Archive for the ‘obsession’ Category

Pitcher Plants

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Dear elusive Northern Pitcher Plant, carniverous provincial flower of Newfoundland, whom I have hunted for years as an (extremely) amateur botanist,

Today I found you, and jumped for joy – as much as one can jump for joy on a soaked bed of pale moss in a swamp while carrying very expensive camera equipment. I knew in my heart I would find you one day…

jillian mcdonald, pitcher plants
jillian mcdonald, pitcher plants

Staring at Vampires

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Hunger Jillian Mcdonald

I’ve been working on a new video, Hunger – a series of three staring contests with TV and film vampires. I inserted myself digitally into scenes from Twilight (New Moon), True Blood, and Being Human. As the (replaced) ingénue hopeful of shared immortality, I am locked in endless staring contests with Edward, Bill, and Mitchell – the leading male vampires from these series who share brooding good looks, apparent youth, advanced vampire years, immortality’s curse, abstinence from blood and in some cases sex, and an ability to pass as mortal. These are the new breed vampires of our dreams – insatiable, beautiful, charming, yet dangerous. Separate hungers unite them with their mortal prey. Time is suspended in the staring contests which no one wins and no one loses. In installation three larger than life projections play simultaneously, forcing the viewer to either shift their gaze between screens constantly in order to catch a blink; or to simply indulge in an infinite loop.

Hunger is a commission of Revised Projects and the New Forms Media Society for the Electric Speed project series, curated by Kate Armstrong and Malcolm Levy. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts which last year invested $11.8 million in media arts throughout Canada.

Hunger Jillian Mcdonald

Hunger Jillian Mcdonald

Hunger Jillian Mcdonald

Hunger Jillian Mcdonald

Hunger Jillian Mcdonald

Wanted: Desert Zombies, Vampires, Make-up Artists. No Experience Necessary.

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

I’m in residence at ASU Art Museum in Tempe, AZ. I’ll be working on a few different projects, the first of which starts next week. Details on how you can participate, below:

vampire huntingzombie loop

“Jillian Mcdonald, artist-in-residence at ASU Art Museum seeks participants in a video installation for her November exhibit at ASU.”

Interested parties will attend an information session and audition on October 15th at 11 a.m.; attend a rehearsal on Oct 22nd starting at 11 a.m.; and be videotaped together on the afternoon of Oct 31st in the desert. The information session, audition and rehearsal will be held in the project’s gallery at ASU Art Museum. No acting experience or knowledge of vampires and zombies necessary, however feel free to do some research online.

zombies vampires

Zombies may also, if interested, participate in a further performance on the Light in early November. Contact Jillian Mcdonald, info below, to receive notifications.

Also seeking enthusiastic makeup artists – with or without experience. Make-up artists will come to an information meeting on Oct 15th at 2p.m., and a workshop Oct 16th or 23rd at 11a.m.. These meetings will also be held in the project’s gallery in ASU Art Museum. Make-up for the video will be done at the museum on the late morning of Oct 31st. There is no cost to participate, make-up will be provided.

Please sign up with me directly if you are interested in participating in the project (phone 917.443.8107, email jmcdonald[at]jillianmcdonald[dot]net). Feel free to send questions or concerns. Interested parties who cannot make the scheduled dates, please inquire about alternative times.

*images from Vampire Hunting, Zombie Loop, and Undead in the Night

Diarama drama – another review (sight unseen)

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Off the radar for the past four months, I’ve probably missed a lot of important information. Waiting at the Greenpoint G train station last night I was ill prepared for a poster advertising the upcoming TV series, Vampire Diaries. Reading later about the main characters who are either “beautiful and popular” or carrying “dark, deadly secrets of their own”, two thoughts raced through my mind:

1) how refreshing, it’s high time someone made melodramatic books and motion pictures about beautiful young vampires.
2) Dear Diary, I am beautiful and in love with the dangerous vampire next door – it’s complicated, what shall I do?

Vampire Diaries is based on a series of young adult novels. For those who can’t get enough of Twilight and True Blood – hold your breath; here comes more of the same.

As much as I disliked Diary of the Dead, Romero’s recent zombie film (2007), at least the zombies have some character, albeit rotting and unpleasant. I might actually read their diaries.

