24 February 2007

"8 1/2 Mile"

Sample-based aesthetics point to a larger grammar of clashing various media with topical or visual similarities to create mutant remixed offspring. While my personal approach with video is to use the formal processes common to sample-based work on materials I create myself, I still find a good mash-up to be rare finds in the cluttered landscape of audiovisual collage. This clip by The AV Club is particularly multi-dimensional in its result. The best mash-up work is something that will never be made better through automation; it is hi-tech handiwork.

My personal mash-up triumph was a track I made from ODB's Baby I got Your Money and Pink Floyd's Money, decorated by choice samples of Noam Chomsky talking about economics. I called it Dirty Money.

19 February 2007


Well it didn't take long for people to hack the Nintendo Wii controllers. Once again music makes another leap forward in interface design. Like the guy says at the end of the first video, its show business. I wish it would stop being show business and start addressing the needs of artists. But like the Sony portapack video camcorders, technology somehow must always be hacked for artists. I wonder if it would have a negative effect on creativity if artists were able to buy really well designed technological tools. My intuition tells me the answer is no. I mean, do painters dislike the fact that they can go get great brushes, canvas and pigments easily?

Another example of how far ahead music technology is opposed to video technology in our ability to manipulate the digital media.

Video For Ray

This music video was made by many people contributing stills and video clips according to a pre-determined structure which, during the video's production, took the form of a wiki at zefrank.com. Unfortunately it seems as if the wiki with all the instructions on how to participate in the shot list is now gone, replaced by collaborator credits.

By soliciting and assembling individual cinematic elements over the internet this work is a pretty interesting collaboration. And while its probably not the first video to be made in this manner, it may well be the most popular ever made.

Ultimately the content of the video is cryptic and low-quality. It is probably more meaningful to the participants than to non-participants. At least the music is somewhat entertaining. Yet the concept begs for a better author to step forward and lead such a project.

18 February 2007

Bill Viola Framed: Where are the angels?

Watching a clip from Bill Viola's "I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like" on YouTube, it struck me how the computer restates the frame again and again. I took this photo to try to communicate the phenomenon of how my computer monitor, the web browser and the YouTube site, triple the frame of Viola's piece, which itself has a frame in its own frame (the frame of the video monitor, here with an image of a toucan). Yet even as the idea struck me to document my observation I realized I would be compounding it further by blogging it; adding the frames of the blog, the browser, and the computer again.

I have been thinking about a solution to the theoretical problem of the holographic cinema. My solution is theoretically elegant and potentially physically and technologically impossible. It was a flash of insight I had in a bar in Berlin during my visit to Transmediale.

The tyranny is the projector. The revolutionary answer is what I like to call the nanopixel. Imagine a microscopic cube capable of emitting a different colored light on each of its faces. Now imagine millions of these microscopic cubes suspended in some kind of electromagnetic vacuum. Each cube can wirelessly receive color information, luminosity information and dynamic positioning information in space. These nanopixels form ephemeral solids representing actors, sets and props; digital skins containing hollow cinematic bodies. A kind of elaborate, programmable, kinetic, narrative sculpture medium.

To record the data for the six faces of the nanopixels, a sophisticated system of either four (tetrahedron formation) or six (cubic formation) high-frequency, high-resolution imaging scanners would be deployed on set to get all angles necessary. The audience could sit in the round or in more conventional theatric seating.

My friend Florian Grond analyzed it in terms of mystical metaphor in which the scanner-cameras are the omniscient eye-of-god and the nanopixels are angels.

10 February 2007


I just watched Tarkovsky's Nostalgia. The only other film of his I have seen is Stalker. I find his storytelling incredibly compelling for its theatric and meditative qualities (obvious draws).

Another perhaps more subtle thing which seduces me is his proclivity for carefully composed wide shots. He tends to avoid medium shots, relying on either canvas-like settings or closeups in the tradition of portraiture. I was also acutely aware of the sound design being heightened and immersive. I am interested in these qualities because of their musical nature. The visual separation of characters and objects within a Tarkovsky frame are often as elegant a composition as a painting. But these are paintings in time which, reinforced by a strong sound design, speak to me as audiovisual music.

08 February 2007

"Every Day"

Last week I was in Berlin visiting Transmediale and Club Transmediale, the twin events which ostensibly represent Germany's most cutting edge media art festivals. Unfortunately I admit I was quite disappointed with the work that I saw. Thank goodness this is the Transmediale chief curator's final year. Club Transmediale was better quality in general, with more exciting and relevant work, in my humble opinion.

During my visit I started reading The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. I have been thinking alot lately about time travellers and so I thought this video would be an appropriate starting point. Perhaps I will continue collecting other time travellers in the future.

Among other things I saw (and disliked) at Transmediale was a lame video called The Chronic Argonauts, apparently titled after an unused title for H. G. Wells' book. It unfortunately was not worthy of the distinction.