Photos: Dematerial

by Beauchamp Art

Photos: Dematerial

These images feature the photographic experiments undertaken during the displaying of the Drive film variations at the Fabric Warehouse as part of the Dematerial Exhibition.

Dematerial Projector Object

 

Dematerial - Projector Object - 01 -

Dematerial – Projector Object – 01

 

These images show a number of experimentations undertaken involving a close examination of the projector as an object whilst displaying the Drive Videos, focusing primarily on the lens.

In order to take these images without overloading the camera’s sensor with the “pure information” [McLuhan, 1964: 8] of the electric light, I had to stay out of the way of the projecting field, treating “the line of sight between the camera and the object as if it were a real obstruction” [Bolter, 2000: 59] as well as compensating in the camera for the high levels of light, so as to capture the colours and textures of the activated and illuminated surface of the lens

These examinations of the physical mechanics behind the immaterial projection of a digtial video are a necessary magnification of the object’s surface to reconnect the viewer with the material actions of the electronic representation, so as to look at the glasses’ frames through which one may examine the world, “when digitization and dematerialization promise a world made of pure ether,” [Groulund, 2014] so the transparency of the media is brought to the foreground, but not as explicitly was with other photographic media experiments involving an explicit examination of the mechanics of the image, but rather the investigation focuses the viewers attention onto the medium as a physical object with presence in the world. As well as the act of transmitting the representational image, which has been visually abstracted through video reprocessing, in a way that fuses one space with another; not simply producing that acts as a window […]. But examining a means of representation that places an image from one location (which may be artificial generated) onto another, exploring “reality as much more contested and nuanced phenomenon,” in “An era of screen based image overabundance and ephemerality.” [Ritchin, 2013: 17, 49].

These also function for me as a curious examination of an optical phenomena; the out of focus dust partials resting on the calculated curve of the projector’s lens as light is push forth from the illusively hidden bulb within the machine, catching the edges of the minute particles, though too small to communicate any clear form through a camera’s lens, which thereby become non-specific circles of visual information; like the dotted lights of night sky speckled with thousands of illuminated dots; seemingly minute lights that fail to convey the colossal interstellar bodies that they contain to the naked eye, which remains ignorant to the true complexity of universal structure without the aid of a telescope, or more advance means of magnification and mediation.

Dematerial - Projector Object - 06 -

Dematerial – Projector Object – 06

 

However, these macro examinations are not intended as scientific documentation, as a catalogue of references for further investigation, but rather are a critical examination of the aesthetic qualities of the image-producing device. To paraphrase Simon Hollis, “Science is organised curiosity, [art] is disorganised curiosity.” These investigations lack the linear framework or purpose of the microscopic examinations of optical effects that may be undertaken by the visual neurologist, or the technological developer, there purpose is only activated by the viewer, and is for them to consider their own gaze, and unconscious, but unavoidable, ignorance to the peripheral workings of everyday optical machines.

For example, as the consumption or reception of the television message is thus also itself a ‘moment’ of the production processing its larger sense,” [During, 2007: 93] then these images not only examine the focusing lens of the media, and the message that is contained within (which is further lost and abstract, becoming non-specific luminous colours), but an examination of the transition of the medium, immediately before its reception by the individual; as one might contemplate the pen to understand the writing; how its forms effect the production of letters by the hand; the size and shape of each such device, (along with other environmental conditions; paper texture, the writer’s health, and so forth) ultimately contributing to the unique production of each word cast on the page by the writer – or for a mechanical analogy.

Dematerial - Projector Object - 07 -

Dematerial – Projector Object – 07

 

This could be compared to an examination of the printer’s ink nodes, from which the toner may erupt; or a Wi-Fi router, which emanates radio waves of interconnectivity. These photos are intended as reminders of the physical presence of the mechanisms that enable digital operations, presented in such a way as to deprive the viewer of the critical information necessary for decoding the images; they are ungrounded, floating in blackness, hazes of nebula-like bundles of colour (though the last three images do no feature the lens, but are of other aspects of the projector’s body), they become ethereal representations of objects. The photographs could be seen to become non-objective representations, like “the new media object [that] can exist in numerous version and numerous incarnations.” [Manovich, 2001: 134]

As Marshal McLuhan illustrates, “it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behaviour, [McLuhan, 1964: 318] and it is to this experiences that representational technologies appeal, individuals are not expected to be questioning of how a television, or projector functions (unless it is explicitly there concern, if they a technician, scientist or perhaps even an artist). Therefore, it could be argued that these photos may serve to highlight the experience of understanding and the necessary pleasure of curiosity; and the desire to look at the producer of images, rather than just sinking into the images such devices may produce (– to follow the river to its source, rather than just drinking from the foot of a waterfall).


 

Dematerial – Drive Projection Experiments

 

Dematerial - Drive Projection Experiments - 15 -

Dematerial – Drive Projection Experiments – 15

 

 

In this series of photographs, I was experimenting with projecting variations of the Drive film onto the textured wall and bodily surfaces.

