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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at 863-802-7518. ]
y Negro Cultural, Arte, Video, "11-S, Las Peliculas de las hechos",
September 18, 2004
[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.]
Holston On Television", This Week's Picks, July 4, 2004
PBS finds “Reel New York” in Brooklyn: Focus on Homegrown
Filmmakers, June 7, 2004, p. 18- 24.
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