Gerald Saul, Artist Statement
For the last two decades, I have employed film to interrogate and express issues of personal identity, seeking ways to explore these issues both through the content and the structure of film.
Although some of my films, in particular the short film loops included in installations, are abstract or even non-representational in nature, I gravitate to fictional or autobiographical storytelling in my longer autonomous work. My means of telling stories has progressively moved away from traditional cinematic narratives toward alternative experimental models such as superimposed text and direct address voice-over monologues. This approach reflects my assertion that we understand one another through our stories and that each of our stories is important.
My early films document issues from my geographic and personal isolation to my struggle with relationships and my life as an artist. Many of these filmic 'stories' use layers of voice, superimposed layers of text or images, and rapidly-cut film to construct a dense visual and aural territory that challenge the viewer to reflect upon the structure of memory.
More recently, my films deal with personal narratives such as my role as a father and the problems with my health, raising the question of mortality that both of these events invoke. Indeed, in my Toxic film series which is comprised of six different but interconnected 16 mm films each 5 minutes in length, I employ or juxtapose images of such subjects as demolition sites with surgery staples to reflect upon the body's processes of devastation and recuperation. The film's structure is shaped to reflect these themes: on the one hand, fragmented images slip in and out of view due to the destructive hand-developing processes I employ which destroys the film emulsion while on the other I chemically add colour to the emulsion to reflect my joyous response to the birth of my son, an alternate journey, oppositional to my life-threatening illness.
My seemingly trivial "Canister the Robot" series of satirical films has been my way of further exploring the new ways that stories are told as the project relies on the viewers to cobble together aspects of the story that are presented in multiple forms including in comic strips, trading cards, audio recordings, live performances, puppet shows, and on the web. Through these works I contemplate the nature of entertainment and test the limits of what an individual will do to develop and appreciate their own entertainment experience.
In all cases, my work is a combination of process and analysis reflecting my meditations on both film and my life. The Toxic suite, which began as a technical exploration of hand-processing aimed at creating film outside the mainstream infrastructure of expensive motion picture laboratories, forced me to consider the methods and meanings of more 'democratic' film making process and structures. The intimate act of manipulating film in this way gave rise to the personal voyage of discovery films in this series, that reflect on not only the nature and meaning of film but of my own life as well.