Abby Sun '13: Two boys, their dogs and a 24-pack of PBR

by Artist Development Fellow

Abby Sun ’13, a Winthrop House resident concentrating in Visual and Environmental Studies, was awarded an OFA Artist Development Fellowship to create a series of landscape photographs and animated GIFs examining the visual, cultural and emotional boundaries of the 49th parallel. She wrote about her experience here. While onsite in Montana, she also made the film Cow Trails or the Moon, which will be screened Dec. 7 at the Harvard Film Archive. She plans to be a photographer and new media artist with a practice rooted in sociopolitical contexts.

Last spring, while I was applying for an Artist Development Fellowship, I took the first half of a year-long course called Sensory Ethnography. This class is a joint venture between the Anthropology and Visual and Environmental Studies departments. In the spring, we learned to shoot video, filmed over the summer, and, when we returned to Harvard in the fall, spent a semester editing summer footage into a short documentary film.

While on my two-month solo road trip along the U.S.-Canada border, I stopped at Glasgow, Montana, a small town near the border and one of the few stops along the Hi-Line, one of America's great transcontinental railways.

At the McDonald's in Glasgow, I saw a boy charging his cell phone in a booth. He hadn't bought anything and wasn't eating anything. I sat down to talk to him and ask if he was just passing through. His name was Andrew, and he was traveling with his friend Cody and their dogs.

I filmed the time that they allowed me to spend with them and turned this footage into a film I edited in Sensory Ethnography. It's the end of the semester, and I'm finally finished. The Harvard Film Archive will present my film Cow Trails or the Moon 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 as part of the VES end-of-semester screenings, which are open to the public. Join us. But if you can't, watch it here.