Elizabeth Brannan-Williams
May 21

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams
Illusions of Utopia, 2013
3:33 min
Projected video, variable dimensions
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This project was inspired by my interest in the idea of Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World as an illusion of utopia which simulates mythical yet nostalgic American landscapes and ideals, and how the roles of the staff or “cast members,” combined with the roles unconsciously enacted by the park guests, create the shared narrative and illusion of the park.

The documentary focuses on the history of one of the many myths surrounding Magic Kingdom, which is the secret underground passageways which hide all of the practical functions of the park.  The reactions of Disney park fans highlight our conflicting desires to destroy and preserve illusions of utopias, as the fans obsess over these utility areas and create reconstructions and maps of them before visiting, but also want to deny their existence once they are allowed to tour them, as they disrupt the fantasy of the park.

Apr 22

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams and Roshni Bhagotra

Coach House Mews, 2013

5:22 min

Video, variable dimensions

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I have recently been interested in the creation of history and false histories, and I have been working on several documentary projects concerning the myths surrounding places and the impact of personal and collective memory. I have also been experimenting with combining tropes of documentary filmmaking with movie footage and blatantly false imagery to create uncertainty, and highlight the impossibility of definitive documentation of truth and history, as well as the inherent fiction in documentary films.

I collaborated on this documentary piece for an exhibition held in a flat which used to be a coach house.  We interviewed her neighbour about his stories and myths about the flat and its residents, and I edited the footage of the interview together with movie clips to highlight the almost cinematic narratives he has created and seems to believe.

Apr 22

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams

Fields of Friendly Strife, 2013

5:40 min

Looped video on monitor, variable dimensions

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"Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory." 
- General Douglas MacArthur


This film uses footage of military football games and the Sandhurst competition to attempt to explore the connections between patriotism, violence, and entertainment.
The US military academy shown in the film uses athletics as a way to train their cadets for combat. Cadets are required to participate in competitive athletics in order to train for these situations and also to develop the traits that football apparently instills, such as “respect, integrity, and moral courage.”
I used official and fan footage of the school’s military football team to show the similarities between training for and talking about war and football, especially in the rituals of military football games, which include cannons, parachutes, and a march-on with all of the cadets and officers facing the enemy team’s soldiers.  I also used “fight songs” that fans sing at football games whose lyrics could be about military conquest or football.


In addition, I used fan footage of the Sandhurst (SANCOM) competition, which is a competitive obstacle course that tests soldiers’ military skills that has been going on for decades.  Countries from around the world send soldiers to compete in teams.  Challenges include marksmanship, throwing grenades, first aid, and water crossings.  It is open to the public and spectators are invited to cheer on their countries.  The competition is quite serious for these fans and for the participants, and in one clip one spectator says that they want to “see some blood” as an opposing team enters the view. The final clip ends in an American troop being awarded the plaque and the crowd chanting “USA,” reminding one of the celebrations when Osama bin Laden was killed – another situation of violence that became a moment of patriotism for certain Americans.
I want to question this desire to “see some blood,” especially when this becomes tied to patriotism or national achievement.  The military football games and SANCOM are spectator events when violence, or the suggestion of/ training for violence, is inexorably tied to patriotism and entertainment.

Apr 25

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams

Presidents Abroad, 2012

3:36 min

Looped video, variable dimensions

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Last year I became interested in statues of American presidents in central London. They seemed very out of place and it seemed strange to me that American political figures would be displayed so prominently, when in New York we don’t really have any prominent statues of foreign political figures.
Many of the American statues around London are unlabeled or behind construction, adding to the sense that they are out of place and uncelebrated.I filmed four of the statues, and tourists only occasionally took notice of them. A few American tourists did come across the statue of Reagan, and stayed for a while reading the entire plaque and talking about him.It seemed that the statue was a connection to their home.  I am interested in the way these statues connect the two continents. 
I also filmed the monuments of the same presidents in Washington DC, where many of them are tourist spots, and played the footage side by side.  The statues which seem regal and celebrated in America are isolated and modest here in London, a reminder of the sometimes uneasy position of being an American abroad.  The statues in London are part of passages by whereas the ones in the US are destinations; the London statues are dead images in contrast to the “living” images of power that the US statues serve as.
I want to explore the way monuments can be incredibly meaningful and symbolic but, as statues, they can also fade into the background and become forgotten.

Apr 25

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams

Childhood is for Adults, 2012

1:35 min

Video, variable dimensions

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Apr 24

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams

Perception of Truth, 2011

1:02 min

Looped projection, variable dimensions

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This video is part of an exploration of our perceptions of reality through the fragile filters of our brain, science, and religion.

I have been interested in what we rely on to judge and perceive truth; first of all, our brains, which determine our entire perception of the world around us, but are fragile and can easily fail us and skew how we see our environments.

Many people also rely on science or religion as lenses through which they understand the world; however, both science and religion are fallible and flawed, and thus cannot be relied upon to inform our perception of truth either. It may not be possible, despite the human quest of knowledge and omniscience, for us to purely perceive and understand truth and reality, given the limits of the human mind and how easily it can betray us.

Apr 24

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams

9,369 Gun Salute, 2011

:46 min

Looped video on monitor, variable dimensions

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This piece explores patriotism in America, shedding light on the violent and bloodthirsty undertones to patriotic celebrations and events in America, such as the 21 gun salute (the tradition of firing arms as a military honour) and the reaction to the recent killing of Osama bin Laden. I mixed recordings of patriotic events with the sounds of gunshots to show how guns and violence are integral to our sense of pride in our country.

Apr 24

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams

Action at a Distance, 2011

1:30 min

Looped projection, variable dimensions

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Inspired by the idea of chance and the quantum physics concept of “action at a distance,” which suggests that two objects that are not connected in any way (that we presently can measure) or even in the same location can interact and affect each other, I filmed the completely random fingerprint patterns three times and then layered the shots on top of each other, letting chance and coincidence create the images and interactions.

I was interested in how seemingly coincidental connections and interactions actually have a scientific foundation, and that there is a layer of connectivity that we cannot measure or understand.

Apr 23

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams

Self Forgiveness, 2010

:38 min

Looped video, variable dimensions

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The piece focuses on lighting and contrast as well as repetition and multiple layers of imagery. Repeated motifs of washing & drying and water represent the process of self-forgiveness and spiritual cleansing, and close images of skin patterns to reflect on the personal nature of the process.

Apr 23

Elizabeth Brannan-Williams

Recollection, 2010

:17 min

Looped projection, variable dimensions

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This project explores two parts of the nature of memory and the struggle for recollection – the way that memory can warp and change over time, and the way that memories can slowly fade completely. I did a series of drawings based on my studies of a thrift store teacup and saucer; 6 drawings of the object warping and 6 of it fading into the ethereal. I photographed these and created this video in which the object morphs from the original form into the changed form, and then fades completely to show the process of forgetting a memory or memento. This video is meant to be projected above wax sculptures based on this series