From experimental cinema to fashion videography, fourteen artists breaking the boundaries Since its foundation, Stigmart10 has encouraged a conception of art based on a dynamic dialogue between artists and audience, reflecting the interactive nature of the creative act itself. A winning formula, according to the doubled number of submissions - more than 3000 applicants have submitted their video works and CV in 2014 - and the increasing popularity of our project. We are glad to present this year's edition of Videofocus, our special Stigmart10 review focused on experimental cinema, original fashion videography and courageous documentary. Stigmart10 Team
Maintaining a practice that explores the concept of psychological self-portrait is a fundamental element of my work. My interdisciplinary works are intensely subjective self-interrogations that simultaneously subvert and discover the self.
IAbandonment Schema/Tic explores the meaning of being left or of leaving through an associative narrative. In this work I think about the people and places that shaped my personal experience and try to understand this memory and history from multiple perspectives.
The focus of my video â€œHere and Thereâ€? is Berlin. I searched for images and situations, that would express the feelings and impressions I had of this city. A Metropolis, crowded with young people. A city of rush. A city of movement, change, innovation and development.
"Process" consists of five video clips, each featuring a dancer and his/her movements. It discloses the behind-the-scenes creative process and blurs the line between the public and the private.
"Rumbadiosa feels like drawing to me, the speed and the tone quality somehow bond with my creative process. Although I like listening to music in general whilst drawing, only this tune felt right to use in this video project."
"My work is an exploration of identity, an investigation into how socio-cultural categories such as race and gender are informed by popular culture. I highlight the oversimplified portrayal of women in pop culture using music videos as a vehicle to explore gender roles and sexism."
Dennis Summers has exhibited artwork internationally since 1984. He has worked in a wide range of genres and media. During most of this period he created large-scale mixed and multi-media installations.
Steven H Silberg
"As television broadcast has moved to digital, we have seen the increased presence of glitches in our programming. Videos freeze and as the program-ming resumes, we become privy to the inner workings of the process of how the image is stored and transmitted."
Blacklight Lighthouse make music and videos. Loops and samples are layered using acoustic and electronic instrumentation to create sound-collage/noise-music. Carefully orchestrated or casually discovered visual patterns or scenes are edited to produce hypnotic imagery.
" UPC Sex is a satire on the idea that if we allow ourselves to be manipulated much longer we may well become so much the product that the inanimate objects that were the bait, which led us morally astray for so many years, finally will replace us
The Laetoli series, named for a set of footprints left by a pre human species and preserved by chance over three million years ago, is a project aimed at producing a motion picture archaeology of human activity inside social, material, and natural worlds.
Per Bloland and Arie Stavchansky
At the time of producing Graveshift, I was in graduate school studying the implications of surveillance in the context of reality television production, as well as theories regarding audienceâ€™s perception of time while consuming moving images.
"Trained as an architect, I found myself in a peculiar position: I was interested in space but somehow wanted to stay away from physically messing with the ground. I like watching things instead of changing them."
David & Tara Gladden Word Pieces is a modular series ofshort audiovisual performancecompositions. Each shortcomposition takes a word, breaks itdown into its smallest parts. Ratherthan serving words, in Word Pieces,the voice is deconstructing andreconstructing them in new ways.Word Pieces dissects and magnifies the audiovisual and physicalqualities of both voice and language,expressing them sonically, visually,and experientially.
Constance Humphries An artist's statement Maintaining a practice that explores the concept of psychological self-portrait is a fundamental element of my work. My interdisciplinary works are intensely subjective self-interrogations that simultaneously subvert and discover the self. The pieces variously utilize somatics, butoh, performance, drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, digital
manipulation, animation, motion graphics, computer programming and sound to address issues of identity, the subconscious and memory. Asking the question of what it means to be human by exploring the human psyche from a deeply personal point of view, the work aims to activate the emotional, physical, psychological and political potential of the self that is acutely attuned to its inherent intersubjectivity via a self-analysis based practice.
See Them video, sound 10m, 4s 2014
Am I Who I Am asks these questions: Who are we? How do we figure it out? What signifiers do we use to know who we are? What happens when those signifiers disappear? Who am I without labels and categories? Am I only my feelings? The piece is comprised of nine drawings - psychological self â€“ portraits, which were layered with the video on which the drawings were based. These elements
were combined with a soundscape that was created with sounds from a day in my life and a melody created from numbers of personal significance to create a piece which explores the complex emotional reactions to loss of identity and familiarity. Constance Humphries
An interview with
Constance Humphries Costance Humpries's works spacing from motion graphics to refined video reveals an incredible effort to explore the potential of the Self. In her video Am I Who I Am? (2013-14) we have selected for this year's Videobiennale, we can recognize a deep introspection effort, whose starting point is a series of psychological self -portraits. Constance,Â€how did you come up with the idea for this work? I was working on a series of drawings, selfportraits that were created in response to the question Who Am I? I had just moved to the UK from the US and was going through a bit of an identity crisis. The source images for the portraits were videos of myself in a durational performance from a few years ago that dealt with a similar question about identity and ego. It just seemed natural to combine the two efforts into a video piece. The soundscape idea came as I was doing the wash one morning. I
thought that I would simply record my day and layer it with a composition I was working on that abstractly related to the upheaval of moving to another country. How did you get started in filmmaking? Totally sideways. After years of making unsited and unsighted durational performance pieces along aside making mostly self-referential paintings and drawings, I became allergic to paint both physically and psychologically. I had never really related to making objects, but I had never given my performance work much value and having gone to a fairly traditionally art school, I was in the mindset of making objects. Additionally, I had been teaching digital media (audio, video, design) for years and one day, it just sort of clicked that I could record my durational pieces and combine them with graphic work (or not) and focus my efforts onto making moving images that combined all of my interests into one form.
See Them, video, sound 10m, 4s 2014 This piece explores what we don't want to see in ourselves...all the scary, shameful, ugly, lewd parts of our history. They haunt us...our dreams, our memories...they color the way we see ourselves and in the way we act in the world...what we think we are capable of. This piece asks us to notice them, to look at them...to see them. And by doing that, perhaps we can start to see ourselves differently...be better, act better, see ourselves and others with more compassion.
We find that your video Hyfee (2012) share some aspects in common withAm I Who I Am?.In particular we have been impressed with the essential, theatrical setting you have adopted in this earlier work, just think of your use ofblack backgrounds, reminding us of Robert Bresson's vision ofart as a subtractive process.Could you introduce our readers to this work? Hyfee has gone through so many revisions. First, it was a series of drawings and paintings, which explored childhood as its theme. Then I developed a durational performance companion piece. In its third incarnation, it was a video, which presented a type of theatre with the drawings super-imposed on the figures. In it’s latest version, it is a simple movement for video piece that strips all of the theatre and distills the most elemental – the emotional honesty of early childhood. No filter, no fear, just pure emotion, pure freedom of expression, at least theoretically.
Hyfeewas inspired by your early childhood.You use yourself as the subject for a lot of your work. How has your history influenced the way you produce art? All of my work is self-referential. Across media and traditions, from drawing to modern dance, there has been a through-line of what I recognize as a Butoh approach and an aim to uncover the self through deep seeing and truth seeking. Luckily (or not), I have had a very challenging (in the first-world sense) history full of abandonment, abuse, addiction (mine and other’s), poverty, homelessness, depression, etc. Lots to chew on…lots to make art about. What draws you to a particular subject? Well, since my subject is myself, I can’t actually get away from her. I really have tried,
See Them video, sound 10m, 4s 2014
but every morning, there she is demanding
meditation, in my durational practice, etc. If a
that I pay attention to this little concern, that
theme like jealousy or envy or hostility keeps
little insecurity, etc. So my subjects are the
coming up, I know that the only way to deal with
things that come up in my personal life,
it is to look at it with rigorous honesty and blow
See Them video, sound 10m, 4s 2014
it wide open, expose it for what it is.
Very important. I donâ€™t distinguish between teaching, learning and collaborating, so
As an artist, how important do you think it
opportunities to share in the creative process
is to teach what you practice?
are crucial to my practice.
We daresay that your projectsEase Me Into InvisibilityandAnother Moment Of Silencereveal a deep influence of the imagery of Francis Bacon. Who among international artists influenced your work?
influenced by Bacon), a phenomenal painter living in New York; Kazuo Ono, one of the most influential and founding members of Butoh performance; and most recently, Bean, a performance artist practicing in London.
Among my influences are Judy Glantzman (definitely influenced by those who were
Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts, Constance. What's next for Constance
See Them video, sound 10m, 4s 2014
Humphries? Are there any film projects on the horizon? I finished a new piece called See Them earlier this year. It explores our demons â€“ what we donâ€™t want to see in ourselves. I am just back from the Bristol Biennial in Bristol, England and began a residency in Newcastle, England in
October. I have 4 video projects underway with way too many still in the sketchbook phase. I will be debuting a new live work at the Star and Shadow in Newcastle (in collaboration with Chonyid) as well as creating a 3 channel video installation at the Vane gallery in Newcastle at the end of 2014.
Cari Freno An artist's statement Abandonment Schema/Tic explores the meaning of being left or of leaving through an associative narrative. In this work I think about
the people and places that shaped my personal experience and try to understand this memory and history from multiple perspectives. The concept of object relations tries to negotiate the existential reality that the ego
self only exists in relation to something else. In this work I create visual studies of the ego self that assist in the process of understanding my personal history and narrative. Through performing, making videos, experimenting with sound, drawing and sculpting, I create
situations where I can experiment with simple relationships or more complex associative narratives in an attempt to reveal truths about my existence. Cari Freno
A still from Abandonment Schema/Tic
An interview with
Cari Freno We have been impressed by the way you use of static shots, reminding us of the early films by Tsai Ming Liang. How did you develop your style? I am a fan of play and tongue in cheek comedy like Charlie Chaplin, the Marx brothers and Buster Keaton. This clownish behavior and supposed naivete allows the characters to do things that any other person could get arrested or in trouble for. They flirt and take risks with what others may find a conventional and sensible boundary. My process is very intuitive and in the moment, but after time and some reflection of the work I know that I wanted to push the boundaries of understanding materials and connecting with them. I began to think of “nature” as the material I wanted to work with. I also wanted to be the “material” –I wanted the sincere, naïve and ultimately pathetic interaction between myself and the complex system that is a forest or a lake to be the “product” or final piece. This involved
elements of performance which I was comfortable with. So I began taking trips to a park close to where I attended grad school in Virginia called Pocahontas State Park and recording videos of myself attempting to create and connect with nature. It was a way to channel boundary pushing in my life not only concerning materials but also religion and faith, the structure of grad school and my studio practice. We have quoted the taiwanese director in our previous question. Have other artists from the older generations influenced your work? I have definitely been inspired and influenced by the composition, timing, rhythm and sound of the works of Victor Erice, Harmony Korine, Lars Von Trier, and Ingmar Bergman. Victor Erice creates a haunting, cinematic portrait of childhood experiences in The Spirit of the Beehive. Harmony Korine forces beauty out of unsophisticated poverty. Lars Von Trier
A still from Abandonment Schema/Tic
develops subversive stories and characters. Ingmar Bergman inspires with a sense of bleakness and the investigation of faith and doubt. There are also the artists Joan Jonas, Pippilotti RIst, Vito Acconci and Ana Mendiata whose work really paved the way for performative/boundary pushing video art. I was looking at this work a lot when I was beginning to experiment with video. Joan Jonas used a similar sense of association in her work Volcano Saga. Pippilotti Rist’s unapologetic female and raw expression in I’m not the girl. Vito Acconci’s sense of associative narrative storytelling as well as his simple grade school-boy approach. Ana Mendiata because of her investigation of nature and ritual. We have been impressed by the balance between absence and presence in your video, which is not conceived as a classical balance, as the relationships between solids and voids in architecture for example, but a sort of coexistence
between past and present in imagination and perception. How do you achieve this balance? Abandonment Schematic is about the dynamic of loss and its effects on the object being left as well as the object that is leaving. Many people have experienced both of these feelings to some extent. This is an investigation of the effects of these feelings on my personal narrative. The video illustrates the concept of cognitive dissonance, the idea of being confronted with new information that conflicts with existing ideas, beliefs and values. The catch of the whole thing is that you try to solve the pain of abandonment through the act of abandonment. The balance is actually a cycle. The focus is not on the object being left or the object that is leaving; there is only the loss itself and its effects in the nature of the story. In Abandonment Schema/Tic you explore
A still from Abandonment Schema/Tic
relationships and memory using an associative narrative storytelling, following a Robbe-Grilletian formula: could you introduce our readers to this so personal method ? I prefer this type of fractured pacing to a linear story line because I couldn’t explore the ideas I want to explore in the sense of beginning, middle and end. I am thinking about human experience when I make these works and how one’s memory, understanding and experiences exist as fragmented time, a space in which memory and desire synthesize into poetry and metaphor. In these last years we have seen that the frontier between Video Art and Cinema is growing more and more vague. In Abandonment Schema/Tic confirm this trend, indeed. Do you think that this "frontier" will exists longer? I can see pros and cons to this “frontier” as it may open the door to broader audiences that know very little about video art, but it may also serve to change the necessity that makes video art so appealing to an emerging or mid-career artist. I do think the distinction between cinema and video art is important because of the economic divide that often relates to how each medium is employed. Video being more readily accessible to an artist as a medium, because it is much cheaper than film, can alone be an aesthetic choice. The need for exploration combined with economic limitations can lead to a great deal of ingenuity, which is something that may change if cinema begins to co-opt video arts spontaneity of style that comes from making the most out of limited resources. However, I think film and video art can and do influence each other especially in the work of the artists and filmmakers I mentioned earlier. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts with us, Cari. What's next for Cari Freno? Are there any new projects on the horizon? Currently I am working on a series of drawings, prints and relief sculpture tondos. Within these works I have started exploring
A still from Abandonment Schema/Tic
relationships between people, behavior, memory, personal history and family bonds. I have been drawing from a language of figures, gestures and psychological coding and working to create a layered image that represents experience as viewed from the past, present and future all at once. I have also been exploring drawing and mark-making using a variety of media and impulsive techniques. I am curious to discover how a viewer understands and relates to these
purposeful and personal methods and materials. Through exploring mediums as varied as clay, video, drawing, and altered found objects, I reach back again and again to the same existential questions and consider what it means to live authentically in the context of my own day to day life. This inquiry has expanded my understanding of self in humanistic and psychological terms while at
the same time given me specific kinesthetic reference through material experimentation. I have also recently begun working as an assistant professor of Sculpture and Drawing at Ursinus College near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and I am preparing for a video screening with live music/sound performance in the Spring of 2015 at Little Berlin Gallery in Philadelphia.
Jana Schneider „Here And There“ Da bin ich dort. Here l am There. Dort bin ich da. There l am here. Impressionen vom Leben in der Großstadt. Video / Sound 5.33 min My video “Here And There” was inspired by early movies made by Lázló Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray in the late 1920s. Especially the film
“Impressionen vom alten Marseiller Hafen” by Moholy-Nagy of the year 1929 motivated me to create a video referring to these early or even first visual art works within the medium of film. Using images without any specific narration, Moholy-Nagy more or less moves photographs ranked against each other causing a dense atmosphere and impressions of the surrounding environment – in this case a vigorous view of the habour of Marseille.
vibration lying in the air. Deep and strong. Aswell optimistic and floating. These adjectives I implemented into sound. Sound that also pays tribute to the fact that Berlin is the cradle of techno music which I actually percive as the soundtrack of the city. So on the one hand I created impressions of living in the urban environment of a big city with the first part “here I am there”. This part illustrates our controversies with urban living, with encountering thousands of individuals on a daily basis and with contemporary lifestyles in general as well as with the rush of time, overstimulation, consumption and much more. The contrast I built in the second part of the video “There I am Here” symbolizes a desire we all have. In my video I expressed this desire with the “nature” as a direct contrast to the city. For me it seems more like a metapher to a desire everyone can feel differently and individually. For some of us it's the desire for love, for family. For others it's to be in the nature or missing home. “Nature” in my video unifies all the desires we feel. Pictures of a calm forest, of trees waving smoothly in the wind. The view up to the sky where clouds are slowly passing by. All these images remind the viewer of an inner desire and the feeling that something is missing. This second part is accompanied by piano music by Bohren & der Club of Gore (a German band that focuses on “doom ridden jazz”). It marks a strong contrast to the vibrating and bassy sound used in the first part of the video. Moreover it stands as a metaphor for calmness, wideness, intensity, melancholy and time – time to breath, time to think. The focus of my video “Here and There” is Berlin. I searched for images and situations, that would express the feelings and impressions I had of this city. A Metropolis, crowded with young people. A city of rush. A city of movement, change, innovation and development. My visual impressions are carried by self created sound. A sound which accentuates the
To sum it up “Here And There” deals with the contradictions of our times. A selective perception. A constant dissatisfaction. The phenomenon that no matter how good things are going for us, we always feel we are missing something, transformed into two extremes, with the direct contrast of nature and city.
