LADY STARDUST
THE LIPSTICK EFFECT



( If you saw this a few weeks ago, this is a newly edited version ! )
( and now a newer thought ... am considering no music / sound for full final version )




color-corrected scans of Polaroids taken during filming, in narrative order



Behind-the-scenes Polaroids post-shoot







iPhone photos





I had been spurred on by IFM to work on Super 8 but the 2nd confirmation that got me going was the accidental research ( as it goes with Anastasia ) on Guy Bourdin, and learning that he would shoot ~1 minute Super 8 films in some of his photoshoots. I already had created the habit of filming on my DSLR or iPhone during work whose purpose was another medium.

( Like B&W photography for example, like my Ashes to Ashes videos and stills that came to be from recording as a secondary means of documentation while I put on the Pierrot outfit I sewed and got ready to take photos on my medium format camera --  explanation further down ).

I did not actually reference these photos above on the night I enacted this project on 3 February, but after reviewing all my images saved to my giant Pinterest board of 1500 images+, these seem to have in fluenced the Polaroids I took -- the secondary documentation for the film.

So I am including the Guy Bourdin photos here here because I was reminded of his work as I reviewed the previous evening’s Polaroids and saw the ladder with shutter release cable and nail polish, and I am placing my photos next to them.

( I suppose this entire blurb is an explanation that I was not attempting to emulate or copy his work, but that these comparisons are a perfect example of how the images I stumble upon and save do make their way into my subconscious and leak into the work I produce. They are after-the-fact connections I am so excited to see! ).


Edit 17 March 24:
I just added more past research to the bottom of my Super 8 page and re-looked through Guy Bourdin’s short films at his shoots -- I forgot that I loved this close-up & continuous filming of the model’s mannerisms in the Lipstick film below ( it was many months ago I began the Super 8 research chapter ) !




But this film below, Pink Chair, I did think of sporadically as I planned Lady Stardust -- something about feeling “allowed” to move and not rush myself in filming and being recorded by myself.





And these are some other images that encouraged me to not just keep my red shoes ( I had worn them only once after more than a year ) as a beautiful thing to see in my closet, but to use them in visual creations to emulate how I feel when I wear them, as they connect to that “Power” emotion I have attempted to explain through the Lady Stardust Super 8, and more textually in my new Book of Red: Volume 3.
These images exemplify the “Woah” / “Wow” / “Oh my god” mostly verbal exclamations that make me instantly send the image to my secret Pinterest board ( this instinctuality and attraction toward certain images & texts is explored in my RISD Degree Project, if you scroll down on that page to my presentation notes ).

I pulled a book off of my friend’s shelf that had lovely lowercase lettering on the spine, and the heel with electrical socket photo on the cover. He said, “I had a feeling you will really like and connect with that.” And I couldn’t stop looking through all the photos. The next day I went to the RISD library and checked out photo books on him, Helmut Newton, the Tate Glam Rock book, Vogue history etc. After researching Guy Bourdin more I did recognize many photos, but what I was surprised to learn was that many people found and still find his photos shocking and creepy. Understandably they have a sense of creepiness, but I didn’t understand the shock that so many articles described as the public effect due to the themes of death and nudity in his work. I then scoured all his photos and still couldn’t understand -- a photo of a chalk outline near a car to insinuate someone died was controversial, as was a photo of partial legs on a bed ( it really did successfully imply she was dead ). I thought there would be “worse” work in terms of innapropriateness, I was almost disappointed but thought that general public opinion is worth listening to and perhaps I am just a bit too used to imagery like this ( somehow? ). It reminded of my classmates in DP group giving me feedback on how my work was creepy / obsessive / uncomfortable, feedback I readily accepted and filed away as notes in my brain. 

It was an “OOPS, I did it again” moment for me after I watched the initial scans of my Ektachrome & Tri-X B&W films prior to painting on the B&W film. The point of this project I originally called the Lipstick Effect was to do my very best to demonstrate this quasi-inexplicable feeling of “power” that I feel in different situations of dressing ( mostly at nighttime in my apartment to either stay in or go socialize since there is less pressure to pick something you have to wear for the rest of the day, considering it would only be for a few hours, therefore go crazy ! Don’t think, just do ! Just wear ! ). I had many Super 8 video ideas that related to this and was able to have sudden bursts of ideas to combine them in certain ways:

*my favorite red eyeshadow ( which I was able to find in one store after its discontinuation from the main Sephora stores, I looked in NY and Paris too)
*my red “dorothy” heels
*dressing into something that makes me feel
*painting fluid red swirl strokes strokes around me to visualize the energy on the film
*painting over the canvas that had been hanging on my wall for maybe almost a year, I painted on it three times only ( I had a gut feeling to not paint over it red just yet, I didn’t feel like seeing the faces anymore )
*the hallway and door ( the print I made in my darkroom from a receipt photo of my door I took while documenting my apartment directly after returning from a trip and felt that “my room is a set,” a liminal space that was mine and wasn’t, and the lopsided photo of my door & hallway happened to be a favorite photo of mine, so I printed it with my enlarger & darkroom chemicals etc. In my new Book of Red there’s a page describing the realization that I could use the door to connect all of the themes above, but my original plan with the prints was using the final & best print, plus all of the too dark & too light & not enough contrast prints to create a sequence of door images on which to paint steps of the Shining elevator blood flood scene. I had already started a new process of printing on special Fiber Based photo paper instead of Resin Coated so that I could paint on them. I did paint on 8 x 10 in. prints from some La Sainte-Chapelle photos I took on my receipt camera, and used gouache referencing iPhone images I took of the cathedral in different lights to paint on top of the white parts of the print, since my process produces very high-contrast images from the middle-contrast receipt photos. 


