The central theme of my body of work concerns itself with the human journey: quest for self- realization, a place in the world and personal identity. I also have a strong passion for magic-realism and allegory and often use these devices to make the impossible – possible, digestible and tangible to the viewer and with the immense power of technology to help illustrate complex concepts, my artistic visions are realized. I work in film, new media, interactive installations, conceptual art and writing.
Coming from a journalism background, it was a natural progression for me to move into filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, through a nonfictional art form, the documentary. Fear No Art – An Inquisition (1995) was a 5-minute ‘artumentary’ that explored the question, “what happens to an artist whose art work inspires protest?” I documented artist Katarina Thorsen’s journey as she works through the censorship, penalization from art galleries, the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity and ultimately her own vulnerability.
Up The Wall (1996) was born out of the desire to explore the theme of artistic expression further, my own as well as a fictional characters, through a dramatic film.
Corinna, a visual artist, has fallen into the trap of imitating her favorite artists and in an attempt to find her ‘own voice’, inspired by the portraits in her grandmother’s old scrapbook, she takes on the task of capturing the essence of herself in a self portrait. Now…there is a unique psychological thing that takes place when you look into your own eyes and face and paint your own portrait. Your own face suddenly becomes a mirror to your soul, the real you, and strange things happen as you paint, in pursuit of the prize, ‘know thyself’.
When I (Patti) am creating, and in ‘the flow’… time stands still… the muse takes over. So I gave Corinna this same experience but with a twist, the muse doesn’t take over Corinna, it takes over the self portrait.
The next morning, this muse spirit is rudely awakened by the noisy, annoying neighbor and is left to it’s own devices to create it’s own peaceful existence.
As the self-portrait needed to come to life in order to interact with the world around it, I turned to technology to help me achieve this action. In 1996 I wrote this script and in 1997, after much research into technology, I approached the film as a new technology piece; a pathos driven comedy, in the fashion of silent movies, using new technology to make it come to fruition. The film was shot in 1997 with a Sony Canada sponsored prosumer video camera with interchangeable lenses. (As seen in the photo at the top of this blog) My intention was to do everything I couldn’t afford to do if I shot on film and pitched it as “how filmmakers will make films in the future”.
The film was finished in 1998. It included title on picture and numerous visual effects, as well as being delivered in three formats; digital letterbox, ‘filmlook’ digital letterbox and a 35 mm kinescope transfer.
The finished film was well received by all, except for the film festivals… Up The Wall was not accepted into any films festivals between 1998-2002 because it DID NOT ORIGINATE ON FILM. I wrote, co-produced, directed and edited this film, or should I say video?
Salmon Chanted Evening (2001) continued my exploration of the hero’s journey, now through an allegorical drama. I did not write this script but I did embrace the opportunity to direct it. It was one of three winning scripts, out of 350 submissions, to the CBC “2001: Fill-This-Space Odyssey” Film Competition. A story of a salmon fisherman, who fears he is losing his livelihood, falls into a daydream and ends up in the ‘somethin’s fishy’ bar where he is the catch of the day and his soul is vied for by mythological creatures. The writing spoke to my love of the rhetorical strategy of extending a metaphor through an entire narrative so that objects, persons, and actions are equated with meanings that lie outside the text. It also gave me the chance to visually create in the genre of magic-realism. Ultimately, the hero returns from his mysterious journey with renewed passion to return to his way of life, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past. Ultimately the film is meant to connect us to our deeper selves and help the viewer along the heroic journey of their own life.
I felt compelled to broaden my questioning about human nature and the human condition, and from this query came the short films, Stella’s Birthday (2009) and I’m Going Home (2010), dealing with human rights, multiculturalism and hope flourishing over repression.
Stella celebrates her birthday every year by listening to an old voice message recording from her family. Her imagination and hope are not repressed by her child labour circumstances.
I’m Going Home engages personification to give a palm plant from Madagascar human qualities… but aren’t all living things deserving of the same respect?
Chess Mates (2010) addresses the loneliness of the elderly and having the courage to reach out and make new friends.
The screen dance film, The New Beginning (2010), challenged me to express a story through dance. A mans love of politics, his wife and daughter, are tested when Chile has a coup d’état. After a period of estrangement, his daughter returns to reconcile, only to find her father has Alzheimer’s.
Happiness School (2011), a walk through at the happiness school, with a young woman, concludes in her choosing the fun and easy ‘pretty’ program over the much longer but highly rewarding ‘enlightenment’ program.
A philosophical statement about society as a whole.
John and Melissa (2011) again offered me the chance to explore word play with a Theatre of the Absurd drama. Much of the dialogue in Absurdist drama reflects evasiveness and inability to make a connection, exposing the surface relationship of two office workers trying to keep their affair under wraps…
Miss Pearlman (2012) was an opportunity to again use technology to my benefit. An homage to 1930’s films; I used various techniques to combine a matte image with live-action footage so Miss Pearlman could live in the present through her memories of the past.
‘We are who we remember ourselves to be’.
Drink Like A Fish (2012) a story of a boy’s innocence and loss of innocence when faced with the idiom of ‘drink like a fish’. This short film brought me to where I am now in my writing of my feature script.
The loss of innocence, coming of age, lose of a parent, experimentation, are all themes I am expanding on in my writing of Trouble Will Find Me.
A central theme of my oeuvre concerns itself with the human journey: quest for self- realization, a place in the world and personal identity.
My curiosity about the different ways life offers us paths to ‘search for one’s bearings’ and how often those paths depend precisely on the specifics of one’s situation, has led me to take an unconventional approach to the notion of autobiography and as result, a surprising body of work to draw from.