posted by Amber Bell
Sometimes, artists make work purely about themselves. Sometimes, artists make work essentially about some outside topic. Things can get incredible when the two come together. It’s like a venn diagram.
Allow me to illustrate. At Sunday’s showing of How We Investigate, Portland filmmakers presented a collection of work. Randall Wakerlin documented his entire twenty sixth year, one photograph per day. A quality example of self focused artwork. Andrew Blubaugh, in his film Hello, Thanks, went as far as to state that the only reason why anyone makes art is to hope that someone will find you sexually attractive. His film was an endearing narrative on writing personal ads.
Cassandra Jones approached her film from the other angle, creating a six minute sunset collaged from hundreds of still photos. The focus of the film was on the sun rather than on herself.
Mike Wilder foraged a steady path straight through the tangly heart of it all.


From behind a podium, Wilder began a weighty history of optical lenses and Galileo that made my head spin. Although it was a challenge, I managed to hang on long enough to realize that what he was saying was not only well researched, it was carefully mapped out and funny, too. By the time Wilder came around to the 20th century, he was somehow making detailed connections between the reductive tendencies of technology, the apathy of children, and his interest in carnivorous plants. At the lecture’s conclusion, it was obvious that I was in the presence of a genius. It was as if he had shaken out a crumpled blanket with all its complicated crevasses and folded it neatly on the end of a bed. I will not attempt to recreate his carefully framed thesis. I will say that Mike Wilder’s writing achieved the perfect balance of broad reaching world vision and meticulous self examination.