Anyway -- I did not intend for such a long backstory to that last bullet point about the hallway and door, but the decision to use The Shining elevator blood flood scene was inspired by sifting through my library and flipping through the Lee Alexander McQueen book my grandfather gave me. Once I got to the pages about his F/W 1999 show “The Overlook” that was based upon The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick and the film’s soundtrack, I was immediately reminded of the elevator scene and that was another *GASP* moment.

I researched the clip and found an article about the “thing” within the flood; some people were convinced there was something that was disguised in the flood of red as it poured out of the elevator. The article discusses whether it was part of the mechanics of creating the flood for the film, and thus some kind of metal mechanical arm ( ? ), or if it was intentionally placed as part of the film. This article stoked my curiousity but I was mostly interested in the stills of the flood scene so that I could reference them for painting it on my darkroom prints of my door. 

Later while using my printed-out article to reference for painting on the B&W Super 8 film, I realized:
1. This is not nearly enough visual information to paint 3,600 frames from
2. Maybe my emerging from the door as the blood flows down the door and prior to the flood erupting, is embodying that object the article’s authors perceived to exist hiding under the surface near the elevator doors.
I posted a video on my Instagram story recording the moment I grasp the door handle and slowly walk into the hallway. I rewatched the story later and thought

“This is kind of funny.
I guess I am the blood flood you didn’t know you needed.”

Then as I was rereading the article and studying a video of The Shining scene to plan painting on the film, I thought

“I am the thing in the flood.”

That phrase directed my painting for the next few days as an unexpected overarching theme. I wrote it down as soon as I thought it ( I do this often so I don’t forget anything ), and it stuck out when I was highlighting the important directions in my many pages of loose-leaf paper notes for painting. It guided where I would apply paint in relation to the door, the door handle, my hands, my body, the space behind me and the door, etc.

This film has surprised me with new developments along the way, but this always tends to happen with the things I create, especially in relation to video / film since I create the work I love the most when I follow my “Don’t think, Just do” mantra. But I couldn’t be happier that the work I create somehow always connects to eachother. It makes life easier, and I am always happy with what comes of these sometimes spontaneous projects even when they are unexpected results. 

For example, I had hoped that there would be a distinct transition to an obvious change in emotions with my face and body language, and laughed when I saw that I wasn’t smiling one bit during the second film / about to be the second part of the one final film once I painted on it. But there must have been reasons for the concentration and determination in my eyes and jerkiness / fluidness in my movements in that hallway. I also felt ok with this difference in intention vs. outcome of the film because I would paint on the film with the red vortexes and swirling, fluid brush strokes to assist in visualizing the power emotion, and I knew this as I was moving around in the hallway, giving myself moments for the paint to move.

I actually allowed too much time, I don’t know why I thought that holding poses and moving slower would be easier to paint -- IT JUST MADE MORE MINISCULE FRAMES TO PAINT ON. For that reason I will be continuing to paint on the film and it may effect the interactions of the color Ekatchrome and Tri-X B&W films in the editing phase ( perhaps less overlap ), since I did not get to paint the swirles and vortexes I wished to and almost more importantly, the full crash of the Shining blood flood that transitions from the blood rushing out of the door and bouncing off the walls towards the lense, to move into the frames / parts of the film covered in translucent red. I did plan out the film in multiple stages before and during painting, so I painted it to allow it to feel like a finished film with the dark red and ending in bright red, but it also allows for the bright red paint to be used for the waves and crashes of the flood and for the vortexes on top of the wash of deep red and me.

Back to Guy Bourdin -- after letting his work simmer in the back of my brain as I continued to plan projects & make work, I wrote down many notes about my understanding of the public opinion being related to the topical reason for the work -- Charles Jourdan shoe ads and Vogue France. I will attach my notebook pages on these thoughts transcribed through my typewriter, part of my process for creating my new Book of Red mentioned above.

