Atlanta's long-running series for avant-garde cinema, Film Love, returns this weekend with a premiere of new works by Atlanta-based filmmaker Robbie Land. The screening will include a selection of Land's older shorts alongside four recently completed films: "Precipice," "Old Florida Salt Marsh," "Micanopy Winter Wonderland," and "Floridaland."
Land's work is noted for using a number of unusual production techniques, including composing entire works without a camera by adhere materials directly the to film. A number of those films reference Florida, where Land grew up alongside his older brother, the visual artist RLand. We caught up with Land this week to hear more about his work before the films screen on Friday at MOCA GA.
What's your background? When did you start making films?
I’ve worked in various situations, such as photographer for an engineering firm, science magazine and lightning research facility in Florida. This exposed me to numerous techniques and materials, which I now employ in my films.
I began making films perhaps twelve or fifteen years ago, maybe more. Started with a $3 super8 camera from a thrift store. Guess super8 or small DV is how most makers begin and move-on to larger formats, but I still prefer super8.
Did you share a lot of creative experiences with you brother, the visual artist Rland, growing up? Do you have any influence on one another's work?
RLand and I grew up playing football on the street, watching Saturday morning cartoons, late night TV and looking at the saltmarsh environment. Suppose these things have shaped our current designs.
What compels you to make work about Florida?
The work I make, especially lately, somehow has a Southern element. Not just Florida, but various locations throughout the Southeast. These films are documents of these places and time spent there. The conventional and non-conventional cinematic techniques I use provides the personal reflection or perspective.
Can you elaborate more on that Southern element? You say that the films are "documents." What are you documenting and how do the techniques shape that?
By Southern element, I mean this work focuses on the poetry of place, places I am drawn to. A unique location such as the film "Betty Creek" is specific to the Georgia mountains and actually more specific a small creek in those hills. The film is built by sound recordings, time-lapse footage, direct application of dirt, leaves, crud from this small, lovely area, therefore documenting and magnifying its beauty via organic material from the site and delivering through film projection.
By documenting, I mean to deliver a personal documentation of the subjects and therefore apply the language I feel best describes it. A visual language created from images, sounds and even particles ie. dirt or rust and place it in a projected motion.
You use a number of unusual filmmaking techniques, including applying materials directly to the celluloid. Can you describe this process?
My methods of film production is sometimes considered tedious. Everything is handmade without digital/ computer applications. It’s all, if you will, analog. This is only way for me to develop the specific texture, rhythm of a certain location or mood. I originate mostly in 8mm film, re-photograph (blow-up) to 16mm making adjustments along the way. For example, some adjustments may include direct application of glue, tape or plant material onto the celluloid to illustrate the story. I suppose, comparatively, it is tedious and time consuming, but it's the way I work.
ROBBIE LAND: Floridaland and other new 16mm works screens at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia on Fri., June 24 at 8 pm. More details at Film Love.
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