Kate Lain’s Top 5: Cabin Fever Playlist

Published on Apr 9, 2020

Armory Center for the Arts Teaching Artist Kate Lain’s Cabin Fever Playlist is a crowd-sourced list of experimental films that are currently free online. Kate started the list on March 13 for her video art students at the Armory once classes were canceled due to shelter in place recommendations. Lain thought the list would help her students stay inspired and sane while quarantined at home, and she encouraged people to add to the list. “I arranged the films based on moods one might be experiencing while being cooped up. I thought it might be a fun collaborative resource for other folks out there in the same boat.” The list has grown to contain nearly 2,000 films, organized by 22 categories such as Laugh and SmileSing and DanceNostalgiaCryScream and Break Stuff, and Get Outside. The story has blown up and was picked up by media outlets such as Hyperallergic and The Observer.

We asked Kate to pick 5 films on the list, and she replied “though I was tempted to quickly list 5 films I know well and have loved for some time that are on the playlist, I thought it would be more fun to select a set I’d never seen before and that I was introduced to because of this list. Each film in this list is under 10 minutes long and is a work I found quite resonant in this current historical moment.” Here they are, in no particular order.

by Margaret Rorison, 2014
runtime: 9:42

“This film has a haunting, hypnotic beauty about it. The choreographed performance depicted in the film, the measured movements, the flow between people and the environments they move within and through really hit me in a visceral way in this time of physical distancing and communing from afar.”

by Lichun Tseng, 2012
runtime: 4:28

“The abstraction of the grass tree into shifting patterns of light and dark take me outside of the everyday, to a more meditative place. Even with the abstraction, though, the rhythms of the breezy leaves remain familiar and bring me back to where I am. They remind me that these are images of the physical world that I am part of and that I can find new ways to see what surrounds me. This is a sort of film that I love in “normal” times, but I think it is particularly resonant for me right now because I really miss being able to spend long amounts of slow time outside, sitting still, listening, looking, feeling.”

Broken Bones; and I’m still laughing
by Setare Gholipour, 2017
runtime: 4:20

“In this video, the artist has projected recorded images onto herself and the walls around her, and made recordings of those acts. The moving image projections within this work feel like they have an almost physical presence, though they are made of light. I think about the ways many of us are turning to digital portals to connect with people and places we are far from and how images are reminders of both existence and loss.”

How to Draw Clouds
by Salise Hughes, 2006
runtime: 2:20

“I love the simplicity and playfulness of this film. The description that accompanies the film on Vimeo perfectly encapsulates it: ‘A meditation on the desire to hold on to the ephemeral.

by Manuela de Laborde, 2015
runtime: 2:47

“One of my long-running preoccupations is the capacity of documentation to also exist as art, and this is a film that hits me right there. It is a study of the surface of two liquids, and while it is on the one hand representational, it is at the same time abstracted into lines, shapes, textures, and rhythms through framing and disjointed time. The inclusion of the timecode across the bottom of the frame feels almost clinical, and I love the tension that’s created between that and the poetic dance of light and dark that fills the rest of the frame. This is one of those films that brings me delight as it reminds me of the magic that surrounds us wherever we are – we just might need to shift how we’re looking.”

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