As for the different titling of the film “Lady Stardust” and “The Lipstick Effect,” that “Don’t think, Just do” phrase and concept relates to flow, and I realize is present in how I speak of the projects when talking to other people about them ( as many people do, having shorthands for their projects in conversation ), so “Lady Stardust” became a secondary title to “The Lipstick Effect” and I was shorthanding the title of my other most recent project as just “Alice”:
“I’m picking up my Lady Stardust film from the lab” / “I’m editing the Alice Polaroids today”

Now “Lady Stardust” and “Alice” are primary titles, at least I decided so in the new Book of Red when creating section pages. “Lady Stardust” comes from an iPhone clip that hit my heart a bit when I watched it and saw many emotions in one of the calmest clips ( secondary, not filmed on Super 8 ), and Lady Stardust by David Bowie was playing in the background. The Lady Stardust song happened to be part of a Spotify playlist I named “Lady in Red.” Given, that playlist was 6 songs long and never really had a fixed purpose but it was nice that things from my pasttimes align. Anyway, the seemingly melancholic look in my face in that little iPhone clip felt exemplary to me of how I thought I may look to people in the B&W Super 8 film, and thus exemplary of the liminality of the entirety of the film / video that I knew would exist once I combined the Ektachrome and Tri-X B&W.

But calling it Lady Stardust casually makes me feel a happiness, even though I know it wasn’t based off of Bowie’s song and maybe I don’t seem like the Lady Stardust he describes in my film. Whatever! I am what I am! As I like to say. Lady Stardust it is. She is sad. She is happy. She is everything every all at once! She is stardust that can be poofed off your hand in one blow as a delicate entity and also be something else brighter and stronger and ready.

Anyhow, nothing is shocking yet everything is. The only thing left to do is continue to create and see what happens. Yay! Time to have fun.







Lady Stardust by David Bowie

People stared at the makeup on his face
Laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace
The boy in the bright blue jeans
Jumped up on the stage
Lady Stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and disgrace

And he was alright, the band was altogether
Yes, he was alright, the song went on forever
Yes, he was awful nice
Really quite out of sight
And he sang all night long

Femme fatales emerged from shadows
To watch this creature fair
Boys stood upon their chairs
To make their point of view
I smiled sadly for a love
I could not obey
Lady Stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and dismay

And he was alright, the band was altogether
Yes, he was alright, his song went on forever
And he was awful nice
Really quite paradise
And he sang all night, all night long

Oh, how I sighed when they asked if I knew his name

Oh, that was alright, the band was altogether
Yes, he was alright and the song went on forever
He was awful nice
Really quite paradise
He sang all night long
( ... )




( lyrics here just for fun -- I explained above how the lady stardust naming of the film came randomly / from a video I watched of myself with this song playing in the background -- but it’s lovely the lyrics make sense to the film in a way )





gouache on printout of stills to plan timing with The Shining flood pre-crash of blood





planning part 2 - The Shining flood before hits camera lense ( am continuing to paint on film the rest of the flood above and the vortexes / swirls around my body )



the b&w film timeline condensed to paint gouache on the printout for planning vortexes / swirls





notes / mindmapping right before & while painting on the super 8 film
( analyzing relative durations of “actions” in Shining flood scene vs. my film )
in order to plan key points on my film that correspond to key points in Shining scene
using stills from both & illustrating with two colors of gouache as shown above
to map a condensed timeline for reference while painting on the film










in preparation ( night-before camera check for framing )



notes on other project influences :

ashes to ashes personal project, that I referenced in book of red: volume 3 pg. 26, I have figured out is an influence to my understanding of video as a space to showcase clothing one’s made, and as a generator of photos from stills... also as an opportunity to document the experience in a different medium

but the filming ashes to ashes video acted as a “B camera” to my original intention to document the pierrot costume I made with medium format orthochromatic film, and now I prefer the video and its stills to the medium format images I printed in my darkroom, as well as the stills I printed I call “inky messups,” from printing on the wrong side of the photo paper.
the lady stardust / lipstick effect project is a super 8 film, supplemented with polaroid 600 film, the choice of which is based on prior photo / video combined, like ashes to ashes, and also
who’s even listening / who’s even watching / this must be the place which is a video that I made while I photographed myself on b&w 35mm film to develop and use the photos to make screenprints from, using the analog screenprinting process of kodak half-tone contact screens and negatives in the darkroom to make positives to expose to the silkscreen. the final screenprint hung in my degree project red room ( the purple contact sheet ).


I’m linking the ashes to ashes webpage here, because it can be added to the list of post-project realizations of what past work I had made that which is obvious now influenced lady stardust. the “ohhhh” moments related to ashes to ashes and lady stardust being :

-filming against the same wall
-david bowie pierrot as a “persona,” enacted through the clothing ( I didn’t set out to create a pierrot persona or a lady stardust persona, nor did I try to act like anybody but myself in the videos )
-using special black & white film that darkens any reds captured in the image, called orthochromatic film - to emphasize the lipstick
-red mac ruby woo lipstick in particular
( researching the perfect universal lipstick led me to ruby woo and I had sworn to never wear red lipstick for fear of being washed out or making my teeth look yellow - ruby woo is such a perfect shade, it feels ritualistic to put it on and go out into public / socialize - it’s hard to miss ... the same feeling can be said for my red eyeshadow which has become associated with Anastasia -- so although the video is called Lipstick Effect as its the final step in “transforming,” the red eyeshadow started it all






***rest of page to be updated soon -- website out of image upload space ( including the de-dusted Polaroids )

see Book of Red: Volume 3 (The Abridged Version) for more film stills

and the general Super 8 page for the first three films I made as well as research leading up to playing with the medium
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