Amazed at My Production I Students

At the end of every semester, I question whether we should have a film screening just for my section of Production I at BU.  After all, we do a course-wide screening where three selected films from each section are screened together in a big hall.  I feel bad requiring my students - who by that point are exhausted and ready to head home for break - to come out in the evening for another event.

But I always decide to do it.  Because to me, it's an essential part of learning filmmaking - to sit in a darkened room and watch your film with a group of strangers (the students all invite friends, family, and actors, so there is a good mix of people). If your film is working, it will leap off the screen and make sense; if there are problems, they glare at you.  This year I had two sections, 32 students in all, and I was so impressed with the amount they learned. Most of them were complete beginners in September, and now, only there months late,r they can come up with a good story, direct it, shoot it, record non-synchronous sound (some even composed and recorded their own music track), and edit it into a powerful film.

When they lights came back on, spirits were high and I was convinced again at how important this is. (By the way, you can see an example of one of my students films



Congratulations to the students, and have a great break!

Art and Science Overlap at the Koch Institute

I was walking around Kendall Square at night recently for the first time in a while, and was dumbstruck by the beauty and resonance of the huge installation in the lobby of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. What a great intersection of art and science: microscopic images from cancer research blown up into seven-foot diameter circles, printed on fabric and placed over light boxes so they glow with rich color and clarity.

After reading an article in the Boston Globe from when the installation was launched, I understand that it was the result of a contest for scientific images - one that will be renewed every six months.

I was drawn into this same sort of imagery while making my documentary Indelible Lalita: the beauty of modern medical imaging technology to show the inner workings of our bodies.  The ecocardiograms, CT scans, ultrasounds, and colonoscopies I filmed were all translating purely physical information into into pictures.  But somehow I couldn't help but feel something of my subject Lalita's spirit in there.

I was hoping to learn more about the artist behind the Koch Institute exhibit, but only found a reference to John Durant, director of the MIT Museum, who advised the Institute on its display space.  The Institute's public galleries include videos with people talking about cancer; a huge floor mosaic depicting the buildings of MIT (fabricated in a week by robots working for Artaic!), and a 40-foot mural delineating the pathways and mutations of cancer cells. A wonderful job curating this public/private space.

Virtuoso Vocalist

Last night my family and I went to see Jaap Blonk perform at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in a Non-Event event.  This amazing Dutch sound poet and vocalist had been staying with us for a couple of days, and it was great to see him in concert again. Our daughters loved the huge range of nonsense sounds Jaap can produce. The were buzzing and honking the whole way home (and the funny thing is, on the train we ran into two young women who had been at the concert, too, and were also producing all kinds of weird sounds).

My little video clip doesn't do him justice... but you can see him perform a piece of Kurt Schwitter's Ursonate, augmented by live topography, here.  Jaap has perforrmed the entire Ursonate from memory more than a thousand times.