An interview with
Jana Schneider How did you come up with the idea for this work?
footage that appears convenient for the idea I have.
As with any of my art works, I start quite intuitively, out of an emotional state. In this specific work I transformed a feeling I had this spring, an inner longing for nature and peace of mind, being surrounded by the hastiness of the city life.
From the first time we watched Here And There we had the impression that your use of desaturated colors is not merely aimed at achieving extremely refined composition: your cinematography seems to be deeply influenced by the emotional potential of light: could you better explain this aspect of your shooting style?
Furthermore Music always inspires me and I usually start with creating the sound. The concept for the content of the film and sound reveals itself within the process. I constantly collect film material, often without any specific aim â€“ and in the following revert to certain
â€œHere And Thereâ€? focuses on a rhythm that is best transmitted through this desaturated, minimalistic, black and white form. This style and the pulsating film editing goes along with
A still from „Here And There“ Impressionen vom Leben in der Großstadt. Video / Sound 5.33 min
the beat – the beat works like the contrast of black and white, while the colors act more as melodies which rather implement feelings. In the first part of the video I intended to portray the urban life and its vibrating restlessness, the rush of time, the overstimulation – the fast rhythm of the city. Thus I use color very consciously and carefully since it expresses a lot of emotion for me.
Lázló Moholy-Nagy's New Vision has deeply influenced your art imagery: when did you come across Moholy-Nagy's works?
In a different video of mine, in contrary, I work particularly with an increased intensity of color to visualize a specific emotional state of mind.
I’ve been dealing with techno music as a DJ as well as a VJ. I have been searching for a connection between art and the aesthetics of techno music. My examination of modern art, in particular of Dada and Surrealism and experimental surrealistic movies lead me to the first video art works of the Hungarian master.
“Here And There” formally and aesthetically relates to early video works of the 1920’s by Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray which initiated an objective approach to the subject matter.
Even though I’m not approaching the motive in objective terms of the “New Vision”, I’m picking up some of his formal language.
A still from „Here And There“ Impressionen vom Leben in der Großstadt. Video / Sound 5.33 min
Here And There is divided into two parts. How did you decide to this twoparty structure reminding us of the Double concerto formula ? I decided to display the difference of the cultural creation - the city - and nature by putting them into this formal contrast of division. Therefore I’m confronting these two antagonists to put out the essence of each of the two extremes: Black stands out stronger next to white, white is stronger next to black. Only in the end the dialogue between them becomes obvious. Audio has a huge importance in your works. the use of soundtrack has not a diegethical aims, but tend to sabotage the common perception mechanims revealing the inner nature of your subjects. How did you chose the soundtrack? In fact you cannot call the sound of my art work „soundtrack“. The sound actually stands above the visual work and it’s more that the pictures work as a support for the sound than the other way around. I created the sound of the first part of “Here And There” myself, while I chose classical piano music by Bohren & Club of Gore – a German band that focuses on doom ridden jazz – for the second part, which reflects best my desire for nature I mentioned before. Again, on the sound level, I’m putting two extremes into contrast. In your statement you say "The phenomenon that no matter how good things are going for us, we always feel we are missing something": we have been impressed by the balance between absence and presence in your video conceived as a sort of coexistence between past and present in imagination and perception. Could you introduce our readers to this aspect of Here And There ? It’s about this feeling of longing: When you’re “here” in the city, you long for nature – as soon as you’re “out there”, you wish yourself back into your urban environment. Or, to name other examples, when you’re a single, you want to be in a relationship, as soon as you are with
someone you want to be a single again. In the end it’s about acceptance… about settling for what’s here and now and not beinig “here and there”.
A still from „Here And There“ Impressionen vom Leben in der Großstadt. Video / Sound 5.33 min
The city and the nature can be seen more as a metapher. I use these two conditions to create this specific feeling of desire.
And to reflect the phenomenon of constant longing. We find you art rich of visual references:
apart from Lázló Moholy- Nagy's Impressionen vom alten MarseillerHafen, can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? My early influences were the surrealists, especially Salvador Dalí and Luis Bunuel, with all their phantastic, imaginative and dark worlds. Furthermore I still get inspired by movies like Daniel Kubrick “Space Odyssee”, Wim Wenders’ “Himmel über Berlin” or Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist”/………… And as i already mentioned my art work is constantly influenced by the examination with Music. Especially the electronic Music but furthermore dub, reagge, doom, stoner Rock and as well classic Music. Just to name a few. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts, Jana. What's next for Jana Maria Schneider? Are there any film projects on the horizon? I’m actually constantly collaborating with other artists, musicians and DJs, working with sound as well as visually. My focus at the moment is on my art studies that opens the possibilities to experiment and expand my artistic horizon. In this context I’m planning to break the two-dimensional frame of the videos I make and set up the sound and pictures within spatial installations.
A still from „Here And There“ Impressionen vom Leben in der Großstadt. Video / Sound 5.33 min
Sachiko Hayashi Process, an artist's statement "Process" consists of five video clips, each featuring a dancer and his/her movements. It discloses the behind-the-scenes creative process and blurs the line between the public and the private. Revealing what is normally hidden,
"Process" creates an in-between space where the exposed reenacts with the concealed. The choice we make as artists infers our act of hiding; in every choice we make, there is a conscious decision taking on making something public and keeping something private. Through
Process, Installation View (part) at Stiftelsen 3,14, Bergen, Norway, 2012
this process we weave a fabric of illusion; the public illusion of who we are and what we do. Seeing art as an exchange of the most intimate expression from one person (the artist) to another (the public), this inherent dual nature bears certain problematics. The seemingly nakedness of
an artist, often referred to as "naked soul," is in reality a carefully constructed creation attained through disciplined training in self-exposures. "Process" intends to bring awareness to that process. The five dancers depicted in this work are at
An interview with
Sachiko Hayashi Exploring the hidden nature of the creation process itself, Sachiko Hayashi's video reveals a reamarkable effort to go beyond the public-private dualistic vision. In her personal statement, Sachiko says: "The seemingly nakedness of an artist is in reality a construct of disciplined training in self-conscious selection of self exposures." We are glad to present for this year's Videofocus Edition her videoinstallation titled Process. Sachiko, how did you come up with the idea for Process? I work in the intersection between Contemporary Visual Art and New Media. However, during the last 10 years or so, I have been feeling uncertainties as I’ve often found the gap between the formalistic approach of New Media and the content-driven Contemporary Art increasingly irreconcilable. It seems to me that New Media has been continuously concerned with the development of its own genre rather than giving room to artists for personal expressions. When my mother became fatally ill in the mid 2000s, I went through a personal soul searching journey regarding my own approach to art making. I realised then that if I had got any closer to the field of New Media as the genre was at the time, I would not have been able to express my own experience in my work. And being a woman and non-Westerner (living in the West) whose experience has not been shared by many, my personal voice born out of my existence has always held a primal importance to me. Process is one of the first works I did after my mother passed away. Process does not address any cutting-edge technology. It doesn't even subscribe to any genre-correct theme. It simply shows what I was going through in my life at the time and what art means to me. In that way, Process is a very personal work.
From the first time we watched your work Process we had the impression that your use of color, in particular white, is not merely aimed at achieving extremely refined composition: your cinematography seems to be deeply influenced by the emotional potential of color: could you better explain this aspect of your shooting style? I am interested in making what’s on the screen personally unique. I believe that’s the reason I often manipulate colour palette in my work. I am interested in figuring out a personal way to reflect the experience of what I observe, film, and subsequently show. As someone who belongs to the second generation of video artists for whom the digital has become the norm, I am not interested in manipulation of video signals as the previous generation of electronic art video pioneers were with their analogue machines. Rather, my focus has been on the quality of density alternatively transparency of colour and light on the screen. This aspect is probably the reason why people experience my work as “emotional potential of color” as you put it, as my focus for colour manipulation has been to bring out the contrasting quality of depth-shallowness, density-
Still from Process: Connie (and Her Morning Class)
sparsity, warmth-coldness, smoothnesscrustiness, etc., in order to suit my own interpretation of the situation. For Process, the visual was filmed by having a longer exposure time in the camera to allow the movements of dancers being traced visually. The white background allowed me to freely experiment with the overexposed visual as well as at the same time to place the dancers to take a central role in it. In this case the visibility of tracing was the thing I was after -- a visible trace of process (i.e. movement). How did you get started in filmmaking and videoart? The very first piece of artwork I wanted to do was an interactive sound installation back in 1990, in which the movement of the public would induce preprogrammed sounds. Unfortunately that didnâ€™t materialise due to the
high cost involved. I went on then to make multimedia performances engaging a music composers and a dancer. Although these two appear to belong to separate categories, they were actually based on the same principle, i.e. the movement (of the public or of the dancer) within a given space and within a given time, and how those three elements intersect, affect, influence, and shape one another. From there to go into video-making, for which space, time, and movement are primary components, was not a far-away step to take. I also preferred the reproducibility of the video medium and enjoyed the fact that I could have an absolute control over the final end-result of the work. I would add here that the first video work I saw was on a local Tokyo TV channel, it must have been 1979 or thereabouts. I was very much taken with it for its non-narrative quality. So it was only a matter of time I would get into video art; the question was when and with what.
Process, Installation View (part) at Stiftelsen 3,14, Bergen, Norway, 2012
Still from Process: Jung-Ah
Process reminds us of Romeo Castellucci's imaginery: we find that your art is rich of references. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? I don’t know if I have anything or anyone that I can call “biggest influences”; often I would be interested in certain artists or certain art and music genres and study them for some duration, in order to know how and why I am attracted to those works. My attention is therefore more temporary than constant. If there is anything that I can call consistent, it must be my interest in Noh and Kabuki. Through them I learned to appreciate multimedia, and through them I became acquainted with a variety of, often surprising combinations of, colours and forms. My obsession with time-based media, often as a
synthesis of different media, most probably originates from them. Two names come up, though, whose works have had certain meaning (rather than “influence”) at a deeper level; Francesca Woodman and Vito Acconci. I view Francesca Woodman’s work as implosion. I perceive in her work a permanent crash between an internalisation of (historically) objectified woman and the subjectivity of innate sexuality. In her work I detect the fusion of the gaze looking in from the outside and an explosiveness of inmost being, which ultimately leads to a confusion and collapse. I recognise in her work innocence which is neither pure nor ignorant; in her work I apprehend innocence that derives from its impurity due to knowledge. In Vito Acconci I recognise someone who has persistently investigated the concept of space in
Still from Process: James
the way no one else has. In him I identify an artist whose life-long interest in space has taken many metamorphoses; poetry, performance, landscape architecture, etc. I thereby consider him to be a representative of the very first wave of artists for whom prioritisation of genreorientation has come to be understood as perfectly obsolete. I also share a great appreciation for Gordon Matta Clarkâ€™s work but I havenâ€™t had enough time to study his work thoroughly. Maybe Iâ€™ll be able to comment on his work someday. Process has been exhibited at STIFTELSEN 3,14 in Bergen. What has the response to your video art? The response has been very positive and I am very pleased with the result. Process is a work that can be viewed linearly as in screening, or it can be experienced spatially as an installation.
In the installation setting, each dancer is given his/her own monitor. Therefore the installation consists of five screens/monitors, each representing a person. The idea behind this arrangement is that you will meet each dancer as an individual. There are cons and pros in both, linear and nonlinear, settings. Although there is no story line in Process, there is a vague progression of a narrative, which only emerges when the whole five clips are viewed linearly. Much of this sequential outline gets lost when the work is experienced as an installation, unless the public takes time to view each clip from the beginning to the end, which I know rarely, if ever, happens. However, this loss is compensated by the gain of having the individual representation of each dancer. And I think I made the right decision to bring this work as an installation to Stiftelsen 3,14.
Often unaddressed is the aspect of the contextual significance of a venue that influences the outcome of an artwork as a consequence. We all like to think and treat as if an artwork is an isolated entity devoid of any circumstantial ramifications. However, some of my own experiences tell me otherwise. For example, I remember a time when I went over from CD-ROM projects to netart. Although they both were screen-based interactive media closely related to each other using same or similar programming principles, the contextual circumstances for the two were distinctively different: whereas the circumstances of CDROM, a purchased product you explored at home, encouraged the strategy of complex navigation that would keep the attention of the user for the maximum duration, those of the early days of netart when many were still paying for dial-up connection demanded exactly the opposite method. I would not say this condition had entirely changed the course of screen-interactivity, but it fostered certain types of works and diminished others. It is not a surprise then that a similar circumstantial shaping has evolved moving image into two divergent streams; after all, screenings and installations communicate two different expressions, one based on duration of time, the other on spatial orientation. Process made me keenly aware of that insight. Do you think that there's a "contrast" between tradition and contemporary? An interesting question. I do not believe I necessarily see a “contrast” there. The last century was a time when we experienced our traditions broke down. Everywhere in the world Modernism’s Universalism delivered the message that your today was, or at least should be, rested on the new and unknown. For many who were not from the West, this also signified that one’s own traditions were placed against Western values and aesthetics embodied in Modernism. Even after the rise of Postmodernism, this intricate complexity still prevails for many of us so-called “minorities” today. The same Modernism also changed our attitude on the relation between tradition and the contemporary. Individualisation of artist denoted that the natural progression, i.e.
Still from Process: Nadia
transition from the contemporary to a tradition, became riven and discontinuous. I believe that is where you find the contrast between them. I think we are at a stage where “the Modern” has now become a particular sort of tradition. Modern dance is a good example; its initial quest for individual freedom of expression, based on a break from the totalitarian ballet techniques, has today been replaced by a new kind of tradition in which its practitioners are yet again required to acquire and be skilled in certain techniques and styles. Many do not think in terms of contrast any longer and have long ago stopped questioning if there ever was one. For me living in this century as a creator and not an interpreter of someone else’s work, I do not see a “contrast” but instead a tension inherent in the art of creating. In my opinion there will always be a tension for a creator between the contemporary and tradition. If you are satisfied with tradition, why should you want to create something anew? For someone who has the urge to create one’s own, I believe it is merely natural, if not prerequisite, to feel certain unfulfillment with the known and the tried. Your video production is very miscellanous: how has your production processes changed over the years? No. Apart from the times I worked with curators who commissioned me on specific themes, my process has always been the same. I believe in giving time to whatever it is within
Still from Process: Helen
me, having it ripen until it takes form before my mind’s eye, and only then starting to work on the actual construction of the work. That my production may appear miscellaneous may be due to the fact that for each work, or each series of works, I have a specific aspect in my mind I want to probe. It could be a theme, a technical aspect, or some sort of inter-media experimentation. It could also depend on my sentiment that I detest the act of defining. Defining oneself, for me, is equivalent to death. There is no space for change. Everything is solidified as if set in cement and it does not leave any room flexible enough to be bent, turned around, or developed into something else. The definition of oneself soon becomes a mould that you are trapped in and can never escape from. I seem to try to avoid that as much as possible.
