selected press on Brian Doyle

Plenty Magazine, In Depth, "Is a Holocaust documentary environmental art?: Tribeca Film Festival eco shorts only loosely relate to the environment", by Tobin Hack, May 2, 2008

If you’re looking for the next Inconvenient Truth, don’t look to New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival this year. Sure, the renowned festival is screening five shorts under the umbrella title Environmental Rupture. But with a name like that, you might expect to view films that focus on practices and processes that are harming ecosystems, like climate change, mountain top removal, or coral reefs dying. Instead, you’ll see a photo essay on Hiroshima; a 94-second abstract the creator said was inspired by polar ice caps; a 24-minute look at abandoned homes and lurking alligators near Florida’s Kennedy Space Center; a fascinating, trippy visual experiment with water and “states of mind”; and a black-and-white documentary-esque film about a Holocaust survivor and the Dusseldorf train station where her terrible journey began.

True, the atomic bomb was devastating for people and the environment, and images of prehistoric gators basking in the sun beside space rocket launch pads illustrate the resiliency of nature. And the Holocaust could not have happened without trains and all the other trappings of industrialization. But if we define ‘environmental art’ so loosely, couldn’t nearly every work of art ever produced fall into the category? What does environmental even mean?

All this is not to say that the five shorts didn’t get me thinking about tough, complicated issues to do with nature and our dysfunctional relationship with the natural world. They did. Launch contrasted footage of Florida hurricanes, lurking alligators, and terrifyingly powerful rocket ships at blastoff, all in a provocative way that begged the question: should we be more afraid of our natural environment, or of the one we ourselves have created? Number One’s digitally manipulated footage of fire, falling rocks, and rippling water called to mind my most pure childhood memories of idle hours spent outdoors, and made me wonder why so few adults take time for nature.

Maybe this disconnect between people and nature is what the festival organizers had in mind when they titled the series “environmental rupture.” But if I hadn’t gone into the screening wanting, expecting, being paid to mull over these environmental themes as I watched, I could just as easily have come away contemplating why people kill, go to war, build things, take photographs, prefer symmetry to asymmetry, and create art in the first place.

Maybe Tribeca put the series together because the environment is such a hot topic these days. Maybe it was genuine passion that compelled them to broach the topic. Maybe I should shut up and hope that when uber arty eco-short films hit the quasi-mainstream, it just means the green movement has really taken hold. But sitting in the dark theater, watching 94 seconds of impossibly abstract polar-ice-cap-inspired images flash before me (read: a rapid succession of flickering, brightly colored objects), I couldn’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t perhaps be a bit more discerning about how we apply the term “environmental art.” Doesn’t a consumer market forfeit its power for change when it greenwashes every product under the sun, and lose consumer trust in the process? By the same token, doesn’t the art world forfeit its power for change when it hands this new hot label out so casually?

The last screening of Environmental Rupture runs Saturday, May 3, at 9pm, at Village East Cinema, 189 2nd Ave.

The Lakeland Ledger, 'Launch' tells of Humans' Escape: Lakeland native brings new movie to Sarasota Film Festival, by Gary White, April 4, 2008

Brian Doyle is a denizen of Manhattan, not Hollywood, a player in the Chelsea art scene rather than the realm of motion pictures. Yet the Lakeland native's experimental video work is inching increasingly toward the kind of narrative filmmaking that draws audiences to the multiplexes.

Doyle's 24-minute film "Launch" will screen twice at the annual Sarasota Film Festival, a 10-day event laden with feature films starring the likes of Charlize Theron, Meg Ryan and William H. Macy. "Launch," a vaguely apocalyptic story shot at Kennedy Space Center, appeared earlier at the Rotterdam Film Festival and has been accepted into New York's Tribeca Film Festival, opening later this month.

Doyle, a 1991 graduate of Lakeland High School, has lived for a decade in New York City, where he works as an assistant to Doug Aitken, a prominent Manhattan experimental artist specializing in large installations and video. Doyle, who holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from Florida State University and a master's from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, also pursues his own artistic career, and he has settled on video as his preferred medium.

Doyle's first major foray into video was 2000's "Yestermorrow," a five-minute work shot at Celebration, the Osceola County community developed by the Walt Disney Co. according to the principals of "new urbanism."

Doyle said the unauthorized video explores the merger of nostalgia and futurist utopianism that yields what he calls a "hyperpresent" aura.

A different celebration - a ticker-tape parade in late 2000 commemorating the New York Yankees' World Series victory - gave Doyle the opportunity for his next work, "Current." He attended the parade in Manhattan with a video camera and shot in a way that deliberately left out the people, focusing instead on the deluge of paper from above. A minor fire broke out during the parade, and Doyle captured images of smoke drifting around the World Trade Center towers.

He finished editing"Current" in May 2001, and the work assumed an entirely new meaning after the terrorist attack four months later felled the twin towers.

