Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Upcoming Performance in Sweden

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

If you find yourself in Malmö, Sweden in late May, please plan to attend Undead in the Night, a performance with Lilith Performance Studio!

sweden forest

Undead in the Night dares you to enter the forest for a walk in the dark. Be very very quiet, you are not alone.

Zombies and Vampires are radically different yet universally recognizable archetypes of horror film monsters who rarely if ever appear together. They share the evil power to turn victims into monsters, and caught in the unknowable position between “alive” and “dead” they have the power to fascinate and terrorize. Placing them together in this performance, I violate the codes and boundaries of horror genre and create an impossible scenario.

Zombies moan as they stagger stiffly and unconsciously in packs towards their single goal – to catch and consume the flesh of the living. Gruesome and rotting, they are ordinary people reincarnated as characterless and soulless ghouls. Although they are brutish, vile, and almost unstoppable, they are neither resourceful nor clever, and are imminently expendable.

Vampires slink and pose with agility as they move towards the forest’s edge. Aristocratic, powerful, seductive, exotic, elegant, timeless, and mysterious, they have a rich immortal life and feed off human blood. Victims sometimes beg to be “turned” into these exotic and fascinating creatures.

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…If you want to be in the performance, see details here.

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Zombies vs Vampires in Malmo: May 2009

Friday, March 27th, 2009

jillian mcdonald zombiejillian mcdonald vampire

MALMö, Sweden
Calling all prospective Zombies and Vampires for a performance deep in a Swedish forest, after nightfall.

Zombies vs Vampires (working title) is an artwork where groups of the two “undead” monster archetypes – local people as actors – enact horror film scenes in the woods at night. Audience members make their way along the path in complete darkness. Interested actors need not be professional but must be comfortable in the woods and the dark, serious, and available for auditions, rehearsals, and the performance (all in May).

In popular film lore Zombies and Vampires have their own iconographies and characterizations. Rotting zombies moan as they stagger slowly, clumsily, and unconsciously. They don’t sneak and they travel in groups. They have only one goal – to catch and consume the flesh of the living. Despite being terrifying, they are neither resourceful nor clever and are imminently expendable.

The elegant vampires slink and pose with agility as they move. Catlike, they are very flexible and thirsty. Perceived to be sexy, beautiful, exotic, and mysterious, they have a rich and immortal life and feed off human blood.

Both archetypes bite their living prey and the two rarely if ever appear together in films.

Auditions begin May 6th and the performance will take place in late May. Contact Jonna Ölund jonna [at] lilithperformancestudio [dot] com for more info!

Love among the Ruins (the Zombies and the Vampires)

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

forest malmo

Last week I had a planning session with the fabulous Lilith Performance Studio for an upcoming forest performance in Malmö, Sweden. After 3 days and nights amidst the dark blueish pines, swamps, and mossy hills I am having trouble adjusting to New York’s nakedness. Thinking of doing some guerrilla planting, if the spring ever comes: it snowed yesterday, briefly.

On the plane I was unable to resist viewing the almost unwatchable and aforementioned Twilight. No doubt the tiny airplane screen did not do the sweeping Pacific Northwest forest scenes justice, and I confess I am no screaming teenage fan, but for the life of me this story of forbidden love among the vampires screams of cliché.

The “nice” vampires including our perpetually pouting hero happily inhabit, for the moment, a posh glass house sans coffins in rural Washington State, where avoiding full sunlight is unnecessary (since most days are grey and since the sunlight doesn’t kill them anyway), vampire dad dons the guise of preppy local doctor, and everyone is terribly attractive if well beyond the pale…

According to IMDB, “A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire” not the least of which is any hope of being independent. She goes willingly into the role of princess in utter distress and the movie ends with Bella, our damsel, doomed to be protected by her “hero” forever. Only he, and his extended family, can save her from the vampire bad guy and his own monstrous desires. Now that’s progress.

On the plus side, for the first time ever I enjoyed watching baseball played on screen, since vampiric forces make anything more exciting.

sarah jane

I Love Sarah Jane, on the other hand, is an Australian micro film about lust in the time of zombies. As you may know, zombies are at the other side of the class scale. We find Zombie dad in this case tied up in a wrecked suburban backyard, snarling at a skinny shirtless teenage boy who taunts him.

Sarah Jane herself is no ingénue. She emerges from a dark and claustrophobic living room to put the lusting teenage Jimbo – the subject of the film’s title, a mess of bullies, and her eventually (spoiler alert!) chain-sawed dad out of their misery by the end of the film … some with a heavy shovel, sealing her position as no-nonsense heroine and the far from innocent love interest extraordinaire, with a sense of very dark humour.

Worms

Monday, January 26th, 2009

red worm

Last night I was with my sister Jennifer in the back of a huge moving truck, sifting through boxes. We came across a long thin jar of coffee and I asked if she’d seen the film, a Disney movie about coffee – I said, “it’s not the usual Disney-pretty story, considering the conditions on coffee plantations.”

