides of certain words, and certain meanings, and certain scenarios and push them forward. So thus, I thought of Catholic mass. I thought that the moment in mass when they collect money from the congregation was mass’ own version of intermission: except that I am prompted to a suggested donation. I wanted the opposite of that because David Deitcher had said that week in Critique something along the lines of “gifts are problematic; they put you in this position of having to give back.” From there I worked out the idea of producing my own scratch-off lottery tickets, and the message within would have been along the lines of “CONGRATULATIONS YOU’RE A WIENER. You may pick up my resumé at the end of the show” but after an entire weekend of arguing the pros and cons of that idea, as a concept within the piece, I realized two things: it has potential, it could create an infinite regress of giving, and taking, but it was also yet another layer of snark. I am still thinking about this and feel unresolved about it. Something to keep looking into.

Because I felt unresolved, I let it sit and did not use it for the piece, but instead -and serendipitously- came across with miniature fuzzy bear toys that were 0.29 cents each, and a 5 dollar tiny notebook of text slang, with a gazillion iterations of words, in slang, organized alphabetically (and it included a special section for seniors). All this stuff had monetary value, it could be taken away, it was a souvenir, it rewarded you for sitting through this not-so-intermission. From there it was easy to think about also giving candy as a way of having people actually eat something (hot dogs in a basket, no go). From all the memorabilia, the text slang lose sheets are still to me the most successful, they somehow mirror the process we used as a class to come to the cover design of the SlideFest publication, which was the use of anagrams, and processing “SlideFest” through an anagram generator online (DESIST! ELF). Stamping it with a stallion dipped in ochre ink was delightfully pleasant: I was a sign off, a giving it away, and a giving up of that pesky horse rummaging around the room aimless. The Elf, desist.

Laura G

http://www.lagonzalez.com

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