What can community-focused, site-specific media exhibition look like during a pandemic? How can the social intimacy that has always been a part of artists’ cinema adapt to the context of physical distancing?

Rear Window Cinema transforms artists’ private windows (domestic and studio spaces) into ephemeral screens for rear-window projections that are externally visible to passersby on the street. Between the months of October and December, animation artists displayed animated letters to their neighbourhoods, using their windows as the creative point of departure and eventual surface for projection.

Above: Alija Hijaab’s contribution to Rear Window Cinema

Instead of inviting spectators or visitors, Rear Window Cinema invited local residents and passersby, who may chance upon these personal, animated poems on a walk through the neighbourhood. The project unfolded in a cascading series of waves, with each group of artists passing along experiences and insights to the next group.

The project was gradually updated and documented on Instagram at @rear_windowcinema, and it was featured in a profile here.

above: the promotional post for the third wave of screenings.

Rear Window Cinema was a partnership project between me, VIVO Media Arts, and flavourcel animation collective, with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. When I saw a grant opportunity for COVID-related creative problem-solving, I knew this was an opportunity to support a vibrant local experimental cinema community that was under threat from small gallery and film theatre closures. The majority of the flavourcel animation collective are former students of mine, and for me this project was part of my personal commitment to give back to independent and experimental filmmakers in more ways than just published scholarship.