The Marina Experiment began in 1997.
My father spent 16 years viewing me through a microscope. After he died, I went through his stuff and found boxes full of reel-to-reel audiotape, super 8 films, and over 10,000 photographs. They were all of me. I watched every movie, listened to every tape and looked at every photo. I numbered each film and logged every scene. I listened to every audiotape and I typed out every word as a script. I looked at every photograph and divided them into categories. I filed everything by year, then by category, then back into years. I created a logbook with chronological outlines of everything and all the transcripts of our taped conversations and lists of everything I could make a list of. I became obsessed with how to archive it, what to do with it, how to handle it. The vintage photographs throughout this site were all taken by my father and are part of this overwhelming heap of tempestuous baggage that compels me to search for answers.
Now I am chronicling his view of me through my own digital video microscope and you can watch me watch my father watch me.
I remember hearing a story about a French tourist in America, hanging his head out a bus window. Another passenger noticed a truck about to pass the bus and yelled “Look out!” which caused the Frenchman to stick his head further out the window and get hit by the truck. This is probably an urban myth, but I like it because it illustrates something that feels like it applies to all this watching and looking I’ve been talking about but I’m not exactly sure what that is.
This new incarnation of The Marina Experiment is a showcase for my father’s documentation as well as a place for me to voice my opinions about everything.
I’ve been working on The Marina Experiment since 1997. It has been a one-woman show at The NY Fringe Festival called A Play with Myself. It was called Digging Marina when I was sorting through all the documentation like an archaeologist and dragging my reel to reel into therapy to try and make sense of it all. Then it became The Long Drop, a hangman’s term. This method of hanging is designed to break the neck as opposed to plain old strangulation and is considered a way to make executions more humane. I didn’t realize it was more humane when I named the project. It just felt long, like it was taking forever for me to hang him. Then it manifested itself as My Pleasure My Treasure. For a moment there I thought I was pleased that my father left me this vast collection of artifacts to fuel my creativity. That quickly faded. I put the project aside for over a year. And now it’s back to it’s original tour of inspection The Marina Experiment.
This page is my retribution. My tit for tat (go ahead, make a joke). My pleasure and my anger. A work in progress with no end in sight. Enjoy!
A father experiments on his daughter by communicating with her solely through cameras and audio recording devices. This is the first in a never-ending series, where the pitfalls of his parenting technique are examined, ridiculed and lamented.
I once had a father named Abe
who treated me like a hot babe
he lecherously stared
while he photographed me bare
so my home felt like Abu Ghraib
he does not hear me in my eyes he sees himself I am traumatized
A PLAY WITH MYSELF
photo taken by my father photo augmented by Michael Neff
A Play with Myself is a one woman show that I wrote, produced and performed. It occurred first as a reading in a theater and was attended by Ethan Coen who was invited by a friend of mine. I am dismayed that he came to see the first attempt at this project because it has come so far since. It premiered at The NY International Fringe Festival in 2005.
I edited a film that runs the length of the show, incorporating the super 8, photographs and reel to reel audio tape left me by my father which covered most of the first 16 years of my life. The next 30 years of documentation are provided courtesy of myself. I spent my 20’s creating my reputation, my 30’s trying to destroy it, and here I was copy writing it.
REVIEW by Robin Reed at nytheatre.com:
What’s a girl to do when her dad documents just about every second of her life from birth to age sixteen?
After the death of her father, Marina found tons of audio/video tapes and photos of her entire childhood through adolescence. She spent years sifting through it all, trying to make sense of this stuff she never even knew existed. She has put it all together in A Play with Myself, a solo work that is one of the fringiest of Fringe shows I’ve ever seen.
My folks took tons of pictures of me as a kid. Heck, there are probably some old Super 8 films somewhere too. This is nothing compared to the lengths to which her father went to “preserve” Marina’s childhood. An audio tape of Marina singing at age three and another one of an interview that borders on interrogation after her first school dance sent chills down my spine. He seemed to have a little case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and a big case of creepy.
So when your whole life is spent (even at times unknowingly) in front of a camera, what else would you do than become an actress? Well, if you’re Marina, you make a pit stop as a punk rock über-groupie in New York and LA, kissing-and-telling your way into 15 minutes of bicoastal infamy, including mentions on Page Six and a spot on Geraldo.
Marina is engaging and charismatic and she’s got a very unique manner of delivery, dry and incisive. She drops bombshells that speak to her father’s questionable motives as nonchalantly as she drops the names of the over 300 rockers she’s bedded. A Play with Myself tells the story of a New York that no longer exists, one of punk rock and CBGB’s, a time when Times Square was the place to be: edgy, a little dangerous, and a lot of fun. It simultaneously tells a tale of a little girl who honed her survivor instincts early and used them again and again throughout her life. But just when you think you might want to feel bad for her, she tells of how she got the money to join the Screen Actors Guild from a total stranger who walked into the bar she was tending, saw the nudie art photo of her on the bar (with a sign that said “Help Marina Join SAG. Suggested Donation: $900) and wrote her a check.
This girl’s still got spunk. Oh, and she’s looking for help with a book and/or movie deal. Suggested Donation: $900.
OBITUARY HAIKU #2
a kiss on the lips
I lock the door to my room
is he really dead?
Marina age 3? Marina age 14?