Artist Interview: Kathleen Quillian

How did your preoccupation with metaphysical cultural practices manifest in your creative process with Expanded Views?
My interest in metaphysical cultural practices comes from a fascination with how people attempt to understand, manifest, manipulate or otherwise connect with the unknown. This includes everything from spiritualism to meditation to magic to art. There is always an element of the unknown in all creative practices and it is a constant source of inspiration to me. I feel such awe whenever something (a film, a painting, a performance) manifests from the imagination into the physical world of space and time—whether it’s something I made or something someone else made. Film in particular is a very magical medium, as ephemeral and alchemical (in the case of celluloid) as it is. The moving image is nothing short of a modern day practice of hypnotism. I guess you could look at my installation for Timeless Motion as a kind of book of spells—recipes for a moving image. Hopefully they will inspire people to go out and make their own!

How does the imagery (owl coming out of a cave) in your installation relate to viewers perception of time, space and movement?
The photo collages are taken directly from animations I have made and are displayed to show exactly what you don’t see when watching them as a single moving image—primarily that “movement” is a product of the mind; a series of still images blended to appear as one. Displayed as large scale panoramas, viewers can also see all the detail they might otherwise have missed when images fly by at a rapid pace past a single point of focus. I often spend hours at a time working on details that no one would ever actually register when watching the completed animation running at 24 frames per second. In a gallery context, a viewer can spend time looking at and appreciating these details. While the panoramas are meant to evoke an “exploded view” schematic of everything-at-once, viewers might also start to see some movement in relation to the pace they use to move past the imagery. They are given all the parts of the whole, and depending on their capacity of interest, are able to experience the imagery at their own pace—both at a macro and microscopic scale.

What are some inspirations or limitations you have experienced in the Bay Area cinema scene?
The only limitations I have experienced are those relating to my own lack of time to make and/or experience as much as I would like! There is no end to the inspiration I get from my involvement in the Bay Area film scene. In fact, when I moved here, I was a painter with limited experience in experimental film. But it wasn’t long before I was hooked. I spent a lot of time at Artists’ Television Access watching films and meeting other artists. And now 17 years later I am running my own cinema series (Shapeshifters Cinema) with my husband in Oakland and exhibiting my own moving image works in international film festivals. And of course the more I experience, the more I want to make. It’s a relentless cycle!

Kathleen Quillian is an Oakland-based artist who works in a range of moving and non-moving media. She has exhibited in venues and festivals internationally including International Film Festival Rotterdam, San Francisco International Film Festival, Antimatter Film Festival, Animasivo and the San Jose Museum of Art among others. She has served on the boards of directors of San Francisco Cinematheque and Artists’ Television Access as well as on the curatorial team of the Temescal Street Cinema. She is currently a co-director of Shapeshifters Cinema, a monthly expanded cinema series that she co-founded with Gilbert Guerrero in 2012. She is preoccupied with metaphysical cultural practices and how they relate to the creative process and our relationship to the divine.

About the Interviewer
Carolina Quintanilla serves as Interim Gallery Creative Partnerships Manager for SOMArts Cultural Center. She has a B.A. in Asian American Studies and is an Ethnic Studies MA candidate at San Francisco State University.

The exhibition:  Timeless Motion is opening February 18 and on view from February 18–March 23, 2015.

Images from top to bottom: still from “Stardust Serenade”; still from “Fin de Siècle”; still from Stardust Serenade”. All images courtesy of Kathleen Quillian