Having said that, it is also true that at the bottom of it all, my basic interest remains the same: time, space, and movement/change. Those are the pillar components I won’t be able to eliminate from my work. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts, Sachiko. What's next for Sachiko Hayashi? Are there any film projects on the horizon? Since Process, I’ve already started on a series of projects that embrace gesture interface in live video performance. It involves programming, live camera feed, and audio-visual feedbacks. So in a way I am trying once again to reconcile with the technical side of New Media. My goal is to make an interactive audio-visual installation one of these days, into which I can pour all the lessons I’ve learned through my works. In short, I am heading back to my roots.
Katarzyna Jablonska Rumbadiosa – Synopsis Rumbadiosa is a creative interdisciplinary project bringing together visual art, music and moving image, it’s a collaboration of drawing artist Katarzyna Jablonska (http://kjablonska.com), musician Estas Tonne (http://estastonne.com/EstasTonneMusic/inde x.html) and director and cinematographer Mariusz Scislowicz (MS STUDIO https://www.facebook.com/pages/MsStudio/241220822563855?ref=hl). Rumbadiosa has been selected for Pixels of Identities, international exhibition of
photography, video art, installation and performing art, held in the prestigious Palazzo Albrizzi in Venice (Italy) Biennale in Venice 2014. Polish-born British artist Katarzyna Jablonska, based in Manchester, exhibits her drawings in the UK, USA and in Europe and is recognized with a number of awards in the USA. In 2014 she has been included in ‘The State of Art’ art book - ‘Landscape and Portrait’ by Bare Hill Publishing and inLevel 25 Artjournal online publication. In 2013 she received 4th place in Selfportrait category in American Art Awards - International Contest
Katarzyna is a member of Naples Art Association (USA) and PS Mirabel Studios (Manchester, UK), an Associate Member of Neoartists Studios (Bolton, UK), Castlefield Gallery and Mark Devereux Projects (Manchester, UK).
and she was the winner of the 7th Artslant Showcase. In 2014 her work was listed in Special Merit Category in All Women Art Exhibition - Light Space and Time Online Gallery, she was the winner of Best of Show category in “Imagine – Figuratively speaking” juried exhibition in Dianne Neuman Gallery (CA) and a finalist in the online competition: EM*BODIED ART at the Art Scene Today, USA. Katarzyna Jablonska, born 1983 in Lodz (Poland) completed 2 years private fine art tuition (2006-08) focused on drawing skills and techniques. She then moved to the UK and graduated from BA (Hons) Interactive Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2011.
Estas Tonne is an enigmatic international artist known for his exceptional guitar style. Born and brought up in the former Soviet Union, where he studied music at a local music school and trained in classical guitar for 6 years, he then moved to Israel. Since 2002 Estas went traveling and performing around the world, playing in the USA, Mexico, India, Israel and Europe, performed in high profile venues, art festivals, clubs and has taken his music to the streets. 2001 Tonne arrived in New York, teamed up with the already established violinist virtuoso, Michael Shulman, and played across New York throughout 2002, culminating in a moving 9/11 anniversary concert in Union Square. He has been involved in multiple projects related to films and theatre. He composed instrumental pieces for a short film “Elemental” collectively created in India, based on a universal story of awakening and transformation. Since 2010 he has been involved in the video project “Time of the 6th Sun” – a film by Nikki Williams, a British film director. As a modern-day gypsy Troubadour Estas finds himself in several cultural references without identifying with a single nation or country, creating a reflection of a classical structure, technique of Flamenco, roots of Gypsy, characteristics of Latin and Electronic Soundscapes, shaping it into World Music. Mariusz Scislowicz is a Polish filmmaker – cinematographer and photographer based in the UK. He aims to create professional looking films and video clips.
An interview with
Katarzyna Jablonska RUMBADIOSA is the result of the excellent collaboration between three talented artists: Mariusz Scislowicz (Director), Katarzyna Jablonska (Drawing Artist) and Estas Tonne (Musician). A stunning video taking a look inside the creation process for the artwork behind Katarzyna's drawings, revealing how light and shadow are strictly connected to both videomaking and drawing worlds, thanks to Mariusz's low key cinematography. How did you come up with the idea for RUMBADIOSA? The idea of making an artist’s video was there, it’s a popular thing to do. It was only lacking the subject, the music and the right person to record it. By the “right person” I mean a filmmaker that has this ability to gain insight into artist’s personality and practice and create the atmosphere that brings it all together. He’s sensitivity and receptivity are visible throughout this and other videos he made for artists. And the decision of choosing the subject was natural after the music somehow made its way to me. Katarzyna, you have selected instinctively the music by Estas Tonne as a starting point for your artwork. Is music a fundamental inspiration for your works? Rumbadiosa feels like drawing to me, the speed and the tone quality somehow bond with my creative process. Although I like listening to music in general whilst drawing, only this tune felt right to use in this video project. Looking inside the creation process is always an immersive experience: far from making a documentarish report, you have tried to suggest the mysterious and mystic atmosphere of an artist's studio. Could you introduce our readers to this fascinating aspect of RUMBADIOSA? An old factory, red brick, long corridors, wooden floor, high ceilings and big windows make artist’s studios fascinating and mysterious. It’s a place with an enormous
potential, and the home of the New and Uncanny. Each artist’s studio has its own personality – the artist’s personality; and each artist and their practice is different. It’s a pleasure to be around with these people, intuitive and individual. What draws you to a particular subject? Each portrait is a result of a collaboration, observation or documentation of a concert, performance or rehearsal. It's my way of giving back of what these people let me experience. These moments with their energy are captured on research photographs. I then aim to create images narrated through identity, expression and imagination. Mariusz Scislowicz's impressive cinematography does make a masterly use of noir lighting, a lighting setup suggesting
a mysterious atmosphere, creating in this way a strong connection with the drawing act: chiaroscuro is a fascinating aspect of your drawing, but it is also the name of the cinematography technique used in RUMBADIOSA.We would like to explore the interartistic aspect of your collaboration: in what manner your work as drawing artist has influenced Mariusz's videomaking? Mariusz’s background are action movies, his influences come from movies such as Aliens, Terminator and Abyss and from directors like Tim Burton and James Cameron. He has always been committed to create a mysterious atmosphere with a thrill.
talented, creative and passionate individual. Working with creative people is something he enjoyed very much and he has taken few more commissions on from other artists since. We find that your art is rich of references. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? The influences are visible in both the technique and the content. I am still looking for my place within arts and in the critically engaged contemporary art scene. The content of my works is driven by artists, dancers, musicians – people I know and value. How did you get started in drawing?
I think it’s not as much as the drawing, but the place, the music and the art environment have influenced and opened another door for this
Drawing has always been my passion; I think the starting point for me was a series of
imaginative portraits I made as a child. I then moved onto self-portraits whilst training for art exams. Then I had a break from drawing only to come back to it 5 years later. At this stage of my practice I was looking up to other people, I was inspired and influenced by their work and passion. The portrait made on the video is a part of that period. Now I feel like the full circle has closed and I need to look into myself again. The concept of portraying emotions through own figure will hopefully reconceive self-portraiture as a thoughtful, observant and insightful personal pursuit. Nevertheless portraits of other people play still a major part of my work even through commissions, such as the one of Emmeline Pankhurst made for the Alexandra Arts organisation in Manchester. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts, Katarzyna. What's next for Katarzyna Jablonska ? Are there any further collaborations on the horizon? My practice has now changed significantly, I
still work on paper, but the drawing process continues on an etching plate. The complexity lays in the interdisciplinary practice â€“ drawing and printmaking are the different media building up various layers in my portfolio at the moment. My prints are composed in a very graphic fashion, which recalls the foundation training in fine art â€“ drawing. Depiction of figure is still a central compositional element in my work but shifted consistently towards linear abstract forms as an indication of a new mindset.
Hilary Basing An artist's statement My work is an exploration of identity, an investigation into how socio-cultural categories such as race and gender are informed by
popular culture. I highlight the oversimplified portrayal of women in pop culture using music videos as a vehicle to explore gender roles and sexism. Cultural critique is employed not only to highlight the power dynamics between
Triple Exposures 35mm photos, 2006, 2008
different groups, but to disassemble them and
the body and how gesture creates meaning through
reconfigure them again in my image of how the
world could be. My interest in relations between people leads me to an awareness of
Hilary Basing www.hilarybasing.com
An interview with
Meditation Mediation, video still, 2013
Hilary Basing Hilary Basing's experimental cinemapresents a remarkable performative naturevery rare to find among contemporary artists and filmmakers of the last decade: for this Videofocus Biennial Edition we have selectedMeditation Mediation,2-channel video. Hilary, could you introduce our readers to this amazing work? Meditation Mediationpresents myself as a protagonist who is struggling to reconcile dichotomies of analog and digital technology and the hyper-kinetic presence of the media with a spiritual need for calm. The work is presented as a 2-channel piece in order to
emphasize the influence the left channel of media (including digital pixelation) and memory (including home movies) have on the right channel of meditation and the search for selfhood. There is a gradual breakdown in my character’s achieved serenity throughout the 14 and a half minute running time. Initially, gunshots and snippets of TV interrupt my breathing. Throughout the piece I try on several different identities, refuting my own in the process. The first is a male hip hop character influenced by rap and r&b videos. The swagger of male braggadocio is intoxicating, but a feeling of anxiety caused by media over-stimulation and confusion of identity pervades the mood nonetheless.
Meditation Mediation, video still, 2013
From there, the tone changes as I contemplate the passing of time with bittersweet nostalgia. My 2004 self sings Culture Club’sTime (The Clock of the Heart) to my 2013 self who echoes it back. We see into a lens of my rapidfire thoughts-contemplating race, wiping on different skin tones, struggling to keep up, running on an outdoor track, images of files being transcoded and altered. The viewer alternately sees into my eyes or, in this case, a camera lens. At other times, my point-of-view is shown through chaotic shots of the media I am consuming. There is aBalinese character in a gold costume that appears throughout as a reference to spiritual enlightenment. She sings
‘Heart Murmur,’ a love song about breaking free of isolation. The digital pixilation or glitch that exists as a constant persistent presence throughout starts to invade the right channel. As the meditator, I succumb to the insistent demands and lure of the media on my sense of self and wipe the pixelation onto my skin like an addict. In the end, I am completely overtaken and become a pixelated body, merging with the media glitch. My symbolic death is signified by a version of the Balinese character wearing a flowered shirt and gold mask. I cross over from the right to the left channel, presumably remaining forever in the world of media escape.
Meditation Mediation, video still, 2013
Meditation Mediation, video still, 2013
The figure of the meditator in your work is not merely ironic: do you think that nowadays there still exists a dichotomy between art and technology?
and interacting with computers and devices that they become a part of our aesthetic experience. Now, more than ever, art and technology are intertwined.
I don't employ a great deal of irony in my work. I also don't find that there is a dichotomy between art and technology at all. Maybe before 1960, there was more of a divide between the two. With the advent of analog video, artists began to use video technology as a tool to comment on the presence of media in everyday life. Since I grew up in the 80's and 90's with a strong media presence in my life, I do feel the need to analyze and recontextualize it through my work. The rise of Internet culture has only intensified that need. So much time is spent, as a culture, looking at
You are not only a video artist, your 35mm photo series, characterized by multipleexposure images, presents painterly qualities. In what manner does your work as photographer influence your video making? Like any child, I grew up painting and drawing. Though my parents are not artists, I was raised with an exposure to and appreciation for art. My dad gave me an Argus 120 film camera when I was 10 and I've been looking at life through a lens ever since. Our family got a VHS video camera when I was 12 and I continued to shoot
Meditation Mediation, video still, 2013
various forms of analog video and 35mm film right up until I entered grad school in 2011. My earlier photography work was mostly documentary or note-taking images of my life. After studying film in school, my photography took on a time-based element. I found that I could create a narrative out of layering images in a single roll of film. Often my photography is executed concurrently with my shooting video so I don't see it as an influence on my video work, but yet another way of expressing an idea visually. If anything, the photography is actually influenced by the video work for me. As for painterly qualities, I grew up with an appreciation of painting. Studying painting and art history in art school further deepened my appreciation of formal aspects of a
composition. This is something I consider when making my photography and video work as well. The influence of theAmerican artist and film director Cindy Sherman on your art practice and vision is remarkable, no doubt. When did you come across Sherman's photo works? I admire Cindy Sherman for her singular use of herself as a subject and her treatment of herself as a blank slate onto which to protect different identities. I approach my work in a similar way when performing different characters. I was probably first exposed to her work in college though I don't remember for sure. I've never thought of her as a primary
Meditation Mediation, video still, 2013
Meditation Mediation, Installation View, 2013
Meditation Mediation, Installation View, 2013
influence though I do admire her very much. I am glad that her work exists because it legitimizes what I do. I did take it upon myself to deliberately study her work more recently in grad school. I was pleased to find her book, A Play of Selves, which offers an insightful look into her early working process- playfully dressing up as different characters and exploring different sides of herself. Even the title alone is very insightful. InEverything She Wants: My Money, My Body,you isolate a minimal gesture:at second sightyour refined black and white cinematography reveals an uncannyKeatonesquefeel. How did you come up with the idea for this work?
Everything She Wants: My Money, My Body isolates a symbolic gesture from the Wham! Everything She Wants video from 1986. As a huge Wham! fan, this gesture has replayed in my head for years so much that I felt that I had to make a piece about it in order to unpack it’s meaning. What I realized is that the female character in the video is completely disembodied. She only appears as a slender arm with manicured nails reaching possessively over George Michael’s body in bed and grabbing for money in another shot. I think this portrayal of a disembodied, possessive woman points to a trend present in many 80’s videos as well as the portrayal of women in the media in general as diminutive, decorative, and obsessed with marriage and children. I also read this in relation to George Michael’s budding queer sexuality at
Everything She Wants, My Money, My Body, video still, 2012
the time. One could infer that heâ€™s turned off by women sexually since, even though he dated women at the time, he now identifies as gay. Since I play both roles, my version also takes on an autoerotic quality which points further to unfixed, ambiguous sexuality. There is no consideration of Buster Keaton in this work since I am not terribly familiar with him. I also think of him as more of a physical comedian. I would love to hear more about your interpretation of this thoughâ€Ś We find that your art is rich of references. Apart from Cindy Sherman, who we have mentioned in our interview, can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work?
I have definitely been influenced by everyone from painters, photographers, and video artists to filmmakers and rock and pop stars. When I was younger and figuring out what I had to say as an artist, it was affirming and inspiring to discover certain work. In terms of expressing shifting identities and personas, David Bowie, Madonna, and Michael Jackson have been big influences. I first learned about performance through icons of pop and rock music. Music videos have been a big influence on me as well particularly the quirky, child-like animations of Michel Gondry. In film, I always cite Gondry and Wong Kar Wai as favorite directors. They both employ bold colors, unconventional cinematography, and strong musical sense in their work.
Meditation Mediation, video still, 2013
I studied tap and jazz dancing as a kid. Fred Astaire was my idol. As a child of MTV culture, I do find myself prone to idol worship. Thatâ€™s why I often imitate, interact with and reference rock and pop stars in my work. Fine
artists that have had an impact on me include Rene Magritte, Tony Oursler, Matthew Barney, Leigh Bowery, Carolee Schneemann, Martha Wilson, Adrian Piper, Hannah Wilke, Yvonne Rainer. Once I studied performance art, I came
put my work and a history to refer back to. The Brooklyn scene is often underrated; nonetheless we have found it very interesting and rich of young experimental filmmakers, often working with no budget, but with great results. What do you think of the Brooklyn artistic scene, from a filmmaker's point of view? From my perspective, as someone who has lived in Brooklyn for many years, the Brooklyn scene is a bit overrated. There are a lot of talented artists living in Brooklyn who seem to gravitate here from all over the world. That does create a vibrant scene and I guess, because I live in it, I am a Brooklyn artist by default. I don’t consider myself a filmmaker per se and I don’t think of myself in relation to a scene when I’m making work. I think about my work more often inter-generationally than locally. I see many artists my age using their work to process their own nostalgia; recontextualizing media they grew up watching. I am a part of this, possibly very American trait, as much as anything else. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts, Hilary. What's next for Hilary Basing? Are there any projects on the horizon?
to understand how gesture and the body can be used deliberately to create meaning. That was a revelation to me in many ways, partly because it gave me a context within which to
I have a lot of ideas in mind and am always working on a few projects. I am thinking a lot about how we interface with computers and screens in our everyday lives-how this forms the basis for aesthetic experience. Besides looking at the formal properties of all the screenshots I’m collecting, I am also analyzing a cultural zeitgeist. I plan to incorporate these images into gifs and video work as well. Though I recognize appropriation as an effective tool for social commentary, I am always challenging myself to not rely on it too much. I am focusing on making more of my own music. My mind is having to adapt to different ways of thinking in terms of dividing my creative attention between music and visuals. I’m also one of those people for whom making art is a private, almost secretive process. I cannot share too many details about a project until it’s near completion. Somehow telling people always seem to ruin my drive for making it. I will say, I am making a piece that relates to drag and another piece that relates to Michael Jackson. So hopefully I will finish them soon and put them out into the world!
