Lost, found and remade
an interview with archivist and filmmaker Carolyn Faber” by Laura Kissel; in Film History Volume 15 no. 2, 2003; Indiana University Press“Small-gauge and amateur film”
by Melinda Stone and Dan Streible; in Film History Volume 15 no. 2, 2003; Indiana University Press
Working as an archivist really made me think about why we have this unbridled, passionate drive to preserve ourselves on film. It made me wonder what it is that we are so afraid of losing?
Most of my work with film, video or performance has incorporated fragments of home movies, educational or corporate films I’ve collected. And when I use them I have to consider all the cultural baggage that comes with them. I’m not really interested in their value as novelty, kitsch or nostalgia. When I re-use an amateur film, I try to see beyond
what is obviously represented, I try to find possibilities that might exist within the material. It could be some action that’s being represented in the image, for instance. I’m often interested in what’s in the background – not only what is in the centre, but what is behind it.
My film “Iota” features among others a trip to an amusement park. But in between and behind all of that there’s a little car with a child driving it. There’s a carousel, and a girl standing with an adult next to her. I’m always looking for those things that you wouldn’t notice or maybe that you can’t see right away. I like to approach the image as a composition, as an arrangement of elements. And I like to break that composition apart and put it back together. As for interpreting the home movie with a sense of nostalgia, we like to look back on ourselves and laugh and it’s easy to do that when looking at a birthday party or a wedding. I’m interested in complicating the viewing experience.
I collected home movies for years before I started working as an archivist mostly because I was attracted to their mystique as discarded personal histories, but also because, of all the films I found in thrift stores and yard sales, home movies were the most common. I was fascinated with imagining how or why these films were abandoned and what, if
anything, I could do with them. And that’s the challenge that I look for in my work. I’m always asking myself: How else can I see this? What is interesting about this film? How can I make it work?