Underground Film Journal

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Experimental Short Film: Carbon Surf Drawing

By Mike Everleth ⋅ April 18, 2014

There have been extremely few — really if any — experimental short films that attempt to replicate the painterly technique of Cubism. While that may not have been the goal quite set out by Christina McPhee, she perfectly captures all elements of the ocean in a sort-of Cubist montage in her short film Carbon Surf Drawing. In this film, she explores the power, beauty and science of the water in an exciting rushing torrent of images.

Actually, this film can be described with all sorts of metaphors of ocean waves: Images crashing into each other, flowing seamlessly from one theme to the next, audio that completely washes over one’s ears, etc. Clearly inspired by the enormity and overwhelming nature of her subject, McPhee has crafted her film to mimic the ocean’s properties.

At the same time, like the previous film of hers, Tesserae-Yellow Tahiti Substation Foods 4 Less, there is also a strong element of being heavily environmentally conscious. Using the Stan Brakhage technique of titling her films by its contents, yes, Carbon Surf Drawing includes lots of footage of the surf, but is also concerned with the effect carbon dredged up by nearby oil rigs has on the water. While much of the film is lovely to look at, McPhee includes images of this pollution that doesn’t make the pretty female surfer entering into the waves seem like such a good idea.

To learn more about Christina McPhee, who creates films, cinematic gallery installations and other types of media art, please visit her official website.

Female surfer walks into the ocean

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