Day 5 – Mostly thinking

After yesterday’s improv session, today I felt the need to step back and think about what I’m trying to do with the video in this piece. I definitely still feel like it should have video, but beyond that I feel a bit lost. I started out searching for video art online and came up with this not-Buzzfeed-in-spite-of-the-title page, 50 Great Works of Video Art That You Can Watch Online. There’s some good stuff in there, but generally I felt a little unsatisfied by it. Mostly I felt that they went on too long and didn’t hold my interest greatly and that set me off thinking why that might be.

I don’t have any interest in creating a particular defineable narrative, but it seems that the danger in working with abstract images is that it could easily descend into feeling derivative, dull, airy-fairy, pompous – or all of the above, rather than feeling like a legitimate part of the piece.

So how best to avoid this? I think that I need to focus strongly on the dualities which are the basis of the piece, settle on some of them to illustrate in each video piece, and then plan how to achieve them once I know what effects I’m working with. The audio pieces I felt more confident just improvising my way through, possibly because I just have a stronger idea of what I’m doing when it comes to sound. I’ve discovered this when working with text in the past – I need more time and consideration when creating a text, compared to creating music, so I think the video similarly needs more thinking time rather than just launch into the improv and make it work.

The dualities that I think are currently key for the section I’m working on are:

  • audio/visual (obv)
  • chaos/simplicity
  • created/found

but I think a bit of focus on subtle/aggressive, aligned with chaos/simplicity, might be usefully added in. At the moment, the test runs have mostly felt very busy and without much shape to the busyness. I’m beginning to think, especially after adding in the pause button yesterday, that pausing on particular sections, and probably pausing on unaltered sections to highlight the relationship between original and manipulated footage (another duality?), might give the whole thing more structure. With moments of calm, it should be entirely possible to actually increase the complexity of the manipulated sections and proceed maybe in a sort of stop-start series.

I still don’t quite know how to assemble everything (for a while I had thought I might need to construct this before moving on with the sections) but I’m beginning to feel that I may need to move at least part of the process (cutting up and interspersing the video pieces) out of Max and tackle that manually.

In a little sideline distraction, I attempted to get a Max interface up and running on the iPad. I downloaded an app called Fantastick, which looks great, and while I was able to connect the iPad to Max and get the tests running, there is so little documentation for this tool that I have no idea whatsoever how to connect my multi-touch messing-about back into Max to actually change my sounds or images. Cycling ’74 do have their own app, which looks a lot easier to use, but it’s also £35 which I don’t have spare, so putting this idea to one side for now.

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