Deirdre Logue

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Notes From An Editor

by Aleesa Cohene

I first worked with Deirdre about four years ago. She was curating a program for Inside Out called Exquisite Corpse which needed to be compiled and titled. Three works were about the head, three the torso, and three the legs which together represented the whole body. I was totally interested in her as an artist as well as the work she brought to me, and was really impressed by Deirdre’s thought and interest in the relationships between the work; the body that is only defined by art. We also worked on a trailer for the program which visually expressed the curatorial concept (a three layer picture-in-picture made up of stretched images from the movies).

I’ve since worked with her on several projects. Deirdre comes to the edit room more prepared than any artist I’ve worked with. She is prepared with amazing (and beautiful) notes, tapes on ALL formats, good snacks for both of us (now that Allyson is in her life), and always needs to work after her day job ends. She is lead by an idea and I’m so happy to compliment it with technical form. She presents her concepts to me very matter-of-factly; describing only what she did and sometimes how she did it. What it “means” is almost always unspoken but remarkably clear. Even when she is still thinking something through she has good instincts about whether we should work on it in the Avid, or she should spend more time with it on her own. Deirdre doesn’t allow either of us to struggle with technology. Dangling frames, accidentally unrendered bits and any technical hiccups have their place and mostly she insists that I leave them alone. She says she is used to working with film and whenever she says it I imagine an animated hair and scratch following her around. I’ve recently discovered that we have a shared neurosis about cleaning which has alleviated my guilt about tidying up her sequences when she goes out to smoke. I think I have a good understanding of what adds texture and what looks sloppy and I know she trusts me with this. The form and content of her practice seem always in perfect sync. I wish I could describe that better because its something I’ve never experienced before working with Deirdre.

Mike, I know you want me to write about Deirdre’s work and about what it’s like being her editor but the pressure makes me feel like I have nothing to say. I remember her telling me that when we were done editing Why Always Instead of Just Sometimes she was going to erase all of her secrets from my mind. And maybe that’s what happened. Maybe that’s why I feel blocked and show it as anger towards you. The truth is that I know I have a good memory, especially of pictures. I almost always remember what someone was wearing, on what day (as the page in my day planner), at what time (I see a clock) and what images we worked with. For some reason I can’t remember the same kinds of things when I recall times I’ve spent working with Deirdre. I suppose this makes a good case for her wish having come true. You must be happy that this has at least given me something to write even if it’s about nothing. Something makes me think the battle between something and nothing is one of your favourite subjects and that makes me even angrier; like you think you might get my secrets by asking for Deirdre’s. I know you would admit openly to this desire but I’m still mad. Besides, like the manly woman’s voice says in Per Se “what I really want to say is private.” Maybe that’s why this is hard.

In video we work in a system of infinite choice; 30 frames per second requires 30 decisions, conscious or not. Many of the choices follow logic or tradition and others offer subtleties and variables that can either expose or conceal beauty. A bad edit forms a scar and the scar then becomes the story; the form overrides its content. Sometimes this is a satisfying interruption and other times it’s perhaps why people say they hate video art. I believe it’s both. Just as the options are endless so are the meanings. I know this. Deirdre knows this and when two people believe they are on the same track they suspend disbelief and refer to it as “the way it should be” or “the right choice”. Subjectivity merges, we believe certain truths and we make art. So when Deirdre says that she has “this footage of her trying to crack her jaw” I treat it like a formula:

“this” = a familiar experiment; interesting enough to show me but not entirely resolved.
“footage of her” = most likely a close up on body part of interest
“trying” = don’t touch it, let the trying play out unless I fall asleep
“crack her jaw” = the sensitive part; how she’s broken

After I watch the footage, I ask her if my equation is right and make suggestions from there. I must tell you that once we arrive at a mutual understanding things don’t usually take that long. Deirdre comes very prepared with a strong concept and it’s my job to wrap it up well. This is why your interest in our work together feels peculiar. She is one of the clearest and most straight forward people I’ve ever worked with. It’s only the “sensitive part” of the equation that can take longer to edit. The same editing decisions about pacing, rhythm, and mood, etc. are more fragile and require more time. And this is what feels private.

I remember her telling me that the discovery of the mirror is more important than the industrial revolution. When she said this I was reminded of something my mom told me when I was a kid. We were in the locker room after a swim lesson and a woman was talking to her through the mirror. She was looking in the mirror and at my mom who was standing behind her attempted to have a conversation. My mom didn’t seem to want to talk to her. I asked her later if she didn’t like her and she said she hated it when people talked to her while looking at themselves in the mirror. I think she felt like the woman was too distracted by her appearance to have a sincere conversation. Writing about Deirdre’s work makes me feel like I’m the woman trying to have a conversation with someone through the mirror. Self-consciousness lies at the core of her practice and as her editor I’ve often wondered whose self-consciousness prevails. On the one hand my editing tasks are simple and clear and on the other they require a deep honesty. I think this is also true of her audience. It’s both uncomfortable and humbling to watch someone look at themselves in the mirror.

Aleesa Cohene is a video artist, in-house editor at Charles Street Video (a post-production centre for artists) and Deirdre Logue’s long time editor. She writes about what it’s been like.