Carrie Patterson, Chair
Associate Professor of Art
Office Staff: 240-895-4225
Alumni Where are they now?
Matthew Fishel (studio art, 2001) completed an MFA at Maryland Institute College of Art in 2010. Originally interested in painting, Matthew has expanded his practice to include animation, video, installation, and digital imaging. He is a frequent contributor to RedStarKGB, an ongoing collaboration of filmmakers in Baltimore. His own film, "A Short Film Regarding Possibilities", was selected by the Maryland Film Festival in 2006. See his work at http://www.matthewfishel.com
History Re-Imagined; An Analysis of the Films Apocalypto, The New World, and The Road to El Dorado
Abstract:There has been a notable rise in the number of American produced historical epics in both mainstream and independent cinemas within the last five years. Specifically, there has been an increase in animated and live-action epics located in Ancient America at the moment of European contact. The variety of filmic genre depicting the contact period provides a breadth of narratives and environments that deserve dissection. The empirical study of these visual spaces and places illustrate the construction of these facets of filmmaking and subsequently their function. This paper investigates a cross-section of these genres to gather what similar approaches the filmmaker is taking to the period people depicted in the moment of contact. The analysis of visual environments within American films that depict the moment of contact between Europe and Ancient America brings forth more additional information relevant to the technical, narrative, and socio-cultural significance of the film. This information can be found in the film in other aspects of the work than just those illustrated within the contained story and plot. These meanings either concern contemporary American perceptions of these times, or period beliefs. I will analyze the action-drama Apocalypto , the melodrama The New World , and the animated action-adventure The Road to El Dorado. Each of these films depicts the moment of contact, and through visual environments present information to the audience about these people and their world than is exposed through the performance of the actors. The worldviews and socio-cultural organizations of these represented people are exposed through the environments they exist it, as well as how they encounter these environments. Do spaces and places function as active agents in the prescription of filmic meaning? Do the environments within these three films directly inform audience reception of the historic re-imagined or fictive space created and represented within these films? More specifically, are environments visually coded to communicate determined positions on cultures presented in the film, prompting the audience to favor Ancient Americans or Europeans?