When I first picked up a video camera to make an experimental film in January 2006, I had limitless ideas in mind. I was planning on taking control of this piece of equipment and recreating every one of these ideas that had been floating around my head. Surprisingly, I found that my mind and body had a much different path for me to take. After flipping the switch, taking off the lens cap, and attempting to place these dreams onto digital tape, I realized that perfection could possibly be the worst thing for me. Being able to take these images and film them moment by moment, vision by vision, would accomplish nothing. It was at this point in time I realized that my inability to recreate these ideas were what was valuable to me.
Ever since that first experience with the moving image I’ve focused on making pieces that help me to learn more about myself. With each new experiment in film or video I’ve tried to formulate ideas that allow for the unpredictable. Leaving myself this unplanned cognitive phenomenon, I have used the medium to help me further understand myself. My earlier pieces seemed to be more unknown physical experiments; I would never know where the camera would drag me. At first it took me to a graveyard, then to a playground, then in front of a television set, and so on. Each time I picked up the camera I was led on a different adventure, and being in these places would bring a new element to who I was. I learned so much about who I am and the way I interact with my environment just from picking up a camera and hoping for the best.
After focusing enough attention on myself in the world I proceeded to work on pieces that follow more in the footsteps of my mind rather than my feet. I let my brain do the walking. I would lock myself in a room and just animate, or mindlessly edit, to see what would happen. No blueprint, no battle plan, just an unconscious stream that would either take me down the river or drown me. These works would sit on a table for a bit of time until I felt reviewing them would be worthwhile. The process of watching this would allow me to flashback to the night I was working on it and let me view deeper into the things I let come out. Every sight and sound within the piece is something that I, at one time, felt should be seen or heard. Nothing is random. Every choice made reflects what I wanted to let myself and others know.
These unconscious works have allowed me to reevaluate myself. Over time I’ve been trying to come to terms with the way my life has taken shape and what has brought me to where I am. It’s hard to investigate this pattern without hard evidence to look at. I’ve found that using film and video has become my method of tracing footsteps. With each piece I create, something is represented about me at that time. The piece is consistent. I can shuffle through old works and recall what I was thinking and who I was at the moment it was pieced together. Taking an old work and comparing it to a new one allows me to understand where I’ve been and where I could potentially be going. The future will always be uncertain but having a firm grasp as to who I am makes it a little easier to walk into.
Ryan Zlomek (December 2007)