Dennis Summers An artist's statement Dennis Summers has exhibited artwork internationally since 1984. He has worked in a wide range of genres and media. During most of this period he created large-scale mixed and multi-media installations. He also created artist's books and digital animations which are included in the collections of several major
museums. In the past his artwork was inspired by science and anthropology. In the late ‘90s new interests included environmental issues, mapping, and language extinction. This lead to the on-going global memorial artwork called The Crying Post Project, begun in 2001 (www.thecryingpostproject.org). This project involves placing wooden posts with computer chip controlled “cry generators” at locations of
active programs for an enhanced CD (which was included in an early digital art traveling exhibit called Contact Zones). One component of The Crying Post Project is an interactive 3D website. Summers has created 3 short “art” digital animations that have played and won awards in film festivals worldwide. This digital artwork has come to its full fruition, in a series of digitally created abstract “color field” videos called The Phase Shift Videos begun in 2005 (www.phase-shift.org). One of these was a purchase prize winner in the Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo, in Almeria, Spain, 2006. Others have been exhibited in the Toluca Museum of Modern Art in Mexico, an airport in Russia, a new media festival in Brazil, and numerous other galleries and museums worldwide. In contrast to The Crying Post Project these videos have been described as mesmerizing, beautiful and complex. Most recently he has begun a new series of color videos called The Interference Videos that are quite different in concept and formal structure. He is also at work on a series of short, dense, digitally created collaged videos inspired by artists and scientists called Slow Light Shadow Matter. His artists books, videos and interactive digital projects are in the collections of several major museums including the MOMA, the Pompidou Center, and the International Dada Archive.
A still from Singularity
environmental disasters. Such sites include Bhopal, India, an island near the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and several more. With his background in both “analog” and digital 3D, in the mid-90's Summers found himself at the confluence of these fields, which was wide open for new aesthetic exploration. In 1996 he received a State Arts Grant to create 3 inter-
An interview with
Dennis Summers Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece? First, I'd like to thank-you for your interest in my work and my inclusion in the Videofocus Biennial. I currently have 3 distinct bodies of work. Each one requires a different sort of advance preparation. In the case of the Phase Shift and Interference Video series (which together are one body of work, www.phase-shift.org ), there is no pre-preparation, other than my understanding of the appropriate software. Cross Fill is from the Interference series (The other two bodies of work are an entirely different video series in which each video is like a very dense collage, called Slow Light Shadow Matter; and a global memorial artwork called The Crying Post Project, www.thecryingpostproject.org. Both of these require a great deal of advance research and are highly conceptually oriented.) Since you ask about the technical aspects, I'll point out that the Phase Shift videos are all created using a software application called Combustion made by Autodesk. Unfortunately, Autodesk stopped updating the software several years ago. For readers unfamiliar with Combustion, it is a lot like Adobe After Effects, but the interface is quite different. Combustion is ideally suited to the creation process I use in making those videos. Interestingly, at least to me, I find that After Effects is more suited to the production of the Interference videos. Everyone who extensively works with software knows that the application one uses influences one's creative process. You can work with it or against it, but it's a medium like paint with its own set of strengths and limitations. In each series I started with an idea for only a single video. And in each case during the production
of the first video I started to ask myself, what would happen if I did such and such next . And every subsequent video ends up being inspired by these mostly formal, but somewhat technical questions. These videos are very much about crafting a visual experience, and so there's really very little advance prep, but a whole lot of trial and error in the creation of each video - much like in Abstract Expressionist painting. Contemporary music is fundamental in your artistic research: the music by the American composer Steve Reich, for example, is a starting point for your works. However, it would be more appropriate in your case to say that the starting point is not music itself, but musical thinking, which is at the same time philosophical and architectonic. Could you introduce our readers to the multidisciplinary nature of your art? You are absolutely right about the starting point being musical thinking, both in the case of Reich for the Phase Shift videos and Alvin Lucier for the Interference videos. For the first 15 or so years of my practice I mainly created multi-media installations that were conceptually driven, and inspired by a wide range of interests including science, primal rituals and more. In none of this work was music ever an aspect. Nonetheless, my appreciation of music is both long-term and extensive. I'm always listening to music. But it's worth pointing out that I really have no technical
A still from Cross Fill
musical knowledge at all. I don't know about chord progressions and couldn't tell you the time signature of a piece if my life depended on it. I have been a fan of Reich's music since the mid to late seventies. I can't honestly tell you why, but one day I found myself thinking about his music, not from the musical sense per se, but as you mention from a more philosophical sense. I understood that in his work phrases of music were repeated with minor variations, and that it was the 'friction' of these variations against each other that created musical interest. I started to wonder if I could I do something similar with color to what Reich was doing with sound. And when I say similar I'm not just referring to the friction of phrases, I'm also referring to what his music does to your mind when you're experiencing it. Every style of music accesses different emotions and puts different demands on your intellect. In the case of Reich, his music can induce trance-like effects, but not the kind where you just zone out. One has to pay close attention to those micro changes that occur or else I imagine it must be quite boring. So there's a kind of tension between on the one hand this apparent repetition, and on the other subtle changes
which over time bring the listener to an entirely different place than that at which they started, and one says, or at least I do, 'how did that happen?' Reich is often described as a minimalist, which I believe he disputes, but it's worth comparing his music to at least some of the minimalist and conceptual artists of the 60s. Without getting too far off topic, some of them created subtle color experiences, and/or set up systems that would develop over space or multiple iterations. But in most cases their work didn't change over 'durational' time like music does. This may have been a lack of interest on their part, or perhaps a lack of access to the kind of technologies that make it much easier to do so -technologies such as software which has really matured since the beginning of this century. This software allows me to pursue visual effects over time. Anyway, to get back to the point of musical thinking -I am a visual artist; that's what I know- and his music stimulated me to use software to craft an experience that it is generated by an initial set of criteria that creates 'friction' by having color shapes that go in and out of phase. However, in most ways my videos are entirely different than the music of Reich, which is why I use the word 'inspired' when referring to his influence on this work.
A still from Cross Fill
As far as the [architectonic] is concerned, music is something that surrounds one, and it's absolutely critical that my videos are projected at least to a height of 2 meters, and the bigger the better. This way, much like music, the viewers of the videos are completely engulfed by the imagery. My history in creating installation art has been of critical importance when creating spaces for the videos. For example, even though they are quite large, I set them up so that if you include one just within your field of view, you won't see any of the others. Multidisciplinarity and experimentation are a recurrent and very important features of your Art: while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts? By the way, I'm sort of convinced that new media art will definitely fill the dichotomy between art and technology and I will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this? Another challenging question which goes more
to the rest of my work rather than to the videos. As an undergraduate in college I studied both Chemistry and Art. My interest in science, largely but not limited to quantum physics, has driven much of the art I've made during my career. That in itself would make me somewhat multidisciplinary, but when I was in graduate school I took a course in Linguistic Anthropology which transformed my practice. The research I did for that class gave me a cross-cultural perspective on the production of what we call "art" which is generally isolated from life in Euro-American culture, but what most primal cultures consider to be just another part of life. This broadened my attitude toward my practice, both in content and media and directly led to the creation of large-scale multi-media installations. I saw art as being more about the world we live in, and less, much less about myself. I can't tell you how many times I've heard I don't see 'you' in your artwork. In primal cultures their material productions -which of course are rarely understood as art the way that we understand it- are meant to reflect their culture at large, not the identity of an individual. So the themes from science, linguistics, mapping, the environment, and my other interests find their manifestation in
A still from Cross Fill
different media appropriate to the concept, and within ritualistic space. I would submit however, that the work has not been didactic, and is open to each individual to connect to their own knowledge. I'd like to stress that I'm certainly not unique -there are many artists who share this attitude, although they may have come to it via different routes. But it's also worth pointing out that artists are often the last people to know what they're doing. So my motivations in exploring ideas and media could be entirely different than the response of participants. And in fact we have to assume that to be the case. As I mentioned earlier, I do a lot of research for these works, and that often leads me to make an associated artist's book which includes detailed conceptual information for anyone interested in delving deeper into the issues that inspired me. But even these books are abstracted from the details of content. However, The Crying Post Project, is both somewhat more didactic, and it specifically addresses how different content requires different media. At the heart of the project is a series of decorated wooden posts with small solar powered audio devices at the top, which have been placed at sites of environmental disasters throughout the world. For the most part, relatively few people will be likely to
actually visit any of these sites, and so another aspect of the project is an interactive webbased experience. It's important to stress that this is not simply the documentation of the posts, although photographs are included. It also includes short texts. Much like my artist's books these texts include background information relevant to the post location, but also personal stories of my own experience and that of local people, and other less obvious and more symbolic data. The project crosses over into social engagement. So for example, for the post I put up in Bhopal for the devastating Union Carbide gas spill in 1984, the web site includes 3 photos showing the post itself along with local people in front of the former UC plant, and a page that describes the tragic event, including interviews that I did with people who had suffered through the spill. But I also include a page on the geography of Bhopal; a page on an important spiritual tree found in Bhopal; a page about a Hindu god; and several pages more or less specifically related to the experience of Bhopal. All of this (and the other post sites) can be experienced either as a simple interactive Flash website or as an interactive 3D website requiring a special browser plugin. This kind of interactivity, especially the 3D, site allows participants to
A still from Cross Fill
literally spin the planet and interact "globally" with the range of damaged sites throughout the world. Additionally, I've produced a digitally created collage for each post location, which is a more "poetic" representation of the experience of each site. I'll describe the third body of work mentioned earlier, which will help to tie all of this in with your question about art and technology. Slow Light Shadow Matter is a series of 12 short digitally created videos, each of which is inspired by an artist and scientist pairing. So for example, the one I'm currently working on is that of the scientist Michael Faraday and the painter William Turner. But each chapter will include many of the same elements reconfigured differently in reference to the specific artist and scientist of that chapter. Some of these elements are the Hindu god Ganesh, the Minoan Snake Goddess, and the boat of the Egyptian god Ra. But other entirely different kinds of elements include a neutrino detector, the DNA double helix, and a self illuminating jellyfish. I've created these elements using 3D animation software. The reconfigurations for each chapter are analogous to what jazz musicians do with a melody. And in fact one of the stories that
carries throughout all the chapters is a voiceover loosely based on the life and music of freejazz innovator Ornette Coleman. The actual themes of the project include -but aren't limited to- the representation and understanding of light throughout the history of science and art; the physical and theoretical nature of communication, and more. In some ways I consider these dense video collage to be an extension of the spaces I used to create as art installations in the real world. But with software I can craft an experience that can extend throughout the universe. This goes to the heart of the questions about art and technology. Of course there is no dichotomy between the two. Art has been created throughout history and across cultures using available technologies. When the new technology of pigments suspended in oil media was invented it revolutionized European painting. It's important to remember that technology is always both an influence on culture and a reflection of what that culture values. So new technologies such as the internet reflect, for example, our culture's desire for speed and for information. And many artists today refract those values using the same technology that created them. In some ways, despite that most of my work nowadays
A still from Cross Fill
is digitally created, it's actually pretty 'oldschool' in the sense that it's still largely a traditional visual experience. I'm not programming art apps or hacking video games. On the other hand we've all seen new media art which is quite uninteresting because it only showcases the technology without having any real content, or in contrast uses technology to poorly visualize interesting ideas. We're definitely still in a transitional period when it comes to finding the right balance between new technologies, content and aesthetic experience. When people casually ask me to describe the Phase Shift videos, my short answer is that they are like Rothko paintings that change over time. I'm taking advantage of new technology to craft an experience that isn't all that much different than one crafted by earlier artists. But of course, extending it over time makes all the difference. In the 1990's I felt that software wasn't robust enough to create what I wanted at the image resolution that I wanted. Within about a decade that all changed, and we now have high definition video which I take advantage of for the Interference pieces. One final note. The Phase Shift and Interference videos can seem quite different than the other
bodies of work I've just described. They're certainly more abstract. But I believe that all of my work emphasizes different aspects of the same interests. For The Interference Videos you have been inspired by the sound composer Alvin Lucier. When did you get in touch with his music for the first time? I can vividly remember when that happened. I was in graduate school and in one of my classes we listened to I am sitting in a room. In it Lucier himself reads out loud a short text that begins with that phrase in a specific room, recording it onto audio tape. He then played that tape in the same space and recorded that playback in turn. He repeated this 32 times. Each subsequent time the audio gets more and more distorted in response to the acoustics of that room until the resonances utterly destroy intelligibility. As simple as this sounds some interesting points ought to be made. One is that this composition can be repeated in different spaces with entirely different results. The other is that in addition to whatever else the piece is about it is an audio representation of space. It is also about the utter collapse of communication.
A still from Twine
And finally, at least to people like me, it is completely riveting. I remember that “aha” moment when I realized what was happening. I also loved the simplicity of the system and the complexity of result. Although it had nothing to do with my artwork at that time, it stayed in my memory. In the last 10 years or so there has been a mini explosion of releases or rereleases of many of his compositions. I believe that this might have been his only voice piece; the others I'm familiar with use traditional instruments, ambient sounds or other audio creation devices such as sine-wave generators. I think it's safe to say that all of his work, however, is about space, resonance and interference. A feature of your Art that I have highly appreciated is your capability of creating a deep intellectual interaction, communicating a wide variety of states of mind related to your conception of Time and Space : forcing the viewer to explorate the work in a bi-dimensional space... I would go as far as to state that this work, rather than simply describing something, pose us questions: and in a certain sense forces us to meditate to the way we
perceive not only the outside world, but our inner one... so I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience from real world is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? Thank-you for this insight. I completely agree. What you said is what I believe all my seemingly different work has in common. It has always been about creating a space physical and psychological- for experience. This is why I usually refer to people who experience my work as “participants” - not viewers. It's an important distinction to me. It goes to what I mentioned earlier about primal cultures. In our own cultural history when everyone shared the same religion and world-view a Catholic cathedral could create this experience. What those people saw in stained glass and architecture supported and explained their world physically, morally and spiritually. The Dada artists explicitly addressed the loss of coherence that had begun centuries earlier and literally exploded with World War One.
A still from Twine
As you suggest my work has never been “art for art's sake,” or “art about art.” Science is of personal interest to me, but also an important tool for understanding our universe. The adverse effect on our planet of science-based technologies reflects the loss of that understanding. The loss of contemplation traditionally produced by spiritual practice has led to the loss of self-understanding. Although until just this moment, I've never thought of it this way: One could say that my installation art and Slow Light Shadow Matter, are more like a Catholic cathedral, and the Phase Shift and Interference videos are more like Zen Buddhism. I'm not glibly suggesting that Christianity and Buddhism are similar at any level. Their world-views are quite different and this is reflected by the formal and material manifestations of their practices. But my own world-view is analogously reflected in two distinct approaches. We have selected for this VideoBiennial Dennis' video Cross Fill, which is part of a series called "The Interference Videos". Dennis, could you introduce our readers to the whole project?
