Cinematic Alchemy: Abigail He’s Journey from Experimentation to Success in Moving Image Art

Abigail He

In the vibrant landscape of contemporary experimental cinema, Abigail He stands as a remarkable figure, a moving image artist whose work transcends the boundaries of traditional cinema to explore the intricate interplay between presence and absence. With a diverse body of work that spans film, video, sound, photography, performance, sculpture, and installation, He’s artistic journey has captivated audiences by delving into the profound layers of human perception and interaction.

A Multifaceted Artist

Abigail He, based in Brooklyn, New York, is an experimental filmmaker and multimedia artist known for her evocative exploration of the relationships between visibility and invisibility, presence and absence. Abigail He’s recent work delves into the physicality of film as both a medium and material, often using 16mm recycled found footage films and color leader to draw attention to the inherent materiality and physicality of the medium.

Abigail distinguishes between her roles as a moving image artist and a traditional filmmaker, highlighting the former’s abstract and experimental nature, which brings her closer to the realm of fine arts. This distinction becomes evident through her multimedia conceptual series “Present/Absent,” which showcases her multimedia prowess, and her narrative filmography, which showcases her ability to tell stories through the traditional lens of filmmaking.

Educational Foundation

Abigail He’s educational journey has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in shaping her artistic vision. In addition to her MFA degree in Film/Video from City College of New York, she earned a MA degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at City College of New York that liberated her thinking and elevated her creative process, as well as the technical skills and theoretical understanding she needed to navigate the world of moving images. Prior to this, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a minor in Film Studies from Beijing Normal University, illustrating her interdisciplinary approach to art.

Screenings and Exhibitions

One of the most telling measures of an artist’s impact lies in the reach of their work. Abigail He’s projects have been showcased across the globe, solidifying her position as a respected artist within the experimental cinema community. Her works have been exhibited at prestigious venues and festivals, including the 25 FPS Festival in Zagreb, Croatia, and Millennium Film Workshop in Brooklyn, NY.

Her experimental 16mm hand-painted film  “He Needs Dark to See” was featured at Microscope Gallery’s Pool Party in New York, the Chicago Film Society’s Celluloid Now series in Chicago, and the Canyon Cinema’s Recent Acquisitions online showcase. These instances underline her ability to captivate audiences across a range of platforms and spaces.

Abigail He

“He Needs Dark to See” still

Before Christmas: A Narrative Exploration

Abigail He’s narrative film “Before Christmas” stands as a testament to her storytelling prowess. The film garnered significant attention at a multitude of film festivals, including the Edinburgh Short Film Festival and the Asian American International Film Festival. Based on a real character and shedding light on child labor issues, the film is a realistic social commentary. Through its exploration of time and personal relationships, Abigail showcases her ability to combine her unique cinematic aesthetic with a powerful storyline.

Abigail He

“Before Christmas” still

Contributions and Experience

Beyond her personal projects, He has contributed significantly to the world of filmmaking through her industry experiences. Her roles as a Production Technical Manager at the Tribeca Film Festival and Asian American International Film Festival, and as an Assistant Editor on feature documentary projects highlight her multifaceted engagement with the cinematic arts.

Unveiling the Artistic Spectrum

Abigail He’s diverse body of work is a testament to her ability to traverse the full spectrum of artistic expression. Her “Present/Absent” conceptual series showcases her mastery of mediums, from film to sculpture to sound. Notable pieces like “Measuring 500 Feet,” which is a 16mm film exploring the physicality and the autonomy of celluloid, and “He Needs Dark to See,” another 16mm film that delves into the relationship between vision and perception, illustrate her skill in conjuring thought-provoking visual experiences.

Her narrative filmmaking endeavors, such as “Before Christmas,” reveal her capacity to communicate personal emotions and social issues while retaining her unique artistic sensibilities. This balancing act between narrative and experimental realms is a hallmark of He’s artistic journey.

Abigail He

Abigail He directing actors on set for “Before Christmas”

Abigail He’s artistic journey is one marked by a ceaseless exploration of the connections between presence and absence, visibility and invisibility. Through her diverse and thought-provoking body of work, He has established herself as a prominent figure within the experimental cinema community. She is the artist member of Canyon Cinema, a non-profit organization dedicated to support and preserve independent, avant-garde, and artist-made films. Her ability to bridge the gap between traditional and experimental film-making showcases her versatility as a moving image artist, while her industry experience attests to her commitment to the craft. With each project, He continues to captivate audiences, inviting them to ponder the intricacies of human perception and the myriad ways it shapes our understanding of the world.

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