Family and Identity

In Frame by Frame, my assignment was to create a new piece using video. Originally, I wanted to use this footage I’d picked up on a train ride to Beacon, NY. Here’s a short video of stills from the train ride.
Short, fast film

Short, fast film to Beacon, NY from Allison Walker on Vimeo.

BUT, as it turns out, I ended up sticking with my whole body image theme. As I explained it originally, I had the idea to tackle plastic surgery. I wanted to take a picture of a face and then turn it into a face that had seriously been “augmented” with plastic surgery.

Then, right around the week before the project was due, I got this book about my grandmother. It’s actually her biography and oral history, which is one of the Legacy Projects coming out of Washington State.

As soon as I saw her picture on the cover, I changed my project idea. I decided to focus on identity – the personal identity we use to describe ourselves, the identity of who we are in our families, and the basic identity we have as humans and organisms on Earth. With a few images of my grandmother, I was able to morph a picture of her in her 80’s to a picture of her as a young woman, and then finally to me. Then, to add video, I overlaid some clips from a Prelinger Archive video on conception.

As I did the work, and thinking about the final product, I feel that I was able to capture our simultaneous inner and external identities, while still representing the fears we hold about our aging appearance and ever approaching deaths. And, yet, even with the objective knowledge of who we are and who we originate from, which experience only subjectively and idiosyncratically, in the end we cannot escape science and biology. All of us, every living thing on this planet, starts life the same way – just a bunch of DNA dividing. Lucky or not to be human, despite all the time and effort we put on forward on this earth, no matter how much we may achieve or may not achieve, we can never escape our genetic fate. It was decided at conception.

So, here’s what I made. But, I need to upload a new version without the sound. At this point, I think adding the sound is too early. Particularly because it extends the timeline too far after the video stuff has ended.

Family, Identity from Allison Walker on Vimeo.