This Film came into existence as a result of my research into what modernist poets and early modern dancers, mainly William Butler Yeats and Isadora Duncan, view as the ideal of their art form: what is the ideal way to express meaning? On the subject of trying to express the meaning of a dance in words Eleanor Metheny; a dancer, professor, and an important person in the world of physical education and kinesiology in the modernist period writes: “every word we use seems to denote the idea that the meanings we find in a dance can be defined, denoted, and verbalized. She writes that an artist can “defeat the purpose by trying to analyze and define the connotations he finds interesting and meaningful." In her book, “Movement and Meaning,” she introduces the word CONCEPTION as an elusive feeling that provokes us towards wanting to investigate and express it. The conception then becomes an idea and then finally a concept. A common Idealistic thread that I found among Modernist Writers and Dancers follows this line of thought. An artist should attempt to express a pure conception, and what inevitably occurs is that out of this attempt, a concept is built in the form of a work of art which will intrigue audiences. During the artists' process, additions and choices she makes are spurred less and less from her original elusive conception, and more and more from the connotations evoked in her by her own work. To modernist writers and dancers like Yeats, Eliot, and Isadora Duncan the ideal is actually to stay as close to what Metheny calls the conception as possible. It is this ideal that I am trying to express through my film. The Idea is that through organic expulsion of emotion that is both personal and felt but at the same time impersonal and universal one can shed light on pure conception, and as a result one’s art is at its most powerful and genuine. What I also want to get across though, is that even though this is the ideal, in a way, it is understood that this is an impossible ideal, it’s impossible because an artist can’t prevent the form that she uses to express her art, from effecting the meaning.
The sun theme in the films' poetry came from Yates’ idea of the scarecrow academic. He writes that by the time the greatest philosophers “penetrated the mysteries of nature,” nature had turned them into “Old clothes upon sticks to scare a bird.” He talks about academics, referring to poets in particular as these sort of tragic heroes, who must withdraw from life in order to ponder it and meticulously put their deep ponderances down on paper. He watches modern dancers like Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller and he sees them as having escaped this tragic artist fate. They are artists that are working on art and experiencing it all at once. They are the sun, and they are nourished by it, living, and surrounded by life. The dancer/dance ("how can we tell the dancer from the dance" - Yeats), artist/conception dynamic comes out more in the ideas of camouflage as well as the relationship between permanence and impermanence. In this modernist mindset these artists are trying to be the conception, they’re trying to actually minimize the effects that their form has on the meaning they express and achieve a sort of pure emotional truth that will outlast them. Yeats was also the inspiration for how I presented the words on the screen. “flames beget flames and images beget images” he writes in reference to a Loie Fuller dance. He describes modern dance as “self-generating” and writes that words too should be self-generating, you could say, organically produced by their conception. In order to make the words somewhat more like a dance, I had them appear and disappear like movement.

  • Vanessa A Finnegan
  • Vanessa A Finnegan
  • Vanessa A Finnegan
  • Vanessa A Finnegan
    Key Cast
  • Mark Magruder
    Research Sponsors
  • Tony Lilly
    Research Sponsors
  • Mark Magruder
    Camera Work
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Student, Other
  • Genres:
    Dance, Poetry
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 42 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 12, 2016
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • MARCUS Conference
    Sweet Briar
    United States
    October 15, 2016
Director - Vanessa A Finnegan