For this issue, we spoke with local multi-media artist and filmmaker, Alexis McCrimmon. McCrimmon utilizes a range of documentary, narrative and experimental film-making techniques; from reconstruction/reenactment, archival footage, and audio as text, to cinematic staging, narrative story structures and expositional soundscapes. These set the stage for animated photo-montages, video sculptures and elaborate loops. McCrimmon has been chosen as one of eight finalists for the 2013 Media Arts Fellowship, presented by GCAC and the Columbus Film Council.
GCAC: Tell us a bit about yourself. Are you from Columbus? If not, what brought you here?
Alexis McCrimmon: I was born and raised in Columbus, and I’m very proud to say that I’m a product of the Columbus City School system. After graduating from Columbus Alternative High School, I left the city to pursue my undergraduate degree. This was an experience that took me all across the United States, and exposed me to the field of media arts. After finishing my MFA atTemple University, I decided to move back to Columbus because I wanted to reconnect with my hometown, and I had been hearing great things about the DIY arts community based in the city.
GCAC: How did you get started in the field digital/multi-media art and what role does it play in your work?
AM: It seemed like a natural progression. Growing up I had exposure to visual arts education from elementary school into high school. I was a participant in the Columbus College of Art & Design’s Saturday morning arts program, and in my junior and senior years of high school had an internship with a visual arts professor at The Ohio State University. I wanted to become a painter, but I abandoned the idea after becoming disillusioned with the notion that I couldn’t “change the world” with art. It was during my second year of undergrad while pursuing a degree in Cultural Studies that I was exposed to various transgressive video art, as well as performative and experimental documentaries by artists/scholars such as Marlon Riggs, Tracey Moffat, Rea Tajiriand Deborah Stratman. It was after this, that I began to re-envision myself as an “artist.” Time-based media arts give me the opportunity stay faithful to the visual, but also to explore the practice of storytelling. There is a freedom that exists when you work in a medium that allows for and encourages intersectional perspectives; from the format of the piece, to the materials used, and especially when it comes to the content. It’s the intersectionality of the medium that inspires me. I think it truly mirrors that way we experience life and how we perceive ourselves and others within society. Life can sometimes be incredibly nuanced or “muddy” and I use this medium to investigate those aspects to the best of my ability.
Still from McCrimmon’s film, PIGMENT.
GCAC: Your short films are incredibly creative and evocative. PIGMENT is such an intimate portrait of one woman’s struggle with vitiligo and the profound affect it has had on her life. And the collage work is beautiful. Where do your ideas come from?
AM: First off, thank you! PIGMENT was a labor of love. I think my films originate from either one of two places. The first starts with a visual, or an image. Sometimes this image is static, like from a piece of ephemera, or it’s a fragment of motion looped, like an animated .gif. The second originates with a question. In the case of PIGMENT, it began with a series of phenomenological questions and material questions; specifically about how one perceives their self through skin color or lack thereof, and how pigments are infused and removed from various mediums.
GCAC: Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? What attracted you to incorporating digital technology into your work?
AM: Wow, that’s probably one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked… I think my creative process is just that, a process. It’s a lot of tinkering and testing to see what works visually or materially and then there’s a lot of research into the content. I’m certifiably in love with libraries and archives, so whether the content is existential or historical, you can find me in the stacks. Oh, and a lot of writing in notebooks. I was never one for the physical sciences, but I certainly view my studio as a laboratory.
GCAC: You also work as the director of digital media at Talktainment Radio. Tell us about Talktainment and the kind of work you do there.
Still from McCrimmon’s film, Saxony.
AM: Well, Talktainmentradio.com is an online radio station that is based here in Columbus. We specialize in talk radio and have a wide variety of content; from shows about women’s empowerment, the LGBTQ community, entrepreneurship, politics, pop-culture and local music & arts…there’s a lot going on! What I’m most proud of is my work on the TTR Online Video Magazine. It’s an opportunity for me to use my media production skills creatively, and a chance to get our hosts out from the studio and into the community. Each edition focuses on different events, programs or issues going on in the city of Columbus, and because our programming and hosts are so diverse there’s always something to report about.
GCAC: Congratulations on being a finalist for a 2013 Media Arts Fellowship. The awards will be announced on November 16 at an awards ceremony hosted by the Columbus International Film and Video Festival (CIF+VF).
AM: Thank you! This is a really exciting time and I’m honored. It’s always nice to know that your work is well received and that it has an audience.
GCAC: Any other upcoming events you’d like to share? How can people learn more about your work?
AM: I know it’s short notice, but if people are interested in seeing a sample of my work, I’ll be screening Friday, November 1 at the Skylab Gallery as a part of the Make Waves II DIY Arts Festival along with Pittsburgh based animator and musician Alexis Gideon. If folks are unable to make it, I am searchable on Vimeo.com and I do have a profile with the ColumbusArts.com artist directory, which I will be updating regularly.
Images: Stills from various short films by McCrimmon found on Vimeo.com. Courtesy of the artist.