A James MacSwain Retrospective (DVD Compilation)

James MacSwain

2010, colour, English


In 2005, the Centre For Art Tapes (CFAT) Programming Committee decided on a new program that would highlight the work of senior members. This initiative would result over the next five years in five retrospective screenings with the production of a DVD of the work to document the event. One of these events was a retrospective of the work of James MacSwain and his thirty years in the creation of his media based filmography. The DVD which resulted from this event contains nine works from 1981 to his latest work in 2010. Of these works seven are film animations, a genre that MacSwsin has made his own through his collage technique. Of the other two; Amherst is a documentary, originally filmed on Super 8 about growing up gay in small town Nova Scotia, and The Executor, MacSwain’s only drama shot on video for a Film Five project at CFAT.

Synopsis of the nine works:

1. Little Known Curious Facts, 1981, 4:20
Also known as Atomic Dragons, this film animation confronts the environmental issue of atomic waste. Faced with the long life of atomic waste, where the devil shall we store it?

2. Flowers, 1984, 8:20
In the garden the dreamer dreams about sweet smelling metaphors. Over the course of this film animation, transformations occur that dissolve human violence into peaceful tranquility.

3. Amherst, 1984, 12:00
Growing up gay in small town Nova Scotia in the 50s was the perfect training for survival. Shot on Super 8, the resultant grainy image brings a home movie atmosphere to this story of escape.

4. Amoeba Culture, 1989, 4:00
Funded through the Canada Council, this new media video, formatted on a Targa computer program, was one of several works created though the New Tools for Imaging project at CFAT. This animation of an amoeba who gains art star status, results in a new world order.

5. The Executor (James MacSwain and James Shedden), 1996, 9:50
This video dramatizes the story of three gay men as each of them takes an individual path that completes their own destiny.

6. Mother Marilyn, 1996, 8:50
If you were born the love child of Marilyn Monroe and President Kennedy, wouldn’t you go a little strange. This film animation is a little widow into the decline of the American Empire.

7. Nova Scotia Tourist Industries, 1998, 12:00
The competition for tourist dollars is desperate! There has t be a new spin on how to entice tourists to our poverty stricken province of Nova Scotia. This film animation develops a landscape that any death wish would appreciate.

8. Starboy, 2006, 4:30
Haven’t you always wanted to create an opera. Here in Hollywood advertising has been raised to the level of operatic spectacle. However lurking among the stars are the head hunters ready to take your head.

9. The Fountain of Youth, 2010, 10:00
One sip from the fountain of youth and old age disappears as you gain a new youthful vigor. This film animation weaves a story of two of our aging population as, in their delirium, they search for their lost youth.

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