Review of "A Collection of Eccentricities" by Simone Dompeyre in the catalog of Traverse Vidéo

Le titre sied aux manières d'invention de David qui vise à  déjouer les attentes tout en réveillant la familiarité par ses motifs, sa parole active, son implication corporelle en duo avec son indispensable Ian W. Hill. Son monde numérique, virtuel est pourtant leur lieu d'attache. En buste, les mains en constante gestuelle, sortant de terre ou se dissolvant dans le sol, ils n'existent que dans l'explication constante concernant le désir de recueillir les livres. Leurs propos bifurque, riche en détours jusqu'à des aveux très personnels comme la préférence du hasch et les effets poursuivis de cette drogue sur l'esprit ou très différemment, ils exposent la nécessité de développer de "nobles pensées" de suivre certains penseurs avec une focalisation certaine sur Einstein devenant objet interplanétaire. S'y avoue le désir de la controverse, de la discussion et simultanément le refus de tout savoir faire quand on sait tout ! S'y reconnaît la tentation de croire au fictif jusqu'à l'obligation d'accepter le "vrai" à cause du poids de l'argument, celui-ci s'imposant dans le champ comme un gros cube de pierre. L'attirance de l'Europe de l'Ouest se dessine non seulement dans la pendule des gares anciennes de Paris-Cannes, mais disent-ils aussi par un livre des photos de corps nus qui scande le film comme d'autres tout au long de la proposition. Faudrait-il reconnaître un esprit français, un rapport particulier à la nudité dans cette image qui rappelle les photographies de Spencer Tunick qui est américain : le groupe de corps nus, qu'il considère comme des "installations temporaires" dont certes, l'un capté en 2009, dans les vignobles français à  Fuissé. Le discours est personnel, non documentaire et David revendique qu'il y ait divers points de vue sur ce que l'on vit.

Il revient très fortement à ses souvenirs des contes de l'enfance. La Collection s'achève sur une carte géographique dont le nom de pays est "pays de l'enfance", elle passe par les bruits de jeu d'enfants inattendus sous une pluie de punaises rouges alors même qu'elle a franchi d'autres étapes des films précédents de l'artiste, comme la construction inachevée, celle du garage.

Les mots iconogènes font s'avancer la maison en pain d'épices d'Hänsel et Gretel où la méchante sorcière est prise à son propre piège. Ce conte de Grimm gourmand, guidé par le plaisir des papilles, suscite les afflux de fruits, en divers modes tombant du drapé en lévitation comme en décharge ou décoratifs sur les étagères mais s'y entend aussi le refus du porridge infect.

Les objets ne gardent pas une forme stable. Hybrides, ils exhibent des capacités différentielles, le grand pot est doté de parois vivantes mais reçoit un couvercle de bois au trou bouché par une punaise mais il ne résiste pas à la pomme verte qui choit sur lui ; l'horloge estampillée "Cinéma-Paris Cannes" sature le champ puis s'éloigne dans la perspective, la rapetissant sur son socle frêle dans un lieu gris sans joie sous le son du tambour ou se noie dans les vagues se superposant à elle ; l'extérieur est gagné par des étagères de bibliothèque en travellings verticaux ; les grandes jupes, les drapés se font corne d'abondance d'où tombent les fruits, ou entonnoirs ou coupes. Un cercle troué s'agrandit à la prononciation du mot "meule" qui en attire un second en engrenage sans dents, métaphore et du tournage et de la vie ainsi dite. Ils sont doués de cette énergie libre exposée par des mouvements d'atomes.

L'environnement sonore adopte une même capacité de changement, pianistique sur paysage, ressac avec l'eau sur la temporalité avec l'horloge, évocation du manège avec les entonnoirs et il boucle, en sa coda, avec les tissus voletant sur son tempo énergique initial. Une musique marqueur d'irréalité aspirant les tentations de rationalisation, en parfait duo avec ce tissu blanc flottant du ciel, devant corolle en fleur aspirant tout alentour, venant du ciel virtuel et de l'écriture numérique.

