Digital Artist: Godfrey Silas

Interviewed by Paulo de Andrade

 

 

 

 


Godfrey Silas, a student of classical aesthetic philosophy, is one of those rare individuals who can call himself a true artist. A firm believer in affordable digital technologies, he draws upon his years of experience in classical dance and glamour cinematography to create uniquely rich audiovisual experiences on video.

In keeping with his reverence for the female form, mind and soul, he has evolved a system of glamour presentation that gives credence to "The Power and Mystery of Woman." Godfrey Silas honors beauty, delicacy and balance in pictorial imagery as much as he infuses lyricism, poetry and drama into his choreography.


DPP: Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born and what's your general background, including education?

GS : I was born in England and raised around the world, mostly in Sydney, Australia. I studied classical ballet and other forms from age six. Went back to Rome as an adult to study cinematography at the Institute of Cinematography and Television where major emphasis was placed on classical cinema and the rudiments of Fotografia.
Europe is a great continent for studying film: the Europeans seem naturally endowed with temperance and poetic conceptualization. It also has a rich classical culture to draw from.

I received a Bachelor of Arts in the Visual Arts: Film and Video art from the City Art Institute, a college of fine arts of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. At American University in Washington DC the amalgamation of Film and Performance took shape. For a master's degree, I had to merge Film with Dance, Theatre and Classical Music. My video work won Best of the Festival at the American University Film/Video Fest in '92 and again in '93, much to my surprise.

DPP : How has your formation as a dancer and your photography education influenced you in the creation of your videos?

Click on the picture to watch the video

GS : Working in the US, I have decided that my work is essentially subtle and European: informed by interiority and existential layers as opposed to the physicalistic, mechanistic, topical, superficial, fragmented, compartmentalized. When you are trained in dance, your conceptual apprehension of space, time and dynamics (action) become highly stylized, architectural. For example, when I watch some of the best movies, I often wish that the directors had studied dance. Actresses who cannot walk beautifully, should never be seen in a long shot. Cinema is an art; so is everything in it.

As a dance and glamour filmmaker, my work is very intense. Corporate and other commercial work are infinitely easier to do, and take much less time to present. The prospect of choreographing a piece for the music of Mozart or Beethoven is daunting. To bring these composers to the screen by way of a music video-dance, the producer must be in possession of very subtle emotional awareness. If the same producer is the choreographer, the cinematographer, the editor and director, there is some intense task at hand. The trinity of Time, Space and Dynamics demands complexity and a clear resolve. It took me five years to complete my first hour-long videotape (currently available at Amazon.com) called Temperaments in Motion. It took me three years to release Portrait of a Dancer (also at Amazon). But working in this medium of communication is also more emotionally arresting; and consequently more satisfying.

DPP : You started working on linear editing systems. Even though you didn't have a lot of resources available, you always squeezed the most out of the available equipment. Can you tell us something about those days?

Click on the picture to watch the video

GS : In graduate school I spent an inordinate amount of time studying our beloved JVC video switcher in the linear edit suite. The manual switcher sat between a player to the left and a record deck to the right; a black and white source monitor and an okay color monitor to guess your edits. The School of Communications had a great TV studio and an impressive control room which I used for broadcast-level work. But my course work was mainly independent study projects and so I returned to my JVC switcher and studied it diligently. My music-video-dance projects were very edit/multi-layer-intensive and so I had no choice but to know the switcher.

After graduate school I rented cheap linear edit systems for work. The best cheap facility in town was always booked; very crowded, and crashed all the time. This was a linear system with a computerized controller. The controller skipped frames, duplicated frames and created jump cuts. I also used Viacom's Community Access S-VHS edit bays for moving my art projects along. After a year of four-hour edit slots, I discovered while on a high-end suite, that I had spent a year creating video replete with hidden jump cuts. It cost me a lot of money to rescue the work on an M2 edititing system, a solid high-end suite.

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