Arto Vaun Short Film
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Short Film by Arto Vaun to Premiere at Revelation International Film Festival

2 min read

The Transgression of Light, a short film by Arto Vaun, has been named as an official selection in the Revelation International Film Festival in Perth, Australia. Vaun wears many hats as a faculty member at the American University of Armenia (AUA) — assistant professor and chair of the BA program in English and Communications, and director of the Center for Creative Writing. While he has been experimenting with music video production for his own compositions since 2013, this is his first short film. “As a poet and musician, I had been exploring how to integrate visuals into my work, but this was an unexpected turn,” remarks Vaun. 

The idea for the film emerged in 2017 when Vaun was invited to be an artist-in-residence for a week at the Byurakan Observatory. “Anna Gargarian of HAYP had asked me to contribute to an exhibit they were putting together there. I wasn’t sure how to move my poetry off the page for such an event,” Vaun comments. After a few days of exploring the grounds and becoming acquainted with the scientists, Vaun had asked Dr. Areg Mikaelyan, head of the Observatory, to spend one day alone in Victor Hambardzumyan’s office, which has been kept mostly intact. 

“Hambardzumyan is such a towering figure in the world of astrophysics, his office still contains his presence somehow. That struck a chord in me,” Vaun expounds. “Among all the science-related books, I found a few ancient Christian mystical texts in classical Armenian (գրաբար). That’s when I had the idea to not just write a new poem, but to turn it into a video-poem.” 

Vaun began making the film with elements of the poem he wrote for the exhibit, fragments from the ancient Christian Armenian texts in Hambardzumyan’s office, and footage taken while driving to Artsakh the previous year. With a running time of 13:32, The Transgression of Light is an evocative visual and sonic poem in English and Armenian. It explores questions around language, memory, beauty, and the mystery inherent in the individual’s place on earth and in the universe. “I’m thrilled and grateful that this work has gone from being an art installation to an official selection at a respected film festival overseas,” Vaun concludes. 

For more information, see the Revelation Perth International Film Festival’s website.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.