Video

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)

Isolatoes (isolatoes.isabelmar.com) 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.

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.

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, and it is no accident that our written memories are about fifty percent comprised of accounts of earthquakes and floods. Like mermaids' ours is a double nature: we are made of flesh and stone. Our bones have deep roots in the sea." (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 too 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