Film: Cultivating I-IV
by Beauchamp Art
The Cultivating series, culminating in ‘IV – Defragmentation’ video piece created by desynchronizing the display of a distorted slideshow of images (originally as part of the ‘Cultivator of Decay’ photo shoot)
As is typical with current practice, rather than working towards a specific goal or outcome, this series of video pieces came out of exploring ideas and processes as means of generating working during the development of new techniques and reinforcing exhibiting ones, whilst being critically informed within my practice. The final video concludes this series, though is not necessarily the definitive version, as it also functioned as the basis for a series of photographs taken from the screen displaying the films. However, I would regard all of the works as part of a singular piece, with various rhizome outcomes.
This piece was not indented to be a purely aesthetic exercise but function as a means of vocalizing a greater sense of mediated perception; how modern technology moderates and manipulates the individual’s interaction with the environment around them, and the relationships one has with others in society. From stone tablet, to tablet computer, every media has altered one’s means of communication. Finding a means of responding to this subject matter artistically is struggle enough, but to find an appropriate means of displaying or expressing one’s intent to an audience can be increasingly problematic, given the abundance of information and art available instantly anywhere online. Oneself must attempt to establish oneself as a distinct artist with a practice worth investigating to amongst the tumultuous sea of a hyper-saturated contemporary environment.
“We now live in a world filled with incomprehensible glitches and bugs. When we find a bug in a video game, it’s intriguing, but when we are surprised by the very infrastructure of our society, that should give us pause.” [Arbesman, 2014]
Not only does the perception of the individual change through media, but the person themself is altered. Only now, one could argue that one can become seemingly omnipresent; extending “our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned.” [McLuhan, 1964: 3]
By drawing attention to the pixel, the digitization of objective into subjective reality is being exemplified, exposing the component parts of electronic images, set against the familiarity of the human figure, which by the final film is totally obscured by pixelated forms. This could be seen to draw attention to the potential flaws in ascending to a digital existence, that one cannot simply be turned into data, and given immortality. [Graziano, 2014] Media functions as “extensions of man” [McLuhan, 1964: 142] rather than a replacement, for the time being. Nevertheless, this fractured figure does not necessarily just represent the imperfection of a cybernetic citizen, for humanity has constantly been integrating new technologies into their being since their dawn. Much as future developments and further digitisations of the self may seem fantastical for the time being, so would many of today’s technologies be to the people of previous eras, “such is progress. We always manage to live more-or-less comfortably in a world that would have frightened and offended the previous generations.” [Graziano, 2014]
The pixel also serves to dehumanize the figure, becoming a Warhollian surface; looking at the components of the process of creating images in order to contemplate what it means to suspend one’s disbelief that an what one is seeing is the genuine article, not merely a composition of light rays emanating from a screen giving the impression of form. It undermines the verisimilitude of the image, and the resulting phenomenological reaction through the individual’s perception; moderated by their historically informed semiotic and sociological interpretation, and the distortion of the image.
The films lack narrative, though in the less distorted variations, the viewer may become aware that some sort of photoshoot is taking place, which has subsequently been manipulated and turned from a living model to still image to moving picture, performing a sort of visual necromancy on the perceived individual. The subject identity, and the reason for them being in the environment they were (in darkness, surrounded by televisions) is lost through the processing of the images. By being without direction (but ordered chronologically as the photos were taken), the videos can be looped endlessly, inconclusive and unrevealing, uninformed to the identity of the figure, not lost to digital decay.
The fear of the loss of individuality is not unique to the modern age, but it is not necessarily ungrounded, for the psychosomatic effect of believe oneself to be undergoing a electronic schism, splitting oneself into physical and digital forms, both equally real to the psyche, an integrated schizoid self. One may find in the future being greeted with ‘My name is Legion, for we are many’ commonplace and insignificant, for the pluralism of the self and information may become total (becoming Borg). Indeed, the allusion to a multi-faceted individual is used in the video by means of layering the video, so that multiple versions of the same series of image appear simultaneously together, unified by the visual processes, writhing in internal conflict and gluttonous aesthetic excess: forming an imperfect unending hyperreality. Thus exemplifying “what [James] Joyce called an “allnights newsery reel,” that substitutes a ‘reel’ world for reality.” [McLuhan, 1964: 193].
Figure, photographed, filmed, stretched, overlaid, filmed, displayed, overlaid, filmed, (repeated threefold) colour corrected, soundtracked, exported, uploaded, distributed, downloaded, discussed.
- McLuhan, Marshall (1964) Understanding Media. 1994 Edition. Routledge. Great Britain.
- Arbesman, Samuel. (2014) It’s complicated: Human ingenuity has created a world that the mind cannot master. Have we finally reached our limits? Aeon Magazine [Online]. http://aeon.co/magazine/world-views/is-technology-making-the-world-too-complex/ – Accessed 31.1.2014
- Graziano, Michael. (2014) Endless fun: The question is not whether we can upload our brains onto a computer, but what will become of us when we do. Aeon Magazine [Online] http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/virtual-afterlives-will-transform-humanity/ – Accessed 31.1.14