Megan Wyler: Through the Noise

Artist Margaret Salmon Directs the Rising Folk Singer in an Ode to Avant-Garde Filmmaking

Layers of abstract imagery reference the interwar heyday of experimental filmmaking in the video for Megan Wyler’s “Through the Noise,” directed by UK-based American artist Margaret Salmon. Taken from Wyler’s debut album of the same name produced by maverick British folk producer Adem Ilhan, the song was co-written with composer and producer Peter Raeburn, who has scored multiple features by Jonathan Glazer and Lars von Trier. It reflects, says Wyler, “the moment when a relationship is fractured and there’s an inability to see or hear each other—but then somehow, if you’re lucky, a crack appears and you can find your way back.” Salmon has exhibited at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Berlin Biennale and the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and has previously worked with British experimentalist and Björk collaborator Matthew Herbert. “I was struck by the tense, complex simplicity of the song,” she says, “and by the refined femininity of the vocals and lyrics, which seem both fragile and empowered.” Colorado-born Wyler sent Salmon clips of works by Man Ray and Maya Deren as references, while the artist channeled the layered montage work of the French photographer Maurice Tabard, using a hand-cranked Bolex H16 and various Swiss-made, vintage Kern lenses. “I’m a devotee of all moving image but I adore film,” she says. “I find it exciting and precious and limited and expansive all at once.” 

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    Terence Nance: An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

    A Dynamo Filmmaker Debuts an Animated Examination of Love’s Complexities

    A young man opens his heart to a beautiful woman via an old-fashioned letter in the post in this clip from Terence Nance’s first full-length feature, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, an Official Selection at Sundance 2012. Raised in Dallas, Texas, Brooklyn-based Nance wrote, directed, edited and played the male lead in the film alongside his real-life object of desire, Namik Minter, taking a magnifying glass to the miscommunications and anxieties of relationships through envelope-pushing cinematography interspersed with quirky animation. The result is a swirl of romance and neurosis worthy of Woody Allen. The film grew out of How Would You Feel?, a short made while Nance was still a student at NYU in 2010, and was initially funded by Kickstarter before Jay-Z, Dream Hampton and Wyatt Cenac stepped in as executive producers. “Love comes from physiological reactions that are not necessarily explainable,” says Nance, whose dreamlike visual effects are so visceral that friends who have seen the film project their own stories on to his. “My response is always, ‘Are you me or are you her?’ and I’m always surprised at which the person is. Sometimes, it’s both.”

    An Oversimplification of Her Beauty opens in New York on April 26, and goes nationwide in the US on May 17, 2013.

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    Lily Cole: Wild Rubber

    The Model-Turned-Polymath Takes Us Deep Into the Brazilian Amazon

    A region in peril is distilled on 8mm film in Wild Rubber, directed by the multi-talented Lily Cole. The flame-haired model made the short while on assignment in Acre, northwest Brazil as an ambassador for Sky Rainforest Rescue, a partnership between Sky and WWF that raises awareness of the jungle’s plight, and aims to help protect one billion trees in the area. Cole, who has successfully melted the divide between the worlds of fashion, art, film and literature, shot the film across a day-lit Amazon vista after spending time with a rubber-tapping community in Feijó, where she learned more about the practice she believes is key to curbing deforestation. The hazy sepia and cyan-toned video depicts bird flocks, rainbow-hued spiders and nymph-like forms diving into the river’s purple wash. It is relatable, youthful, and eerie—particularly when overlaid with Cole’s soft British-accented singing. “Early one morning, I took a few hours out to go into the forest alone to film, and make a sound recording on my iPhone,” she says. “I only had two rolls left, so every shot felt incredibly precious.”

    Aesthetically, the film has an old-school look. How did you select this format?
    Lily Cole: I had been meaning to buy a non-digital camera last year in Paris, when I happened to run into Tacita Dean—a friend and one of my favourite artists who campaigns for film to be valued and protected as a medium. She took me shopping for a camera and we found this 8mm in one of the last camera shops in Paris to still sell it. I took it with me to Brazil and, without time to construct a set narrative, I simply captured moments as we explored the area, shooting whatever drew my eye. 

    What are your hopes for the future of rainforest conversation?
    LC: I hope a growing market can be created for forest products, such as wild rubber, as it essentially could protect the rainforest by making it worth more standing than cut down. Knowing she is passionate about the rainforest, I asked Vivienne Westwood if she would be able to make a dress using rubber for this year’s Met Ball to show its potential versatility, and she and her partner Andreas made something very special for me to wear. This isn’t for a consumer audience but who knows what we can do in time.

    What is the most memorable thing to have occurred during your time in Brazil?
    The rubber tapping itself was very impactful. Cutting thick lines into bark to watch a latex material bubble up was very surreal and filled my mind with possibilities. Rubber seems like such a synthetic material so it is really surprising to see that it is produced by a tree.

    Has deforestation been curbed at all?
    LC: Yes! Last year it was reported that deforestation rates were declining. Paraguay reduced the rate in their country by 85% following the enactment of its 2004 Zero Deforestation Law. It doesn’t mean the issues are fully resolved but I feel very optimistic that we are heading in that direction.

    Why is this cause important to you?
    LC: About 20% of the planet’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest so it's definitely something to value. Well, if you appreciate air. 

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