For many Cornellians, April is a grueling race towards completing a thesis. For art majors, like Caroline Post ’11, thesis has a different meaning. Instead of turning in a complete piece of work, your thesis might never reach completion. In fact, the process of completion may begin after the thesis has already been turned in. The Sun caught up with Post, yesterday, to talk about thesis for art majors, and to discuss her interests in film, photography and memory.
The Sun: So you’re going through thesis now. Life’s tough, eh? What are you working on?
Caroline Post: That’s a big question. It’s changed a lot from pre-thesis. Pre thesis is more of an introduction to figuring out what kind of art you are interested in doing, but more importantly, how you express yourself. It’s not about — are you a photographer, are you a painter, etc? You go about thinking of an idea and applying it.
Sun: Prethesis? We talkin’ about pre-thesis?
C.P.: Well, that was first semester, and I’ve changed my idea dramatically this semester, for thesis. I’m a film major. I began the semester focusing on my relationship with video cameras and still cameras — party cameras, shall we say. I looked at my past home movies, photos that I took in elementary and middle school, and I discovered this need to document my life growing up. It’s like an insecurity I had. I think we all kind of have that — it’s why we bring cameras to parties.
Sun: Did you keep a journal?
C.P.: Yes, I still keep one. I had this need to document memory, and know that in the future I’ll be comforted that I’ll have it, because it will count, because I’ll have it written down. And this opens a lot of doors as soon as you begin this. When you experience something and you videotape it, are you really experiencing it, or are you just looking at a lens that is looking at real life?
Sun: I’ll ask the questions. What do you think about that?
C.P.: I don’t really have a definite answer, and that’s kind of what thesis is about. My thesis this semester is more about that searching, and letting go of that anxiety.
Sun: Alright so tell me about your thesis work itself, or some aspect of it.
C.P.: One of my thesis pieces is a continuous loop of a kite flying that my Mom took when I was one or two years old, and that is juxtaposed next to a photograph that I filmed. I uploaded that video and filmed the screen that it played on, and then I took that, and uploaded that, and filmed that, and uploaded it, etc.
Sun: So its like you filmed the film?
C.P.: Filmed the filmed the filmed the film. I did this seven times. The original photograph was completely gone from the original image. You had no idea what you were looking at. Because I used the photograph so many times, it destroyed the original idea. The work is more like painting with video. It’s not narrative at all. It’s like video for the sake of video, if that makes any sense.
Sun: I’m trying to picture that now.
C.P.: It looks like digital mush [laughs] on the screen with colors that are over saturated. I think that the original photograph was of a horse, or of my uncle giving me a toy, but because there is so much technology layered on top of it, it turned into this almost futuristic video-gamish thing, with weird splotchy colors, and I thought it was fascinating.
Sun: So how does technology relate to the idea of trying to document everything for you?
C.P.: I’m fascinated with how technology is helping us remember things. The use of Twitter, for instance, and how we walk in the streets and tell the world what is happening. It’s going to be written down, and it counts. This is the idea that I’m pushing. I’m not really giving anyone the answer though, but I’m not sure if I’m making a joke out of it. I still think it’s very real and important. I still take photographs of everywhere I go, and I still write in my journal.
Sun: Right, but you’re sort of exploring the idea of how memory might work if we didn’t have these things?
C.P.: Exactly. But I’m not giving you an answer. Some people’s work pushes people to think a certain way. I don’t like doing that. I like opening it up and questioning. I like when people have different interpretations of work, because it makes it stronger. Its kind of wishy-washy.
Sun: I guess it is, but it seems like that is sort of the point.
C.P.: Yeah, its sort of theory based. Up until a month ago, I was focusing so much on really using the home videos literally. I took clips and made them really fast, and energetic, and like ahhhh — insecurity, insantity, because that’s how I’m feeling! And I don’t think this was as successful, and I didn’t get as good of a critique on it. And I understood, and got the feeling that they expected that. They could see ‘oh yeah, your video is anxious so you are feeling anxious.’ So I let go of that intention, and tried to let the work do its own thing. That’s why I filmed the film the film the film, because I could just over-film.
Sun: I mean this is some pretty advanced work. Is this the first time that you’ve had the chance to really get into the work, to the point that you can let it speak for itself?
C.P.: Yes, for me personally. I don’t even know if I got there though. I haven’t had the critique yet though. This semester, though, I’ve been able to be more relaxed and open; yet working harder. You’re given time and space.
Sun: So where does your film background fit into all of this?
C.P.: Well, film is my future, I want to move out to L.A. next year to pursue some internships. Art is interesting for me, right now, because next year I’ll be working with a team of 50 people, more like an ant, to produce a piece of work. For me right now though, that’s sort of a comforting idea.
Sun: Right, what is thesis doing for you then?
C.P.: Thesis has allowed me to push myself internally, more than externally, to overthink, and be relaxed about it as well. I think what I’m getting out of this most of all, is just becoming a more independent person.
Sun: I like to think of my life itself as a thesis, so I can sort of relate. But I’m still thinking about what we talked about earlier, the idea of capturing memory. What’s your take then? Going around recording everything, does it add a new layer to your experience?
C.P.: You can sort of get a little high from it. It’s like, oh you caught that scene happening at the right time. Half the time, I’m like, the hell with it all. Why? We only started recording things this way in the last 20 years.
Sun: So say you go to a fun party, but all of your photos suck, do you think that that affects your memory? Can that make a change on your actual memory?
C.P.: In a way. I’m disappointed if something happens and it goes unnoticed through technology, which is not something that I’m proud of saying. You wish you could record your dreams, but real life is like a dream, in the sense that you wish you could go back in time and figure out how to get from A to B.