The Videographic Essay: Practice and Pedagogy

The Water Nymph Multiscreen

Vicki Callahan built on Tracy Cox-Stanton’s earlier exercise on voice-over, using the close-up of Catherine Deneuve and intercutting first with images and dialogue from Kristen Warner’s selected film, Imitation of Life, and then with her own, The Water Nymph (Mack Sennett, U.S.A.), a 1912 silent short comedy featuring Mabel Normand. Here, the voice-over registers not as internal monologue (as it did in Tracy’s original piece), but as a recollected dialogue; and in combination with the images, the video evokes a present sadness, a past happiness and the perhaps misguided attempts to recover it. It is notable that Vicki’s source film was quite challenging to work with, given its short eight-minute running time and lack of sound beyond music, and thus her exercises were far more limited in options to draw upon than the other participants’ films.

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