The television in Sarah Lipstate’s living room is blaring an entrancing, yet visceral, drone paired with altered medical footage and hand-painted 16mm film litter.The outlines of a skull and trachea are jerking back and forth as if the patient is experiencing violent spasms. It’s unsettling and soothing at the same time.
“There you have it, your traditional narrative film,” Lipstate says and laughs as she shuts off the television set. These days, Lipstate may be best known as a guitarist in Brooklyn’s Parts & Labor, but her most compelling project is arguably her Noveller incarnation. A Noveller performance typically involves Lipstate dragging a bow across a guitar hybrid she constructed herself, combined with projected footage of one of her films.
This film’s creation was a decidedly low-tech affair, just like most of Lipstate’s projects, which have involved found footage fished out of the garbage and installations constructed on towers of second-hand television sets.This time, however, she did’t go Dumpster diving for film: A doctor in Seattle was happy to hand over X-ray footage.
“I’m not working on some fancy editing suite, I’m working on a 13-inch laptop,” Lipstate explains. It should also be noted that at the time of this interview, she was using an X-Box to preview her film.
Lipstate is quick to produce a copy of her solo LP, Paint on the Shadows, which was released in April; the track “Telecine” will be performed in tandem with the film on Friday, May 15 at the No Fun Fest (read full feature on No Fun Fest here).
“This is one of the longest films that I’ve worked on so far,” she says. “It clocks in at four minutes and 20 seconds.”
“I wanted to make something new for this screening, so I started working on it right when I got back from tour with Parts & Labor back in February and had a pretty good working version of it in the middle of March.”
In addition to kicking off No Fun Fest, Lipstate is also looking forward to play a venue the size of the Music Hall of Williamsburg. For previous performances, she’s been cooped up in various art houses and warehouse spaces.
“There could be 600 people there, which would be the largest audience I’ve ever played for. Even half of that would be the largest audience I’ve ever played for. It’ll be a huge stage with just me up there.”