Why Blur + Sharpen?

I’ve been writing for a long time. I’ve written for the trades, film journals, zines, magazines, newspapers and books. I’ve worked with genius editors and brilliant designers. But — and I know I’m not alone in this — it’s like my my writing career has unfolded in reverse: I started out with attentive editors, pay that maybe wasn’t “great,” but was at least reasonable, and articles that designed by designers, leaving me to focus on the craft of the writing itself.

But year by year, all of this has dwindled. I don’t know if editors even read what I submit anymore; the pay is paltry; and I have to source all my own artwork and design my own articles. All of this might be okay, but when the people you work with are dismissive on top of it, why bother?

So Blur + Sharpen is an experiment in cutting out the editorial guidance and just publishing my own work. The title comes from a screening series that I co-founded with Steve Anderson and Peter Oleksik in 2002 at the University of Southern California. It was dedicated to exploring a full range of digital media projects that hovered at the intersection of motion graphics, animation, design and video. Out of this convergence, an as-yet unnamed artform seemed to be taking shape that celebrated hybridity and synthesis, processing and computation. Our goal with the series was to respond to that moment by blurring the boundaries among formerly separate art forms, while sharpening the aesthetic discourse, historical context and creative foundations that surround them.

Those early shows were exhilarating. In one of the first, we showed work that I still think about — like Tim Hope’s Jubilee Line (2000) and Benita Raphan’s lyrical portrait of Owen Land, inventor of the Polaroid process, Absence Stronger Than Presence, and the shorts of Richard Fenwick, Animal Charm, Marina Zurkow and so many more. All of this work, hovering at the interstices among film, video, graphic design and animation, was thrilling in how it embodied our experience in a multilayered world, but also in the kinds of artists it suggested: curious, exploratory, fluid. These were artists not attached to a fixed idea about “filmmaking” or “directing.” They represented a new paradigm of creativity that I still find inspiring.

Anyway… welcome! I hope you can visit often. I’m going to chronicle work and artists I find intriguing, as a way of thinking through writing.

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