Date of Award

Winter 12-21-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Art & Art History

First Advisor

Kelly Sears

Second Advisor

Erin Espelie

Third Advisor

Melinda Barlow

Fourth Advisor

Jeanne Liotta

Abstract

Vesuvius At Home is a 14-minute experimental essay film that de-contextualizes Pompeii as a site of personal mythology and memory; beginning with a VHS tape of third-graders re-enacting The Fall of Pompeii in 1993.

Comments

Vesuvius At Home is a 14-minute experimental film that de-contextualizes Pompeii as a site of personal mythology and memory. Pompeii is the fulcrum of the “self” where the past and memories are unearthed. The text, on which the film circumnavigates and branches is a VHS tape of my third-grade class staging The Fall of Pompeii. With us, the children, acting as its inhabitants, we performed our lives and our deaths. Acting as archaeologists, we uncovered our artifacts and bones. Now, as the filmmaker, I use the camera to re-examine processes of memory, preservation, and the construction of self.

This film presents the original VHS footage and my two cinematic interpretations: mysteries crafted in the (Emily) Dickinson-ian mode, and the Vesuvius in an artist's mind whose doors haunt open for those willing to look at the world differently.

Pompeii is unique in that it is a landscape of a civilization preserved for two millennia as the result of cataclysmic destruction. Not until the invention of photography and cinema could a means of preservation be approached on a human scale. It precisely on this scale that the future of Pompeii lies. Since its discovery, each archaeological (and non-archaeological) dig paradoxically exposed Pompeii to entropy. Thousands of feet, bodies, and fingerprints erode the stonework. The economic power plays of the mafia destroy buildings outright and scorch the earth itself. Life will destroy the site’s preservation. In the near future, all that will remain are mediated images of the site - 3D scans, x-rays, holograms, photographs, and films. Pompeii will exist in computer memory, a digital dream. This film, utilizing the mediums of cinema, thus becomes a form of preservation; going beyond the preservation of a site, or idea, to oneself – my image, my mark as filmmaker. The singular presence of Pompeii looms in fantasy, replica and reality throughout Vesuvius At Home.