Review of "Suggestive Gestures" by Nikol Gocic in FILM PANIC #5, January 2018

A story is something you won't get here, at least not in the traditional sense of the term. Instead, you will be treated to sumptuous inner landscapes which will provide you with a sensory experience you won't easily forget. A revelatory, revolutionary musical fantasy, Suggestive Gestures opens with the soothing sound of water gradually flowing into an equally calming instrumental. One minute into the film and you are already hypnotized. After the corridors of a circular labyrinth become illuminated, you are guided through it by David Finkelstein himself and actress Cassie Terman, whose words, occasionally sung, give rhythm to this subconscious adventure through the forests of abstract patterns. In a weirdly anachronistic phantasmagoria, Greek mythology clashes and intertwines with modern art in a computer generated animation of flat textures and strong colors. Fragments of art history become alive right before your eyes, a gryphon flies by the window, mountains of stained glass rise and lemons grow inside glass pyramids. All the while, mental images introduce a whale, the size of a pea, mystical miasma with an apple upon it and 20 sleeping bears around a lost woman.

Review of "The Two Fauns" by Maximilien Ramoul in the catalog of Traverse Vidéo

Deux jeunes hommes au visage angélique déambulent dans les rues de deux quartiers de New York. C'est l'été; le soleil brille et les rues sont paisibles; chacun flâne; observe comme en quête d'un objet de désir; qui surviendrait subitement. Tous deux avancent comme guidés dans cette atmosphère idyllique. David Finkelstein transforme, en effet, une situation quotidienne selon des effets visuels; légèrement ironiques et très kitchs. Il nous emmène dans une promenade colorée évoquant l'art vidéo. Un choeur de voix baroquisant guide ces deux être comme le ferait une protection divine; ainsi de faux oiseaux dorés se surimpressionnent pour les accompagner l'un vers l'autre. La rencontre a lieu; nourrie de la douce attirance érotique provoquée par la tendre distanciation de la vidéo dont le temps quitte les nécessités pour être ce moment où l"’espoir au visage; un amour peut naître. Le sourire se lit alors aussi sur le lèvres du spectateur tant cet onirisme est régulièrement démystifié en artifices exhibés et assumés qui ramènent à une réalité celle de l'image.

Review of "Privy" by Simone Dompeyre in the catalog of Traverse Vidéo: here.

NEW interview about "Suggestive Gestures" is published here:

You can read another new interview about my work here.
Another interview about "Suggestive Gestures" is here.

DF: My intention is not to create a painful experience, to make people angry, or to confuse people. Actually, my video is meant to be an enjoyable, entertaining and pleasurable experience. As I said earlier, if a viewer watches my video expecting a story, consistent characters, a clear concept or any kind of intellectual construct, they WILL experience pain, irritation and anger, because their desire will be continually frustrated. The video HAS no consistent themes, concepts, or storyline. That is because the video is designed to encourage people to learn how to watch it in a different way; to enjoy the flow of rhythm, emotions, and dynamics, rather than ideas. To enjoy it the same way you enjoy music (despite the use of language). To encourage the viewer to be inside of their feelings rather than inside a concept. Viewed this way, the video, I believe, is very rewarding, entertaining and enjoyable, full of interesting things to look at, interesting music to listen to, interesting thoughts to think about, and powerful emotions to identify with and by moved by. Fortunately, quite a few people who have seen the video agree with me. My favorite films and theater pieces have always been ones which teach me a new way of seeing. (Examples of film directors would be Hans Jurgen Syberberg, Mathew Barney, Ulrike Ottinger. Examples of theater directors would be Elizabeth LeCompte or Robert Ashley.) Very often, when I see these works, for the first half or so of the piece, the experience really is bit painful or frustrating, because I have not yet learned how to watch it. But when I finally catch on and learn how the film or play is meant to be watched, it becomes exhilarating, not only because of its inherent beauty, but because my own perceptual apparatus has been opened up and enlarged. I am trying to do something like that with my work.

JH: Where can your approaches find a place in a more narrative production?

DF: That's something I'd like to explore in the future. One of my long term projects is to make a film version of Shelley's PROMETHEUS UNBOUND. Although it would not be a conventional film in any sense, it does have a storyline of sorts and a written text.

