February 21, 2010

Progress Report - Week #6

The video portion of the project is basically complete, though I'm sure I'll continue to make adjustments as I go on. Unfortunately, I'm not really able to capture footage and post it here because the computer gets way too laggy when it has to play, process, and capture videos at the same time. I'll try to figure out a way to remedy this, but for now, I'll just keep you waiting for the March 17th performance.

Since I began working on this project, I've been trying to decide how this piece is going to be "performed" and this dilemma is coming to the forefront as I grapple with the aural portion of the piece. The video could, theoretically, go on forever--there are 210 possible combinations of videos that could be projected simultaneously (thank you, MathIsFun.com) and because the videos are all different, irregular lengths, it's very unlikely that the exact same image would ever appear on screen at the same time.

That said, there is a fairly small amount of imagery and thematic material in the video component of the project. This was intentional, because I wanted the video to be cohesive enough to be used in a finite-length performance. I'm worried that it would make for a pretty boring installation because there is such little variety. Because of my background is in writing and performing music, I still have a little trouble coming to terms with things that aren't temporally bound. I still think of experiencing things with a beginning, middle, and an end and I have some desire to somehow control how things unfold in time.

I feel like I need to make a hard-and-fast decision about this, because I don't see there being much of a gray area between a finite-length performance and an ongoing "installation". Even if I were to make it an installation and also present smaller excerpts of the video/audio as a more traditional performance, it would be so experientially different, it could hardly be considered the same piece.

This past summer, I saw/heard an incredible installation by Stephanie Loveless at the Bard College MFA Thesis Exhibition. She put little speakers into dozens of glass jars and quietly played music she had recorded through these jar speakers, which were scattered all around an entirely bare room. When you walked into the room, all you could hear was a gentle, white-noise-like wash of sound, but you could pick up one or two jars, hold them to your ears, and hear your own private mix of sound. Looking at her website, it looks like she used similar techinques with her piece Non (rien et rien).

Loveless still maintained quite a bit of control over the way the sounds in this piece (I forgot the title) unfolded in time, while still making the actual experience largely up to the listener. She controlled the form of the sounds played through the jar speakers, but let the overarching macro-form be dependent on which jars the listeners picked up. Something like this might be the answer for my piece, as well.

Anyway, I think that I need to set up a makeshift installation for myself and see how I like it and also experiment with fixed-length performances. I'm sure I'll know what to do once I see it, but I'd love to hear others' opinions about this issue, too.


  1. have you thought about including more "found videos" to give it more variety? I think that will change the color combination and emotions a lot, just like the Loveless video. But if what you have is what you want, then stick with it.

  2. The posted film almost feels filmic and animated (cross-processed or manipulated digitally?). The sound seems to respond to the imagery. Reminds us a bit of Decasia. How about an homage to John Cage's 4'33 and cut it off based on a random time/title?