Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's Like 60 Minutes on Acid

I'm taking a video class to improve my knowledge of higher-end cameras. Having gone to a liberal arts school for my undergraduate degree, I essentially had to teach myself how to use the few cameras we had, and since then I've only been teaching on consumer equipment.

Anyway, I have been working on a project for this class. The assignment was to do a basic Charlie Rose style interview using only one camera. Since I've probably taught that same assignment about 20 times to my middle school students, I asked the professor if I could do something more challenging (and essentially more self-serving).

Considering the nature of my work deals with narcissism and scopophilia, I asked if I could do a self-interview.

After committing to this project, someone reminded me of this great self-interview that David Byrne did. I saw it years ago, but had forgotten about it. Since being reintroduced to it, I've probably watched it about 25 times. It's incredibly quotable.

As it turns out, I've taken on more than just a technical challenge, I've forced myself to take a risk in terms of illustrating my own identity construction.

Those who know me have seen some of my past work, where I've inserted myself into my videos. For example:

However, when I first started putting myself into my work, I vowed that I would never speak in any of my films. I know it was probably because I couldn't deal with the idea of watching my face move while hearing my voice at the same time. We all get disgusted by the sound of our own voice when we're not used to hearing it without our bodily vibrations attached. It's even more horrifying to watch your face move along with it. Does my mouth really look like that?

Anyway, I figured if I'm ever going to execute my secret backup career plan of being a television comedienne, I would have to start getting used to watching my big dumb mug on screen. I churned out a few versions of script in a couple hours.

I kept pushing off and pushing off filming this. It's just very hard to put yourself into a character that is essentially a caricature of yourself. Of course, once I was ready to shoot, I completely lost my voice, so I had to postpone it an extra day. By the time I started shooting, it had come down very close to the line and I couldn't really do any practice takes.

So now, I have to edit this piece. That means I have to look at myself for hours and hours and hours, hearing my still-hoarse voice squawk these awkward lines over and over again. Then, THEN, I have to show this video to my class. It's so hard to look at your face with a group of people who are also looking at your face. It was difficult with the video i posted above, especially the last 10 seconds of the video. It was like sitting in a room full of people watching you masturbate on camera. I usually close my eyes when I show it to anyone.

I can't imagine how I'm going to endure sitting in a room full of people watching me interview myself about my creative work, which is all about narcissism and how we project ourselves into the world. Will they get it? Will I hate it? Will they be totally freaked out? I guess we'll find out.

If I am satisfied with it, you will all see it in a couple days, if I hate it, I'm going to have to rewrite and reshoot it at a later date, because I still think it's something I need to do.

In the next few days I will also be posting more in-depth and academic musings about narcissism, scopophila and the artistic process.


  1. Love it Liz. Wasn't sure which bookmark folder to put you in: mental illness, literature, film, news........I decided to save this link in my "DEVIANT" folder.


  2. Nice to finally see some of your video stuff! I love what you did with that piece. I hate putting myself in my videos too, but in the end I'm the one most available and committed to the piece, ha. There's one piece I did covered in fake blood and wearing lingerie, talk about feeling like everyone is watching you masturbate. Luckily they "got it" and didn't think I was a narcissistic attention whore, which was my biggest fear.

    - the other heather

  3. Heather-I'm so glad I fit into such a variety of folders. I like to think that I'm a dynamic person.

    HStryk-Thanks! There is going to be fake blood in my interview piece! No lingerie though...I'm not that bold.

  4. Hey Liz,
    I hear you regarding the "looking at yourself" thing. I've only recently been able to look in mirror during karate and now one of our instructors has taken to videotaping parts of class and posting them on facebook.
    Frankly, I think it would be much easier to masturbate in a room full of people than WATCH THEM WATCH ME on film......and by the end of the "scene" you know for sure whether or not you've been "successful." ;-)
    Love ya. Glad to see you embracing your talents and stretching your boundaries.