All Creatures Great and Small

Duration: 6:39

For two weeks the children at the Chagford Primary School in Devon, England made puppets with wool scraps, wire and other detritus. 130 children along with staff and teachers worked together shooting indoors and out using stop motion techniques to make a film. The unexpected resulted as children inspired each other and the results are magical.

Director
Maureen Selwood

Editor
Julia Cotts


Werther

The Sorrows of Werther by Goethe inspired the opera Werther by Massenet. A scrim embedded onto the stage intensifies the grief felt during the overture. The scale of the Metropolitan Opera House stage was resolved with the desire for intimacy under production designer Wendall Harrington. The opera was directed by Richard Eyre and the tenor Jonas Kaufman with the mezzo-soprano Sophie Koch made the event spectacular. The sets were by Rob Howell.

Werther: directed by Richard Eyre

Production Design: Wendall Harrington

Tenor: Jonas Kaufman

Mezzo-soprano: Sophie Koch

Post-production: Manuel Barenboim


29 Cross Examinations

Joan of Arc’s decision to dress like a man violated a law against cross-dressing so infuriating her judges that they formulated 70 charges of heresy against her. Their interrogation included bizarre reasons to explain why she assumed male authority and took on manly traits. When she was taken by the French court to be blessed by God her voices were considered to be authentic and with that she came to lead the French army to reclaim the throne for France. When she was betrayed the voices were amended to be those of a witch and heretic.

 

The play takes place in the present where Michael represents the jury of orthodox theologians and powerful judges. His interrogation of Joan during the trial was recorded exactly. He speaks for the English and the Burgundians and finally the clergy who are determined to accuse her of heresy. Two performers, representing Joan, address her accuser. Using time-based digital projections, live performance, 2D animation and physical movement the play looks into the past to show the meaning and relevance of the trial today.

Writing and Direction: Maureen Selwood

Performance: K. Bradford, Nathan Nonhof and Sarah McCarron
Monologue: K. Bradford
Digital Projects and Documentation: Jeremy Glaholt
Assistant Director: Tempe Hale
Movement Director: Sarah McCarron
Lighting Design: R.S. Buck
Animations: Maureen Selwood and Sunny Liang
Sculptures courtesy of Megan Cotts

29 Cross Examinations was performed at Automata Nov. 20-22, 2015


A Modern Convenience

Duration: 5:39

Against the backdrop of Niagara Falls the domestic space for laundry undergoes a change when a wringer washing machine confronts a woman whose instincts question its value.  Yet a visit to the falls creates for her and her family challenges as they experience social alienation and water and power take on new meaning. The embedded images are created with a primitive drawing style adding a feature of quality of life lived in the 1950’s.

A Film by
Maureen Selwood

Edited by
Manuel Barenboim

Composition and Sound Performance by
Archie Carey and Odeya Nini


How Much Better If Plymouth Rock Had Landed On The Pilgrims

Duration: 11:23

Cole Porter’s song from Any Thing Goes, inspired David Rosenboom to pose a new music  aesthetic against the ascetic, disciplined, puritanical streak that one associates in this country with the Pilgrims. Selwood’s animation gives the music a rejuvenated sensuality and mysticism.

A Film by
Maureen Selwood

Composer
David Rosenboom


Rules of the Universe

An animation loop for installation inspired by third century drawings of Roman marionettes. Play turns into violence, magic is performed and layers of graphics inspired by Max Ernst along with an image borrowed from Ernst Haeckel emerge with a piece that gives historical significance to what we laugh at, what we enjoy and how repetition becomes hypnotic. The ritual of violence is embedded in a universal sphere where collateral damage becomes normal.


As You Desire Me

As You Desire Me was designed as an installation where the viewer could move and contemplate the screens separately. Three locations in the city of Rome were filmed as backgrounds for drawn animation. The animation is a kind of graffiti over the city, a form of social protest. The piece becomes an elegy mimicking the feeling when one is part of a religious procession or protest march. Empire Of Dreams by the poet Charles Simic underscores the feeling of alienation and loss.

This film was inspired by the emotional qualities of the city of Rome when the Iraq War was declared. The city responded to this in powerful ways. Surrealistic characters in real settings navigate the city where trains and cars bound but it is on foot where travel is realiable. One of the components is based on a poem  “Empire of Dreams” Charles Simic which inspires the lost person becoming a mask of the self . The three screen structure  demonstrates the complexity of the city as a web of passing through and those living there.

View video piece

A text about the piece by Steve Anker:

Maureen Selwood weaves three internal images to portray historic streets and the countryside outside of Rome as locations visited by spectral figures that move with trance-like repetition and reappear unpredictably between the different frames. The artist’s responses to her environment while living in this ancient city were influenced by tragic events, most immediately the Iraq war, and landscapes echo with the presence of refugees and a fear of disaster and sense of lamentation. A ragged dog wanders through desolate streets, a stream of black-cloaked women stream through the hillside, faces cluster together and are superimposed over the different settings.  There is a dream-like quality to these moving figures that is inevitable and filled with mortality and loss. Yet, as with all of the films on this program, it is also a world in which the ominous merges unexpectedly with that of fragile beauty and wonder. 

Direction: Maureen Selwood
Animation: Maureen Selwood and Maria Vasilkovsky
Composer: Anna Oxygen


As You Desire Me

Duration: 9:45

As You Desire Me is a meditation on the city of Rome when the Iraq War was declared. Three city landscapes  represent time in the haunting gap between the cold and barren landscape, and the people who traverse it. The three-channel film event uses surrealistic characters in real settings as a way to address sorrow and catastrophe. One of the components of the film is the poem, Empire of Dreams by Charles Simic.  

Empire of Dreams
By Charles Simic

On the first page of my dreambook
It’s always evening
In an occupied country.
Hour before the curfew.
A small provincial city.
The houses all dark.
The storefronts gutted.

I am on a street corner
Where I shouldn’t be.
Alone and coatless
I have gone out to look
For a black dog who answers to my whistle.
I have a kind of Halloween mask
Which I am afraid to put on.

Directed By
Maureen Selwood

Animation by
Maureen Selwood and Maria Vasilkovksy

Composer
Anna Oxygen


I Started Early

Duration: 2:06

I started Early — Took my Dog” uses animation to illustrate Emily Dickinson’s poem In which she writes about the changing nature of the sea, Dickinson’s poem explores themes of escape and the depths of the self. The graphic style suggests the industrial age and the rigid style of clothing women wore then.

Director and Animator
Maureen Selwood

Composer
Anna Oxygen

Additional Animation
Maria Vasilkovsky