JH: Improvisation is so much more than just making things up. Any secrets you can share that are at the heart of your improvisational acting technique?

DF: Yes. The focus for an improvising performer is not on what he is trying to communicate to the audience, but on what he is feeling. His feelings are the source of his performance. But these feelings must be experienced as physical sensations. If the actor feels it in his body, the audience will be able to see it. If he feels it in his voice, the audience will be able to hear it. That's just one example. Improvisation technique is a subject I'm obsessed with, so I could go on and on about it for days at a time.

JH: We hear a lot about "classically trained actors," are your acting approaches part of a classical regimen?

DF: Unfortunately, no. The kind of training that most people receive in acting school does not prepare them at all to do the kind of work I do. I say 'unfortunately' because it means that I have to train anyone who works with me from scratch. They have to work incredibly hard for at least a year before their work is anywhere near good enough to present in public.

 

Review from the Charolotte Observer 1/26/2011 (click to open in new window)

Review of "Marvelous Discourse" by Jack Foley in "The Alsop Review" 10/7/2011:

That was followed by David Finkelstein's equally amazing Marvelous Discourse. Two men, one of them the filmmaker, talk on endlessly, hilariously, while a somewhat androgynous "sorceress" moves around, dances, mugs. The often astonishing dialogue was improvised by the actors and has the effect of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry on steroids. BVFF's program comments, "The text for the video is a spectacular example of language unfolding from an intuitive physicality," which seems, like the video, simultaneously puzzling and heroically accurate.

Review of Lake Ivan's production of "Permanent Brain Damage" by Charles McNulty in "The Village Voice" 7/27/1999:

The Beckettian power of Foreman's vision is on display in director David Finkelstein's version of Permanent Brain Damage, a three-character enactment of a woman's journey into the core of her damaged being. An older actress (the haunting Alice Teirstein) and a younger one (Moira Stone) speak cryptically from the balcony, while a middle-aged puppeteer and dancer (the drag performer Agnes DeGarron) mutely flails around in her own colorful confusion. A split red cabbage occupying two bowls of fiendishly bubbling seltzer water serves as the physical reminder of the damaged brain, the apparent source of the ensuing interior pageant. To an eclectic soundtrack of music and elliptical comments, the silent woman (whose life, we are told, has left her mentally short-circuited) dons an array of cockeyed head wraps and hats, vestigial signs of a life once filled with hope. Impressively performed in an understated yet profoundly absurd manner, the production derives a powerful emotional current from DeGarron's wounded, clownlike persona. With his saucer eyes, rubbery limbs, and peculiar genius for handling scarves, he brings poignant life to this elusive, mind-tickling stage poem.

Review of "Episode #21: The Bathroom " by Jason Pankoke in Micro-Film " Summer 2002 issue

Vibrant spoken-word meets colorful cable-access technology in LAKE IVAN EXISTS, an interesting spin-off from the popular New York-area improvisational theater group led by David Finkelstein. In "The Bathroom," Finkelstein and James Martin engage in simultaneous monologues about cleanliness, life, and death while roaming about a lavatory dressed up to resemble a Roman bathhouse. Along with videographer Eileen White and musician Bob Goldberg, the group coagulates into a living, breathing collage of sound and image as their performance is augmented by video-generated graphics and scrolling text. Although definitely not for everyone's tastes, "The Bathroom" is a tight example of how to make a successful experimental video without succumbing to pedestrian production, inappropriate bells and whistles, or a bloated running time. The Lake Ivan players did not have the most sophisticated resources at their fingertips, as the shimmering on-again, off-again auto-focus reveals that a consumer camcorder was used to tape this episode, but the overall result keeps us engaged when it could have easily been distancing. Finkelstein also took much care in choosing the graphics -- some textural, some literal --and mating them together specifically for this home video edition, as the raw, weekly episodes consist solely of the recorded improv. For those looking to dive into something far removed from typical narrative devices, "The Bathroom" harbors a mesmerizing "lake effect" that might just do the trick.

 

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