The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts supports embedded arts research through critical exchange

Katrin Pesch: Finding Things I Don’t Want to Find

• Katrin Pesch (UC San Diego): $8,940.91 for Finding Things I Don’t Want to Find

By tracing the movements of objects, the essay film Finding things I don’t want to find uncovers the complex ecological network surrounding the Bancroft Ranch House, a smalltime museum located in Spring Valley, California. An ever-growing archive set up by the museum’s caretaker and historian Jim van Meter, combining historical artifacts, mundane objects, community life and personal stories produces a constant circulation of knowledges, past and present. But there is more to it. The Adobe and all the stuff around it emanate a call to which the caretaker responds. By engaging in an ecological conversation, he invests each object with a new sense of purpose. This approach of answering to the urgencies of one’s own surroundings has broader implications. It offers a model for dealing with ecological issues on a larger scale. Focusing on the subtle economies of exchange and the connections between its inhabitants, the film examines the ways in which the museum is embedded in the neighborhood both as social hub and historically contested space. My script writing process draws its inspiration from Flying A Studios, a film company based in neighboring La Mesa from 1911 to 1912. Flying A produced an average of two films per week, which were often contrived from the features in the landscape while on route to the shooting location of the day. Following the working method of these early film productions Finding things I don’t want to find takes its cues from landscape and location. Thus the idea of directives derived from one’s environment will become an active factor in the making of the film.

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