Video: A Better Place, Lost in the Noise

by Beauchamp Art

A Better Place, Lost In the Noise

‘A Better Place, A Non Place’ performance documentation footage; compressed and edited.

Being static watching static

With the footage from the ‘A Better Place, A Non Place’ performance as part of the Museums at Night event, which was only the first hour of video documentation of the three hour performance (the other two hours were lost due to a technical error), I first create a full length video editing together the three parts (two thirty minute clips, and one just over two minutes) that fading in and out to black rather basically.

I then took this footage, and sped it up tenfold, so rather than being around sixty-two minutes long, it was just over six; a less enduring feature, but still with the substance of reasonable length.

Despite the planning leading up to the event; life is still improvisation; some parts are just more improvised than others, hence the more spontaneous elements that were captured on film, in this piece they are rushed over, and the focus is taking away from the passing elements and shifted towards the more minute alterations, such as my shifting position, the coming and goings of others, and the ambient frenzy of noise.

Besides increasing the speed of the footage, I also changed the ending so that rather than just fading to black, it fades to show the empty seats – the clip taken from the begin of the film, stretched for a gradual face as my figure, and the two children sat either side of me fade eerily away – made especially sinister by the adornment of black clothes making only sections of the people appear to dissipate, and others linger in space, before fading into dark nothingness.

The footage was also adjusted so that the blue tones were more prominent, colder, and less naturalistic, with contrast increased to deaden the black tones, and dull the highlights; colour corrected to a gloomier palette.

With regards to the soundscape, I wanted to try to expand the sounds from the event to create a richer soundtrack without using any alien elements, just the audio recordings from the film itself, treated in a variety of ways.

Firstly, I took the audio from the footage sped up and separated it from the video clip, this was then included as it was. I then took two additional samples of the audio from the footage at normal speed, when there was no one around me, and included that, fading in and out at different points, transiting subtly, almost unnoticeably, but just enough to tweak one’s ear. I then included another section of audio that was filtered to the lower frequencies, with a small amount of reverb and doubling decay that would throb quietly in the background. I also took a clip and applied a distorted effect, before filtering massively so that it produced a sort of resonant drone that lingered, building up slowly towards the second half of the clip. There was also a time-stretched section of sound that split the continuum of the sound interestingly and was played lowly, being amplified towards the end, and becomes most prominent just as the video fades to black.

Two layers of other sound was included incredibly quietly, the point of inaudibility, this was the feedback loop created broadcasting silence repeatedly and re-recorded ‘Radio Silence’, these hum discordantly just on the edge of earshot. Though I originally did not want to include external sounds, I found the juxtaposition of watching nothingness whilst listening to nothing (layered, repeatedly). They also mirrored the high pitch ringing of the television set, which did not come through wholly clearly after these additional layers of mildly altered sound were added.

Essentially, I wanted to, and believe I succeeded in creating a sound track that could easily be overlooked as just being the original audio from the footage, but sections would not correlate, creating a slightly unnerving atmosphere, without overstating the sinister solemnity of the performance, in other words, I did not want the sound to overpower the footage, as not only is this a video piece in its own right, but it also serves as a more watchable form of documentation than the hour of banality, which I endured first hand, and shall not repeated any time soon (unless I make another piece of myself watching that footage, or even watching this six minute film, slowed down to an hour, that could be equally interesting as the footage would jump around massively, as if watching old CCTV footage – I have already reused the footage in another format, photographing the camera displaying the footage of the performance, with some interesting results [In Isolation: A Better Place]).