"I didn't know what to do with this strange video," Doyle said. "At first I was afraid to show it. I was afraid people would think I was exploiting it (Sept. 11). Then I came to the conclusion that everyone's lives had been changed by 9/11, and I put it out there but made it known through press notes I shot it before (Sept. 11). It ended up being shown quite bit in a kind of 9/11 context."

The Sept. 11 tragedy fueled Doyle's next video, "The Light," a short study of two vertical columns of light installed at the trade center site as a tribute in 2002. Doyle, again banishing humans from the frame, said he strove to create pure images stripped of any enforced meaning.

A vacation in Florida led to "Launch," Doyle's latest work. He and his father, Lakeland resident Dennis Doyle, made a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in December 2004, and Doyle was struck by the abundance of wildlife at the launch complex, which overlaps the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Doyle decided to make a short film set at the space center but emphasizing the natural world more than human endeavors.

He returned in 2005 for the launch of the space shuttle Discovery, the first mission after the Columbia disaster.

Doyle filmed the launch from across the Indian River in Titusville, and two months later he was given access to restricted parts of the space center. In what at first seemed bad luck, Hurricane Ophelia threatened Florida's East Coast at the time, but the storm stayed far enough out to sea to let Doyle and an assistant shoot for three days.

Doyle had planned to edit foreboding weather into the work, and Ophelia's passing bands gave him authentic scenes of the launch facility menaced by natural forces. He added radio transmissions and public-address announcements to suggest a story in which the last remaining humans are fleeing a natural cataclysm and escaping into space.

Doyle said he seeks to blur the line between documentary and fiction. "Launch" is not a traditional narrative, but it comes closer than his previous works.

"The trajectory of all these projects has been gradually pushing narrative a little bit more in each one," Doyle said. "I try not to be too forceful with the context because it is kind of an experiential film, and I wanted people to be able to take away more than just a rigid interpretation. I want them to be in the storm and project their own fears or hopes into it and put themselves in that rocket going up."

"Launch" was a nominee for the Tiger Award for short films at the Rotterdam festival. It screens in the documentary shorts category at Sarasota, and Doyle plans to attend the April 13 showing.

Doyle said he will continue creating works intended more for galleries than cineplexes, but he doesn't rule out commercial filmmaking.

"I'll see what kind of opportunities come up and go from there," he said, "at the same time continuing with my art career and pushing my art work and films in that realm."

[ Gary White can be reached at or at 863-802-7518. ]

ABC, Blanco y Negro Cultural, Arte, Video, "11-S, Las Peliculas de las hechos", September 18, 2004
"El pasado 11 de septiembre, el Museo Renia Sofia reunio en un ciclo diez videos que viajan a la memoria colectiva del atentado contra las Torres Gemelas, y a todo lo que haya podido venor despues...
...The Light, de Brian Doyle, recoge los chorros de luz, los focus que iluminan los trabajos de desescombro de la Zona Cero. Esos disparos luminosos, al final, en un curioso efecto optico, parecen capturar a un fantasma - los rascacielos del World Trade Center - y son caminos frustrados en la oscuridad de una noche obligada."... – Laura Revuelta

[The Light, of Brian Doyle, collects spurts of light, the work lights that illuminate the clean up of Ground Zero. Those luminous shots, at the end, in a curious optical effect, seem to capture a ghost - the skyscrapers of the World Trade Center - and they are frustrated roads in the darkness of an inevitable night.], "Noel Holston On Television", This Week's Picks, July 4, 2004
Reel NY
Thursday, 10 p.m., WNET/13
"Experimental Directions" encompasses four short films, including Brian Doyle's "The Light," a tour of America the beautifully lit.

24/7, PBS finds “Reel New York” in Brooklyn: Focus on Homegrown Filmmakers, June 7, 2004, p. 18- 24.
...July 8th marks the “Experimental Directions” a filmmaker can take…featured during this week is Brian Doyle’s “The Light” which is already accumulating kudos wherever it is shown, according to [series Producer Garrison Botts]. Fourth in the 30-year-old Williamsburg resident’s series on phenomenon, “The Light” works to challenge the original perception of the Tribute in Light, what Doyle called “this official reaction by the city and a handful of artists to the event.” Using the tribute as an anchor, Doyle filmed light coming from various sources in different weather conditions to build a narrative of an “unseen society building a progression of lights that progresses to the brightest light ever made.” The majestic and heavenly shots, which were technically difficult to shoot, were matched with ambient sound that was a “minimalist expression to support the light.” Doyle said his ideas are experimental but not far from the movie and television aesthetics people are used to. “I think it is going to be a really interesting forum to get experimental video out in a larger context,” he said. “This will have a much larger potential audience to people who wouldn’t expect to encounter this kind of stuff. It is a great way to test your ideas.”…by Christy Goodman

roberta fallon and libby rosof's artblog, Wednesday, January 14, 2004
"Let there be wind"

