How did you become an artist? Is there a particular experience that drove you to this choice?
I've long been interested in how people define and seek to transcend the boundaries of their own individual and cultural worlds. In college, I worked at Vanderbilt's Object Perception Lab, learning about the plasticity of the senses and the haptic potential of visual perception. As an anthropology major, I was interested in exploring the intersections between phenomenology, liminal states and spaces, and questions of cultural value. I slowly began gravitating towards filmmaking over the course of several years because it provided an affordance for synthesizing my curiosity about the human experience with my background in music and emerging interest in photography. Accordingly, I approach the art of filmmaking as a kind of interdisciplinary research experiment by employing a strategy of carefully attending to, and possibly altering, habits of perception.
What are some of the early art experiences that have influenced your approach to your work?
In Knee Plays #5, David Byrne says, “Being in the theatre is more important than knowing what is going on in the movie.” Although I had some formal musical training as a child, it wasn’t until I took up the bass years later and began to improvise that things really opened up for me. With improvisation, there’s no such thing as a wrong note because it’s really not about any one note—it’s about the relations among them, and about getting inside those relations. I think that early freedom to experiment musically, to let myself be guided as things unfold, really influenced the way I approach my films. [Writer and theater critic] Hilton Als has this great line about Sly & the Family Stone’s subversive appeal where he says that their genius was to have a soulful groove in the bassline while layering in lyrics that were counter-cultural. I also find myself drawn to works that traffic in social commitment conveyed through an unexpected set of conditions.