A Conversation w/ Frederick Cummings
Frederick Cummings, Shauna Jean Doherty
The following email conversation took place in May 2015, following the acquisition of “Killing Time” created by Frederick Cummings for active Video Out distribution.
SJD: Shauna Jean Doherty
FC: Frederick Cummings
SJD: Do you primarily use video in your art practice, or do you create works in other forms?
FC: I primarily use video as a method of expressing myself but I also draw and paint and am now sewing towards a fashion collection which I would like to debut sometime this fall.
SJD: This work is quite personal, do you typically explore personal experiences in your work?
FC: It seems that all of my work has been deeply personal from the video “slasher” that I produced in 1998 about an HIV positive man committing suicide to the video “Notik Masowan?” in Cree with English subtitles. I don’t think work is worth creating if it does not push boundaries or cause the audience to think a little deeper.
SJD: This work seems somewhat spontaneous? How do you feel spontaneity produces particular results in your video output?
Most of my videos have existed on no or little budget so there is that spontaneity to it where I don’t have months to prepare and think out the script and location and actors – a lot of my work is spur of the moment and the result I think adds a freshness that you would not find in a video by numbers production where a lot of money is concerned.
SJD: When did you start making video works?
FC: I started making videos in 1997 at Galiano Island Film and Television School in a week intensive for HIV positive individuals. I collaborated on my first video named “Invisible” about how people who are positive are overlooked a lot and become non-citizens. Since then I have made 9 videos most of which are in distribution with Video Out and in the library.
SJD: Do any particular artists inspire you?
FC: A lot of artists inspire me – my former boss, Attilla Richard Lukacs, Geoffrey Farmer, David Lynch, and Florence and the Machine
SJD: Using an iphone seems somewhat DIY, is that intentional?
FC: Yes, it was very intentional. I wanted to show the raw energy and awful, angry feelings I had towards this person who burned me and I don’t think it could have been portrayed as effectively any other way than with the grittiness that comes through with the iphone and the loneliness of me on the seawall at night.