Film: Colchester [Variations]
by Beauchamp Art
These films were made using the same source material as the video that was used at the FirstSite, Just A Day pop-up exhibition, that of all the images of the search term Colchester from Google Images in the order they appeared in the search, re-photographed from the screen, then animated into a piece of footage which could then be modified extensively. The was intended to be part of a site-specific work, however since completing the exhibition I pursed the processing of the footage further, though as the video would not be viewed from the same location as it was originally intended, the meaning of the work shifted. It became about the online representation of a town, as one of any town, but one of the oldest towns in Britain still standing, which is as unremarkable as the next, especially when viewed through the lens of Google.
All photos from Google images of ‘Colchester’, re-photographed on screen, at 4K resolution.
In this version of the film, I reimported the 800 or so photos into After Effects, but rather then compressing them to HD resolution, I kept them at their native scale, though inadvertently changed it to a 4:3 aspect ratio, when it should have been 16:9, though this was not detrimental to the piece (it is slightly ridiculous, as there is probably never going to be a 4K 4:3 screen or projector).
This mostly served as an experiment in the overload, as the images play through one frame at a time, rapidly whizzing through all the pictures in around 30 seconds; the entirety of a town reduced to a blip, but overly high resolution blip containing more visual information than can be effectively absorbed in the time it is displayed.
There was no sound to accompany this video as it was mostly experimental, and seemed to work best just as a visual assault.
This variant was a more aggressive version of the Colchester video originally for Firstsite, featuring more densely packed visual material, as the Firstsite version had to play through quickly, but leaving enough time for the images to be remembered and drawn, whereas this was liberated from that necessity, so could simply be an overload.
Rather than collage images into a single picture, they are shown in sequence as a temporal collage, then blended together creating a continuous, multi-layered film. As “Manovich notes […] how the aesthetic of ‘morphing,’ a technique facilitated by the computer, makes montage no longer central or even necessary, as one image grows and warps into another without a cut or even a dissolve in the cinematic sense.” [Manovich, 2001: 142-143] Though it is also worth noting that Manovich himself is not overt from using collage techniques in his own work, such as his Phototrails, in which he, along with Nadav Hochman and Jay Chow, created high resolution visualizations using “custom software using 2.3 million Instagram photos from 13 global cities.”
In these film variations, and a number of other related wrks that share similar techniques of animating still digital photographs into dynamic videos which reveal something about the workings of the media and the potential for distortion, it could be seen that I am “creating a visual narrative through continuous transformations of image layers, as opposed, to discrete movements of graphical marks or characters.” [Manovich, 2001: 266]
Manovich, Lev. (2001). The Language of the New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press. cited in Galloway, A. R. (2012) The Interface Effect (Paperback). Cambridge, UK. Polity Press. 114
All images from Google of Colchester, blended together, accompanied by a undulating soundtrack.
This was essentially an even more complex Multi-Layered version of the Colchester video, but with a distorted soundscape to support the video, made from a selection of pulsating sounds, a single not being played on various synthesisers and multiple speeds at a range of octaves; combined together into a distorted drone may be considered reminiscent of the sound from the inside of a power station, or that might be heard emanating out of club from a distance. The sound was designed to throb like the visuals, and be made through a similar process of repeating and multilayering the same thing over and over until form is lost to chaos.
All images re-photographed from Google of Colchester, multilayered, at 4K resolution with an audio drone made frame multiple pulsing quantized rhythms playing in imperfect harmony.
This version features a similar level of multi-layering as the Colchester [Multi Layered] variation, but uses the 4K animation as its source material, along with the same audio as the AV film. This was primarily a technical exercise, but also enabled me to take higher quality stills from the film, which could then be reprocessed further with more visual information retained, should this be desired.
Colchester [4K Optical Flow]
Rephotographed images of Colchester from Google, displayed as individual frames stretched together using Optical Flow.
This was intended mostly a high-resolution demonstration of how the footage is distorted by the frame blending effect, before being re-processed further.