The Artist Spotlight: Sarah Jane Rennick

In a post-MTV world, the music video has become an art unto itself. It is an essential part of the production process, important both as a way to represent the music and as a way to broaden its appeal emotionally, intellectually and artistically. The effect is less narrative-focused than film, but more visceral and striking than music on its own.

On Saturday, March 8, senior Sarah Jane Rennick will present “we aren’t pretending anymore,” a solo exhibition of experimental music videos that showcases her personal take on the art form. There will be a screening at 7 p.m. in the Wriston Auditorium, followed by a reception in the Mudd Gallery at the library.

The exhibition will feature the music of three Lawrence bands: Snort, Too Many Triangles and Bendata Bendata. It is made up of three music videos and a collection of digital photos and movie stills, all meant to explore the band culture at Lawrence.

“Lawrence is a very musically-inclined place to be,” explained Rennick, “and the bulk of my friends are in some sort of a campus band. I don’t know, it seemed like the right thing to do. Like, yeah, let’s make these music videos.”

Rennick has spent this past term studying music videos in an independent study, observing the clichés and forms used. She expressed admiration for how fast music videos have developed in such a short amount of time to the point where bands are essentially expected to have music videos. For the project, she mixed this with the idea of experimental film, which is meant to challenge our concept of video, perhaps incorporating elements that prevent it from becoming something that we can access on a day-to-day basis.

“I really wanted to explore ways to create videos with this really current technology,” said Rennick, “but giving them this highly nostalgic feel harkening back to the origin of the music video, and to the rise of MTV and the 90s where it was at its peak, while also putting my own aesthetic polish to it.”

Thematically, Rennick is highly interested in nostalgia. She also has an interest in the Midwest, which tends to be overlooked in music videos. Rennick described it as a “sort of home camcorder feel.”

Rennick took inspiration from various sources in this project, careful to hone each video according to the feel of the music. The video for Too Many Triangles, described as “an electronic conglomerate of stuff,” is inspired by the music video for Slothrust’s song “Crockpot,” which incorporates a lot of old VHS-style snow and static. The video for Snort, an instrumental math rock band, is inspired by 90s heyday rock music videos. Bendata Bendata, part of the new Emo Revival movement, is inspired by several experimental films, notably those by Kenneth Anger.

Rennick is a studio art major with an interest in sculpture. She is involved with prop creation and production assistance in many theater performances, as well as being an active member of Downer Feminist Council.

When she graduates, Rennick plans to move to Chicago and experiment with the idea of living as an artist and dabbling in the theater world.

Those curious to see how music and film benefit each other or those who also want to appreciate the impact of music on Lawrence’s campus are by all means encouraged to go and see the ways Rennick has manipulated this intriguing artform.