Monday, 25 May 2015


Four of my recent video essays with accompanying texts


THEORY OF RELATIVITY is an experimental video about 'digitextuality' (or digital intertextuality) and cinephiliac relativity. It was inspired, in part, by "Time and Time Again: Temporality, Narrativity, and Spectatorship in Christian Marclay’s THE CLOCK," an article for the May 2015 issue of CINEMA JOURNAL by film scholar Julie Levinson. It was also made as a reserve entry for issue 2.2, Spring 2015, of [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies.

It asks, laterally, what can time-based compilation video projects do with clocks that get stuck, or go haywire, or with forces beyond the temporal, such as ones of attraction like gravity and cinephilia? As the author of the scientific Theory of Relativity Albert Einstein also found, although we usually think of lengths and times as absolute, these do turn out to be observer-dependent.

THEORY OF RELATIVITY meditates on a section from a Hollywood film sequence that Christian Marclay used to mark the important moment of midnight in his monumental 2010 art installation THE CLOCK (see And it subsequently takes in the part of the sequence he didn't use (spoilt for choice with midnight moments in the cinema, perhaps). The video further (simultaneously) explores, through remix, a less well known American experimental film about time that was arguably deeply inspired by the film from which Marclay's midnight sequence was taken. The remixed film sequences illustrate, perhaps rather too succinctly for Marclay's compilation, the idea of a 24 hour clock, as also heralded by Alberto Cavalcanti's 1926 experimental film RIEN QUE LE HEURES/NOTHING BUT TIME, released on DVD in the same year as Marclay's THE CLOCK.

[In case anyone should think that a link between these two excerpted films might be considered spurious or, at least, lacking in interest, there is a further, bizarre, real life connection between them, and their two actor-directors, as this video shows:]

Also see: Thom Andersen's great essay on THE CLOCK:

The above video is published as an integral part of my multimedia essay "The Marriages of Laurel Dallas: Or, The Maternal Melodrama of the Unknown Feminist Film Spectator", MEDIASCAPE, Fall 2014. Online at: (this essay has been translated into Spanish by Cristina Álvarez López and published here, also:

It is a videographic comparison of the final scenes of two cinematic adaptations of Olive Higgins Prouty's 1922 novel STELLA DALLAS: the 1925 version directed by Henry King, starring Belle Bennett as Stella Dallas, Lois Moran as Laurel Dallas, Alice Joyce as Helen Morrison and Ronald Colman as Stephen Dallas; and King Vidor's 1937 version starring Barbara Stanwyck as Stella (Martin) Dallas, John Boles as Stephen Dallas, Anne Shirley as Laurel Dallas and Barbara O'Neil as Helen Morrison.

The video adapts music from the track 'Sweet Tender' by Jared C. Balogh, shared at the Free Music Archive under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License:

The video was first screened at the Maternal Melodrama Symposium, University of Kent, June 3, 2014:

Williams, Linda. "'Something Else besides a Mother': 'Stella Dallas' and the Maternal Melodrama," Cinema Journal Vol. 24, No. 1 (Autumn, 1984), pp. 2–27 in JSTOR
Stevenson, Diane. "Three Versions of Stella Dallas" for Jeffrey Crouse (editor), Film International, Issue 54, Volume, 9. Number 6 (2011), pp. 30–40.

"In the earlier film version of STELLA DALLAS [Henry King, 1925], the overwrought Stella takes refuge in the ladies’ waiting room at the train station directly after her visit to Helen [the woman to whom she has just entrusted her daughter]. She’s watched very closely by a woman whose flashy dress indicates her similarity to Stella in class status, if not in her dubious profession. The stranger offers the apparently inconsolable Stella a cigarette, and Stella puts it in her mouth and lights it end to end with the cigarette in the other woman’s mouth. A fade to black gives the gesture—which resembles a kiss—an elliptical significance, though nothing else is made of this scene. The shot echoes with Stella’s connection to Helen in the previous scene. But the silent version of STELLA DALLAS suggests that such sympathy, and women’s motives, need not be reduced to shared maternal feeling. The washroom “pick-up” scene doesn’t occur in the [original 1922 source novel STELLA DALLAS by Olive Higgins Prouty].

QUOTATION: Patricia White, UNINVITED: CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD CINEMA AND LESBIAN REPRESENTABILITY (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999), pp. 107-8.

MUSIC: “Phantasm” by Kai Engel (licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License:

VIDEO: Catherine Grant, January 2015

C. Grant, ‘The Marriages of Laurel Dallas. Or, The Maternal Melodrama of the Unknown Feminist Film Spectator’, MEDIASCAPE: UCLA’s Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Fall 2014. [Video and text]. ISSN 1558478X Online at:

C. Grant, ‘The Remix That Knew Too Much? On Rebecca, Retrospectatorship and the Making of Rites of Passage’, THE CINE-FILES: A Scholarly Journal of Cinema Studies, Fall 2014. [Video and text]. ISSN 2156-9096. Online at:


See "The Remix That Knew Too Much? On REBECCA, Retrospectatorship and the Making Of RITES OF PASSAGE", THE CINE-FILES, 7, Fall 2014. Online at:

A video essay on the liminal moments of the protagonist of REBECCA (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940), played by Joan Fontaine. This is a low resolution, educational, remix compilation, featuring sampled music originally composed for the film by Franz Waxman.

This work was completed in memory of Joan Fontaine (22 October 1917 − 15 December 2013).

See also the entry on Gothic Melodrama Studies in Fontaine's memory at FILM STUDIES FOR FREE:

Thanks go to Patricia White for the inspiration of her work on this film and on the gothic women's picture more generally (see, for example, her book UNINVITED: CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD CINEMA AND LESBIAN REPRESENTABILITY (Indiana University Press, 1999)]. Read Annamarie Jagose's interview with White for further information: (GENDERS, 32, 2000).

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