February 24, 2011 — "Rotunda," a film by sound artist and University of Virginia music professor Judith Shatin, was the winner in the experimental film category at the sixth Macon Film Festival, held Feb. 17 through 20 in Macon, Ga.
The festival celebrates the arts and craft of the moving image with a focus on imaginative and creative independent and mainstream works.
"Rotunda" is based on images and sounds that Shatin, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Music in the College of Arts & Sciences and founding director of the Virginia Center for Digital Music at U.Va., captured over the course of a year on the Lawn. Along ng with experimental filmmaker Robert Arnold, director of the School of Film & Photography at Montana State University, Shatin repurposed a camera and computer device normally used for surveillance on construction sites and mounted it high on Old Cabell Hall in February 2006 to record the Lawn's mercurial activities.
While the camera captured more than 300,000 fixed-point images, Shatin collected sounds both in and around the Rotunda and conducted interviews about the historic site with students, Jefferson experts, professors, U.Va. alums and former U.Va. President John T. Casteen III. Brief excerpts from the interviews, as well as music created from them and from the daily sounds of the Lawn, weave everyday life into the film.
Shatin said that the project has given her an even more vivid sense of the magnitude of Jefferson's living legacy, and that she and Arnold were struck by the power and beauty of the images as they sorted through them. They structured the 15-minute film as one day on the Lawn unfolding over the course of a year, with the day moving from dawn to dusk as the year unfolds.