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Short Film: Cat Tyc’s Umbrella Assault

Embedded above is the short film Umbrella, the first narrative film by experimental videomaker Cat Tyc. In it, a tormented young woman is continuously assaulted by a man with a long red umbrella. He follows her around everywhere she goes and taps her about the head, shoulders and arms at inappropriate moments, sending her straight to the psychiatrist’s couch.

The woman has been driven mad by the constant tap, tap, tapping. She is so out of sorts by the torment that her anguish bleeds out into the actual video, which shifts and pops with static; frequency shifts and other technological disturbances. Although the story is told in flashback from the woman lying on the shrink’s couch and the film is loaded with ripe symbolism, Tyc doesn’t explicitly go out of her way to explain any of that symbolism, allowing the audience to interpret any which way they choose.

This particular audience — me — doesn’t want to cheapen the film, but I’m guessing there’s some connection between the woman being hit by a long red umbrella at the exact moments she’s about to bite into a hot dog. But, there’s also something, I think, that her psychiatrist’s office appears to be located in the pediatric ward. It might be cliché to say that there’s lots going on and to think about with this film, but … there is.

I first became aware of Tyc’s work through an interview she conducted with fellow experimental videomaker Michael Robinson for the online edition of INCITE!: Journal of Experimental Media and Radical Aesthetics. Tyc also has several of her shorter, more experimental pieces up on Vimeo that are worth going through.


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