Have realised that my video practice is so doggedly observational and, well, quotidian might do as a word, that I rarely film anything that actually does anything. Nothing happens. I’ve also realised this is one of the reasons why I often use text in my movies in the way that I do. While I’m drawn to video I think I am a writer first, and where I use images they are propositions, ideas, thoughts, they are not used to describe or narrate. As a consequence as I’ve been experimenting through the first stage of the new K-film project I’ve realised that nearly all the material could just be still images, that really interesting things happen when you see, say, 12 images as thumbnails, but if you choose one to view the video not much more happens. You don’t learn much more. So as a user you then tend to keep ‘surfing’ to see the visual patterns (that are meaningful relations within the work) rather than spending time with the video. Harsh realisation that one. So in response I am now adding some commentary come text to each video, they are not to be as atomistic as in the Reveries project, though neither is it to be a linear narrative. I’ll finish writing these for the current 30 video clips that I’m using and see what it’s like. At the moment my method is to view each clip and to write, with the previous clips text visible (as the first clip returned in About a Year is always the next clip in oldest to newest temporal order), something that sort of could flow from the previous clip, but also survives by itself. Non committal, riffs. I think a better model would be to simply write, one short line for each node, and then copy and paste in. Anyway’s current draft from today is available – About a Year Version 0.2.
I’ve been very slowly rebuiling and curating my vog work into one place, using some very simple Tinderbox templates. Added three more from the vaults today, not that many more to do before I’ve caught up with myself. The site is at vogmae.net.au/vog
Pity about their website but old school DIY is alive and well. The Australian International Experimental Film Festival is up and running. Pretty clear set of regulations to enter (but since they use frames I can’t actually provide you with the url, “hello 1997 my old friend”) so there’s experimental film, video and expanded cinema. Interestingly all will be converted to QuickTime for presentation. So, where’s the international festival, heck, the local festival, for video that doesn’t treat the audience as mere viewers?
VV05 is on for November 20 and 21 in Brussels this year. Hosted by the Cimatics festival. This will be the event where they try to move Video Vortex into a more formal organisation, be good to get to this for this reason alone, but doubt I have the money in the budget, let alone the week of time flying to Europe and back actually requires.
I’ve made and published two diptych videos. For the previous nine or so years my practice has largely been one of constant formal experimentation, at a small scale, with interactive QuickTime online. The problem with this practice is that many of the works are almost unusable from a UI perspective, but also that while I thought I was trying to explore and build a vocabulary because there is so much variation amongst the works the end result is closer to noise than a language. It is a body of work that is very formal and the only significant content is in terms of the formalist propositions each of them make. Most required mouse enters to do things (the mouse had to enter a particular part of the movie). This might have been a button, though in many cases it was the entire video. Once done this might speed up, slow down, mute, or make other tracks visible or invisible. It might even make text appear and scroll.
So, the diptychs. Simple two video pane structure. You can speed up or slow down each video. You can also pause them. There is a separate soundtrack which you an also pause. Some of the videos will probably also have a link or links in them. These will be images that are clickable. This uses a child movie structure where each of the video panes is a separate QuickTime movie being played within a containing QuickTime movie (sort of Chinese Boxes arrangement). This is how I can play one and pause the other, and vary their speeds.
Why? Well, after nine or so years of doing this, and having taught cinema studies for a few years before this, and being deeply influenced by Deleuze’s two books on cinema Cinema One and Cinema Two I remain fascinated, intrigued and wondering about duration, movement and the cinema. While film and video offers a single sequence of a fixed speed (yes we can have fast and slow motion but playback is fixed, resolutely and imperially) so that relations become between this then this, with online video, well, with softvideo, duration and movement are ripe for rethinking.
For example how long is a diptych movie? What does that question now mean? Imagine each of the videos runs for one minute. Is the length one minute (how long it would run if you did nothing?). Is it two minutes (since it might be thought of as two different movies each of one minute which happen to be viewed next to each other)? But since they invite you to play and pause them independently of each other, and since they loop, it is possible to suggest that the video itself, what you or I watch, if played with (ie if the speed is manipulated by you) has no determined duration. If we think that the work itself is not just each individual video, but also the possible relations between each of the two videos (what this one shows in relation to what that one shows) and either can be slowed or accelerated then there would seem to be a variable set of possible relations between the two shots. So if the film is this, then it just doesn’t make sense to wonder how long it is.
Then, of course, there’s the whole set of questions that are a consequence of letting the viewer be a user and do things that affect, in whatever way, the work itself. At the moment, for me, this is not so much about making interactive or multilinear video narratives or poems (I think poetry, or for that matter lyrics, are a better model of what to do than traditional narrative, whether filmic or not) so much as just rewondering what video is now. Prior to this video and film were linear, sequential and fixed. This is in their very deep nature, it is what makes editing even possible. But is it still video in this new regime? Or something else?
So, I’ve made the diptychs so that I can just stick to a structure for a bit and make work for it. Work that might contrast betwen the two windows, works that might reflect each other, and so on. I’ll make up a mock one shortly and publish it so that others can use it too, if they like.