Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

I’m too sad to tell you (1971/2012)

Short film ‘I’m too sad to tell you’ drink tea sadly and begin to cry
Postcard of me sadly crying. On back: ‘I’m too sad to tell you’
‘The space between us fills my heart with intolerable grief’
The thoughts of our inevitable and separate deaths fills my heart with intolerable grief. – Bas Jan Ader

My first assignment can be viewed here.

In this work, I use augmented reality to emotionally enhance conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader’s 1971 seminal work I’m too sad to tell you. My work is intended to be tongue in check since the use of augmented reality enhances an emotion that may not be totally apparent in the original work, namely, humor.

In the original video, I’m too sad to tell you, Ader sits in front of a camera crying – or re-enacting crying – too sad to tell us the reason why. Through the video we are simultaneously confronted by Ader’s sincerity and the theatrical qualities of the work. In fact, the theatrical nature of this work calls into question the sincerity of Ader’s sincerity, posing the question “is Ader even sad?”

It is worth discussing the use of irony in Ader’s work. For instance, consider his 1971 postcard, Farewell to Faraway Friends, a photograph with Ader standing on the coast in front of a beautiful sunset. This postcard is clearly intended to be ironic due to its kitschy nature. By creating postcards, Ader is replicating cultural objects that are usually kitschy in nature. Likewise, it is possible to read Ader’s I’m too sad to tell you as kitschy due it’s excessive use of sentimentally, real or not.

In my updated version of I’m too sad to tell you, I use the “tears” effect from a popular webcam software that makes use of facial tracking. Due to the kitschy nature of this effect, the work becomes humorous. In other words, by accentuating the emotion of the original work, I am in essence negating it. Consequently, this work raises one of my concerns about augmented reality in general, namely, is it possible to accentuate genuine emotions without losing sincerity?

Sun, January 15 2012 » Future Cinema 2, assignments, augmented reality, humour, performance