I think one crucial element of the essayistic mode is how it positions us outside the space of the screen to see how that space operates. In doing so, it redirects our attention back to the material world, to physical spaces, to the forces that govern and shape them, and to our own possibilities to act amidst these forces. We are no longer just eyes glued to a screen; we become minds and bodies reacquainted with our reality.
This rearrangement of our relationship between screens and reality is crucial to realising the potential of the video essay as a mode of activist expression. The rise of video essays proposes a new wave of democratisation of the audiovisual, where everyone can articulate themselves and mobilise others through their self-made media. Key to the realisation of this possibility is developing a collective mindset that can engage this mode in a manner worthy of our best aspirations, both for our screen culture and our social realities.
Video Essay Catalog No. 137 by Kevin B. Lee.
“Interface 2.0 is a short video essay that I produced for this issue of Frames. It engages with Harun Farocki’s 1995 short Schnittstelle (Interface). Schnittstelle was originally a two-screen installation made for the Lille Museum of Modern Art, and later adapted into a single channel video combining the two screens. In Schnittstelle, Farocki depicts his editing practices and reflects on the differences between working with film and video, as well as found footage and newly filmed material.
This video essay is not intended as a finished work, but an initial engagement with Farocki and his work. It takes Farocki’s work as a model, as a way to engage with, re-enact, and critically interrogate the original, within the context of the current proliferation and practice of online video essays and videographic film studies.”
by Kevin B. Lee
This video essay from Fandor was made for the Thought in Action: The Art of the Essay Film season at the BFI in August 2013. It’s creator Kevin B Lee was commissioned by the BFI to explore the somewhat indefinable genre essay film. Lee says “I spent several weeks reflecting on what the essay film is. This led to a video essay and text published via the BFI’s magazine Sight & Sound that aimed to argue for what true value this as-yet loosely-defined mode of filmmaking could bring to a world that is already drowning in media. Using the video essay to take a polemical stance was a galvanizing experience for me, as it clarified a great deal of my own sense of purpose in being a film critic in a landscape where critical opinions are abundantly available. This video features the work of Santiago Alvarez, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais and many others”.