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By David Finkelstein | June 25, 2007

“Muse of Cinema” is a 20 minute film which mixes footage from the “dawn of cinema” age and Magic Lantern images with splotches and swirls in primary colors, as well as dancing musical symbols. The soundtrack mixes the sounds of film projectors with a collage of turn of the (20th) century pop music. “Torchlight Tango” is a companion film, also 20 minutes, which features very high speed footage of Laitala in her studio making “The Muse of Cinema:” repeatedly exposing the filmstrips with a flashlight, processing film, editing, and playing with her cat.

“Torchlight Tango” reveals that Kerry Laitala’s process of making “The Muse of Cinema” was intensely interesting. To Laitala. Taken together, these two films illustrate a problem with a lot of art which is unbalancedly focussed on process. Laitala appears to have developed a process which provided her with years of intense fascination, as she figured out how to individually hand process each bit of film. However, she appears to have given virtually no thought at all to what the experience of watching the film will actually be like for an audience. The result? It is not interesting to watch, visually, musically, intellectually, emotionally, poetically, or in any of the various ways which film can affect an audience.

The best process oriented art, such as the sculpture of Eva Hesse or the film “Kosmos” by Thorsten Fleisch, succeeds because the artist makes process visible and palpable for the viewer. Laitala’s films appear to have forgotten all about the viewer.

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