My Regards (2004)
a film by Christine Gorbach and Gary Lee Nelson
View the Film (11:30)
In 2003, I was sorting through my deceased mother's belongings. I found an eight-inch wax record of the sort they used to make in booths at county fairs. I placed it on a turntable and heard a beautiful voice singing a familiar song, "Kiss me sweet, kiss me simple." I recognized the voice as my mother's.
She made this recording in the 1940's but kept it a secret. No one in the family knew of its existence. I wondered why she kept the recording if she never intended for anyone to hear it? What were the dynamics in her life that led her to hold this secret so long. Why did she feel compelled to end her endearing rendition with the disclaimer, "pretty awful, huh?"
For many years, there was no audience for this music. This thought led me to ask myself some basic questions about the nature of art. When the music finds an audience, does it become art? Is it the artist alone who makes the art or is it the audience who completes the work? Is there art without the connection between artist and viewer/listener?
My film explores the relationship between art and audience. In "My Regards," the artist becomes the art and confronts the audience about its role in the artistic process.
The raw materials for this work are digital films of my own image along with still photographs of some of my recent paintings. I used various computer programs to mutate and transform these materials into a montage. I also wrote a reflective poem about the process (see below).
My husband, a composer, recorded my readings of the poem and created music that further challenges conventional ideas of art and audience. He cast the music in surround sound where copies of my voice speak and sing in varying tones and timbres from all directions. Sometimes my voice is up close and personal. Sometimes it is distant and disguised. Often it is rendered beyond recognition in a manner that reflects the visual techniques I used in the film. We end with the scratchy recording of my mother's voice singing across the barrier of death to a daughter who is still very much occupied with the poignant struggle of life as a woman and as an artist.
It’s private for me.
But you connect
It comes from the self.
It’s a longing.
“Kiss me sweet…
Did you think
Did you think