59th Ann Arbor Film Festival

Juror Presentation: Sheri Wills - What Does Light Remember?

Expired April 1, 2021 4:00 AM
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After the initial live event, the program will be available for on-demand viewing until 12am midnight EDT on 3/31

As a small child, looking at the stars, Sheri Wills wondered: if light from a star takes so long to get here, what does it remember of its journey? How is it changed by its travel? Where does light go, after it can no longer be seen? Questions about the material nature of captured light, in terms of its capacity to hold memories and illuminate small experiences, are central to Wills’s experimental film work. In this program, the physical characteristics of time-based media become a framework for understanding human experience. Wills works with the material qualities of analog film, audio, and digital media. This is combined with historic and contemporary research about how the human visual and auditory systems operate, to examine the gaps between what is measurable in the physical world and what we perceive as experience. Just as peripheral vision is essential to survival, it is by paying attention to the gaps, the margins, and the in-between personal moments that we might gain a fuller understanding of others and of our relationship to what lies outside our immediate perception.

Sheri Wills is an artist whose work is based in film, video performance, and installation. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including one-person shows at the Director’s Lounge in Berlin, the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema in New York City, and The International Experimental Cinema Exposition. Her films have been screened at venues such as the London Film Festival, the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Experiments in Cinema (Albuquerque, New Mexico), and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her collaborations include live video projects with music composed by Jan Jirásek, Charles Norman Mason, Bright Sheng, and Ofer Ben-Amots, and video performances with music ensembles including the NYC choral group Khorikos, the Providence String Quartet, Luna Nova New Music Ensemble, and Ensemble QAT in Montreal. Wills has presented at venues including both Roulette and the Firehouse Space in Brooklyn and the Czech Center in New York City. Her film-based installations have been exhibited in galleries and museums including the Islip Art Museum; Hobusepea Gallery in Tallinn, Estonia; and At Home Gallery in Šamorín, Slovakia. She is a professor in the department of Film/Animation/Video at the Rhode Island School of Design. She lives in New York City.

For the past twenty years, I have been making photogram films, by laying objects on unexposed film and flashing it with light. I am primarily interested in the relationship between the directness of the object—the trace it leaves on film—and the resulting image, which is barely recognizable. These works speak to a conflation of memory and the present, the physicality of the object and its seemingly abstract imprint. Light is physical material, while the play of light and shadows creates an illusion of reality—you can pass your hand right through it. Special thanks to Joel Schlemowitz.

Films included:


Year of Completion: 2000

Runtime: 3


Year of Completion: 2002

Runtime: 4


Year of Completion: 2002

Runtime: 4


Year of Completion: 2006

Runtime: 4

  • Year
  • Runtime
    15 minutes
  • Country
    United States
  • Note
    New York City, New York