I've been talking about them all along but perhaps I can add some specific detail. Cross Fill is the fourth video I've made in this series. The first 3 were visually simpler: in those I was coming to grips with formal issues, and they speak to a different kind of architectonic space. With Cross Fill I got deeper into techniques of interference which have been further developed in subsequent videos. As I've mentioned earlier, each piece gives me new ideas to explore. Visual interference is a different experience than audio interference. It's probably difficult for readers to quite understand what happens in Cross Fill based only on the stills accompanying this interview. The horizontal red lines remain stationary, as a set of differently colored horizontal lines movies vertically upward and another set moves vertically downward. In each set their colors both change over time and overlap both the red lines and eventually one another creating interferences. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier these can only be seen in high definition presentations, making it difficult to represent on the internet. Technically, this series is created in After Effects, and (at least so far) only consists of colored lines which slowly move and interact in
A still from Twine
order to create interesting effects. Each one lasts about 20 minutes, and for the most part do not seamlessly loop, as do the Phase Shift videos. Some of what I've learned about manipulating color from the Phase Shift videos has carried over into these pieces. They are rendered out in high definition and are played from blu-ray discs. In contrast to the Phase Shift videos where the often biomorphic shapes were also somewhat blurry on purpose which worked fine in standard definition. With the Interference videos the lines are both thin and sharp, and HD makes all the difference. Several years ago before blu-ray, I could have theoretically still made these videos, but there would have been no practical method for distribution. I had to wait for technology to catch up with what I wanted to do. Let's explore another video series:The Phase Shift videos are closely related to Cross Fill. What are the main differences in the artistic approach for these previous works? And, more in general, how has your production processes changed over the years?
I think I've largely answered this. Specifically, there is little difference in my artistic approach. In both cases I sit down to the computer with some general idea that I want to explore; I begin to create some sorts of patterns and generative systems, and then look to see what happens. There's always something that doesn't look right; I make some changes, render and wait, and watch it again. This goes through a number of reiterations that can easily extend into the dozens, and take days or weeks of rerenders until I finally see something that makes sense. The one thing that has changed over the years is that computers keep getting faster. During these years your artworks have been exhibited in several important occasions around the world: moreover, I think it's important to remark that your books, videos and interactive digital projects are in the collections of several major museums including the MOMA, and the Pompidou Center. It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist: I was just wondering if an award -or just the expectation of a positive feedbackcould even influence the process of an
A still from Twine
artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I know it's a clichĂŠ, but it's true, I make the work that I have to make, and I'd continue to do so even without any public recognition. That said there are practical considerations. When I used to make multi-media installations, I was dependent on galleries or museums offering me space within which to create them. Nonetheless, I was fortunate that I always had enough opportunities to produce what I wished. In the case of the Phase Shift videos, I'm sure it didn't hurt when one of the earlier pieces was selected as a purchase prize winner at the Bienal Internacional de Arte ContemporĂĄneo in Spain. That sort of validation, while encouraging, likely influences other potential curators. This can be valuable in creating more exhibition opportunities. It's quite important to me to have an audience as I believe that artwork is and should be a shared cultural experience. And so even though, as I said, I'd be making the work anyway, I obviously pursue exhibition opportunities. One of the advantages of the videos as compared to the installations, is that they are easily sent around the world,
and I've exhibited in venues such as an airport in Russia that I'm certain would never have happened with my other work. That said, I've joked that Slow Light Shadow Matter will only have an audience of about 12 people. And that's ok too. It's worth adding that I am pleased by your interest in the Interference series. I began these only earlier this year, and feel that they are more austere and and analytical than the Phase Shift videos, and I'm still waiting to see how the public responds. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts, Dennis . What's next for Dennis Summers? Are there any new projects on the horizon? I will continue making Interference videos, although I can see that Phase Shift may be nearing the end of its natural life. I'll be working on Slow Light Shadow Matter for years to come. In the fall of 2014, one of the Phase Shift videos will be projected outdoors on a wall of the Detroit Institute of Arts in Michigan as part of a festival called Dlectricity; and in Dallas, Texas one of the Interference videos will also be projected outdoors as part of a gallery exhibit.
Steven H Silberg Experiments in Reductive Video As television broadcast has moved to digital, we have seen the increased presence of glitches in our programming. Videos freeze and as the programming resumes, we become privy to the inner workings of the process of how the image is stored and transmitted. Movement and color shift are rendered as changes rather than wholly new images. As we begin to store and record information, we have always chosen to fracture it. As one looks to the locomotion studies of Muybridge,
we see a fracturing of movement into individual frames, revealing the elements of movement. But movement has form when we move beyond individual images. The glitches that we see as digital video recovers from a paused broadcast reveal the form of what is to come. The history of long exposure photography shows that motion can become shape – whether through the techniques of painting with light, as one sees with the Picasso images of Life magazine or in Nancy Breslin’s pinhole “Square Meals.” Marey similarly chose to show the form of movement over time in a single still image.
This body of work entitled “Reductive Video” borrows the choice to depict changes in movement (either as individual frames or wholly contained in a single image) and applies it to the technical rendering of images. Using custom software written in Max/MSP/Jitter, video is broken down to reveal only the pixels that change from frame to frame, no longer implying form, but instead the shape of what has changed from the previous frame. Resequenced as video, the individual frames become reminiscent of Muybridge’s silhouetted running horse. These individual frames are also
layered to become a single image, showing changes in shape, reminiscent of Marey’s use of while lines on soldier’s uniforms – depicting a “wire frame” of physical movement.
Steven H Silberg
demonstration of the Reductive Video technique (buildingthe mask)
An interview with
Steven H Silberg Steven H Silberg's art focuses on the transition between analogic and digital, exploring individual frames like neurological territories, a stunning research having its roots in the history of long exposure photography: Steven, how did you get started in videoart? My video artwork developed quite naturally. The work that I produce is a conglomeration of what Iâ€™ve rejected along the way and the needs of an inter-media artist to present a concept in the most appropriate medium. My background is in photography. I loved being in the darkroom developing black and
white or color prints. I could spend hours on end working on a print. Given a different time period, I could see myself traveling down the path to become a master printer. I preferred to be in the darkroom than behind the camera. For many years I rejected digital techniques. Early 1990s Photoshop felt like nothing more than bad filters applied to images. Perhaps thatâ€™s all that I was able to grasp of it at the time, but it never compelled me to be creative. The exploration of my personal rejection of digital tools and my reasons for it began in graduate school, dragging me kicking and screaming from the darkroom to the computer. Now, I am completely comfortable behind the computer.
still from “Baltimore Light Rail - Mount Royal Station - November 2009“
The Adobe suite along with other software packages are among the tools that I employ but not necessary the primary creative medium. There is so much more that can be done if you don’t restrict yourself to off the shelf software. My creative investigations revolved and continue to revolve around the screen and the printed image, around data and data transmission, around experience with digital devices and online interactions. I began looking at the “materiality” of digital media the pixels, how they are addressed onto the screen, and the bits and bytes of data behind the image. In considering my source material for the way in which they are constructed rather than relying solely on content, it has opened me to investigate all avenues from flipbooks to sound-art, from curating exhibitions to single and multichannel video. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy photographing digitally or shooting video. I have captured gigabytes upon gigabytes of
images. I just haven’t connected with them in the same way artistically, yet. In your works you use a custom software written in Max/MSP/Jitter. Could you take us through your technical process when starting a new project? I’d like to believe that one project flows into the next, that an element of a previous body of work or creative exploration inspires the new. Sometimes that is true. Sometimes it’s not. If an idea bounces around too much inside my head, it begins to deviate as I consider various possibilities. It still grows from previous explorations, but the conceptual jump may be much larger since there were no sketches or prototypes or intermediate projects along the way. Take the beginning stages of creating “Experiments in Reductive Video” as an example of one project flowing into the next. I began to envision it as my explorations for the body of work, “Pixel-Lapse,” was coming to an end. In that previous work, I had already been
After Muybridge / After Mareyâ€? (installation view)
Female Cyclist - Left Lateral View, 2009
working with the pixel grid as a means of image construction for the presentation of still images and I wanted to continue that exploration. I began to ask myself to think like a computer screen. Do I really understand movement or am I just displaying different colored pixels at different moments in time? With that I had my research goal: create a time-based piece that presents only the new pixels in the grid (i.e., pixels that have changed color) for each successive frame of video.
For “Experiments in Reductive Video”, it was first the exploration of individual frames of video and creation of time-based artworks that influenced the investigation into the still images within the project (like the work in the series “After Muybridge/After Marey”). In seeing those still images juxtaposed with their moving counterparts, I began to consider how the two methods might be brought together into an interactive experience. So, in this case, the technical process I had created for one was adapted to the next.
I knew that I’d need to input video to and output video from the Max/MSP/Jitter environment. I knew that I’d need to isolate pixels by comparing two frames of video. Some of that I already knew how to do inside of Max. Some of it I needed to research by exploring tutorials and reading forums. Even once it was built, I had to be ready to continue to explore technical issues (especially codecs), test out the process, and revise it until it met the aesthetics that best conveyed the initial concept.
But to get back to the heart of your question, what is my process? I am a literalist and a pedagogue. I often consider process and skillset before content. I start by reflecting upon both the material element I want to research and the experience or outcome I desire for my audience. Once I determine what I’m supposed to be making (book, video, print, installation, etc), I know how to proceed. It’s goal setting, similar to deciding the duration of a documentary or the size of a painting.
Female Soccer Player, Kicking the Ball - Left Lateral View, 2009
You have quoted the studies of Muybridge, no doubt a milestone in contemporary art: it's not by chance that even Francis Bacon has been deeply influenced by this photo series in order to explore the inner nature of movement. When did you come across Muybridge's photos? Like many people, my first interaction with Muybridge was with what might be considered his most famous work - the image of the galloping horse. I probably saw it for the first time in my youth as a zoetrope at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Time and time again, though, his work and the work of other Chronophotographers like Marey found their way into my coursework and my life. For many years I had been presenting his images to my students. However, it wasn’t until viewing the 2010 exhibition, “Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change” at the Corcoran Gallery of Art that the relationship between his work and this body of my work began to crystalize in my mind. Like many other elements in my artist explorations, the concept and its exemplars were sitting just below the surface,
possibly even in my subconscious. Through the act of creative investigation, I’ve come to realize the relevance of images and ideas I was introduced to so long ago. Experiments in Reductive Video does not explore only the nature of movement, but our perception mechanisms, revealing a sort of coexistence between past and present in imagination and perception. Could you introduce our readers to this peculiar aspect of your work? Of the Chronophotographers works, E.J. Marey’s Geometric Chronophotograph of the Man in the Black Suit (1883) resonates most strongly with what I began exploring. That image, made up of a number of white lines on a black page, and CGI motion capture suits and wireframe animations bookend my interests. Both show movement reduced to simple dots and lines. As we watch “makingof” videos about films like Avatar or Pirates of the Caribbean, we easily understand how these are employed to capture the movement
interacting with “Mirror Minus” during ”Yoga in the Gallery” Rosewood Art Center, Kettering, OH, 05-02-2014 (photograph by Amy Koller Anderson)
of actors to create templates for animated characters. As the frozen broadcast to our digital televisions begins to recover (artistically, the realm of datamoshers), we quickly recognize the human form of the actor. As humans we are hard-wired to recognize patterns and shapes; it’s why we enjoy imagining the clouds taking familiar forms. Duchamp was inspired by Marey; we can see that in his “Nude Descending a Staircase.” In 1952, Life Magazine published Eliot Eliofson’s photograph, “Duchamp descending a staircase” - an image that could easily have been photographed by Marey, himself illustrating the fracturing of time that led to Duchamp’s painting. It is this interplay of inspiration, explanation, and derivation that encourages me and inspires me to engage in the same conversation. I feel like my body of work fits somewhere between the abstract and the representational, by design and by curation. It’s for that reason that the “For Love” series does not contain video and the “Location Studies” do not contain prints. If the artwork is too
representational, it doesn’t encourage the mental interplay that you asked about. In you statement you say "As we begin to store and record information, we have always chosen to fracture it" : this is no doubt a key point of your art vision: could you comment this concept? Technology requires precision. No matter of which point in the history of technology we are speaking, each new device, each new stage has led to the need for measurement and definition. The light of day and duration of the day are fluid, but the invention of the clock now prescribes the proper moment and duration for activities. Words are fluid, but the desire to record them as writing required the codification of sounds into shapes. Those letters, in order to be stored in contemporary digital technology need to be assigned codes as well - individual binary values created from a series of bits. All of our information is broken down in sequences of trues and falses, 1s and 0s. The same is true of the image. What used to be presented through organically shaped pieces of
silver or dye on film is now broken down into a mosaic of discretely sized squares or rectangles of colors. Those colored blocks are defined by numbers describing their hue and value. It was my early investigation into the degradation of data and attempts to damage images and video through examination of the code beneath their surface that eventually led to the exploration of the image grid. That’s when I fell in love with the creative potential of the materiality of the digital medium. Your art research is rich of references. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? Call it cliché, but the biggest influences in my art initially were my mentors during graduate school. I was fortunate to have a critic-inresidence, Timothy Druckrey, in our program who demanded strong concept and reflection upon the ideas of our work just as much as our program director, William G. Larson encouraged the exploratory nature of the creative process and an instructor, Ryan McCabe, who introduced me to Max/MSP/Jitter and the possibilities it held. It took me many years to realize their influence and strike my balance between concept and process. I find that I am most interested in art that explores the ways in which a medium can be expanded and/or reduced to its core elements, where phenomena and materiality are explored, where the medium can transcend its limitations to become an experience. Historically, the first two time-based works that come to mind are Nam June Paik’s “Zen for Film” and Anthony McCall’s “Line Describing a Cone”. Jim Campbell’s LED based low-resolution works were an early inspiration into considering the matrix of pixels and the reduction of video into discrete blocks of color. I find myself looking at a lot of work and latching on to parts of artists’ explorations such as: Jason Salavon’s reduction of video into prints organized by color;
The experiential nature of GranularSynthesis’s work (Kurt Hentschläger and Ulf Langheinrich); The rigid organization of photographic typologies (like the works of Bernd and Hilla Becher); Layering of images as a means to explore variation within a scene or a category of image like Salavon’s “Every Playboy Centerfold” images, Campbell’s Illuminated Averages, and the photographic images of Idris Khan (whose work I’ve just recently come to look at); Datamoshing and anything glitch. I tell my students that “creativity breads creativity.” The more you look at, the more you are surrounded by artworks and artists, the more likely you are to be inspired and working yourself. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts, Steven. What's next for Steven H Silberg? Are there any new video projects on the horizon? Thank you for highlighting my work. I will be continuing to create more pieces in the Reductive Video style. However, for the most part, video projects are on hold as I begin two new photographic projects. Both projects will continue to be literalist and explore the technical methods of the medium (in this case digital photography and darkroom photography). I expect to have samples of these works and the projects well under way before the end of the year.
a still from Swarm Blacklight Lighthouse make music and videos.