Labour of Love

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

field of the undead video still

Field of the Dead and Undead is a video that I am slaving over working on since last fall. It is all rotoscoping, which at the worst of times is obsessive, slow and labourious, and at the best of times highly meditative. Sometimes something surprising happens, like the layers go missing, creating magic accidental images:

accidental image

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!


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.”

American Hardcore’s Cameo Appearance

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

american hardcore

A few nights ago I watched American Hardcore, a documentary film about the hardcore scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I didn’t ever consider myself a hardcore fan but did listen to the Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and especially Bad Brains. I just didn’t know they were a scene, or what it was about – I listened to it after it was over. The film is good, and gives a nationwide perspective on the nuanced scene – from San Diego to New York and Boston to Washington. It even credits Vancouverites for coining the term “Hardcore” – go Canada!

Somewhere along the line was a 6-second or less spot featuring artist Matthew Barney as himself, who as far as I can tell was not in the hardcore scene (he was 16 when it pretty much fizzled out in 1983). He is given billing as one of the film’s stars, and his reason for being in the film is strangely not explained via Lower Thirds. Band members, their friends, promoters, journalists, and a photographer who documented the scene all figure prominently. Barney seems plopped in without any context. He grew up in Idaho, a state which didn’t figure prominently in Hardcore, and the scene’s violence and angst seem at odds with Barney’s public profile of football player – turned J. Crew model – turned sculptor. As far as I can tell, his only relationshp with it is from Cremaster 3‘s scene in which 2 hardcore bands battle while Barney climbs through the Guggenheim. Frankly his entrance into the film was so distracting that I didn’t pay attention to the next few minutes while I waited to comprehend what had just happened. Once a star, always a star.

Speaking of Matthew Barney, New York artist Eric Doeringer has a funny mock fan site called Cremaster Fanatic which I always secretly want to call “Cremaster Fantastic”.

Scream Wilhelm Scream

Friday, June 20th, 2008

In Halifax last month, my friend David Clark showed me this video on Youtube. Having screamed my heart out for days while recording sound for my Screaming video, I find the story fascinating:

In a scene from the 1951 Warner Bros. film Distant Drums there is a scene where soldiers are wading through a swamp in the everglades. One of them is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator! Six short screams for that scene were recorded later, and the sound effect was labelled “man getting bit by an alligator, and he screams.” One of those screams was used for the scene.

After Distant Drums, the recording was archived in Warner Brother’s sound effects library, and re-used in many of their productions. Up until the mid-70′s, the scream recording was used exclusively in Warner Bros. productions, including Them!, Land of the Pharaohs, The Sea Chase, Sergeant Rutledge, PT-109, and The Green Berets. In A Star is Born, the scream is heard twice – one of the times because a scene with the scream in Charge at Feather River is playing in a screening room.

Sound effects fan Ben Burtt noticed the same distinctive scream reoccurring in a lot of movies. He made a film with friends, called The Scarlet Blade, borrowing the scream from another film’s sound track and including it on his own. Years later Ben Burtt was hired to create sound effects for Star Wars, and had access to the sound effects from several movie studios. While at Warner Bros. he found the original Distant Drums scream – which he called “Wilhelm” after the character that let out the scream in Charge at Feather River.

Ben adopted the scream as a personal sound signature, including it in all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, among others. Richard Anderson, another sound editor, also continued the tradition, including the scream in the films Poltergeist, and Planet of the Apes. Other editors have used it in Toy Story, Hercules, Pirates of the Caribbean, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Fifth Element, and Tears of the Sun. It became an easter egg for film junkies.

Although it has never been available in any commercial sound effects library, the recording has made it around the sound community through editors who appreciate its history. Only a few studios have the master of the Wilhelm, but because the clear scream can be found in a few films – such as the Judy Garland version of A Star as Born, it has been borrowed for projects by other studios. It also has been used in TV shows – including The X-Files, animations including Family Guy, commercials for Dell and Comcast, video games, and theme park attractions.

The Wilhelm Scream – listen for it in films near you!

You can see a massive list of films featuring the Wilhelm Scream here.

Fog Lust

Thursday, June 12th, 2008


Fog, mist, and haze, oh my!

It’s either my double Newfie ancestry or my fascination with horror plots – but I think I’m in love, or lust. Who needs an iPhone when you have a Falcon Fog machine??