Films: Projections – 1: Drive
by Beauchamp Art
All the projection experiments were done as part of the video art workshops with Mark Waller, though I continued to develop them in my own time, and all the production and video editing were done outside of the sessions with the artist. Within the first session of working with a projector, I produced around 40 mins of footage, which I proceeded to edit over the following weeks, producing each section of footage as if they could be considered works in their own right, though do constitute a collective body. As most of my practical work comes through sustained critical experiments with media, developing numerous processes simultaneously, then the workshop footage contributed to my overall work for the project quite substantially and I shall return to the use of this tool in the future readily.
The following discussion is primarily around process and means to creating the videos, as they contain much of the same thematic content as the videos projected. Moreover, these experiments served both as means of generating new material cannibalistically, as well as being tests for different means of display.
Projecting a version of the Drive film through rotating lenses, creating a cataract-like effect on the visual interface.
For this, and the subsequent series of videos subtitled ‘Cataracts’, the visual functionality of the projector was manually interfered with using hand-held class lenses and magnifying glasses, whilst being simultaneously recorded by the camera. This allowed me to modify the video playback in real time and create a range of optical distortions and refractions; by both altering the projection and the recording process. However in this video I moved the lenses in front of the camera to distort how the moving image was being seen rather than what was being seen; though still functioning as a demonstration of manual mediation, and a continuation of my practical investigations into the distortions of remediated perception.
Also, for this and just about every other film in the Projection series, I produced a soundtrack for the film using the audio made from the projected videos, altering each one idiosyncratically, so that that no two were the same an each film established more of its own identity, but still evolving from the same sonic (silicon) DNA; each like an imperfect clone of the last, taking on new characteristics depending on the features of the films. For instance, in this video, the audio is strongly filtered to give it a muffled feel, limiting the sound to parallel how the visual field was reduced. (And on a lesser level, the bandwidth filter cut out the middle frequencies, much as a cataract usually removes the focus from the centre area of the eye’s vision. In other words, the frequency range – as visualised on a two dimensional axis, coalesced with a similar area of the visual range; cutting out the central, most significant area.)
Much as with the first Drive Cataracts video, I distorted the image using moving lenses, however in this video I used the third Drive variation, the darker film that only shows the between frames in negative, which did mean that the video features a large amount of total blackness. Also, when projected, refilmed, and edited, some of the subtler colour sprites are less noticeable and so only the really strongly contrasting bright sections (often only two or three frames) were particularly visible. This was, in part, due to the room not being pitch black, and I had to compensate for the lighting conditions by darkening the shadows of the footage, thus loosing some of the details.
The soundtrack for this version I wanted to be more resonant, droning continuously in a slight disharmony to counteract the inconsistency of the visuals. Perhaps it would have been worth experiment with cutting out the sound every time the visuals were activated; though the ear fills in for what the eyes cannot perceive; making shapes in the darkness.
I think this projection did not work well as some of the others, as no form could be established from the video, so the optically distortions may have obscured the visuals further, but as they were already very abstracted, then what this adds to the piece is not particularly significant.
Micro-Projecting a version of the Drive film onto Lego brick
This projection also used Drive 3, but as the form it was projecting onto was so small, and blue, it produced a considerably more interesting aesthetic. The blue colour of the surface, the Lego bricks, warped the colours so they became considerably cooler and less distinct; only three tones can clearly be seen, green, blue, and less commonly, a bruised red. The projection also gave the objects form, as from the mute darkness comes a physical form, reflecting a immaterial light projection from a polymer; plastic surface. It splits the video into three, and the texture of the bricks can bee seen at points, especially because the film is magnified, and the projection has been concentrated (by simply putting a magnifying glass in front of each, having polar opposite effects). The bricks occur in a few other of the projection films, though here they are filmed straight on (which involved position the camera and projector at 90 degrees of one another, so they were directed at perpendicular angles on the bricks; which were at 45 degrees of the source and recording device. This did mean that only half of the projection is on focus on the bricks, so the image produce seems even more illusive. These were some of the first micro-projections I successfully experimented with (outside of my DIY camera obscura attempts that semi-functioned).
The Lego bricks also carry the connotations of childhood curiosity, craft; creative understanding and imagination, as well as the effects of altered scale (on perception and function). Also, as three were being used they form a sort of object-triptych. They function as a useful surface to project onto as the their physical plastic structure compliments the plastic (as in non-concrete) digital image; forming a sort of tactile pun (much as the use of Perspex in some of my older works, Plasticity, played with these very subtle implications).
The small scale is intrinsically fascinating and a source of wonder and a means of responding to the privileging of one set of visual information over another: focusing. Moreover, “the botanist’s magnifying glass is youth recaptured. It gives him back the enlarging gaze of a child. With this glass in his hand, he returns to the garden, ‘where children see enlarged.’” [Boissy] Therefore, the small scale of the Lego block seems a fitting place to start when contemplating the hypermediacy of large-scale (visual) information exchange. Though these are playful examinations of the materiality of the image, I would not consider them any less critical for they pedagogic approach. Lego can be a tool for learning, understanding and creativity, so I see no reason why it would be any less valid as subject for contemplating perception, especially as it relates back to the formations of visual understanding and the formation of semiotic deconstruction.
Micro-Projecting a version of the Drive film onto Lego brick – Alternate musical edit
This was more an experiment in film making than a record of a projection or display experiment. As it involved the same footage as Drive Micro Projection Onto Lego, however, whilst working on potential soundtracks, I ended up writing a small piece of minimal music, and in this version I set the video to accompany that. This meant that rather than the footage looping, it faded in and out to black, and was playing at multiple speeds simultaneously, with each layer effecting on another, visually fading in and out, as well as having some versions playing backwards at the same time.
This meant that the visual narrative (should any remain by this point) was totally disrupted, and only the flickering (now slowed down to) abstract/glitch-like shapes remained. However, this varying visuals and shifting sounds resulted in something resembling a lava-lamp like screen-saver animation, or some form of New-Age electronic music video to sniff glue to, failing to be anything worth further consideration. Attempts at harmonic music seems to undermine my efforts at producing works as sources for serious contemplation, and rarely adds anything to the pieces.
This particular video should not be thought of as anything more than a footnote in the project.
Speaking about the process of making the ‘Drive’ films, whilst the video was projected onto me, with accompanying background audio from the original film and a modified version of the improvised speech.
Although this is quite a straightforward piece in terms of how it was made, I believe it worked quite well, though I did have some problems with the audio and background noise. This was due to a number of factors, for one, I was using the camera’s built in microphone, which is not particularly high quality, nor is it directional, so it recorded all the ambient sound equally. This included the sound of the video playing through the computer speakers that the projector was connected to. I then faced the task of trying to remove the noise then put the video recording over the top, which worked to a certain extend, however, there is still a fair amount of interference. Though if I wanted perfectly clear audio, I could have re-dubbed it in a soundproof recording studio in time with the video, but this would have defeated the act of mediation.
These were intended to be examples of combining video and performance, as well as means of physically remediating my own practice. It was strongly influenced by Andrea Fraser’s Art Must Hang, in which the artist recreated an earlier lecture to camera whilst intoxicated, which I saw installed at the Hamburger Bahnhof last February.
Although this it not the most successful example of how I could of combined speech and video projection, I believe it is a useful experiment, and may work better as a means of display than for produce more footage.