The Conversations that Connect Us
By Chris Goetz, Assistant Professor of Film Studies
Cinematic Arts is a focal point of intellectual activity in a campus community dedicated to sharing exciting new research and creative work in the arts and humanities. This year, the Cinematic Arts Colloquium, a wide-ranging speaker series hosted by the Department of Cinematic Arts, invited a full roster of speakers from a range of disciplines.
These speakers shared their work to an auditorium of students, faculty, and community members both within the department and across campus. Not only does the Colloquium connect us with our film and media-related neighbors on campus, but it establishes film’s own presence and continued relevance in other disciplines. Moreover, for the students who attend, it is valuable practice at engaging speakers in an in-person, academic forum.
Part of what is unique about Cinematic Arts is the integration of film and video production with critical film studies. And the colloquium this year thrived off that connection, with special emphasis on the work of critically engaged artists from across disciplines.
Jean-Francois Charles, composer, clarinetist, live electronics designer, and Assistant Professor of Digital Arts and Composition at UIowa's School of Music debuted a collaboratively written and performed cinematic score for a rarely seen Dziga Vertov film, The Eleventh Year (1928, one year before his more famous Man With a Movie Camera). Colloquium participants screened the film with the new score, listened intently to Charles' behind-the-scenes account of its production, and engaged actively in a Q&A that ranged from technical to theoretical and historical questions about the relation between score and film.
In a radical departure from silent Soviet documentary filmmaking, Associate Professor in Animation at UIowa's School of Art & Art History, Peter Chanthanakone, followed Prof. Charles in a presentation of his own experimental computer animations at the Colloquium. An award-winning animation artist and director, Chanthanakone first screened a selection of his short films and then explained the technical and material challenges facing computer animators more generally. The Q&A revealed more of the labor that goes into computer animation, which helped connect the deliberately rough aesthetic of Chanthanakone's work with the polished images from big-budget commercial studios like Pixar.
In a presentation that took advantage of the colloquium's flexible format, Daniel Fine--Assistant Professor of Digital Media in Performance in the Department of Theater Arts, Dance, and the Public Arts Cluster--delivered a collaborative and interactive Colloquium performance. Fine transformed the Adler Journalism Building auditorium with the use of side-wall projectors and interactive software for displaying messages from the audience in real time. Fine also discussed past installation work, which explores and blurs the lines between theatrical, cinematic, and new digital storytelling techniques.
The year was rounded out by our own Mike Gibisser, Assistant Professor of Film & Video Production, Dept. of Cinematic Arts and the Public Digital Arts Cluster. Gibisser screened a preview of his recent film, World of Facts, about two sisters who return to their Midwestern hometown after a family tragedy. World of Facts is a minimalist character study that explores the simultaneously mundane and dreamlike experience of living day to day amidst the heightened time of mourning. Gibisser discussed his filmmaking practices in a productive Q&A that ranged in topic from the physiognomy of his actors to his creative influences. Cinematic Arts Colloquium will return next year and is free and open to the public. We look forward to offering these exciting presentations and conversations to our students, faculty, and broader community.