Jennifer said no, but she wanted to see it. We started to unwrap it from its jar and then she pulled out a long flat box full of sugar cubes. We sat with the film on our lap while she held the sugar box for us to snack from. I saw something lying across the cubes that looked like a mouse dropping – then it moved. It was a worm or caterpillar, and very fast. I swatted it away – then another one – suddenly the box seemed alive with them under the white cubes. I said “Jenn careful, very careful, move that box away and throw it as far as you can”. She didn’t hear me or was too slow and the air or scene around us went quivery as though there was a layer of worms beneath the surface and the sky exploded with dark red flying worms. Worming in my face, eyes, ears, mouth.

Finally I woke up, hot in my bed.

*image from Princeton’s Genomic labs – check out their wonderful worm research movies.

SCREAM in Saskatoon

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

scream billboard

In Saskatoon at the moment it is minus twenty-seven degrees Celcius, a temperature that deserves more than a tiny number in order that you can savour it, contemplate it, or at least try to fathom it. Luckily we humans have very little capacity for recalling pain which is why, in the words of my undergraduate art school professor Sharon Alward, people can live in extremely cold places like Winnipeg or Saskatoon year after year without going insane*. While minus twenty-seven degrees Celcius is reason enough to evoke screams in many people, it scares neither me nor Jo-Anne Balcaen – my billboard project collaborator and friend from Montréal. Jo-Anne and I were actually born within hours of one another and grew up separately in Winnipeg**, but that aside is another story of which I will spare you the details. The daunting temperature also doesn’t scare David LaRiviere, director of Paved Arts who facilitated and helped tremendously to oversee our two-person show.

Scream opens January 16th – come see it if you dare. There will be screaming. You have been warned. The billboard is silent but it requires 3-D glasses – available at the gallery.

scream billboard

From the press release, “Scream is a two-person video installation and collaborative billboard presentation. While Jo-Anne Balcaen studies the scream from the perspective of ecstasy, Jillian Mcdonald approaches the same subject as a device in horror films. The exhibition project arises from the affinity that the artists recognize in each other’s work, and is thus culminated from an ongoing, long-distance creative dialog.

Jillian Mcdonald’s video work entitled The Screaming challenges the horror movie genre’s damsel in distress by inverting the power dynamics and charging the scream with a potency that overcomes any would-be menace…. Jo-Anne Balcaen’s Screaming Girls appropriates famous film images of teen-aged girls enraptured by rock ‘n’ roll performance. Stripped of sound, Balcaen’s subtle manipulation of this familiar pop adulation becomes a study of mass hysteria, oddly foreign to any kind of rationale that Beatlemania may have once produced.”

*Keep in mind these are select few people, you may not want to attempt this yourself.

**According to Wikipedia, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Winnipeg was −47.8 °C (−54.0 °F), on December 24, 1879. The coldest wind chill reading ever recorded was −57.1 °C (−70.8 °F), on February 1, 1996. I was not alive in 1879, but I’ll point out that the last winter I lived in Winnipeg was 1996.

Stolen Kisses – I love a surprise

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Mike Peters

My work in the past few years has been as much about fan subcultures and audiences as about the films they love. Fan fiction – where fans create new scenarios from familiar narratives, thus subverting them – captivates me.

I had dinner with friend and performance artist Carrie Dashow the other night and she slipped me a DVD that said “Play Me” (Alice in Wonderland style)- very sneakily I might add. I dropped it into my computer the next morning to find a fabulous surprise. One of her Purchase students, Mike Peters, made a video response to my work Screen Kiss following a recent lecture I gave. It is quite wonderful. What’s that quote about imitation and flattery?

Above is a still from Steal a Kiss. You can see a few more stills on his website – click on “Projects”, but sadly not the video itself. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my chair. Mike if you’re reading this – put the video online!

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Update: Dec 20,
(originally posted as a comment from Mike Peters)

“Thank you, Jillian. I’m glad you liked it. Steal a Kiss is now online. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to the server hosting my original site, but the video is on youtube. I’ll be working on a new web page in the near future. Until then…. for your fans:

Thanks again. Love your work.”

Today’s video still after hours of rotoscoping Zombies at The Headlands

Monday, September 1st, 2008

zombies

Sea

Friday, August 29th, 2008

newf

Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland

Misty for Me

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

I watched The Mist a few nights ago on fast forward. Even Marcia Gay Harden’s apocalypse-hungry character could not save this film. SPOILER ALERT: The acting was so poor that at the end when our “hero” shoots four survivors including his own wide-eyed child to spare them from a fate torn apart by massive mist-dwelling CGI-tentacled critters only minutes before tanks pour in to the rescue, his grief is so shallowly performed the viewer can’t possibly care.

Speaking of mist, the California version blotted out the sun, and the entire landscape yesterday (hint: in the white is a beach, a lagoon, and hills):

fog

This non-tentacled critter staggered out, but luckily didn’t see me, probably due to weather:

alan

Fog Horn Particles

Monday, August 11th, 2008

fog night

The fog is sneaky tonight, definitely not merely mist – the visibility well below one kilometer. Above, a view from my studio; Below, the same scene with “reveal particles” setting.

fog particles

I wish you could hear the fog horns which are now about 20 seconds apart.

fog