[ collab ] »radiant devices« 08::30::14 : metro, chicago

This summer I finally buckled down and learned processing, the coding language built for artists. I find it incredibly responsive and immediate, unlike some of the user-interface based traditional video editing tools. And its so much fun to play with!

Back in Pittsburgh I created many video projections for live performances by bands and other live events. I also created & projected visuals for theatrical and dance productions. I’d been looking for the chance to work like this again in Chicago, and was blessed with the invitation to work with »radiant devices«!

»radiant devices« are inventive musicians, with a big live sound augmented by instruments they’ve built from bicycle forks and abandoned gas tanks and other objects. Each instrument weaves into a rich bed of sound – yeah, guitar, bass, drums but also dj with loops and Mojdeh’s haunting voice – sometimes augmented with skilled use of a megaphone. Listen to »radiant devices« at their bandcamp  – –

August 30 saw our first performance together, at Chicago’s historic live club, Metro. You’ll find my view from the projection booth in the attached image – for more stills from the show and samples from the live-responsive code please visit the flickr album of stills from this collaboration – –

rd-metro-mv

 

the comprehensibility of dying squid

Earlier this evening I saw Bill Viola’s “Hatsu-Yume (First Dream)” in an intimate screening. The artist was present, along with faculty members and an audience of thirty to forty people. We sat in a small auditorium in a small, excellent liberal arts school.

“Hatsu-Yume (First Dream)” is about eighty-five minutes long. On the surface, it scanned like Chris Marker’s film, Sans Soleil. I say ‘on the surface’ because it was just a moment that inspired that connection – the moment ‘pachinko’ is on screen, and then, later, a man lighting a cigarette, one of the only completed human gestures in the piece. If Sans Soleil had been made on video and without the narrative, then they could be twins. Instead they are distant relatives, only connected by the fact that the audience is considering moving images that, scene by scene, unfold like a photo-roman . . . if each of the photos is a technically-perfect, gorgeous long moving-image shot. Oh, and both works were shot in Japan – Viola’s in its entirety, while Marker’s Sans Soleil was mostly filmed there.

What’s the distinction between video and film? As Christopher Zimmerman put it in the liner notes for the evening’s get together, “”Where film is a succession of individual still images … video consists of constantly vibrating signals.” That’s key. In each work’s case, the maker’s use of the form is perfectly mirrored in the expression of content presented by that form. Marker’s film is a series of shots, of images expanded. Marker uses mostly jump cuts as he provides a long sequence of images which become narrative, when paired with the voiceover.

Video, particularly analog video on tape, is about signal. Talking about his work this evening Viola repeatedly referred to signal. The technical metaphors for him, of signal being a way of accessing an inner world or imagined world, of signal’s liquidity, its nature as carrier of light ~ that’s the core of the medium for Bill Viola. The series of scenes transitioned by fade-to-black are usually slow-mo. Visual information shifts in a series of liminal perceptual spaces; the viewer can lose themselves in sensory input or decide to recognize the information displayed on the screen.

~

During Q&A I admitted to the artist that I was so tired I was closing my eyes in the middle of the opus. Viola interrupted me to reply, “That’s OK, I slept through parts myself.” About two-thirds of the way through the film there are shots of dying squid, on a Japanese fishing boat. They’re beautiful. Captured in the highest fidelity Sony cameras available at the time, glossy, a particular coral peach, they are just dying. We watched them die, in slow motion.

Squid death was discussed by the academics with some horror. Kira Perov, Viola’s creative partner, spoke to the difficulty she had when they were originally shooting the work on the fishing boat. She struggled with the question of putting the equipment down to rescue the animals. It horrified her to watch them die.

~

Today, I took a long trip to a small town in Wisconsin to meet the artist, to see the work. Bill Viola’s work has sustained me for a long time. I am a multiple near death experience survivor; Viola’s own NDE experience deeply informs his work. His work is oxygen for me.

On a Greyhound bus I split my time between Twitter and Facebook attempting to find out if my Boston friends were OK. What in Gods name happened there. I somehow kept my stomach firmly in my belly, not becoming nauseous even though the fragments of information did not piece together. Made me disoriented. The speed of (dis)information, insistant squabbles about authenticity, tweets that stated “quit just retweeting things”. The utter lack of clarity as major news outlets chose the wrong information to publish to those who still use TV, and then retracted, then asserted something else.

~

The long slow shots of dying squid made sense. Watching the beautiful, projected analog video – no, I couldn’t look away. It was slow. In its slowness my mind and heart were allowed to come into a shared rhythm of comprehension that respected my whole being. Horrifying, yes, but in a comprehensible way, an acceptable way.

Now I pick out the shrapnel from the fragmented “communication” about the bombings at the Boston Marathon out of me. I have a bit of skill witnessing difficulty like this, I’ve practiced with the ‘poetics of annihilation’ attention/artwork over the years. Yes, I say, once again, media’s doing it wrong. I think we already know that.

artist statement : we are all doors (2013)

Artist statement : we are all doors (2013) 6:40 : digital video for gallery projection.

