VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Woodward, James

James Woodward
US videomaker


Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and educational background.

Born and raised in Oakland, California. I have two brothers and come from a family that exalts sports and athleticism. I studied art at NYU working primarily in video, performance and photography.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

I moved to New York wanting to draw and paint but was instinctually drawn to video. At the time I had no idea what “video art” was. I grew up watching a lot of television and the prospect that I could work with moving image and translate that into art excited me. Additionally, discovering the body as a vehicle for art making shifted my fundamental understanding of how I can create work.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

I like to meditate on themes of hysteria, isolation, otherness, romance, tragedy, love and social taboo. I usually employ myself and/or feminine subjects and often borrow imagery and footage of athletes and heroines from popular media outlets—I’m a pop culture junkie. I’m interested in the subliminal and psychological aspects of jock culture and the social environments created and maintained by this order. Additionally, my work frequently suggests evolving and shifting communication technologies juxtaposed with naturalistic settings. Ultimately, I intend for the videos to challenge cultural and social constructs by manipulating and disorienting familiar people, places and objects.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?

I want my videos to be awkwardly personal, intense, humorous and visually stimulating. We are constantly bombarded with video snippets—commercials on TV, the internet, in elevators, on our phone—our minds are accustomed and conditioned to such quick visual turnovers and I want my work to reflect this. I work with the mindset that if I’m bored after 30 seconds the viewer will be bored after 10. I don’t intend to emphasize a narrative but instead play with the intermittent and lost space between subjects, objects, comprehension and absorption. The works are diaristic—injected with the personal yet expressed through artificial identities that manifest our society. I incorporate found and original materiel, high and low quality. I want the work to look and feel accessible despite being highly controlled and manipulated.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.

A portable, ‘flip’ camera and Final Cut.

6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general and you personally?

I think how easy and accessible video making is. Everyone can be a filmmaker and everyone has the potential for an instantaneous, international audience. The history of video is very short in and of itself and I think as future generations are more and more raised in a culture saturated with moving image, even more artists will be drawn to the multifaceted and versatile agencies of the medium. A shift I’m working with personally is not being limited by method—utilizing both found and original footage simultaneously.

7. How do you finance your films?

I work a day job at a contemporary art gallery (Metro Pictures, New York) though my films have never cost more than $50 to produce.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?

I’ve worked collaboratively but I prefer to work individually. My works are autobiographical and I enjoy the kind of introspective catharsis that accompanies the editing process.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?

Alex Bag, David Rimanelli, Keith Mayerson, Patty Chang, Carolee Schneemann, Nancy Barton, Bill Viola, Leslie Thornton, T. J. Wilcox, Kate Gilmore, Catherine Sullivan, Kalup Linzy, Laurel Nakadate, Tamy Ben-Tor, Lacan, Kristeva, my family, friends and lovers.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?

My dream as a filmmaker is to create video that in some respect shifts the viewers understanding of what video is and how video can exist in the future.

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