Carefully orchestrated or casually discovered visual
Loops and samples are layered using acoustic and
patterns or scenes are edited to produce hypnotic
electronic instrumentation to create sound-
imagery. The oculauditory result could be described
as dramatic, comedial, abstract, and psychedelic.
a still from Swarm
Elizabeth Karp and Laura Frare
An interview with
Blacklight Lighthouse Blacklight Lighthouse is a duo whose art reveals a remarkable synergy between music and video: it would be more appropriate in your case to say that the starting point is not music itself, but musical thinking, which is at the same time philosophical and architectonic. Could you introduce our readers to the multidisciplinary nature of your art? We started out playing music with different people and the two of us gravitated quickly to improvisation. Having always liked using props and visuals for live performances, we started making videos and combining the imagery with recordings from our weekly improvisation sessions. We like to be working on a variety of projects, installations, films, making audio
recordings and collecting more footage, and performing. Blacklight Lighthouse is Laura Frare, a visual artist who likes to play music, and Elizabeth Karp, a musician who likes to make videos. Since the first time we have watched Swarm, we have really appreciated its analog and painterly qualities and the way you are able mix different formats in a coherent work; itâ€™s a pure piece of filmpoetry. How did you develop your visual style? Where do you get the ideas for your hypnotic imagery? The best way for us to express our visual and audio improvisations is by constantly experimenting. Our cameras are very simple
a still from Swarm
point and shoot, or iPhone video APPs, and our editing techniques require little post-production. We capture footage in single takes as often as possible, experiment with stop motion animation techniques, create miniature stage sets, and shoot from the physical world. We both have a practice of shooting imagery samples from our television screens, abstracting the found footage, either during the shooting phase or later in the editing phase. Swarm was one of those instances, shot directly off of the television. The audio is one of our recordings from our weekly improvisation sessions. We try to let the simple process of pairing our sounds with the imagery guide the development of the final composition. The results can be surprising or intentional. As our work evolves, we may choose to use more sophisticated software that allows us to explore new techniques and special effects. Blacklight Lighthouse realizes live soundtrack too, no doubt a stunning work. Could you tell us something more about
your experience at the Albany Public Library? A few years ago, we were invited to compose a soundtrack and perform it for a live audience for the annual Silent Film Spectacular series hosted by the Albany Public Library. We are currently at work selecting sounds to accompany F.W. Murnauâ€™s 1926 film Faust. While we approach the film score from an improvisational attitude, there is a different aspect in our process to accompany the film as a linear narrative for a two hour performance. We watch the film repeatedly and continue to improvise and experiment until we determine our instrumentation. We study the storyline and scene changes, but we also want to keep the spirit of improvisation and experimentation always present in our live performance. We use a mixture of digital and analog instruments. Composing for film is unique in that our goal is to support the film without distracting from it. Itâ€™s challenging, but also very engaging. We would certainly welcome an opportunity to work
a still from Swarm
with a contemporary independent filmmaker and create a soundtrack for a new film. What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? What gives you the biggest satisfaction? EK: Playing music together and making new videos. Itâ€™s a continuous process of recording, shooting video and editing them together and it gives the audience something I hope is entertaining. I really liked being included in Tele-Visons, curated event by Alex White and Emma Ramsay that was aired during Australiaâ€™s
last days of analog television. Laura answered an open call and HE RD, 2013 made it into the pirate celebration. This summer we answered another open call to the Beacons Festival in England and the best part was that the projectors were housed in a lighthouse aimed onto a pyramid in the evenings. It was a wonderful coincidence. LF: I agree that playing our weekly sessions, focusing on listening and responding in the moment to what I hear and feel is my favorite state of mind to be in. Itâ€™s a great way of clearing the mind, like a form of meditation. Sometimes
What has influenced your work over the years? EK: Everything has influences on my work, probably even when I’m not aware of it. Music that I used to listen to and still remember from when I was very young. Then, as I got older and started to get vinyl I’d listen to anything and everything that I could get my hands on – blues, reggae, rap, jazz, country, classical, pop, heavy metal, crooners, soul, rock n’ roll, etc.., studying flute and guitar, choir, television, photography, radio, film, going to shows, playing in bands, animals, sky, water, mountains, alien life forms… influences are endless. LF: I come from a long line of photographers, and home-movie makers. I have always used a camera since I was a little kid, and I love looking at pictures. I had my own darkroom at home. In my own personal history with making drawings and paintings, I think it was most influenced by the automatist drawings of the Surrealists and the Abstract Expressionists. I literally did thousands of daily drawings, which came out of a commitment to a solitary, diaristic practice. The growing accessibility of digital tools for making photographs and videos enabled me to experiment with digital media work. My art making process, increasingly became more time-based. Now, I think there is an awareness of time passing, observing the nature of stillness and movement, color, and the reflective qualities of waiting, watching, and listening that I find re-occurring in many of our works.
it’s delightfully surprising to listen back to the recordings, as it can seem like having been in a dream state while we are doing it. Editing our audio tracks with the video clips is my favorite work when I am alone. I love the possibilities that come from using our sounds and video recordings as elements to collage with. Shooting photos or videos has always been an enjoyable way for me to experience my environment, whether it’s a familiar place, or a new location. I am very proud of the growing accumulation of work we have made together over the past three years.
Your video production is varied, it ranges from video installation to music for films and its also used in your live performances: how has your production processes changed over the years? EK: Music is extremely important in my life. I make recordings from all kinds of sources. I play instruments that I’ve collected over many years. It changes as I respond to the environment that we create together or playing outdoors, trying out different set-ups, collaborating with different people. LF: We like the potentiality of each particular situation, and we adapt our process for each scenario.
a still from Swarm Whether we are performing for a live audience, or not, I love the idea that no one knows what to expect as the session goes on. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts with us. What's next for you? We have started an ongoing project, which involves
traveling to lighthouses and creating our video sound collages. One of the videos from this series, Nubble Light, 2014, is currently on exhibit with two other works (With warm wishes, 2014 and Itâ€™s the subject of a new film, 2014) in the 78 th annual Mohawk Hudson Regional Art Exhibition, curated by Stephen
Westfall and hosted by the Albany Institute of History and Art. https://vimeo.com/blacklightlighthouse/videos https://www.facebook.com/BlacklightLighthouse https://soundcloud.com/blacklightlighthouse
an interview by email@example.com
Evalajka Pervin What happens when patience runs out and one is forced to take action? This is question I
investigate and challenge in â€œ White object exploredâ€?.
A still from The Clown
The cloth is filled with patterns of early memory of the artist as a young girl in the midst of heavy bicultural baggage. Eager to move forward, no matter what appears on her way, the video shows her performing in a serene environment. The artist calmly observes the object, which is recognizable and yet not, darting back and forth, back and forth, back and forth infront of her. The object is unaware of the fate that awaits it. The video explores the interaction and space between an object and an artist. What happens when the artist decides to take an action and be courageous to attack what is in front of her. With a dash of humor I give a glimpse of a memory, which echoes a cry of courage to rise up in this staged performance.
A still from The Clown
On a backdrop of a soft white lace, which is an original piece of tablecloth.
A still from The Clown
A still from The Clown
An interview with
Evalajka Pervin Connecting two different worlds and sensibilities, your roots have a fundamental influence of your artistic research: just think of your video My Childhood katekismus, where childhood memory are a starting point for your creative process. How has your history influenced the way you produce art? My history is important for the way I produce my work. It’s about identity and how one defines itself. I was a very observant child very sensible of my surrounding and aware of the two culture presenting them self in my life, my parents cultural roots and the country that became their second home. When I first experimented with digital media I did some spoken word about my memories of childhood school days in Copenhagen. It was like unlocking an important door accessing a vital key to understand the journey of my work. In “ My Childhood Katekismus” I set out to explore one of the gift presented to me on my road of education of life by my parents. It was vital for them to also pass on the religion they found solace and peace in. I went to Koran school every week from my first grade to the fifth grade where I learned to recite and did remarkably well. As young women I gaze through a black net in the video, my eyes searching and exploring the echoes of my voice reciting the first verse of Koran, words emerging to surface as a fragmented piece attached and detached part of me. All these fragments of my history create a platform for me to unfold stories emerging to the surface of my memory. We have selected for this year's VideoBiennale your video "White object explores". White object explores" is not conceived using a metaphoric approach,
but adopting a performative research. When did you get the idea for this work? When I first started experimenting with the spoken word, which is in Danish, I also wanted to share my work without the boundaries of a language. From there it was a natural step to take it to the next level unfolding silent stories twisting and turning perception upside and down with a performative nature in my video work. I use myself as a medium with a minimum of artifact on a plain white background to minimize visual noise presenting the work itself. The idea to “white object explores” presented it self one day when I saw a yellow string attached with balloons used for a party, there they were, used, punctured and detached for the purpose they once had. When I looked closer on each of them they were familiar and yet strange to the eyes. I set out to investigate this object and used the yellow string in one of my work, also in the nature of performative research. This led to the idea of “white object explores” where a white balloon is used as an object. The white balloon not fully in its size resembles something familiar almost an egg, yet not. It’s important that the object to appear as something recognizable and teasing the perception of the eye while interacting with the artist. The relation between the object and the artist is set as a study for relation and boundaries. You are a multidisciplinary artist: in what manner your work as painter influences your videomaking? From the way I construct the multiple layers expressing the story I want to tell, the systematic approach in my painting has definitely an influence on the process of the making of the video. In my drawing and
Captions 5 details
painting I as person is always present, either as the figure or the subject presence. As a painter when I work on canvas its possible to create layer after layer until the work emerges. Sometimes the character from the canvas inspires a new idea to a video. I pick up on the idea and start the process of transforming the image into video making. The key element is Humor, precision, playfulness and the curiosity to explore. In the process of making the video I do several takes, performance after performance in one take. In the final work it’s a performance without interruption and presented without editing. The self-portrait has been a strong image in my art sometime as a character or just the naked face in one fine line as a drawing. Looking back at the trail of my work I see myself presence in each work from the selfportrait painted to the portrait in videos, which are carefully presented in selected stage setting. We have been really impressed with the minimalistic approach of "The Clown",
revealing an incredible balance between absence and presence. Could you introduce our readers to this work? “The Clown” in its minimalistic approach toys with the idea of the whole character presenting a reflective and experimental performance. I stage my self as a way to create a self-portrait appearing behind layers, deceptively hiding the person in a assumed character and actually revealing exactly what’s hiding behind the assumed and adapted behavior. The idea is to push the image of the viewer own self-reflection and enable a quiet dialog with the merrymaking façade. You use yourself as the subject for a lot of your work revealing a remarkable performative effort. Could you comment the reason of this choice? As a child I stood on a stool so I could stand in front of the mirror combing my short hair again and again. Fascinated to observe the action and self-reflection I observed this
performance whenever I could. My parents banned me from the mirror only seeing it as an unhealthy habit to be so self-absorbed. Today when such question is asked I clearly see and understand the birth of my performative nature and why I choose to use myself in my work. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? From early childhood I have collected a vast sum of mosaic of memories of life unfolding and still do. All these mosaic plays an important role when I set out to create. The minimalistic approach is a tool when I break the memory into small pieces and dissect whatever that points direct to the foreign touch and instead let the small story appear as mosaic in a pattern which appear as a new and another integrated complete form. Its clear to me the memories is a definite form. In a series of tableau I gaze upon the world in an instantaneous way and use my senses in an investigating manner. All along I correct the impulses as a reaction on the outward and create a path for the spontaneous outburst
and the extrovert reaction. It’s my aim to try to sense the place where the world and I meet. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts with us, Evalajka. What's next for Evalajka Pervin? I’m very exited to be selected with “ My childhood Katekismus” for a project organized around the theme of memory. Peak-End is hosted by M I A a program dedicated to screening and exhibiting artist moving image. 3 September 2014 – 8pm – Comfort Station, Chicago, IL 13 September 2014 – 8pm – The Armory, Pasadena, CA I have lots of work in progress experimenting with video installation. At my last solo exhibition 2013 at “Black Box Gallery” in Copenhagen I had the opportunity to create a space for the videos with installation and I would love to have some more possibility to display videoinstallation.
Amanda Wild Laetoli No. 4005 In a picture, real life is at once diminished and enlarged, and it is this double exposure which is on my mind in my work. The Laetoli series, named for a set of footprints left by a pre human species and preserved by
chance over three million years ago, is a project aimed at producing a motion picture archaeology of human activity inside social, material, and natural worlds. The motion pictures approach the astronautâ€™s gaze of the sensible world, where what is distant is intimate and what is intimate is distant.
The images are produced in response to the available visual and historical record which is at all times accumulating and is biased towards the conspicuous, the exotic, and the performed. No. 4005 is a four and a half minute film of a kingroup of ten packing up their belongings on a beach. I have focused on the beach in my
work, as it is a site where material culture and the activity of being human are uniquely visible against a landscape that is congruous with the deep past and deep future.
An interview with
Amanda Wild Amanda Wildâ€™s artistic research explores the roots of cultural gestures: an anthropological gaze animated by a remarkable visionary imagery. In her video series titled The Laetoli, she develops a high-layered concept of filmic archaeology, very far from the sensibility of Jean Rouch. Amanda, how did you come up with the idea for this series? This series comes out of a particular position inside the lived present and a persistent emic and etic awareness of my culture. I don't want to use unneccessary jargon but these terms from anthropology are very useful to describe certain perspectives of inside and outside that guide my filming. The works come from my desire to use a camera to render the present, with an approach that is partially ethnographic
and partially poetic, an in-between that is to do with time, observation, and experience. For me these works are filmic analogs to what are known as â€œThe Laetoli Footprintsâ€?. These are a series of about 70 fossil footprints preserved in the earth over three and a half million years ago, left by a hominin species perhaps directly or closely related to us. There is a scientific value to these footprints, but there is an expressive one as well. The footprints allow us a more accessible affinity with this Other who shares some link with us across an expanse of time and history that we cannot otherwise conceivably relate to. The prints are not generic, they are particular, and we are able to understand them as steps, as part of the larger activity of walking. The particularity of these steps allows us the imaginative leap from
Still from Barack Hugging Gabrielle, Gabrielle Hugging Barack
type as represented on a timeline to the more physically- and experientially-near moment, on one day, in the life of, after all, particular individuals experiencing their own life. This specificity paradoxically opens up the space to connect it to our own experience in the present. So I am interested in preserving visible sequences of particular activity, and in the possibility of a motion picture or â€˜still filmâ€™ to develop a viewerâ€™s imagination beyond the surface and boundary of that image. These films began as silent works but I have recently begun to add soundtracks of extradiegetic field recordings as a means to carry the viewer through the temporal aspect of the image, and to evoke a full world of different landscapes and activity beyond the frame. Perhaps also to reproduce the multilayered background of memory and experience into which living images are received. Archaeology has given us a unique story, among all the other stories, about our origins, our activities, and through this our identities.
At the same time, archaeology, along with other sciences of deep time, is capable of telling us very little of the flavor and feel of everyday life-- it can describe some facts and theories about the lived past, but not demonstrate the visible process of life with its many unpredictable and ordinary moments. It is this ordinary being-in-the-world which connects us to those who have come before us, and who are among us, who have also gone through the experience of life. If these works consider anything explicitly, it is the simultaneity of specimen and soul. These works also developed out of my longtime interest in the role of image in social perception. We are living in a time of unprecedented documentary, and what interests me are the images and image experiences which are escaping this documentary. They come also from a sense of enduring discrepancy between our images of life and life itself.
Still from Laetoli No. 4005
So I have become interested in those aspects of public life that are escaping the material, or in this case, digital and visual, record. The motion pictures in this series are also the kind of films I would like to be able to go into a movie theater and see. Those who have not been seduced by the magic of cinema may be
less aware of this, but there is something perhaps spiritual about going into a movie house and experiencing a visual (and aural) world from the darkness. The cinema experience offers a kind of alchemy in which what is most ordinary around is returned to a mysterious state. In a movie theater we can get very intimate with the feeling of life,
paradoxically by taking this time out from the real thing to face it again from the darkness. From the seat of a movie theater we are given the opportunity not only to face ourselves but to experience ourselves. There is a simultaneous within and without. Self and other can be faced in a space that is released from the everyday world where we must inhabit
and navigate certain identities and rules. Things become interesting in a filmed image that would not be so to the naked eye or average person who is distracted by many things. So this series partially comes out of my simple love of movies, and wanting to expand the image-world which gets to be seen under these conditions.
