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The Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber - Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Island filmmaker sees the connections
Ocean's Edge: Spirit's Journey shows the softer side of Mother Nature.

By Anna K. Brinkmann
Staff Writer

Perhaps it can be said of all artists, but it's particularly true of this one: new Island resident and filmmaker Robert Bornn sees beauty and connections everywhere.
       With just a bachelor's in psychology, Bornn has created a diverse, circuitous career path in sculpture, music, medical inventions, photography, and, most recently, film.  His combination of chosen fields may seem odd, but Bornn himself has no problem perceiving the links that tie his fields together.
       "Art is like the solution to a problem -- how do you make a heart shape without the wires touching themselves?" he asks, pointing to a heart-shaped wire sculpture that he created.  "I get excited by problem solving."
       Bornn addresses the problems that capture his imagination with astounding creative energy.  Among other things, Bornn has invented a hands-free mouse that is clicked through facial motions.  He holds a half dozen patents on various medical devices, despite his lack of a medical degree.  But none of his patents relies on medical knowledge -- he hired doctors to do that part.  Instead, they are based on thinking outside the proverbial box.
       Though he began creating films in his native Brooklyn in the late 1960s, he set aside that particular love for several years to pursue other projects: sculpture, photography, music, and inventing.  Lately, the accessibility of film has captured Bornn's restless spirit, but he's making movies with goals that diverge wildly from the traditional Hollywood song-and-dance, action-and-sex prescriptions.  Specifically, Bornn strives to capture the sort of nature images that inspire him.  There are no representations of the kill-or-be-killed aspects of nature in his work. 
       "Why present just the ugly parts of the world?" says Bornn of his films, which he characterizes as "enchanted naturalism."
       "Finding beauty in nature helps you find the beauty in people, which helps you find the commonality between people," says Bornn, tracing yet another connection that inspires him.
       His first film in a planned trilogy, Ocean's Edge: Spirit's Journey, is "crafted to be peaceful, minimalist, and lyrical," says Bornn.  Indeed, sweet recorder and xylimba sounds accompany  the 18-minute film, which is composed of shots of coastline at sunset, with camera work that closely follows seabirds that fly into and throughout the camera's wide field.
     The film is a team effort by Bornn and his long-time partner, Laura Worth.  "Their observation of gratuitous violence in typical 'savage nature' documentaries has led them to develop (this) alternative, nonviolent, nature film series," reads the back of the DVD.
       Bornn hopes his work, which can be viewed with or without music and ambient sound, will foster meditation, yoga and children's minds.
       "My films really are fantasy.  I think it's OK to give people that sense of (wonder) -- like fairy tales."
       "Nature has been commodified," says Bornn, and it's clear his film, with its simple images and unprocessed look, is designed to address that problem.

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