Sunday, March 26, 2006

Friday: A new meaning to the word "experimental"

Like Art Center, the modernist, rectangular structure that houses CalArts is perched on the side of a hill surrounded by tall trees and lush grass lawns. CalArts has an added advantage: it is one of only three art schools in the country that hosts both performing arts and visual arts programs in one place.

After the admissions counselors’ presentation and tour, I was sold. What a school! Musicians, character animators, dancers, actors, opera singers, painters, set designers and filmmakers all in one place! Famous teachers! A veritable smorgasbord of talent for a budding filmmaker! And they even have student housing!

Justin remained unconvinced. I encouraged him to be more open-minded, to think more broadly about his work. He dug in his heels.

I thought that my opportunity to change his mind lied within the experimental nature of film students’ work at CalArts, and so I talked Justin and his dad into accompanying me to the Film Services Library to view a compilation of recent student films.

The first film was a play on still photography as film. Clever, but dull. The second a rather odd story about a young girl who kills her abusive father. Not so clever and duller.

Dad fell asleep.

The next was a lot of artistic motion, cherry blossoms and distorted film. Duller still.

Dad began snoring. It wasn’t going well.

Finally, we reached a film with promise. It started out with a voiceover of a young couple talking about love as a cemetery scene rolled by on the screen. (Yeah, I thought...some meaning, some drama!) The movie proceeded slowly, the young girl taking a shower, a rambling voiceover soliloquy. Then we cut to a scene of the young girl naked, apparently in bed with a young man, presumably the filmmaker. The scene progresses…well, I’ll let you guess the rest.

My son quickly switches off the DVD, lifts an eyebrow in disdain and growls, “Do you still want me to go to CalArts?”

We no longer discuss “experimental” art.

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