We have found very peculiar your use of static long shot: how did you develop your shooting style? The static long take gives the viewer both freedom and responsibility. It is a way to resist directing, narrating, or guiding. My job is framing and selecting. After this it is important to allow the viewer this frame in which to look around, to notice and discover. Holding the view constant becomes a way of foregrounding the wider world which will carry on. Things may enter and leave, and the view is not subordinate to a character or a narrative. As for the long take itself, this type of shot preserves a realism I am interested in, which is the realism of movement from one thing to the next, and is something that has delighted me in the cinema. A long take preserves gesture in context, which I think is preferable to cutting up reality in the service of highlights or plot points. I believe it is important to be able to linger and ‘look around’ inside an image, and this can only really be done when the image is not being moved or guided. An anthropological perspective is no doubt present in your video series, however your art escapes from simplistic theories, mixing surrealism and Dziga Vertov’s idea of documentary. It could seem a specious question, however do you think art’s purpose is simply to provide a platform for an artist’s expression? Do you think that art could play an important role in facing social questions? Self-expression is ultimately boring unless it transcends the individual in some way. The most powerful forms of art for me, the ones I am most excited by, are those that deal in some way with the human condition, the ones that bypass fashion and novelty and intellect and manage instead to hold the world still long enough to render something that another human being is capable of understanding or feeling himself. Art has the great freedom and great responsibility that comes with being exempt from utilitarian purpose and other confining modes. Art that attempts to face social issues in the form of an argument or message will usually be limited by its attachment to already familiar forms. But I
Still from Laetoli No. 4005
think that we are all capable of becoming better social beings, and better citizens, by being exposed to works that remind us of our common condition, that evoke or awaken our shared
humanity and sense of participation in life. We find that your art is rich of references. We have previously quoted Jean Rouch:
apart from him, can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? There are many artists I admire. But the
Still from Laetoli No. 4005
simple answer to this question may surprise you â€“ by far and with no doubt, the artist who has influenced me most is Michael Jackson. There is a well-known anthropologist named Michael Jackson, but I am talking about the pop star! There is something so sincere and attuned in his vocal performance and especially in his dancing, and this has always made me
understand that sincerity can lead to great art. And by all accounts he was a misunderstood human being and this too has moved me. It is quite possible that admiring someone who seemed so harshly and lazily judged sensitized me at an early age to the tendency of others to rely on surface appearance and accepted narrative to understand the world. The other
great influence in my work would be my studies in archaeology and evolutionary biology which have given me a profound appreciation of our place in the physical and temporal world, our place within, rather than apart from, nature. The awareness of deep time is something that cannot but affect one’s perception of the present, one’s sense of mystery, and one’s
reverence for the brief privilege of being alive. Barack Hugging Gabrielle, Gabrielle Hugging Barack is the second video work by Amanda we have selected for his Videofocus Edition. Could you introduce our readers to this work? This work comes out of my activities in recording and observing mainstream or conventional media
(journalism, tabloid, social media). Barack Hugging Gabrielle, Gabrielle Hugging Barack is a re-presentation of the moment when Barack Obama greeted US Senator Gabrielle Giffords during his entrance for the State of the Union address, after she had been shot in the head. The ritual of the State of the Union Address entrances has fascinated me for a long time. Relationships and alliances are performed for public view and complex persons are made into sympathetic or unsympathetic types. The public performance of gesture and meaning as made visible in this video calls to mind for me Milan Kundera’s ideas about the vertiginous proximity of God and shit. This work is not a comment on Barack Obama or Gabrielle Giffords, but rather the performance of Barack Obama-asBarack Obama and Gabrielle Giffords-asGabrielle Giffords, as seen on television for an audience. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts. What’s next for Amanda Wild? Have you a particular film project in mind? I am working on an observational film about a children’s circus which I filmed this past summer. I continue to work on my ongoing series Laetoli and L’Attente, which studies waiting dogs in urban environments. Thank you for your interest in my work.
Still from L'Attente No. 3409
Per Bloland and Arie Stavchansky
Still from Graveshift
An interview with
Per Bloland and Arie Stavchansky Seeking artists breaking the boundaries has always ever been our main mission since the first editions of our review : we are glad to present for this Biennial Edition "Graveshift", the artistic encounter between the electronic contemporary music by Per Bloland and the videoart by Arie Stavchansky. A delightful collaboration, and an example of how under the surface of a café window can live a highly layered work of art. How did you decide to begin this collaboration? (Arie & Per)
Per This all came about when Arie and I were graduate students at the University of Texas, he in the department of Radio, Television, Film and I in the composition department. The other collaborators involved in the project, Kristin Glennon and Barbara Javors, were choreographers from the Department of Theater and Dance. These three departments joined together every year to produce a concert of interdisciplinary works called “Eyes, Ears and Feet.” It was a remarkable opportunity and resulted in some very interesting and diverse works. The first step in the process was to form groups, ideally including a student from each department. In order to do that an initial meeting was set up between all interested students. We each had a chance to (briefly) share our work, then make connections and form the groups. At some point after we had formed the working group we discovered that Barbara, the choreographer, also had an absolutely beautiful singing voice. One of the first things I did was record her improvising an extended vocalise, from which I built just about every sound heard in the piece. I fed the resulting recordings through software I had previously
Still from Graveshift
written, designed to skip around such a file in particular ways. In the meantime Kristen and Barbara were working out the choreography, which Arie then recorded and later rendered as raindrop dancers. The entire process was one of the most truly collaborative experiences I have had, with each of our ideas evolving and shifting based on the input and progress of the others. Arie I remember when I met Per during the initial meeting for “Eyes, Ears, and Feet,” it was clear to me that he was a dedicated artist who was enthusiastic about collaborating. He was immediately into the visuals I presented in a previous music video I directed and so I took home a CD of his work for listening—I recall thinking that his work was truly original and somewhat groundbreaking. To me, he appeared to be a fearless artist, and I always enjoy collaborating with artists who have that mindset. Kristen Glennon and Barbara Javors were also intrigued with some of the visuals I
was showing because I had already considered how I wanted to treat the human form for this project. After seeing their work, I knew recording their performances would be a great experience. I am in agreement with Per in that it was one of the most truly collaborative experiences I have had, and it turned out to be a great success. We have been really impressed by the way you succeed in communicating movement through a fixed point of view: a café window. How did you develop this idea, Arie? Arie The theoretical basis for the multiple layers of movement found between the raindrop dancers and the fixed point of view comes from my studies of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s ideas of the “rhizome” which they expound on in A Thousand Plateaus found in the volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia.
They discuss the rhizome as a structural form with “multiple points of entry” absent of any heirarchy. While crafting Graveshift I interpreted their philosophy to mean that form can, and sometime does, come out of nowhere during the creative process. By manipulating time and employing digital video compositing techniques, I was able to create meaning by “entering” different points in time throughout the recording of the scene. With every editorial cut and mask reveal I was able to delight in the meaning that was emerging during the crafting process. It was truly an enjoyable process for me. At the time of producing Graveshift, I was in graduate school studying the implications of surveillance in the context of reality television production, as well as theories regarding audience’s perception of time while consuming moving images. During a break from studies, I visited a friend of mine living in New York City and brought along my trusted video camera and mobile gear. For a late breakfast, we went out to a café situated at an intersection that had a large window peering out onto all this foot traffic. Most surveillance video is captured with cheap cameras and poor setups, so I thought it would be an opportune time to record the passersby for a long while using a high-end camera at the time. I thought that perhaps I could just use the recording as material I could later edit for use in a future project. I asked the café manager if was okay to do this while I enjoyed their delectable food, and he said it would be okay. A few years earlier, I had developed a computer graphics rendering technique for simulating rain droplets on glass surfaces. With this technique, I was able to force the computergenerated droplets to coagulate into meaningful symbols such as the human form. This opened up many possibilities for exploration, and so I produced an experimental video, titled Intersection, that premiered in SIGGRAPH’s Electronic Art Gallery in 2003. In Graveshift, the shot through the café window occurred during a misty and rainy day, and so I thought it would be perfect to let the magic of the droplets tell one story while the reality of the intersection told another. We daresay that the starting point of "Graveshift" is not only music itself, but musical thinking, which has at the same
time a philosophical, architectonic and gestural nature: not by chance Per's compositions often incorporate video, dance, and custom built electronics. Per, could you introduce our readers to the multidisciplinary nature of your art? Per It’s interesting that you mention these three aspects: the philosophical, architectonic, and gestural. In the music for Graveshift in particular there is very much an emphasis on the construction of gesture. This was an active concern of mine at the time, which I think blended very naturally into this type of collaboration. The choreography, the vocals tracks I had recorded, and Arie’s experiments with the video, all had strong gestural elements that served to unify our individual contributions. In my work as a whole, I have indeed found that all three aspects are very much influenced by my extra-musical interests. Currently the most significant example is my research on the interaction between literature and instrumental music, examining strategies employed by composers in reaction to literary influences. In addition to examining this process in the work of others, I have myself written a number of pieces based on literary works. In doing so I am much less interested in literal representation than in musically exploring the ideology of the original work. This, of course, poses many problems. The ability of instrumental music to express ideas at all is by no means clear. To take it a step further, fully re-representing with music a work existing in another media, such as literature, strikes me as quite impossible. This, however, is never the goal. There is no requirement that the listener come to terms with every aspect of the creation of a work of art, regardless of the media. The exploration of such connections, revealed perhaps by the title or by program notes, can certainly add immensely to the listener’s experience. However the hope is that the work may be enjoyed and understood at some level in and of itself. It is during the act of creation that the extra musical ideas prove most valuable for me. Allowing my process to be altered by external forces often pushes me in new and unexpected
Still from Graveshift
directions, steering me away from the everalluring area of familiarity and comfort. Of course these external influences can lead one astray as well if one forgets that the resulting sound, the gesture, the form, the music itself is ultimately of prime importance. We find that your music is rich of references. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? Per I’m glad you asked! This is a perfect opportunity for me to give some concrete examples of how I apply the ideas and methods discussed above. One of my favorite examples is my use of Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities. I wrote two interconnected pieces based on it: Elsewhere is a Negative Mirror, for piano with electromagnets (see here for a recording and additional information), and Negative Mirror Part II, for small ensemble and piano with electromagnets (see here). The novel is wonderfully rich with philosophical flights, making it incredibly fertile for such crossdisciplinary cultivation. Briefly, the novel recounts conversations between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, switching between a narrative mode in which fantastic and impossible cities are described by Polo, and dialog between the two protagonists. The first thing to jump out about the novel is its chapter structure, which is highly formalized and repetitive. I used this structure when planning out the forms of both pieces, and applied it on several levels – starting with the large-scale form (on the scale of say 2-3 minutes), and moving inward to the smaller-scale gestural level (more on the scale of 2-10 seconds). The greatest difficulty was determining when to rigorously adhere to this abstract external structure and when to break free from it for purely musical reasons. Again, it boils down to recognizing that which is interestingly uncomfortable and awkward as opposed to just awkward and ineffective. It can be a fine line. The more interesting and subtle compositional challenge was musically coming to terms with the philosophical explorations. One of the most fascinating parts of the novel involves a game of chess between the two characters. After Kublai Khan wins and knocks over Polo’s king, he is plunged into an existential crisis, becoming overwhelmed by the void that remains once the piece is out of play. The Khan,
represents a forward driving, linear, rational mode of thought, is suddenly confronted with the futility of his actions. Polo’s response is to deconstruct the void revealed by the absence of the chess piece. He examines the minute details evident in the wooden square that has just been uncovered, learning what he can about the tree itself, and quickly exploding out into the larger environment, describing weather patterns and trade routes. At the end of one of the compositions mentioned above, I make an attempt to reflect not so much the scene itself but the ethos it reveals. Much of the piece up to that point has been driving toward middle C, near the center of the piano keyboard. Once that pitch is achieved the piece could very well end, but instead I call for the performer to reach into the piano and manipulate the strings directly. Essentially this most mundane of notes is deconstructed into its constituent parts – the noise burst at the beginning of any note, the various simple partials that together define the distinctive sound of the piano.
Speaking of references, we would like to discover Arie Stavchansky's influences. The silent conflict between the "frozen" long shot of the window and the gentle movement in the frame remind us of Tarkosky's latest films: have other artists influenced your filmmaking, Arie? Arie Great question, and what an honor that you referenced Tarkovsky’s work after watching Graveshift! Tarkovsky had a keen understanding of how to best represent time in the context of representing the human spirit, and he is definitely an influence of mine. With one lengthy shot in Graveshit I found an opportunity to develop editing and compositing techniques allowing me to “sculpt time”—as Tarkovsky might phrase it—in such a way that an audience would consider the ethereal and spiritual nature of place even in its mundaneness. Other classic filmmakers who influenced me were Luis Buñuel, and his collaborations with Salvador Dalí, who used the malleability of film to express the vivid nature of dreams. Even though François Truffaut created narrative films, he influenced me in so far that his pacing is gentle, letting the audience observe character and environment. More modern filmmakers including Godfrey Reggio and Ron Fricke, who are poetic in their treatment of film, have a deep impact on how I
Still from Graveshift
view film as a medium. Many of the shots in their films like Koyaanisqatsi, Baraka, and Samsara allow the viewer to simply observe, think, and absorb the filmic environment. While those filmmakers create ambience, I am greatly influenced by the theoretical basis and technical prowess by which the Viennese filmmaker Martin Arnold creates his films. Simply by employing an innovative editing technique Arnold is capable of manipulating meaning from found footage. I should also mention that the way Pierre Huyghe represents reality through film and video pushed me to consider how audiences perceive the content of my work.While those artists influence some of my video work, composers have their stake, too. I enjoy instrumental music capable of transporting listeners to a place that allows them to imagine new environments, worlds, characters, and possibilities. As well, composers who can arouse and manipulate the human spirit influence me. The Greek composer, Vangelis, does an excellent job with this and I find myself going to experience a film
simply because he scored it and to learn how directors compliment his music. In the same genre, Jean Michel Jarre and the grandiosity of his music impact my actual crafting process. In contrast to that electronic instrumental genre, I enjoy works that remix and sample from existing sources. In that realm, I would say that the unique sound of the Beastie Boys influenced the methods by which I cut video. After all, Graveshift, is, at its core, a remixing and resampling of time. Working with Per was a wonderful opportunity for me because, up until Graveshift, I crafted my work against soundtracks created by composers with whom I had no personal connection. Much of my video work was a reaction to music that already existed, and working with Per showed me what it was like to work collaboratively with a dedicated, talented, and serious composer. It was truly a symbiotic process. We have been impressed by the balance
Still from Graveshift
between absence and presence in "Graveshift", which is not conceived as a classical balance, as the relationships between solids and voids in architecture for example, but a sort of coexistence between past and present in imagination and perception. Arie, how do you achieve this balance? Arie The way Graveshift builds intensity and subsequently resolves it is largely due to Per’s superb composition as well as Barbara’s vocals. So I think the balance is achieved by virtue of matching the composition’s structure by way of cutting, time remapping, and visual effects design. I’ve always thought that perception, as we understand it, is something humans construct from both the biologic and technologic tools at our disposal. We often forget this, and through my work I like to remind audiences that perception can break down very quickly whether its through some biologic malfunction, as when, for example, we lack sleep due to working the grave shift, or because our communication apparatuses just fail. For example, when we play back a digital movie and everything seems normal, we sometimes get a strange feeling when digital noise appears—as when a scratched optical disc or poor broadband connection manifests. This strangeness, not unlike when we encounter the uncanny valley, is one that I seek to exploit in my work. Doing this successfully calls for striking a balance between what is normally perceived and what is experienced when that perception cracks. Graveshift gave me a wonderful opportunity to work at finding this balance. The literal subject matter in Graveshift also served as a fulcrum to balance all these concepts you mention. While we see the hustle and bustle at this intersection, we have to wonder--where are the people all going, what are they all doing, and what will happen next? Then, the compositing shows an alternate, somewhat spiritual side of the scene that balances the reality with a place where the answers to those existential questions simply do not matter, and my hope is that the audience might ask those same questions about themselves. Per is the co-creator of the Electromagnetically-Prepared Piano: Per, could you introduce our readers to this peculiar invention? The Electromagnetically Prepared Piano
(EMPP) consists of a rack of twelve electromagnets which rests on the frame of a grand piano. Each individual electromagnet unit is positioned directly over the two or three strings that constitute a single pitch. The system is in many ways similar to an EBow (a device used to electromagnetically “bow” and guitar string), however each electromagnet is controlled by an arbitrary external audio signal, resulting in a much higher degree of control over pitch and timbre. This signal can originate from any source and consist of anything. In addition to its own fundamental, any string can be excited quite effectively at any of its first twenty or so partials. However the capabilities of the electromagnets are by no means restricted to excitation of individual overtones of the strings. It is possible to create glissandi, or to send a single source signal to all twelve electromagnets. For example one might send into the device a recording of someone speaking, thus causing the piano to “talk.” Since the magnets themselves are completely silent, all sounds generated are strictly acoustic. For the most part these timbres are more evocative of electronically synthesized sonorities than the acoustic piano strings from which they emanate. Those interested in more information about the device should look here. The EMPP was the result of a collaboration between myself and two engineers, Steven Backer, and Edgar Berdahl, who were at the time students at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. I have since composed a number of pieces that utilize it: the two mentioned above, and Of Dust and Sand, for alto saxophone and piano with electromagnets (more info here). I have also traveled with it quite extensively, giving demonstrations and assisting with performances of these pieces. It is a relatively simple system, but I have been quite surprised at the reactions it has garnered. By listening to any of the pieces mentioned above, one can get a sense for the general sound. And it does elicit striking sounds from a piano. However I think the greater appeal is only revealed in the physical presence of a piano. Part of that is purely acoustic – it sounds electronic, but yet retains that acoustic quality we are accustomed to hearing only from acoustic instruments. The other part has to do with the role of the piano in our musical history. To see and hear such an instrument emit sounds that are so foreign yet still maintain a certain “piano-ness” has a defamiliarizing effect. It causes us to reexamine, or perhaps to examine for the first
time, what a piano really is and how it generates sound. It can lead our existing concept of the piano to become unfrozen and pliable. As you might imagine composing for such a system is both daunting and liberating, but always fun! You have recently completed a Musical Research Residency at IRCAM in Paris. IRCAM is one of the best centre in the world enterely dedicated to contemporary music research: could you share with our readers your experience? Per Yes, it was an amazing experience! The Musical Research Residency program (now expanded to the Musical and Artistic Research Residency Program) is a relatively new program directed by Arshia Cont, who is involved with a variety of really interesting things over there. My understanding is that the original purpose of the residency was to provide an alternate avenue for composers to become involved with IRCAM, and a way for the people at IRCAM to reach out to a wider variety of composers. The traditional compositional route through IRCAM entailed moving through their two-year sequence of classes, after which Captions one might6 remain connected in various ways. Unfortunately for me spending 1-2 years in Paris to participate in these classes was never really an option. The Research Residency was designed to allow composers such as myself, who may have had no previous direct contact with IRCAM, to spend time in house working with the researchers. It’s a remarkable program, and really an amazing opportunity to work with some incredible people doing incredible things. Every year they put out a call for project proposals. In response, artists such as myself propose research projects to be carried out in conjunction with a specific team of IRCAM researchers. A few applications are accepted per year, and each research resident works closely with the pertinent members of that team. Thus one is free to propose a project requiring a much higher level of technical proficiency than one currently possesses. The project I proposed involved the creation of a physical model of the interaction between an electromagnet and a resonating body (an abstract can be found here). This was essentially a way for me to learn more about the very complicated interactions created by the Electromagnetically-Prepared Piano device.
