Faith Holland - Improving, non stop.

11:38, 2011, Video Art
Improving, Non-Stop is a science fiction short exploring contemporary magazine-culture beauty standards and the part they play in everyday life. Using myself as a subject, I did a thorough retouching of a studio self-portrait in Photoshop. This retouching process constitutes another video-a real time depiction of retouching. For Improving, Non-Stop this process is edited down to show certain salient moments in real time. The film then breaks into live action and I construct and wear a mask of the retouched self-portrait. Like the inverse of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, my face is transformed into a “perfect” version of myself, but the act of wearing a mask prevents normal activity and interaction. The result is darkly humorous and thoroughly uncomfortable.
DirectorFaith HollandProducerFaith Holland


< overview


Who is Faith Holland?
I’m a young artist based in New York. I am currently attending the School of Visual Arts in the MFA Photo, Video, and Related Media Department. I work with appropriated imagery, digital culture, and beauty culture.

What is Improving, non-stop. About?
Improving, Non-Stop is about a woman (who is me, but also isn’t me), who is unhappy with the way she looks. By using a Photoshopped image of her face as a mask, she abducts herself. In her everyday activities in and out of the house she is alien/ated. The mask renders her blind and mute and she exists only as a showpiece.

How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?
In the past, I’ve primarily worked with photography. In the last year however, video increasingly became the best medium to express my ideas and right now I’m hardly working with stills. I’m currently studying video and photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?
My work is fairly heterogeneous, however I always find myself going back to and thinking through issues that came up while I was an undergraduate at Vassar College in upstate New York where I pursued Media Studies. My reading has continued in that vein and it greatly informs the work I make. Although I would generally list Roland Barthes as my single greatest influence, this video is more concerned with Donna Haraway’s Simians, Cyborgs, and Women as well as feminist science fiction writers such as Octavia Butler, Doris Lessing, and Ursula K. LeGuin.

How long do you usually work on one project?
This varies greatly from about a week (like my other video in the program, Artist’s Statement, which was conceived and produced quickly) to photo series that I’ve spent five years on. This particular video took me about 3 months of intensive work.

Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?
This video was carefully planned, but evolved while shooting. Many of the shots were done in public, relying on strangers’ interaction with me to form a narrative.

How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?
The title came about coincidentally when I was shooting on the subway. The motto for the New York City subway appeared in the frame: "Improving, Non-Stop." This seemed to perfectly parallel the plight my character was going through.

How do you finance your projects (by yourself, sponsors or subsidy)?
This film had a $0 budget and a crew of two--myself and my boyfriend, who watched the camera when I was shooting in public.

How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?
Sound has also become increasingly important to my practice as I’ve been working more and more with video. For this video, I appropriated the soundtrack to Forbidden Planet by Louis & Bebe Barron, which was the first soundtrack ever to use atonal sounds.

Did the web changed your view on art, or your career?
The web has been an important influence for my work. Growing up, I was on the internet a lot and have continued to be deeply immersed in online culture (from chatrooms in the 1990’s, to Livejournal in early 2000s, and now Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. Etc.). Although it’s not an important aspect of this video, some of my other work has addressed it directly such as my Profile Pictures series which used photos appropriated from Facebook or a video I’m currently working on called RIP Geocities which looks at Hollywood’s representations of the Internet in the 1990’s.

Where would you place your work; cinema or art. And what is the difference between those according to you?
My work is pretty firmly placed in the art realm, particularly because my production lies completely outside of a studio or even a cooperative system. From conceptualization to production, the work is done almost exclusively by me.

What is your next project about?
I’m currently working on a piece that appropriates an instructional video I found while doing research for this project. It’s called Makeup Tips for Asian Women and uses a how-to make up video paired with a girl pop song from the 1960’s. The major challenge has been working out the kinks with the sound, since the project involves relatively advanced sound editing for me.

< overview