Brian Doyle's video "Current" of tickertape floating through noisy, unpopulated urban canyons--shot during the 2000 Yankees ticker-tape parade--is the second reason to visit Vox Populi Gallery this month, the other being the Screwball exhibit (see Jan. 12 post). This video is about more than the lyricism of the floating debris wafted on air currents. Without a soul on the streets, the paper becomes a stand-in for people, buffeted by the wind, aimless, yet a spiritual presence even amongst the giant buildings.
The paper piles up on the street in trashy gusts and decoratively wraps around a tree until its limbs are obliterated. The streamers break up the impersonal geometry of glassy skyscraper facades and float like birds across the distant blue skies peered up to from street level. And in the deep urban dark spaces, the paper shot against the sky and against the buildings becomes the smallness of a day and of human existence vis a vis the big city and vis a vis the big sky. It made me think of Jeff Wall's enormous light-box-illuminated photo, "A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)," that hung in the 1995 Whitney Biennial. But Wall's piece includes the people, who are also buffeted by the wind. The installation, two side-by-side television screens and a bench on a platform were meant to evoke the experience of being in a remote-TV satellite truck, peering out the two back windows. This is video as landscape in which the sky represents remote nature, but nature's air currents live amongst us and enliven the scene. By the way, the World Trade Towers appear in this video, which was taken before 9/11 but has an apocalyptic tone. – Libby Rosof

Senses of Cinema, How We Talk about Things: Report on the 32nd International Film Festival Rotterdam
“With Current (2001), a short video and installation piece by Brian Doyle, history is likewise re-registered, though in this case it appears as a prefiguration. Shot during the 2000 Yankee ticker-tape parade in New York City, the film features a flurry of paper caught in a storm in lower Manhattan: toilet paper caught on skeletal tree branches, cyclones of paper funneling up to the sky, no people whatsoever. Though the film was shot a year prior, the eerie, desolate images of Current fix themselves within the context of our memories of 9/11. Current resists being understood as anything other than the uncanny echo of an event yet to unfold.” – Genevieve Yue

Film Threat, Slamdance reviews, (4.5 stars of 5)
“A very simple event becomes an eerie omen of destruction in Brian Doyle's "Current."
Paper, riding the wind, invades New York City. Helicopters fly above the skyscrapers as if inspecting the scene. The amount of paper grows, tangling in tree branches, gliding against buildings. Sheets of it fall like snow. Perhaps it's a celebration, but where is that smoke coming from?
What first appears to be a parade of some sort quickly begins to look like the aftermath of 9/11, but what Doyle really filmed was the 2000 ticker tape parade for the Yankees, which was in the heart of New York City. Almost a year later the World Trade Center went down and produced similar results. Frankly, it's all kind of creepy, especially when the audience isn't told what it is seeing. (I learned all the information from the press release that accompanied the film.)
Viewers will take what they want from this nearly silent display of nature and man, and therein lies the film's strength. I went from thinking that it looked like the end of the world, to it looking like a parade of some sort and then back again, making this perhaps the most haunting six minutes of film I've seen in a long time. Simply superb.” – Doug Brunell

New York Independent Film & Video Monitor, New York Underground Film Festival

“…the judges wisely awarded a Special Jury Prize For New York City to Brian Doyle’s CURRENT, an experimental video documentary whose bleak and sweeping downtown paper storm strikes remarkable notes about 9/11 and the nature of information and visual context. If that sounds vague, see the movie and ask Doyle how he completed it last August.” – Peter Hall

Indiewire, FESTIVAL: Uncomfortable, Stupid, or Fascinating: NY Underground Film Fest Runs The Gamut
“The very poignant collection of September 11 inspired pieces, "Six Months Later" covers the gamut of emotions that our country has gone through since the tragedy. Everything from the angry, rambling old man in Monroe Bardot's "A Message to Bin Laden," to the corporate suspicion of Ashley Hunt's "Lockdowns Up," to the wind-blown trash and vacant urban valleys of Brian Doyle's "Current" uncovers a sliver of our new national psyche…
This collection best demonstrates that the greatest strength of the New York Underground Film Festival is the same as the New York spirit, its constant unpredictability and a scrappy, visceral celebration of human creativity.” – Tim LaTorre

Cinemad, The Chicago Underground Film Festival

“There were some strong experimental image/edit works, capturing childhood fascinations very nicely…CURRENT (2001, Brian Doyle) shifts, turns and catches you in a dream of floating scraps of paper in a huge city.” – Mike Plante

Cleveland Free Times, The Reel Underground

“Here in the underground abide….purely nonverbal video essays [of] data static on the Infobahn (Brian Doyle’s Current).” – Charles Cassady Jr.

BBC News Online, Online art to look forward to

“With the medium of internet video-on-demand continuing to fall short of its full potential, FW:Fwd ( presents an online exhibition of video art that succeeds by keeping things simple an not striving beyond its resources…Brian Doyle’s Current comprises simple shots of tape from a baseball parade, blowing in front of the World Trade Center a year before its destruction…for anyone interested in the possibilities of video art, this is more than worth a browse.” – James Bregman



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