Mark Street, a critical essay
Mark Street is a well-rounded filmmaker. He makes a variety of different kinds of films such as abstract films, documentarys, diarys, fictional films, and travelogues. A lot of his films involve repetition. "... a cartographer of interior landscapes forged from film chemistry, optically-printed materials, documentary/diary footage and journal entries." - LA Filmforum
Winter Wheat is an abstract film Street made in 1989. The film is bleached, scratched, and painted, which gives off very interesting but different visuals for the viewer. The film is about the farming cycle in the United States. The film shows farm equipment cropping wheat. While viewing the film I felt a sense of the destruction of the wheat .The loud background noise of wind is very prominent throughout the film. We hear the noise of the machine running as well. Both of these ambient sounds help the viewer feel the sense of the hard work involved in harvesting wheat.
Color is an important aspect of the film. There are many different shades of brightness, which represent the sunlight. In my opinion the red tint of the film represents the passion and difficult work that goes into farming wheat.
A clip of the United States map is repeated throughout the film. The words "Winter Wheat" are shown in the Georgia area of the map. Another form of repetition is used in the film as well--a clip of a man rubbing the wheat in between his hands. Street uses this because the farming process is a repetitive cycle that happens every year. All the different blotches on the film help the viewer experience the wheat getting chopped up.
Mark Street’s abstract films let the viewer interpret different aspects of life in a very interesting way. “I like the way these abstract films…allow the viewer to be drawn into unfamiliar worlds.” – Mark Street
Lilting Towards Chaos is a diary/document type of film that was made in 1990. The twenty-minute diary shows his struggle with his feelings and the world around him. The film also has many different beautiful images of landscapes.
He discusses his problems with his job. Street is annoyed that people are like working robots and do not enjoy life. The film is shot from many points of view and flashed between scenes of relevant objects and landscapes in his life. Mark Street often uses images to express his feelings. For example, he is talking about how he wants to get out of his house and then shows a picture of an exit sign. He does not do anything to alter the quality of the film, no painting, scratching, or bleaching. Street uses black and white to portray flashbacks.
Repetition is also a part of this film. Many of times there is a repetitive shot of a counter with alcohol and medicine bottles. The relevance of the shot is to express his difficult times over and over again.
Mark Street is a hard filmmaker to understand, but once you figure it out he is a true artist. He is a very versatile artist who does a great job in presenting his feelings. "Provocative ... engaging ... Street leaves us with the very real sense that you take your possibilities and limitations with you wherever you go." - The Los Angeles Times
--Frank Juliano, 2006.