Tender Buttons

Kateri Gemperlein-Schirm 💻

Motion Design 
Creating personal meaning from abstract poetry. 

Prompt: Select a short passage from Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons. Develop a vignette that visually interprets the chosen passage. Use the words of the passage as a jumping off point towards a simple idea you wish to express.

As I explored Tender Buttons, I was extremely confused. I didn’t see how I could extrapolate meaning from any of the passages, let alone create a piece on them. But one portion of text stood out to me, ‘In the evening there is feeling. In feeling anything is resting, in feeling anything is mounting, in feeling there is resignation, in feeling there is recognition, in feeling there is recurrence and entirely mistaken there is pinching.’ This excerpt is titled Roast Beef .

When I was first brainstorming ideas for this piece, I thought of animating in type, but quickly ditched the idea. I felt like the passage was emotional and deserved a storyline. I drew up storyboards for a meal being cooked too, but that didn’t feel fitting. I sat on the idea for a bit and then realized it reminded me a bit of my dad and his life experience.

My dad is Vietnam War Army veteran, serving one tour in his 20s. He is also a professional artist, teaching painting and drawing at the University at Buffalo for over 30 years. Much of his work reflects his experience in the war and what came after for him personally. The passage above made me think of his war stories and how he got there.

Originally, I planned to do a series of match cuts, going from footage I shot to existing imagery and nat sound. However, as I began to shoot, I thought the piece would benefit more from using my own footage exclusively. I shot close ups of my dad’s work, old sketches, and objects in his studio. I thought the pattens and textures in his work would add some depth and context to the video.

When I presented the first few cuts, I realized I needed more than just the typography typing across the screen. I interviewed my dad, asking about his experience. I took the sound and combined the images I had with some type treatment and background instrumentals. The resulting vignette is a short story about war, regrets, and experience.

Fall 2020

Tender Buttons from Kateri Schirm on Vimeo.

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