Ashes

COMMERCIAL + COMMISSIONED

Festina, 2018, Nonesuch Records

Festina lente is a Latin translation of the classical Greek and represents both adage and oxymoron, meaning, “make haste slowly”.  The Roman historian Suetonius wrote about Augustus, “He thought nothing less becoming in a well-trained leader than haste and rashness, and, accordingly favorite sayings of his were: “Hasten slowly”; “Better a safe commander than a bold”; and “That which has been done well has been done quickly enough."  Augustus had gold coins minted with a crab and butterfly to make an emblem of the paradox, though the dolphin and anchor later became more iconic.  Throughout history, many have conjured this paradox from the Medicis to Shakespeare.

 

I was invited by friends Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly to make a film for their song “Festina” which is included on their album Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music. I’ve been shooting high-resolution stills using a Canon 5D and intervalometer, which allows automatic exposure. Hundreds of thousands of these photographs are “stitched” into moving image. I’ve filmed for the past five years: the city at dusk or rural, glittering stars as well as over a hundred sleeping people, capturing the sleeper’s gradual transition from self-consciousness to surrender, public persona yielding to private face. This uniquely intimate form of portraiture suggests the universal escape of dreams while also revealing a rehearsal for death.

 

I’m also intrigued by the way these digital images sometimes evoke the Hudson River School of painting for which this region is famous.  I own an old farmhouse in Greene County New York where all the rural footage was shot.  My mountain location often means I am photographing tiny, incremental shifts of our mercurial weather and light.  The final two shots (merged by a dissolve) convey something more painterly than photographic as the lens is overwhelmed by the rising sun and burns to white or the rising “morning star” (Venus) becomes strange and new in its watery frame.

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ASHES - Visual AIDS, World AIDS Day

A film by Tom Kalin, 2014

Music by Doveman
Featuring Craig Paull
and the voice of Justin Vivian Bond
Commissioned by VISUAL AIDS for the 25th Anniversary of Day Without Art

MIRROR MIRROR, SUBLIME OBJECTIVE (Music Video)

Director Tom Kalin, uses the elegant dynamism of parkour as a motif for aspiration in Mirror Mirror's Sublime Objective music video. The lyrics speak to striving for a goal, while the music suggests a transcendent state: a relationship that Kalin explores with the use of Shaker-inspired movement, bubbles, and imagery of rainbows and light halos. Sublime Objective is available on Mirror Mirror's LP, Interiors.

JILL SOBULE, STATUE OF LIBERTY (Music Video)

This video comes from Jill Sobule's album Dottie's Charms.  You can read more about the project on Harper's site. Click here.

MUSIC - Jill Sobule & Mike Viola
LYRICS - Jonathan Lethem
PICTURE - Tom Kalin

GEOFFREY BEENE 30 - Fashion Film

Commissioned by American fashion designer Geoffrey Beene to celebrate his thirtieth anniversary as a designer, Geoffrey Beene 30 returns to the era of silent black and white film. Three loosely structured narratives unfold without dialogue, in an associative landscape inspired by the German Expressionist filmmakers of the 1920s, the work of Cocteau, Ingmar Bergman’s Sawdust and Tinsel and the Pabst/Louise Brooks film Diary of A Lost Girl among others.  Featuring an ensemble cast including Marcia Gay Harden, Russell Wong, Claire Danes and the remarkable Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors in one of her final roles, Geoffrey Beene 30 reunites many of Kalin’s collaborators from his first feature, Swoon.

“A lover’s stolen kiss, a vision of madness through a keyhole, a woman fleeing in the night – these are images from Kalin’s remarkable film about Beene’s clothes.  Without dialogue, and no more than a thin story line about women meeting lovers and women being women – capricious, beautiful and essentially inscrutable – the film evokes the tension in Beene’s work between what is seen and what is imagined, between what is revealed and what is hidden.”  

Cathy Horyn
Washington Post

“30 is a model of restraint.  [A] Cocteauesque tale of jealousy and revenge played out in a castle and its grounds.  Imagine the story line of Last Year at Marienbad, the surreal touch of Fellini, a silent-movie cast costumed in elegant evening dresses spanning Beene’s working lifetime and you get the graphic picture.”  

Suzy Menkes
International Herald Tribune

ISAAC MIZRAHI FOR NICK at NITE

More information to come.

Ashes

Sublime Objective, Mirror Mirror

Statue Of Liberty

Geoffrey Beene Trailer

Geoffrey Beene 30 teaser/trailer

Whitney Stories: Gran Fury's Tom Kalin on Hock E Aye VI Edgar Heap of Birds

Not exactly commercial or commissioned…

Thomas Bartlett & Nico Muhly - Festina (Official Video)