Re: video haiku (was 365 v....) plus a plea for video threads

From: Adam Trowbridge (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 24 2007 - 07:10:51 PST

> Yeah, there are lots of other listservs. but the value of a Frameworks
> video thread is that it offers the possibility of discussing work in video
> within the context of experimental film traditions. There is nothing more
> annoying than seeing video art that is totally
> re-inventing the wheel. And maybe video processes/technologies/ideas
> might have something to offer those working in film?

I'm curious about what "video art that is totally re-inventing the wheel"
looks like.

I am interested in discussions about video in the context of "experimental
film traditions" but hopefully that does not become shoving video into the
tradition of experimental film. For example, non-linear editing systems
allow us to automate the random or pattern-based arrangement of frames. Is
this the same as using a structural technique of cutting up film and
splicing it back together? Is it just a faster optical printer? I say no
to both. The speed and ease with which you can now rearrange and edit
media, coupled with the ability to create scripts or programs to do so
automatically, not to mention possibly adding intelligent agents of some
sort to make decisions about how the video is edited, all on your home
computer, overnight, makes this a new perspective from which to work.

Video art draws much more, I think, from television and cinema than from
experimental film. The level of media sophistication that people are
absorbing from television and film is surprising (although I suppose it
shouldn't be). I went to a screening of video made by language students
who had visited France. They were provided with cheap miniDV cameras and
iMovie on laptops with which to create a video-based report. The quality
and ingenuity of their cuts really stood out. I don't mean clever iMovie
transitions but instead things like raising the (handheld) camera up from
one's side as a transition into the shot, then lowering it at the end,
then raising it again into the next shot. The effect was striking,
especially from a language student who was mostly just trying to do a
report on the architecture in Paris.

Structural issues that come from creating and editing digital video are
parallel those that arise from working with film. I think experimental
filmmakers and experimental video artists (or a subset of both) are
interested in exploring the structure of the media as it relates to the
work, including, perhaps especially, the glitch, the point at which the
illusion fails. In film this is particles on the film, scratches, broken
film, burned film, bleached film, "rotted" film, etc. In video this was
the failure of the signal and the tape and now includes digital errors,
I-frame errors, encoded or scrambled video, dropped frames, stuttered
playback, etc.
However, in the case of film these glitches are the result of the
physicality of the medium whereas in digital video it is errors in the
information stream that result in the glitches. There is crossover, of
course. You can cause physical destruction to digital media (e.g. the
audio trio Oval scratching early CDs then playing them to produce new
sounds) but digital media is much more sensitive and in handling and
manipulating it you are as likely to utterly destroy your material as you
are to produce something exciting.

The manipulated reality that results from the intersection of digital art
and video is (or is becoming) an alternate reality unrelated to the
sleight of hand illusionism in experimental film and cinema. For me this
was underscored in watching Luke Lamborn's ( Square
Millimeter of Opportunity series while curating a video show. His short,
slightly manipulated realities might be possible in film but they are
based in the "reality" we expect when watching a video signal. They are
fully realized, experimental, digital video art that, I would argue, is
not based on an experimental film tradition.

Last thought: Should an experimental video artist know more about Stan
Brakhage or Ernie Kovacs?

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.