Interview: Rob Seward


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Rob Seward

US based media artist
artist biography

His video “Music Study IV” is part of the “image vs music” selection

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Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background

My life used to be all about music, and now it’s all about art. In college, I was a music major, and after school I wrote music software for a composer at Columbia. This past year I got a master’s from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). There I fully switched to art.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

I used to write music on a computer. When I edited my first video it felt just like using music software—you use the same parts of your brain. I felt I had to keep working at this. I also like how films require some planning. Sometimes a film can be completely planned—the whole film is structured like an algorithm. Sometimes they can be looser and require improvisation—you don’t know what you’re going to get until you leave the editing room.

3.What kind of subjects have your films?

I am interested in the structure of film. Some films have a high degree of inner logic. I like to make films where it’s clear what the logic is. They are not plot driven, but they have a definite arch and a structure. When you start watching the film you immediately sense that there is some kind of concept at work. The interest is kept by wondering how the concept is going to play out, not whether the guy is going to get the girl.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?

I brainstorm ideas. The film has to be simple to shoot (read: cheap) but be innovative. Then I start filming. I collect some extra material so I can play around in the editing room. Then, I feel like the editing process is the most important; that’s where the artistry comes in. I spend more time brainstorming and editing than shooting.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.

I use a Sony TRV 950 and a lighting kit. I like lighting. Final Cut Pro for editing.

6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general and you personally?

Grad school, where I made most of my films, was a place where I felt I was doing a lot of really free experimentation. Now that I’m out of school, I feel like I’m developing more of a sense of focus and direction. This focus is currently making me create these motorized light sculptures, but I feel like I really came to understand video while I was in school. Video is such an effective communication tool that I can’t see myself not using it in the future.

7. How do you finance your films?

I finance my films; that’s why they cost almost no money.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

I do it individually. I get friends to help with the shoot and critique the rough cuts, but besides that I am the author.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?

I had a great teacher at ITP named Tirtza Evens. You could make a film that was ridiculously pretentious, and she could tell you it was pretentious in the most articulate way, and in a way that would not make you feel defensive. She is the most gifted critic I have ever met.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?

I may start incorporating film into some of my sculptural projects, but I really don’t know. I feel no loyalty to any medium. Whatever medium most effectively communicates the idea is the one I use.