Ben Balcom was born in Massachusetts and raised in Illinois. He received his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and his bachelor's degree in Film-Video Production from Hampshire College. Ben currently teaches film production at UWM and is the technical director for the Milwaukee Film Festival. He is also a co-founder and programmer of Microlights Cinema. Since 2013, Microlights has hosted nearly 30 film and video artists from around the world.
By invoking familiar forms of speech and the everyday failures of communication, Balcom's work embraces the mess of subjectivity. Using moving images, he explores the materialities, artifice, and abstractions that comprise everyday experience. Visual and linguistic abstractions highlight the incoherence of our perceptual lives.
Cinema channels affect. It helps us to know ourselves by encouraging us to leave our bodies behind and then drawing us back through sensual immersions. In the curious relay of the theater we think through our bodies at a remove. My films attempt to expose the abstractions that structure our internal, virtual worlds.
"I think there are some really interesting and pertinent questions about what we do when we consume media that is different in a cinema and in a gallery. There are all these rules expected of the audience in cinema where they can’t talk or check their phones or move around. You are expected to sit in the black box for a specific amount of time and not leave until it’s over. The activity of cinema is a devotional one where you are giving your duration to something. Cinema makes a demand of its audience, and I like that." - quote from an interview with Ashley Janke in Open View.