For a project like this I would clearly need to bring the whole thing there in order to be able to measure its response, which would allow me to introduce it to the IRCAM community. It seemed promising as a proposal as it would allow me to build on their existing physical modeling software, called Modalys. I had some experience programming in Common Lisp, which is the control language for Modalys, and I was eager to jump back in and improve my skills. During the course of the residency I worked primarily with Joël Bensoam, a physicist, and Robert Piéchaud, who handled the code, as well as various other members of the Instrumental Acoustics team. By the end we had developed a new component to Modalys that mimicked the sonic behavior of the EMPP. A few details about it can be found here. It really was a fantastic experience all around. The chance to work for an extended period of time (in my case 5 months) in such an environment is an exceptional opportunity, one that I highly recommend for anyone interested. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts. What's next for Per and Arie? Have you a particular collaboration in mind ? Per Nothing right now, unfortunately. We have discussed the possibility a number of times since working on Graveshift, once for a small project, and again for a bigger one that didn’t end up working out. It would be great to work together again on something though, hopefully our schedules will align again soon! Arie Yes, unfortunately we do not have anything in mind currently. As we neared completion of our graduate degrees, we tried to collaborate but I soon realized that completing my doctoral degree impeded my ability to effectively collaborate with any other artist. Now that my formal education is complete, I definitely look forward to working with Per once again and am sure that any collaboration with him would fully engage my artistic talents. Currently I am designing and developing digital video software to help motion designers and video editors create data-driven video at DataClay, a company I founded.
Trained as an architect, I found myself in a peculiar position: I was interested in space but somehow wanted to stay away from physically messing with the ground. I like watching things instead of changing them. I often go to my hometown and just wonder ‘what is this? when did this happen?’; in neither a romantic nor an aggressive kind of way. It’s just an empty, meaningless, naive ‘what is it’. I like observing, being present but absent.
I like counting things, adding up rows of numbers; finding connecting lines between my objects and furniture; coloring words; discovering enormous leaves. I don’t do as much as I intend to. I am not an artist, or a videographer for that matter. I just spend as much time as I possibly can on things that intrigue me. I talk to friends and realize that every one of us is stuck in a semi–depressed–semi–awkward position
Still from ‘Sciss Cut’
that we do not know how to articulate or how to evaluate or how to face. I am almost enjoying this position, but also looking forward to something new. ‘Sciss cut’ was three quarters of my February. It’s short, spontaneous and sort of unfinished. Parts of it I’ve been meaning to fix or replace, but revisiting projects never works out for me. I enjoyed the process, since the project built upon
previous scripts i had written and evolved into something abstract that I hope is able to work without much explanation. Half the reason for doing it was to create something complementary to the music track that I was motivated by; the other half was simply the process of building a kind of ‘algorithmic moving image narrative’; funny made–up name—but true.
An interview with
Demetris Shammas Sciss cut shows a refined abstract composing, revealing an original conception of space. How did you develop your style? I wouldn’t call it style, since I haven’t yet discovered—or fallen into—a stylistic signature. There is a number of people that I admire whose works can be directly associated to their name, whose themes are clear and recurring, whose aesthetic choices are—with each following iteration—a repeated and refined, ‘complete’ decision. I am not one of them. It is a hard thing to do and I am neither ready nor willing for it. Nevertheless, your question’s keyword is in my case definitely ‘space’. This is clear even for me; I can see in retrospect that no matter the medium, I always had this need for a sense of spatiality in everything I try to do —physical or virtual. The music track 'Sciss Cut' reveals the fundamental collaboration with Yiannis Eliades. Audio has a huge importance in your works. the use of soundtrack has not a diegethical aims, but tend to sabotage the common perception mechanims like in the films of the french director Alain– Robbe Grillet. Could you introduce our readers to this aspect of your video? This impression that audio has a huge importance in my works, although somewhat true, is definitely something that I have been trying to—and was unable to—escape from. Lets say that my affinity towards music originates from my inability to understand it, to make sense of what exactly the ‘object’ of music is; I see an object easily determinable in computational terms (able to be broken down into a series of numbers and nothing more), but surprisingly ungraspable while being present. Music confuses me. And the kind of space that music is able to create while being
played, is a thing that I will never be able to successfully ‘represent’, to render visible. I would like to thank Yiannis for making this music track, not so much because it gave birth to a mini–project, but more because it gave me the opportunity to work on something that I was genuinely inspired by. What eventually came out is an abstract narration, hopefully linking image and sound into one object. I have actually never thought of Grillet like that, in his case the power lies within the language game and our inherent connotations of it; the purposeful disconnection between the meaning of the word and the impact of the image, or the subtle jump from a descriptive syntax to a first–person experiential one. Could you tell us a particular episode who has helped the birth of this project? For anyone who works with code, there’s a thing that always helps the birth of projects: bugs; tiny
Still from ‘Sciss Cut’
things that you disregarded or mistyped. If they do not result in errors, they often give you something unique that you would otherwise never come across. In this case I was working on a different project, and a wrong calculation of the final mesh object’s faces was the initial point that had me wondering what else could be produced if I tried to take advantage of this glitch. A large part of the final video is a study on this particular ‘mistake’. What kind of technology have you used in producing Sciss Cut? Just programming. I frequently use Processing and Java and I am currently in the process of learning some more languages. The actual algorithmic narrative has little to do with the abstractness of the final result and is something that I am definitely interested in but do not try to explain as much. The basic algorithm that I wrote and used for this project is called Principal Component Analysis, and is
a concept that I was introduced to about two years ago in my master’s course. It compresses a set of data (in this case a collection of objects’ geometries) breaking them down into simpler components that hold information about the whole. What happens in the end, is an algorithmic ‘unlocking’ of a possibility space where the initial set of objects can be re-created or new objects can be found. What artistic media do you prefer to work in and there any that you don’t like to use? I often jump from a one–year analog hands–on mode to a one–year virtual, thinking mode. Even though I cannot think of a medium I would not want to experiment with, I am a bit biased towards temporality. This is perhaps why I’m constantly running away from architecture.
Still from ‘Sciss Cut’
The kind of power that I find for example in one’s experience of a theatrical performance, or a musical piece, or a film, this is something that I am targeting towards—even if it sometimes means playing with a different medium in order to achieve it.
Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts with us, Demetris. What’s next for Demetris Shammas? Are there any new projects on the horizon? I’m kind of in–between places at the moment, so as a next ‘project’ I would actually see my decision of where to move towards; a change
that would involve a new house as well as a new job, a kind of studio, a group of people to collaborate with, I am not really sure yet. In the meantime I am always working on small ideas, in and out of my head.
Still from â€˜Sciss Cutâ€™
David & Tara Gladden
Revolution David & Tara Gladden
Word Pieces is a current, growing, body of video compositions inspired by Dada text sound artists Kurt Schwitters, Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara, contemporary vocal artists such as Japp Blonk and Joan LaBarbara, as well as visual artists Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger who are working with text and image. Word Pieces is a modular series of short audiovisual performance compositions. Each short composition takes a word, breaks it down into its smallest parts. Rather than serving words, in Word Pieces, the voice is deconstructing and reconstructing them in new ways. Word Pieces dissects and magnifies the audiovisual and physical qualities of both voice and language, expressing them sonically, visually, and experientially. Using my single voice and digital processing, highlighting facial expression through the use of video, and incorporating physicality through action, language is torn to bits in an immersive audiovisual performance experience. Using sonic, visual and physical means, the goal is to both exhaust and exalt language so completely that we might disengage from our conditioned preconceptions of its meaning.
David & Tara Gladden
A still from â€žDavid & Tara Gladdenâ€œ
An interview with
David & Tara Gladden Since the first time we have watched your works, we have been really impressed with your verbal deconstruction techniques: your experimental cinema faces a territory which is rarely explored today: just think of Carmelo Bene or Chiara Guidi's incredible effort to develop glossolalic acting methods in the last decades, respectively in cinema and theater. How did you develop your synesthetic approach to filmmaking? Our synesthetic approach is most evident in our performance video, Revolution, which is part of Word Pieces, a current, growing, body of video compositions inspired by Dada text sound artists Kurt Schwitters, Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara; contemporary vocal artists such as Japp Blonk and Joan LaBarbara; as well as visual artists Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger, who work with text and image. Word Pieces is a modular series of short audiovisual performance compositions. Each short composition takes a word and breaks it down into its smallest parts. Rather than serving words, the voice is deconstructing and reconstructing them in new ways. Word Pieces dissects and magnifies the audiovisual and physical qualities of both voice and language, expressing them sonically, visually, and experientially.
Your research focuses on the not-verbal aspects and ramifications of voice: could you introduce our readers to this peculiar aspect of your art?
Using a single voice and digital processing, we highlight facial expression through the use of video and an enhanced color palette. We incorporate physicality through action and tear words into bits. Using sonic, visual, and physical means, we both exhaust and exalt language so that we might disengage from our conditioned preconceptions of its meaning.
Tara: I was trained as a classical musician but over time I began to feel that classical music was very limiting in terms of honest expression: all of the emphasis was on beauty of tone. I became exposed to, and began to research, experimental vocal techniques, and I quickly adopted them into my practice. Instead of using only the bel canto method, I started to explore the voice
for all of its sound making capabilities. I accepted the voice as an instrument of its own; an instrument that can live apart from language. I am interested in exploring the full scope of the voice, its capacity to make any sound imaginable: beautiful, ugly and everything in-between, whether connected or disconnected from language. But furthermore, I am interested in the visual experience of voice and how the visual aspects of voice’s physicality tie into our perception of the sound. We have found that the concept of
feedback loop is fundamental in your works: why do you use this formula for your videos? Our video work reveals hidden structures through subversive means. With optical feedback, we turn the video camera back on itself to discover secret, self-generating worlds. These worlds are created within a feedback loop; a reciprocity between camera and video monitor that in the early days of television was not permitted due to fear of equipment damage. Broadcast television is part of that dramatic rather than poetic
A still from „David & Tara Gladden“
heritage. Our use of optical feedback is an undermining act on two fronts: an exposure of the television’s inner workings- its phosphor dots and electron beam, and a rejection of entertainment in favor of poetry and concept. We have selected for this year's edition of Videofocus Ylla Dreams, which is part of a project titled Transmissions. could you give our readersan overview of it? Ylla Dreams is a piece of visual music. The title, Ylla Dreams, is taken from a chapter title in Ray Bradbury’s the Martian Chronicles. Like Bradbury’s story, our film explores themes of culture collision and the intertwined nature of the exotic and the erotic. Ylla Dreams is about yearning for new experience, unspoken sympathy between cultures, telepathic communication, and lost opportunity. David performs on his EML-101 Analog Synthesizer while Tara works with her voice and electronics. The video is made using video feedback devices: a DV Camera and JVC-7000 & Sony Trinitron Video Monitors. Ylla Dreams is part of a series of visual music films called Transmissions. A vinyl record of the music from Transmissions will be pressed in early 2015. We have previously quoted Carmelo Bene and Chiara Guidi, Italian directors and actors, can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work? Foremost, we are influenced by Dada, especially the text sound work of Kurt Schwitters and Huga Ball. We are also inspired by vocal artists who use extended techniques, such as Meredith Monk, Joan LaBarbara, Kathy Berberian, Jaap Blonk, and Fatima Miranda, and by experimental composers who write for the voice, such as Luciano Berio, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Ligeti, and John Cage. These artists/composers are truly interested in the full capacity of the voice for sound-making. Meredith Monk is especially concerned with the integration of voice and movement and some of our interest in representing the physicality of the voice has come from
A still from „David & Tara Gladden“
thinking about her work and participating in her workshops. Joan LaBarbara is interested in audiovisual synesthesia and the more abstract sounds the voice can make, and she has been very influential to any synesthetic approaches in our work. Jaap Blonk and the Dadaists bring absurdity and a sort of sorcery to vocal performance, and we very much appreciate this aspect of art. Like the Dadaists, we break language apart to break
up its control mechanisms. Like William Burroughs, we are deeply concerned with the way that language is an anonymous tool of social control and we are devoted to Surrealist techniques, like the cut-up method, that subvert power. We studied with Vito Acconci in Brooklyn New York, and his approaches and methods to private/public, real/mediatized, and inside/outside have been transformative to
our thought and growth as artists. You are educators too. What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? What gives you the biggest satisfaction? We both teach at a small public university on the Eastern Shore of Maryland called Salisbury University. We get great enjoyment helping students along their own
A still from â€žYlla Dreams
A still from â€žYlla Dreams
path of self-expression and self-discovery. Most of our students are young and impressionable and are just finding their way. We take great pride and responsibility in sharing our knowledge, skills, ideas, and influences to the next generation of artists. We both learn and teach best through doing and we like to get our hands dirty. We find it inspiring to be part of a vibrant community
of students, teachers, and artists. Collaboration is most satisfying for us. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts. What's next for you? Have you a particular collaboration in mind ? We are working on a large-scale performance/installation project that will
incorporate various tableaus, projections, sound, lights, smell, and a guided tour. A room full of mirrors with black lights and fluorescent papers is being constructed as part of this project. The performance will be work-shopped at our shared studio/gallery/venue, which is called W.O.R.K., in Salisbury, MD. W.O.R.K. is a changing acronym, currently standing for
â€œWallaby Orgy Requests Kangaroos.â€? After work-shopping this piece locally, we look to take it on the road in the coming year.