Know Your Indie Filmmaker: Emily Pelstring
In this week’s installment of our ongoing weekly series in which we profile the most interesting independent animation filmmakers working today, we profile Canadian multimedia artist Emily Pelstring and her visually striking and playful work which often uses 16mm film and vintage analog video tools.
In a sentence: A time-tripping academic punk who fuses analog and digital tools to create mystical dreamscapes akin to watching early 1980s television on a broken down portable tv set while ingesting a small dose of mescaline.
Where to start: Head Cleaner (2015). Have you ever wondered what it might be like inside a VCR? Sure you have. Pelstring’s utterly imaginative short uses digital and analog tools to to exorcise ghosts of the 1980s from a broken VCR. It’s trippy, smart, haunting, and mesmerizing, and unlike anything else on the animation circuit.
What to watch next: Insect Express (2016). This music video for Gryphon Rue is a psychedelic clash of human hands, insect flight patterns, and assorted geometric shapes backed by a throbbing, almost menacing soundtrack.
Other key works: House on Fire (2020), Ottawa International Animation Festival signal films (2020), Witch’s Work (2018)
Influences: “Paul Reubens for raising me on a diet of camp absurdity and multimedia magic via Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Secondly, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is an important figure for me as an artist and occultist. And in terms of animators, I’m really into Mary Ellen Bute for her electronic experiments.”
Says: “When I do something that I would consider lo-fi (because it embraces technical malfunction, or includes disruptive glitches), it is certainly done in dialogue with mainstream aesthetic standards, like everything. There are these cultural narratives of technological progress, authorial mastery, and structural coherency that I do think can be questioned. In my own work, it is part of a feminist agenda — a criticism of some of the values of the industry.”
Currently working on: Passion of the Hedge Rider, a media installation in which animated video is projected onto a series of six stained-glass panels, suspended from the ceiling in an arrangement that evokes a medieval chapel. There will also be a companion short film called Hedge Rider, which will feature hand-painted 16mm composited with analog video textures.
Pictures at top: “Hedge Rider”