Re: suggestions? : sensory overload

From: Ken Bawcom (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Dec 05 2009 - 18:22:12 PST

I loved Cinerama as a kid, and later, in my 20s, saw 2001 from the
front row of the Detroit Cinerama, and later the Hollywood Cinerama.
Intense, yes, but that pales to the sensory overload of some of my
favorite experimental films. Of course it takes more than fast cuts,
and loud audio, although those help. It also takes a torrent of
thoughts/ideas, to produce sensory overload. Of course David is right,
"density of surplus of image" is a big factor.

Ken B.

Some of my favorites:

Peter Greenaway's "Prospero's Books" (just to show an ~ mainstreamer
can do it)

Craig Baldwin's "Tribulation 99, Alien Anomalies Under America,

Robert Nelson's "Hauling Toto Big,"

Richard Kerr's "The Bombardment of Pearl Harbor" (actual title is
French, know I'd misspell it.) I actually blew out my right channel
Vandersteen speaker on Richard's film, and had to send it off to
Calif. for repairs. I've been afraid to listen to it loud, ever since.

Quoting David Tetzlaff <email suppressed>:

> Roger Wrote:
>> Not sure if the grandness of the Grand Canyon though is necessarily
>> an example of
>> "sensory overload" though
> I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but I think I've experienced
> sensory overload in physical settings both natural and man-made. And
> now that I think about it these experiences are not _necessarily_
> sublime as the requisite element of terror is not necessarily
> present. Either way, in these cases no 'editing' is involved. There
> is just so much potentially interesting information available
> simultaneously or something that is just too big to fully take in.
> Roger's note about IMAX is right on point I think. I've only seen
> IMAX in the Omnimax variation which projects onto a spherical
> section surface that begins to wrap around the sides and top of the
> seating. This really stretches the visual field so you can't take it
> all in at once, and the hi resolution of the format creates enough
> detail that there are a multitude of things you might want to see in
> the image.
>> The question, though, is still whether or not you could just make
>> an image of that that transmits that overload to a viewer. Would a
>> representation of those spaces (in a film, in a painting, &c.) have
>> the power of the real experience or would it just become "about"
>> sensory overload?
> I was actually thinking about Jerry Mander and his argument that we
> substitute pale representations of nature for the real thing to the
> detriment of our human spirit while writing my previous post. Maybe
> a massive enough image, ala IMAX can transmit a sense of overload,
> but it can't have the power of the real thing. Too bad Herzog didn't
> shoot La Souffriere in IMAX, but watching a guy walking around a
> volcano that supposed to explode isn't the same thing as walking
> around a volcano that's supposed to explode.
>> thinking about ways of producing sensory overload that aren't just
>> loud noises & fast cuts
> Roger also mentions expanded cinema, which does something similar to
> IMAX. It expands the visual field and adds more simultaneous detail.
> But expanded cinema would seem to move us past the question of
> representation or transmission and get to subject of creating an
> 'original' sensory overload as a thing-in-itself. And what Roger's
> notes remind me again is the importance of projection and the
> viewing experience. We have this habit of discussing filmic texts of
> all types as fixed things: a film is what it is due to the ways the
> images are composed, created and arranged in sequence. In the wider
> culture, this is now taken to the reductio ad absurdam as people
> will say they have 'seen a film' whether they encountered it on a
> really big screen in a prestige theater or on their iPod. Posts to
> this list repeatedly invoke the difference between film and video
> playback as a bright dividing line. Which at least acknowledges that
> projection does matter -- though the film/video polemics are
> ludicrously simplistic as the fact is that the experiential quality
> of different options within each category is as great or greater
> than any generic difference between the two overall.
> Size does matter. I'm old enough to remember Cinerama, which was a
> sort of attempt to add some form of more direct sensory experience
> to narrative film. My memory of the raft running the rapids in How
> The West Was Won suggests that this kind of worked, a little. I also
> remember that there was a conventional theater in downtown
> Minneapolis, The Skyway, where the screen was so big I couldn't sit
> anywhere in the lower 2/3 of the house without getting a bit of
> motion sickness.
> I'm thinking that if there are two paths to 'sensory overload' - one
> being a density or surplus of editing, and the other a simultaneous
> density of surplus of image - that for the most part experimental
> artists have not explored the latter due to both production expense
> and the inability of the experimental exhibition apparatus to handle
> it. That is, experimental filmmakers know they can expect their work
> to be shown in 16mm in venues and on screens within a certain range
> of sizes and work within those parameters whether they're conscious
> of them or not.
> On Roger's tours, he shows some things in Super 8, some in 16mm,
> some in video because that's how he made them. The two projector
> 'TB/TX Dance' tends to have a more visceral effect than "Strip Mall
> Trilogy" because the former is in 16mm and usually has a bigger
> brighter image, and the later's S8 usually appears smaller and more
> dim by comparison. As a thought experiment (and of course I'm
> assuming you've all seen Roger's work ;-), lets imagine TB/TX Dance
> copied down to Super8 with its sound played through the built-in
> speakers in the S8 projectors, compared to the existing 16mm
> projected on dual Pageants with the removable speakers placed at the
> front of the hall, compared to a blow-up of dual 35mm prints side by
> side on that giant screen at the (now long gone) Skyway with the
> sound pumped through a good Dolby 5.1 system with Klipsch LaScallas
> on the front left and right. Could we even call these the same film?
> I think the S8 version would be amusing, and the 35mm version, well,
> something like sublime.
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For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.