Interview with Jol Thomson
Who is Jol Thomson?An artist living in Frankfurt a.M - from Canada, from the countryside.
An artist, poet, musician.
Your film is about?Experience, the wonder of experience.
How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?It was a calling really. I was studying at the University of Toronto, moved my way from politics and history to philosophy and art. After the first year in art i just knew i was to be in video somehow . . . Without ever actually doing it before. When i entered that realm it was natural for me, probably because of a background in time-based editing (music) and a long, personal study and researching of film. These things combined with a certain sensitivity and a drive towards sharing ideas and concerns with and about the world keep me interested and motivated as a video artist.
Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts and what is important to you?Chance, spontaneity, experimentation, misguided guidance combined with practical research and readings. Sometimes i work very quickly, and other times it takes months to finish a work. Sometimes one project at a time, at others, 3 or 4. It is a difficult question to answer because i feel i am always developing different, easier or more complex ways of working. . . Depending on the weather and time of day. I would say i work in a stigmergic or aleatoric way, always allowing for the environment to influence a choice, for improvisation to occur, for a moment to grab me and then to make a decision about it.
Where do you get your ideas or influences from?Good friends or good books, experiences or dreams, often dreams. I have some very strange dreams . . . Which i find fascinating.
How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?The main title is the title Jorge Luis Borges titled his lecture, which i have then re edited and mashed up. The sub-title is, "a labrynthine video lecture on experience and other things". The title, i feel, fits not only Borges’ lecture and work to some degree, but also the video, because, well... If you have seen the video it is not so difficult to see how it fits.
How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?Sound is as important as the moving image, and perhaps in the 21st century beginning to really be recognized for its wider potential. Sound is not only sensed from outside of us, like vision and touch, but also inside of us, a deep bass . . . You can feel it in your organs. This is what makes schizophrenia so totally engulfing for a person, they hear voices IN themselves.
Sometimes, for dynamics, we can use a lack of sound. It offers us something to enhance an experience, we are truly never without sound though, John Cage showed us that in the 1960’s.
So i may put a silent film in a theater, but perhaps as the filmmaker, i intended for the sound of the theater at the moment it is being viewed to be the soundtrack. Perhaps i intended for the sound of your thoughts to be the soundtrack.
For my videos i create my own or capture them from "real life".
How do you finance your projects (by yourself, sponsors or subsidy)?So far, i finance my projects through doing sound commissions and video editing for other artists. I intend to do bigger projects that would require grants and stipends etc.
Nowadays everyone with the right equipment can create videoart, good, bad or ugly?Video art is not always beautiful, we have to accept this. People actually making Video art [db] may want it to be ugly. The immediate gratification of the senses is not necessarily a ’good’ thing. We have to experience that which is disgusting to appreciate the beautiful. . . At least.
What i am saying is, more people attempting to express themselves in more complex ways is, i believe a good thing, or at least for the better. Perhaps the standard or principles for what constitutes ’videoart’ ought to be explored more for some, but storytelling is a healthy practice. Maybe we are slowly moving towards a less pathological future through the mass proliferation of certain technologies?
How important is the reaction to your film by the audience?A positive or negative reaction is most appreciated, but an apathetic, bored and total lack of reaction is most upsetting. I hope to move people in some way, visually, aurally, intellectually, etc. I want to raise questions and open a space for reflection, i believe a lot of artists want this.
What is your next project about?A similar video manipulating relationships of projectors and cameras through feedback systems, but with my own voice and poetry, rather than someone else.
Jol Thomson - 2009