Video

Twenty-four Hours project

In a changing world the Portuguese dictatorship stood out in its grim and eerie immobility. Backward, cowed into submission, a European country was ruled by senile generals and admirals, by a swarm of spies, and by a band of faceless bureaucrats all under the rod of a terrible old man. The social landscape seemed unalterable. Religion and official ideology were presented as immutable factors with obedience the highest virtue. Private property being the supreme value, a man was as good as his goods. Political power having been granted from above to Doctor Salazar, one had to humble oneself before the priest, bow to the policeman, and keep a respectful silence for fear of the PIDE agent. (Michael Harsgor, The Washington Papers: Portugal in Revolution)

2010 - ongoing
The catalyst for this multi-channel video installation was a found audio recording documenting the hourly events of the April 25, 1974 Carnation Revolution in Portugal. The cassette recording contains the voices of two reporters narrating the events of that day. When I first heard this recording I was taken by its degraded sound quality and its linear structure. I wanted to break up that structure, juxtaposing it with visual images, and overlap it in order to explore different configurations of time and memory as well as moments of revolutionary change.

My goal with Twenty-four Hours is to explore, in abstract form, ways in which we experience time, memory and moments of profound change. This project is not an attempt to depict the Portuguese revolution historically. However I did get interested in researching the history and the project includes links to some of that research.

Source material includes 8mm film from family archives, black and white hand developed super 8 film, original and found video, original and found sound. This is an ongoing project which is still building and changing. It can be viewed at twentyfourhours.isabelmar.com

video

Twenty-four Hours project

Isolatoes (Moby Dick) project

"Herein it is the same with the American whale fishery as with the American army and military and merchant navies, and the engineering forces employed in the construction of the American Canals and Railroads. The same, I say, because in all these cases the native American liberally provides the brains, the rest of the world as generously supplying the muscles. No small number of these whaling seamen belong to the Azores, where the outward bound Nantucket whalers frequently touch to augment their crews from the hardy peasants of those rocky shores... How it is, there is no telling, but Islanders seem to make the best whalemen. They were nearly all Islanders in the Pequod, Isolatoes too, I call such, not acknowledging the common continent of men, but each Isolato living on a separate continent of his own. Yet now, federated along one keel, what a set these Isolatoes were!"(Herman Melville)

When this project was initiated in 2008, one of my interests was the growing availability of free education on-line. I had become a fan of UC Berkeley Professor Hubert Dreyfus' philosophy lectures available to the public on itunes. These courses included Philosophy 6: Man, God and Society in Western Literature where Moby Dick was covered. The Isolatoes project is inspired by the novel's remarkable content and structure.

Isolatoes (2008 - ongoing) is a multi-media web project based on Moby Dick. The title comes form chapter 27, Knights and Squires, where Melville uses the term isolatoes to refer to the ship's crew. Each chapter is visually interpreted in the form of a web page which includes a mix of digital still images, moving gifs, videos and text. My interpretations of chapters are meant to function much like traditional collage in the spirit of Kurt Schwitters' merz.

The project can be found at isolatoes.isabelmar.com. The videos included here are embedded into various chapters on the project site. During the same period of time I also made a series of paintings interpreting selected chapters.

The Whiteness of the Whale

The Prophet

The Line

The Mast-Head

Island project

"For us, geography is history.
Like mermaids, we have a double nature: we are flesh and stone.
Our bones dive into the ocean." (Vitorino Nemésio)

The Island project includes a series of videos made between 2003 and 2008 which use common source material. The videos are about the idea of island from an emigrant point of view - a point of view which involves a profound sense of saudade for the lost landscape.

The Azores Islands lie along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the triple junction region between the North American, Eurasian and African tectonic plates. It is naturally an unstable location. The last active volcano was Capelinhos, which erupted off the coast of Faial island in September 1957 and remained active until October 1958. My family and I were living on the neighboring island of Pico that year when my mother and her brother took a boat to Faial to record the volcano on an 8mm home movie camera.

Between 2003-2008, while making paintings based on the Capelinhos volcano, I also made a series of short, montage videos using my mother's film footage as well as other footage from the same time period.

Film Archives

  • Film Footage of Capelinhos Volcano, Alzira Simas 1957-58, Faial island, Azores.
  • Film Footage of Capelinhos Volcano, Father José M. Neves Faial island, 1957-58.

Sound Archives

Geography and History, 2007, two-channel video, color, stereo sound, 3:28 min.

Our Bones Dive into the Ocean, 2008, two-channel video, color, stereo sound, 4:28 min.

Immigrant, 2004, 8mm film digitized, color, stereo sound, 1:34 min.

Folkdance (Chamarita), 2003, 8mm film digitized, color, stereo sound, 2:22 min.

Pedras, 2004, 8mm film digitized, color, stereo sound, 2:15 min.

Madwoman in the Attic films

When Martha Hale opened the storm-door and got a cut of the north wind, she ran back for her big woolen scarf. As she hurriedly wound that around her head her eyes made a scandalized sweep of her kitchen. (Susan Glaspell)

The tulips are to excitable, it is winter here. (Sylvia Plath)

The footage for these short abstract, narrative films was hand developed by stuffing it into a photo can and putting it through black and white photo processing. This resulted in a negative images with visible scratches. The footage was then projected and re-shot. The second film footage was developed using the same technique, this time resulting in a positive image. Both were mixed during editing.

North Wind, 1989, hand developed black&white super 8 film, stereo sound, 3:27 min. Based on the opening lines in Susan Glaspell's short story, A Jury of Her Peers

Tulips, 1990 (remixed 2009), hand developed black&white super 8 film, 1:00 min. Keukenhof, the Netherlands