by Beauchamp Art
These photographs came out of re-photographing the Colchester film from the project for Firstsite, after the Just a Day exhibition, through various stages of editing and multi-layering the project. These were undertaken primarily as an aesthetic exercise and a means of delocalising the imagery, removing its site-specificity in relation to Colchester, transforming them into abstract images, that did not embody a sense of place, despite the source images being so heavily loaded with geocentric iconography; more focusing on them as a gluttonous examination of online imagery, in that the film and subsequent pictures could be based on any city, location, or Google Search term.
In these photographs from the Colchester film project, I was experimenting with multi-layering the video using variable opacity settings, so that the colours of one layer would invert that of another, using the same source images at different speeds, as a means of generating a nearly endless stream of random images from a particularly narrow search field.
This particular set of layers resulted in the moiré effect of the overlaid pixels to interfere with one another, so that the colours became distorted, producing a waves of rippling green across the imagery. This triptych was based on one image that featured a late crowd of people; their social chaos feeding into the optical confusion, and overload of imagery created by the over magnification of the pixelated screen.
In this second set of this series, I focused on key areas of interesting within the multi-layered video, in one of the more finalised projects, taking macro photographs of intriguing sections of the frame where the interplay between frames and layers produced new interesting images, as a form of time-based collage. Some of the pictures are warped and stretch by the transition between a non-linear series of images, becoming grotesque and uncanny forms. Whilst other stutter with insecure digital movement; the artificially generated animation of static images generating uncanny life within flat sequences. People dissolve into the background of another place, self-contained within repeating image sequences; and architecture fragments into virtual space; all images exploding into each other, rendered in explicit pixels. The mediation and distortion of imagery is shown overtly, the format of the malleable multi-layered video is opened up, revealing an incoherent lack of narrative; like memories of a drunken stupor merging into one another, illustrating how the loop can “be a new narrative form appropriate for the computer age” [Manovich, 2001: 317]. The contemporary continuum of rolling news feeds rendering the banal curiously deformed; “Making the familiar strange, and the strange familiar” [Bloom, 2014].
In these images in which order is nullified, yet confined to a grid of pixels, multiple familiar aspects can be sought out simultaneously; reflecting the ubiquity of the digital city to be accessed anywhere at any time through images searches (such as those that produced the film sequence that these are based on) and virtual environments, like Google Street view, that enable the view to explore in flattened 3D space, places beyond reach made immediately present, with interactive user-based content, so the user can fly down the streets of an alien city, click a link and reserve a table at a restaurant based on the hypertext information that is woven into the map, the image, virtual-real place. Invoking a sense the multiplicity of space as described by Jason Farman: “The virtual has been experienced throughout history as not a privileging or erasing of one space over. The virtual is instead an experience of multiplicity. It is an experience of layering, and the constant interplay that bonds the virtual and the actual together the pleasure of virtuality.” [Farman, 2011: 38] The online map of places may be experienced simultaneously with the physical, geographic location through mobile devices, and experienced individually whilst being produced as a social experience [Farman, 2011: 53]. By unweaving faces and places, the social space could be seen to literally; visually fuse with the phenological, whilst being informed by the digital co-presence of representational media.
These images show the basic image loop at 4K resolution after it had been uploaded to YouTube, producing artefacts from the compression progress that may have been exemplified by the re-photographed pixelation of the source images. This could be seen as an effective indicate of mediums’ distorting effects, and how when media is uploaded to a mutually accessible, thereby social, online platform, due to the limitations of that medium, is susceptible to the prolific effects of redistribution and recontextualisation as a means of manipulating information, especially images. Richard Dawkins describes how “meme transmission is subject to continuous mutation, and also to blending” [Dawkins, 1976], and this could be seen as especially apparent in these images. As the vertical strips of data come to embody the images which cease their continuous tonality, and attain a more fractured aesthetic; when combined with the pre-existing pixelation of the screen, and the optical effects of re-photographing the images.
In half of the image, I primarily focused on figures as their distorted uncanniness is particularly obvious; as the warp image conflicts with the anthropomorphised image; simultaneously dehumanising and embodying the images with humanity. However, the latter four photographs examine YouTube’s 4K compression of the image in locative imagery; that which shows place corrupted. Images associated with the search term loose their sense of place through their mediation, and the photograph’s perceived transparency is replaced by the smoked glass window of hyperbolised mediation.
The images are best viewed at a range of scales, so that the use may find the form within them, then loose it to the wave of digitisation overloading the image with information, blurring its content, washing away its meaning.
- Bloom, Jaygo (2014) Chaos Neatly Defined. [Fine Art Guest Lecture]. Norwich University of the Arts, UK. 14 November.
- Dawkins, Richard (1976). The Selfish Gene: Chapter 11. 1989 edition: Oxford University Press. UK. – http://www.rubinghscience.org/memetics/dawkinsmemes.html – Accessed 9.2.2014
- Farman, Jason (2011) Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media. 1st Edition. Routledge. London, UK.
- Manovich, Lev (2001) The Language of the New Media. MIT Press. USA.