3/07/10 5:35 PM
My family never made home movies, and I’ve always been jealous of those kids whose archives contain old Super-8 reels, full of nostalgic static and fuzzy images, with their voices and pictures fresh from the past. In a short digital film titled Pancakes for Dad, 2009, Stacie Sells makes good use of such footage, or what seems like such footage (it isn’t clear and doesn’t really matter if this is in fact made from her own family legacy). The audio is pure childhood memory, a dad chit-chatting with his little girl named Stacie, and Stacie chit-chatting back in her sweet little girl voice. The video is something else entirely, a modernist dream of liquid white paint on a black ground, dripped and poured like a Joseph Albers or a Jackson Pollock or even a Linda Benglis, if she were ever in such a monochromatic mood. Or is it? Pancakes for Dad is, after all, shot with pancake batter and a griddle, but what it does with those simple materials is make fantastical visuals out of them, as the heat of the griddle transforms the batter from liquid simplicity to bubbling moon surface to crispy brown solidity. Sometimes the camera moves in so close that even these abstract visuals fall apart, and the pancake dissolves into glimmers and gleams, strange lens effects that dance around dizzy and magical. Delicious.