VIS340: video artist research

I feel like I've been fumbling around in the dark with this project but now I finally understand what I'm actually attempting to create... a work of video art! Not so much a story or a short film or a film clip to my song but visual art. Totally different way of thinking about what I'm trying to say with this project...

The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art Education defines video art as "a type of artwork which began in New York in the mid 60’s. Video art often includes sound and performance and relies on moving pictures of video/and or audio data usually viewed on a television screen. Early video art were associated with concurrent movements such as conceptual art, performance art and experimental film. Today, video art is one of contemporary art’s mainstream practices. Works today are extremely varied and are often combined with other art forms such as sound art, installation, media arts (such as graphics, animation, internet projects) and traditional art practices (such as sculpture, painting or cinema). One of the main differences between video art and theatrical cinema is that video art does not rely on many of the conventions that cinema such; a discernible narrative, dialogue or even the use of actors. Some artists use video simply to document and monitor an art event where as others are more interested in being creative with the formal qualities of video."

Right. So now what I'm doing is clear... on to a few artists who do it well :)

Tacita Dean

I was utterly captivated by this film even though I've got no idea what it's about :P Shown at the Tate Modern gallery in London, this large scale film projection shows a film of films, static objects held in space over changing and moving backgrounds and moving objects over static backgrounds, simple everyday objects seen in new and elevated ways from unlikely angles (such as an escalator or a rock), monochromatic imagery with occasional tinted overlaid filters, large polygons of colour or imagery are overlaid, photographs photographed on photographs and collaged together, stop motion animation, dramatic lighting shifts and repeated motifs of straight horizontal lines and stripes and diagonal lines, reflections, flashing colours in transition, gridded images and a variety of transitions with images moving from longer held to short, sharp shifts from different directions and rapid-fire changes from one scene to another back to longer held shots

This work also connected me with the magical philosophy of film and the head trip of watching a film of a film through the eyes of the person who filmed Tacita's film and put it on YouTube... through a screen within the context of my own body and life in this moment. I also loved how the children and adults witnessing the film in the gallery became part of the narrative. You could see the children reacting to it and wanting to interact and touch the moving images on the wall and you could the shadows their bodies cast on it. Very cool...

Questions to consider in my project...
  • The thing I'm most inspired by in Tacita's work is the sense of tangible silence and stillness they invoke. Although my film will not be silent, can I create a similar feeling of spaciousness and allow for curiosity to arise in that space?
  • How can I make use of reflected imagery and objects to deepen the story of Julia? Perhaps using a mirror or water as a surface to reflect the drawings?
  • How can use the method of an ultra closeup detail shot then a zooming out shot of the same picture that tells the bigger story and gives perspective?
  • I love the idea of a photograph photographed on a photograph, bringing in a collage effect. How can I use this in Julia?
  • How can I use a gridded imagery created in a photo editor of my photographs or in a segment of Julia's story?

Akram Zaatari
So happy to have discovered this video artist! In his 35 minute film, "Letter to a Refusing Pilot" (2013), Akram uses many of the original ideas I had for this project. Gloves... a flick book... photographs that tell a story... and video of hands interacting with the photographs! I love how as soon as there's a body part in the video, everything becomes instantly texturised and sensual.

This was great to experience because initially I found myself far more interested in what the video camera and body parts were doing than in looking at the photographs and the narrative the photograph was unfolding. I loved shots that showed the bigger picture and context within which all the small actions are unfolding and what's happening in the world around the story (high school students being called to class and walking down hallways and driving along the street). Sound is used intentionally with background noises and becoming louder and softer at times. So much variety... panning shots of photographs, small scene movement with the photos and hands, held camera position showing movement, moving camera, close up and zoom ins, images juxtaposed on other images fading and out, the repeated motifs in the planes, the contextualisation of the characters, the "stages" the action takes place on... the way attention is drawn to the mechanics of making the film, recording sound and taking photographs... everything is a considered and artistic choice.

What a beautiful way to tell a story. Made me cry. And in delightful alignment with VIS220... Akram works with archival materials as a source for his film making. Very inspired right now.

Here's the story behind how the film came about - a few "coincidences" and a chance meeting between an historical researcher, the pilot and the artist. I'm glad I read this after I watched the film. I got to experience it first without any knowledge of what it was about.

From this work, "Tomorrow, Everything Will Be Alright", I love the idea of a conversation unfolding between objects... or between the scene and the object itself...

I found the artists below browsing through the Desire Lines exhibition at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Looking at their works brought to mind the questions, what are the qualities of three-dimensional objects and how can I use the three-dimensionality of my small card drawings to express those qualities? Shadow... weight... depth... texture... porousness and other responses to the environment such as degradation... vulnerability to change... ability to touch and interact with the object... balance... how the object obeys or defies the law of gravity... the object impacting other objects... how the body interacts with objects... how camera angle be used to create illusion with objects... how images of objects can be collaged together... and so much more!

Daniel von Sturmer

Bas Jan Ader

Bruce Nauman

Stephen Sutcliffe 

Yvonne Rainer 
More silence inducing video art from the origins of the medium...

Jochen Kuhn
I find myself attracted to the possibilities of hand drawn, stop motion animation. I discovered a German artist who works in a way similar to William Kentridge in Jochen Kuhn. Just beautiful. I find the combination of well-executed drawings and deep messages powerful.