Catherine Grant is one of the scholars working in the area of video essays and videographic criticism I most admire. Her work ranges from fan videos to explorations of form, the transnational, queering, interventions into theory, materialising criticism and artistic self-expression. I very much wanted to talk to her about her work and the result is this podcast below, a wide-ranging reflection on these particular forms of criticism, her own practice and that of other scholars who have influenced the development of her own work. With typical generosity, every reflection on her own works incites heaps of praise for that of others.
Video Essays by Catherine Grant in order of discussion:
‘Need something to work with and against. Footage which is absolutely beautiful. Peggy Anne Garner. Discovering some writing. An elaborate video. Dedicated to her own family’.
‘A metacritical look at videos made using split-screen’.
Insight and expression through a photograph, movement and song
Influenced by Gordon Hon, collecting dissolves from Vertigo and slowing them down. Also by Aaron Valdez´film, Dissolve, a study of dissolves that he found on the internet archive. Such a beautiful film, the transient comes through brilliantly in it. Afterwords Mandy Merck mentioned the American Tragedies adaptations of Dreiser. Whilst making A Place in the Sun, someone had advised George Stevens to watch Brief Encounter. Abundant Dissolves. Very interesting and lots of them.
In her video essay, she changed the colour of the film. It´s bluer, a midnight blue filter. There was an inertness, maybe due to digital copy. So she added the filter just like Joseph Cornell in Rose Hobart.
The need to be cognisant of the tension between quoting something and making something yourself.
An important dimension of Grant´s work, loosely called queering. The gesture on the shoulder in Carol and Brief Encounter.
‘Video essays materialise what are otherwise virtual spectatorial encounters. Cluster of work around thinking and feeling around the films. Transforming a queer experience we have in our head and making it material through videographic work’
‘Dialoguing with a written tradition of film studies and art criticism’
Videos by others in order of discussion:
‘Really good criticism, really insightful, intertextual, influential: The Substance of Style wowed by his use of split screens.´
‘The confidence to run things together, voice-over, speeded up, Pure Bazinian technique. Dismantling or defamiliarisng the look on a full frame. We rarely engage in peripheral spectatorship. It becomes a work of genius when he does speed up´.
On the insights of Ian Garwood on voice-over and on his generosity as a scholar
In praise of Adrian Martin´s use of his voice in this particular work by Martin and Cristina Álvarez López
Joseph Cornell´s Rose Hobart (1936):
The Patrick Keating video essays discussed can be found here
And Grace Lee´s youtube channel, What´s So Great About That can be found here:
We did not get a chance to talk about Grant´s other important contributions to film culture but it´s worth mentioning the invaluable open access scholary website, Film Studies for Free, Mediático, a website on various aspects of Latin American and Iberian film cultures, and as an editor of [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies