About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Blog posting written by Kayla Reopelle, Documentary Studies and Production '14, FLEFF Blogger, Roy, WA
Dr. Claudia Pederson has worked with the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival for eight years. This year she became assistant curator for new media. In an e-mail interview, she discussed her experience with the festival, her insights into the Viral Dissonance project, and what she is looking forward to for the 17th Annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.
How would you describe yourself?
What are you interested in intellectually? What do you love to learn about?
My interests are in the digital arts. My main focus is on art, technology, and activism. I am especially interested in practices connected to social change, their histories and theoretical references.
How did you get involved with FLEFF?
Happenstance. I have been working with FLEFF since 2007. That year the festival was hosting an event on memes and they were also interested in my research on video games. I lectured on Molledindustria's work, the "McDonald's" game, for a class involved with the festival and it stuck.
What positions have you held with the festival?
Guest lecturer, workshop organizer, I have designed co-taught courses on digital art and critical design, organized a panel on new media and activist practices, served as new media curatorial adviser, taught a course on film festivals, was a moderator for special events, and currently I am an assistant curator for the new media exhibit of the festival.
What was one of your favorite experiences you have had with FLEFF?
All of it. Especially the courses were a lot of fun to design and teach. We also had the opportunity to freely invite emerging artists from the U.S. and elsewhere, theorists, and curators working in new media, which was a great experience for us and the students at Ithaca College. The curation of the new media part of the festival in which I am engaged now is an extension of that. As a curator I get to see great work and connect with exciting projects and artists.
What are your duties as assistant curator for new media?
Network artists, curators, and others engaged in the field of new media around the world. Work collaboratively to organize the exhibit.
How does new media function in a film festival’s environment?
Historically there are crossovers between film and computers (which are not as new a medium as thought). Nor are film festivals just about films alone. New media is part of the broader context of events in FLEFF, including music, lectures, workshops, etc.; you may think of it as a media environment, very broadly interpreted.
What is the “Viral Dissonance” project about? What are you looking for in a “Viral Dissonance” submission?
Each year the directors of FLEFF, Professors Patricia Zimmermann and Tom Shevory, suggest a theme that serves to guide the conceptual framework of the festival. The theme is not so much used to circumscribe but to open up discussion. As a concept guiding the exhibit, Dissonance both reflects the gist of our cultural moment as well as hints at strategies or ways to intervene in our conditions. We look for works that engage with both of these facets.
What is one thing you are excited about for this year’s festival?
That is precisely it, there isn't one thing, but many. The surprises and the unexpected are always the best part of the festival.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Because for most students at IC this will be their first festival, they are generally apprehensive about attending. Don't be. FLEFF is an opportunity to immerse yourself in intellectual life beyond your classroom. Come watch the films, ask questions, meet directors, go to concerts, attend the workshops and parties. Come prepared with questions and an open-mind. Think of FLEFF as an opportunity to be among people with common interests, a passion for learning.
Monday, February 3, 2014
Blog post written by Elma Gonzalez '14, FLEFF Blogger, Journalism, San Diego, CA.
In the past, FLEFF has explored themes that challenge the audience and encourage discussion of important social issues. This year is no different. The 2014 FLEFF theme, which is picked by festival directors, Dr. Patricia Zimmermann and Dr. Tom Shevory every year, is “Dissonance.”
The theme delves into the complexities that come with "difference." It highlights the disharmonious, cacophonous, and disruptive. Tiffani-Amber Muller, FLEFF assistant to the co-directors, describes it as an “all underlying” theme.
“It opens the door different kinds of films and different subjects,” she said. “Dissonance is such a great theme because it creates awkward tension it is all about clashing and the harmony not mixing. I know this one is going to be a good one.”
Though many of the well known international film festivals seem to stray away from focusing on a specific theme, FLEFF does not. Dr. Claudia Pederson, FLEFF assistant curator, explained via email themed festivals like FLEFF have been becoming more popular.
“[M]any festivals carve out specific foci, so along the more established festivals what you have today is a veritable explosion of 'themed' festivals around the world in a variety of formats. Some are static, some traveling, and some online.”
Providing a focus, she said, does not limit the intelligent dialogue festivals usually ignite.
"It is not so much used to circumscribe but to open up discussion. The idea is to disassemble the 'taken--granted', such that new thoughts and forms may emerge,” she said. “As a concept, Dissonance lends itself especially well to this idea if you approach it as both a reflection of our cultural condition and as a potential stimulus to change."
This year, we can expect a week of exciting films, discussions, and parties. It will be an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in intellectual life outside the classroom, Pederson said.
"Watch the films, converse with directors, go to concerts with your friends, attend the workshops, and if you are so inclined, the parties,” she encourages. “Come prepared with questions and an open-mind. Think of it as an exchange between people passionate about ideas. That is your common ground."
Events leading up to the festival have already begun with a screening of Ladies of the Gridiron on January 16 and the screening of Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life with a live performance by the Cloud Chamber Orchestra in collaboration with Cornell Cinema. There are several upcoming events you should attend. Follow our blog to stay updated.
What does "dissonance" mean to you?
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Blog posting written by Ian Carsia, Cinema & Photography '14, FLEFF Intern, Hamilton, NJ
1) What are you presenting/participating in for FLEFF 2012 and how does this relate to and engage with Microtopias?
"I am teaching a course together with media arts artist and Ph.D. candidate at the Information Science department of Cornell, Nicholas Adrian Knouf.
The course is entitled 'Microtopias Lab' and deals with utopia as a concept and practice in the context of histories relating to the junction of arts and sciences."
2) What is your background with FLEFF? How did you become involved with the festival and why?
"I am a graduate student at Cornell in the History of Art and Visual Studies. My work and interests are situated on the intersections of media arts and activism.
My dissertation work deals with the relationship between play, art, and social change. I look at artists using videogames as activist tools, as contemporary forms of intervention that have deep histories in interdisciplinary strands of arts, sciences, and counter-culture movements.
FLEFF began to include electronic media in 2007 when I first was invited to present at the "Gaming Meme" panel with film scholar Lisa Patty and network theorist Ulises Mejias. I've been part of the festival ever since in various qualities, mostly as a lecturer in the last three years."
3) You have collaborated with new media artist/activist Nick Knouf in the past. What has made this collaboration effective? What skills and attitudes do you both bring to your work?
"We have similar interests and thoughts about media arts and the political imaginary.
Both of our work deals with the histories, transdisciplinarity, and performative aspects of electronic culture conceived in a very broad sense, as a conceptual lens and set of practices."
4) What are you most looking forward to about FLEFF 2012?
"I am looking forward to the films--here is a list of a few films that I am really looking forward to see to begin with:
But the festival is really about the conversations and encounters that happen unplanned."
5) What advice would you give to college students wishing to become involved with new media art as well as activism?
"At present, the new media arts are pretty much tied to creative economies, more so than in the 1990s when the enthusiasm around the internet provided a space for more politicized expressions.
On the other hand, the global activism emerging in the recent year incorporates some of the practices then seen as art-activism. Think of the impromptu beamed projections on the walls in New York in support of the occupy movement making the rounds on youtube, etc..
Artists like Krzysztof Wodiczko made a career of similar interventions in public space, then groups like F.A.T. Lab took this practice over, and finally it appears on the street in the context of large and urgent protests.
Historical consciousness is key to activist and artistic practices, but one makes history by doing.
I think that utopia is an essential energy for those interested in creatively engaging and changing our present condition."