Anne Arundel Community College student Liam Cunningham's muse spoke to him as he thought about a classmate who frequently brought bottles of soda to class.
From that he concocted the three-minute video called "Beethoven's Fizz," which features soda repeatedly rising and falling inside a 2-liter bottle to the tune of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
The video is among many entries in AACC's second annual Student Video Festival, which features submissions of original, copyright-free material that are six minutes or shorter.
The festival is slated for May 7 at AACC's Humanities Building, beginning at 2 p.m. It is free and open to the public. The works were juried by local multimedia artist Stephanie Barber.
Cunningham's work is one of many eclectic offerings in the festival. Jimmy Gribbin let his hair fall in a short film called "Split Ends." He clipped and shaved his head bald, and, like Cunningham, used Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as background music. Dawn C. Bond, assistant professor of visual arts in AACC's School of Arts and Sciences, said that Gribbin's film examines people's interests in hairstyles.
Bond said that the festival is part of the visual arts department's efforts in recent years to focus more on art than technology. This year there were 65 entries, up from last year's 50 entries. More than a dozen entries will be shown at this year's festival.
"Students had to have completed the work in the last couple of years," said Bond. "It doesn't have be classwork, but most of them were born of the classroom. The genres are mixed; they can enter a narrative, an abstract piece or a remix."
This year's winning entry was "Reflecting Pool," a one-minute video by Audra Gotjen. It features a man, played by her brother, who portrays an old man walking along a pool watching a reflection of himself as a much younger man. The older man then jumps into the pool and out of the pool's splash emerges the younger man.
"That was an experimental piece, nonlinear," said Bond, "and hopefully it will get you to ask questions about the character and what it means to reflect on yourself."
Bond said that Gotjen's winning entry earned a prize of a free membership to Baltimore's Creative Alliance. Other participants received festival T-shirts, she said.
Other entries include Emma Hernandez's "Brain Riot," a two-minute piece filled with light and shadow, repeated scenes of hands wringing and non-stop chatter.
"This piece involved abstract form of a lot of blinking lights and buzzers, beeps and layered dialogue to produce the feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed," said Bond.
Cunningham's work shows that you never know where your artistic inspiration may come from.
"One of my classmates would always bring in a Coke bottle to class with him," said Cunningham. "And I was thinking, 'What if [its liquid] rose and fell to music?' I needed non-copyrighted music, so I chose Beethoven's Fifth."
Cunningham said that he created the visual effects for "Beethoven's Fizz" as his family took turns sipping soda from straws. Then he took pictures of the receding liquid. The video was shown in class.
"I enjoyed doing it so the process was kind of fun for me," he said. "I try not to let nerves get to me while people are watching my stuff. I just try to enjoy it with them. It's pretty cool to be able to express myself and to have people appreciate it."