Meditation : The body as container for consciousness. The act of dreaming our compass as we navigate inner space. How do we occupy our bodies?

Source images for the work made available to the artist by creative commons copyright support, a language of consent for content-sharing on the internet. Crowdsourcing implies, how does the royal we support the individual? How do we dream together? How does sharing support the creative mind?

 

 

 

Video dedicated to Aaron Swartz (Nov 8, 1986 – Jan 11, 2013) who assisted in establishing the creative commons in spirit and legal reality. Links posted at http://station-number-six.com/swartz.html connects source content provided by over a hundred and fifty photographers and videographers.

http://creativecommons.org explains what this artists statement (and work of art) cannot, about their approach to facilitating the movement and exchange of created content.

Poetry written and performed by the artist, recomposed and expanded slightly for the soundtrack. Audio mixed in Logic 9, video composited in FCP X, prepared for DVD with Compressor 4, authored for DVD in DVDSP.

Ultimately, the work will reside on the internet. Until then, I’ll be submitting it to screenings and gallery shows.

Jessica Fenlon

 

quote : bill viola

The digital era will overwhelm us, as it happened with the industrial revolution. And I am not talking about technological changes, such as the internet, Twitter or in art. The changes will hit all of life: from politics to science, from medicine to culture. Will change our way of life. The role of artists will be even more relevant. Our vision will communicate knowledge and compassion.

in process : stills from i.thou : chapter ~ 19

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (flight)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (flight)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (19)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (19)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (nikita in kitchen)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (nikita in kitchen)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (baby crocodile)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (baby crocodile)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (19)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (19)

these stills are taken from a 4 minute sketch i worked up the last few days. this is for the next chapter of the film in progress, i.thou.

the chapter or excerpt is titled “19”. the moshing technique assists the viewer take a meditative journey on identity, memory, witnessing, transpersonal consciousness, the tellable story, and the problem of unbelievable experience.

the still image of the girl named “19” is taken from the television show CSI. the source video shots used (pre-processing and ‘mosh’) look like the two stills that follow:

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (source still)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (source still)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (source still)

i.thou : chapter ~ 19 (source still)

photos : the Post-Apocalyptic Movie Theater – Gooski’s 7.24.2010

The first three stills sketch out the setup.

The remaining six were taken during the course of the screening – work by Matt Wellins, Ben Hernstrom, and myself are represented in these six stills.

The installation is projected in the natural space. The back wall of Gooski’s back room has a reflective quality, visible electrical outlets, and some graffiti.

The PostApocalyptic Movie Theater created a beautiful environment to inhabit. There were some threatening moments, as in Mr. Hernstrom’s datamoshed stuff, but the show was really about beauty. I screened mostly atmospheric works that captured particular moments and moods here in Pittsburgh, punctuated with pure abstraction (Wellins) and narrative humor (Files, from the 2006 Braddock Film Frenzy! film production challenge weekend).

Attentive, small audience, as I have become accustomed to for this experimental work. Thanks so much to Susan Constanse for the invitation to create the work. Thanks ever so much to Billy Wright for being the essential chauffeur – the work couldn’t have happened without his assistance.

Paul Hardcastle : 19 (1985) …

… how one pop song woven of samples pierced the culture of mass distraction in ’85.

19 was relief to the relentless call to party in the shadow of the Russian arsenal. A live round between A-Ha’s Take On Me, anything by Wham, Don’t You Forget About Me from the Breakfast Club soundtrack.

I was fourteen. The cultural two-step to the malls was underway, the towering hair of popular music. Kids like me hid in runaway apartments ran rooftops crawled sewer tunnels quoted Dostoevsky chainsmoked and ridiculed the jocks who later suited up to join the ruling class.

I remained silent, a vessel for collected projections, a good girl running with the wrong crowd. Let them think what they want to, they will anyway. Show up, do as your told. Sneak out, dance until dawn, blue nail polish, kabuki makeup. Cultural material like this gave me fuel for endurance, relief from Reagan’s mantras of lies.

How could people believe Reagan? He was so fake. Lie after lie, emptying VA hospitals and declaring everybody cured. Then they’d turn up on your street corner crazy as ever. Did people have eyes? Apparently not, they re-elected him. We had to live in the shadow of our missiles and their missiles.

When everybody’s lying, the truth shines. Even when a thief makes it.

Hardcastle sampled Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells ~ well, that’s what a court later decided. The narration about the war was lifted from an ABC documentary film. The narrator, Peter Thomas, was originally ambivalent about the use of his voice in the ‘song’.

19 peaked at #15 on the Billboard Top 100 charts. More telling of the cultural moment : 19 was US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single July 6, 1985 – July 13, 1985, replacing Madonna’s Into the Groove/Angel dance mix.

Top 100 Songs of 1985