 

For the most part, I focused on the image fragmented into the grid-structure of the digital image interacting with the uneven surface of the wall; which were not particularly noticeable from a distance, but when examined closely became a curiously varied surface, with holes and peeling plaster contrasting to the moving picture’s lack of texture. I did pause the video on frames that were particularly rich in varied imagery; with play between the enlarged pixels within the film offset by the projector’s rendering and remediation of the film creating multi-layered fragmentation of the unfixed digital image.

As a self-aware reflection to the products of the new-media, such as open-source Websites, there is not necessarily one finished outcome, such a product is never complete, nor needs to be in order to stimulate a dialogue on contemporary technological issues; a constantly changing subject matter requires an unfixed response. Thus emphasizing the process “rather than the finished art object.” [Mitchell, 1994: 8]

 

 

Dematerial - Drive Projection Experiments - 05 -

Dematerial – Drive Projection Experiments – 05

 

In some of photographs, I also experimented with how the projected image wrapped around the organic human figure (primarily the face; as the most distinctly recognisable section of the body; and the section most in line with the height of the projection). For this I used my own features, and that of my peer who was co-curating the Dematerial exhibition; Elizabeth Aubury, who agreed to be photographed at close proximity to contrast the projection with the texture of the skin and other bodily surfaces. Whereas when I was using my own figure, I was limited by my dexterity, so having another individual to photograph was useful, and the images with her form an interest triptych within the experimental series, that seem separate from the wall-based projection photographs, and the ones involving my own figure.

However, as this was undergone as an experiment, then the continuity between the images is not overly important; though if I were to display them, they would be divided up into smaller groups, or possibly even restaged. Nevertheless, as I had the projector already set up, it seemed an ample opportunity to try a few different ideas out. As the Drive film variations that I had stored on the memory stick from which I was playing the films appear non-representation or abstract, they were quite malleable, and could therefore easily function as the basis of further processing, as part of the on going project, with no fixed outcomes.

Dematerial - Drive Projection Experiments - 11 -

Dematerial – Drive Projection Experiments – 11

 

Nonetheless, the images do stem from directly observed then refilmed footage, and then it would be inaccurate to argue that they are totally abstract. And although, as for the filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, abstract cinema is impossible as all film footage (as opposed to digitally generated imagery) is taken from subjects within the physical world. Therefore, this reprocessing of digital footage is subject to the ready adjustments available for such ‘elastic reality’, and the viewer must be aware that “live-action footage is now only raw material to be manipulated by hand.” [Manovich, 2001: 259, 301-302] (Interestingly, Manovich argues that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, “can be call the first feature-length commercial abstract film – two hours worth of frames made from a matrix of numbers. But this is hidden from the audience.” [ibid: 331] This observation is due to the proclamation by the producers of the film that the majority of the imagery depict was explicitly digitally generated, but is integrate succinctly with filmed live-action action footage of real-world actors, set against green screen, in order to create “a seamless virtual space.” [ibid: 158] The hyperreal is thus one with the real, much as with these photographs, the digital image is one with the physical space; the green screen is thus inverted – as a sort of manual special effect.)

With the overload of visual information, a critical analysis of the surface from which the images are emanating from is not always possible or desirable, as the prioritised subject must be understood through the application of pragmatic knowledge and culturally learnt behaviour for decoding screen-based imagery. However, as this is becoming learnt behaviour, then individuals must apply their efforts to furthering their ability to interact with newer interfaces, which is a learn behaviour, as highlighted by teacher and social critic Camille Paglia; “the extraordinary technological aptitude of the young comes partly from their now-instinctive ability to absorb information from the flickering TV screen, […] [they] are flooded with disconnected images but lack a sympathetic instrument to analyze them as well as a historical frame of reference in which to situate them [Paglia, 2004: 2-3]. The cultural understanding of the screen is therefore, of paramount concern for those investigating the effects of new media interactions, although the physical properties of the image cannot be overlooked. This is why the materiality of the projected image is being examined in this series of images; specifically, the interaction between the malleable digital image and non-linear surfaces.

 


 

 

Reference:

  • Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard. (2000) Remediation: Understanding New Media. MIT Press. Paperback edition. London, England.
  • Manovich, Lev (2001) The Language of the New Media. USA. MIT Press.
  • McLuhan, Marshall (1964) Understanding Media. 1994 Edition. Routledge. Great Britain.
  • Mitchell, William J. (1994) The Reconfigured Eye. Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press: 8. In Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard. (2000) Remediation: Understanding New Media. MIT Press. Paperback edition. London, England: 31
  • Gronlund, Melissa. (2014) Return of the Gothic: Digital Anxiety in the Domestic Sphere. E-Flux (Online)
  • http://www.e-flux.com/journal/return-of-the-gothic-digital-anxiety-in-the-domestic-sphere – Accessed 4.2.14
  • Paglia, Camille. (2004) The Magic of Images: Word and Picture in a Media Age. Arion 11.3 (Online) Boston University.
  • http://www.bu.edu/arion/files/2010/03/The-Magic-of-Images-Paglia.pdf – Accessed 14.4.14
  • Ritchin, Fred. (2013) Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen. 1st Edition. Aperture.
  • Simon Hollis. (2013). Signs Taken for Wonders. Brook Lapping Production. BBC Radio 4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03m43fv/Signs_Taken_for_Wonders/ (16:27, 23.12.2013)

 

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