Saturday, 9 July 2011

If Nothing Happens

Lyotard posits technology as the site of proof, efficiency, progress and, in turn, terror. The technologies, due to their origins in reason and empiricism, generally disregard any form of personal or divine transcendental experience. There is a small but growing body of interactive digital installation environments in which an evocation of the sublime is intended as a response to this rigid rationalism. It is in this category that I feel my third project sits. I have previously written about notions of the sublime in this blog, with particular reference to Lyotard's work on postmodernism. In contrast to the vernacular use of the word sublime, it's meaning in the context of art is less about beauty and more to do with that which inspires a form of existential wonder while simultaneously evoking suggestions of fear/terror, perhaps even death. As I previously wrote, it is my belief that this dichotomy situated at the heart of the sublime, is most readily experienced in contemporary society when things are stripped away to their essence, when silence is encountered amidst the usual bombardment of noise and particularly in disarming simplicity. Techniques sometimes used to evoke this in an installation environment are sensory bombardment or sensory deprivation.

An excellent example of this is Kurt Hentsclaeger's Zee;

" a 'mind-scape' in which artificial fog and stroboscopic light fully obscure the physical installation space, resulting in an almost complete disconnect from the without and offering an entry towards a surprise within. Stroboscopic- and pulse light filtering through the thick fog augment an impression of a luminescent kinetic sphere wherein the environment acts as the seeding stimulant and you synthesize the impression. ZEE is expanding on composing with multiple interfering strobe lights amidst fog and the effects those have on a human perception and decoding apparatus: the brain. A surround sound-scape synchronizes to interference phenomena - of what could be described as a psychedelic architecture of pure light.

In the midst of the such perceptual tension there is a possibility of experiencing the 'now' as continuous present. Returning once more to Barnett Baruch Newman and his essay 'the sublime is now';

"the now...... is what dismantles consciousness, what deposes consciousness, it is what consciousness cannot formulate, and even what consciousness forgets in order to constitute itself. What we do not manage to formulate is that something happens."

In the installation space for this project participants will be entirely isolated, evoking the existential aloneness frequently associated with the sublime. This is deliberately intended to be unsettling. Immersive sounds, courtesy of Chris Watson, evoke the wonder of nature as traditional avenue to the sublime . The space becomes an internal one as participants must close their eyes to engage with the piece, a move that disrupts the supremacy of the visual scopic regime. Digital nature becomes neurofeedback, the final image representing the participant with eyes closed further eludes to the unrepresentable landscape of the sublime, but it is the experience rather than the final physical artefact that is my main focus here.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Latest Image and Update

This is the latest image from this series. Have shot four new videos and very happy with the results. Hopefully can manage another four this week, which should ideally take me towards wrapping this project up. I don't know how to make the videos small enough to upload here as yet, once I figure it out I will put them up.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


Does anybody have any advice on the types of paper I should use to print these images out. Obviously I want Matt, and ideally some texture. I have done a bit of research and think the Somerset Velvet or Texture papers @ 225 gsm seem like a good choice but I can't say without seeing it.


Photograph to accompany latest video piece.

And now for something entirely more rigid!!

The past few months have brought practical work on this project to a standstill, a combination of needing to get an essay written, Christmas and being out of the country on two occasions. Things are now back on track however.

I was very interested in getting the sound component to these videos working, so that the sound of the breath could be heard in each piece as it is the anchor subjects are using to attempt being present. I had an audio tutorial which worked out fine but subsequently ran into all kinds of problems with spaces available that could facilitate both sound and video recording simultaneously. The air conditioning, which cannot be switched off, makes recording in any of the rooms in the media building very problematic. I tried using the dead room but the light spill from the adjoining rooms, as well as the noise spill, meant that recording there was pointless too. This is a big disappointment as I really feel it would add a further dimension to each video piece but I don't see how I can overcome it.

Putting it aside I have spent an evening in the studio with the help of my glamorous assistant Mike Downing to run a series of test videos, as the ones I had experimented before were haphazard, without a tripod and so forth. Test sequences were run at a variety of iso/aperture combinations; the very wide apertures that lend the portraits their painterly feel are not suitable for video as focus can not be maintained, even with the minimal movement involved in these videos, at such a shallow depth of field. This is a compromise that simply had to be made. Learning from the results of the series of photographs in this project I am using PRECISELY the same settings each time in camera and PRECISELY the same set up, by which I mean I am actually measuring the distance from the light to the reflector and the subject to the light and the subject to the reflector and making sure they are THE SAME each time using a MEASURING TAPE. Yes, that's right, measuring things!!! Furthermore I am changing my working methods. I have block booked the studio for three hours each week on the same day and am shooting two to three subjects each time. The irony is not lost on me that working on a topic area that is very much centred on some of the ideals in life I hold most dear, I am conversely forced to adopt entirely rigid working methods in order to bring them to life. I am not used to working this way but I must adapt! However this does seem to have instantly made everything simpler. I shot two videos on Friday, both of which I could not be happier with and I now suddenly have an abundance of subjects, more than I can actually fit into the project!

My plan is as follows, shoot for the next four weeks, then post-production (which i don't know how to do on video yet!!), sort out presentation methods and wrap this project up. My research file is almost finished so I think this is achievable. I am off to London at the end of March for this film production role so everything will be finished by then. I repeat, everything WILL be finished by then.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Project two - video update

Friday. Video Experiment in dead room. Many problems, mainly light and noise spill from the two adjoining rooms which people were working in. This will not do. back to the drawing board.