Citron, Michelle

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My art experiments with ways to tell the stories of women's lives. Initially, I made structuralist films that told their tale through formal manipulation and metaphor. These evolved into experimental narratives that intentionally blurred the boundaries between fiction, documentary, and experimental practices. I was seeking a language with which to speak, as well as to question the categories themselves.

My current work uses the interactivity of new media to probe the idea of story in our post-modern, digital age of TV channel surfing, interactive games, hypertext, and complex websites. I'm keenly interested in new media's potential as a narrative art. Rather than being just a fascination with the latest tools I believe that at its core, interactivity expresses a deeply human tension between fragmentation and narrative cohesiveness, even memory is understood to be a narrative actively constructed at the moment of remembering from stored fragments. This tension between fragmentation and unity has been central in my work since the beginning. (Even before the beginning if I include my doctoral work in cognitive psychology where I investigated how the mind creates narrative coherence out of the mass of fragmented stimuli that constantly flood us.) Integration takes twenty-five still images and optically prints them to give unity, temporality, and movement to that which was fragmented, discontinuous and still. Daughter Rite and What You Take For Granted... create fragmentation whenever the documentary, fictional, and experimental threads interrupt one another; in this way, their stories are constructed through shifting and contradictory points of view. The fragmentation creates unexpected juxtapositions, which expresses complexity and ambiguity. Since my films speak of women's lived experience in all its messiness, form melds into content. My CDs continue this exploration. Created at the intersection of new media's interactivity and conventional linear film, they investigate the contradictions of lesbian lives, desires, and culture, as well as the paradoxes of narrative itself.

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    Rockefeller New Media Foundation Proposal
    Citron, Michelle (2006-11-15T16:33:15Z)
    Mixed Greens is a web-based artwork that uses interactivity to tell a story of the complexities of identity. It will be a mixed genre piece using documentary, fiction, sound, and text. Mixed Greens interweaves two identity stories: of my paternal grandfather and his brothers who, as Irish Jews, lived in a "gray area" between Catholics and Protestants, and later negotiated a different set of identity issues as immigrants in Boston; and that of five lesbians, who live at a contemporary edge of assimilation and difference. Mixed Greens is the third piece in what will eventually be a five-piece/fivecourse meal that I call Queer Feast: a mosaic of contemporary lesbian culture played out through its contradictions of class, ethnicity, desire, and the banality of daily existence. The five pieces/courses consist of: Cocktails & Appetizers (2001), a tale of lust and love, voyeurism and the performance of gender; Mixed Greens, a meditation on identity and assimilation; Bread and Butter, a non-linear "memoir" of the twenty-four year relationship of me and my partner; The Main Dish, a social, historical, and political narrative of lesbian culture; and As American As Apple Pie (1999), occupying the space between melodrama and sitcom, a tale of lesbian family life. This feast crosses many borders - documentary/fiction/melodrama/comedy, memoir/history/myth, ethnicity/race/class - bringing complexity to the media representation of lesbian life and culture. It also uses interactivity to explore the paradoxes of narrative itself. I will use the Rockefeller New Media Fellowship to create Mixed Greens as well as the Queer Feast web site.