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Friday
Jun152012

Five prospecti

 Perspective, Abjection, Global Imagery

            The imagination is an incredible phenomenon.  I remember as a child spending hours daydreaming, or coming up with scenarios that involved game play, or creating a story with fictitious characters that went on amazing adventures.  These moments instilled a beautiful reality that reached and crossed all borders.  There were no rules, no structures, and no influences of the progressions. The imagination just flew and allowed all emotions and struggles of the daily life to filter and reformat to again be re-digested and give hope and light to the real world.  As one get older these moments become less frequent as the time is consumed with surviving in a world that has structures in place in order for humanity to exist peacefully.  Or so we hope.  However, this imagination never leaves us and though we do not summon its existence we suppress it in our bowels and maybe just maybe it reaches us again through remembering our dreams.  The imagination exists in the subconscious.

            In life, we as humans are on a constant search to find meaning in this world and many times we turn to other means to fill this loss of child or imagination.  We search out religion, we indulge in science, we look to the skies or to the bottom of the oceans, or we simply read a book.  The imagination is what constitutes us as humans, and could be the cause of divide between the rest of the animal kingdom and humanity.  This of course has never been proven, as we know really nothing about how the imagination exists.  The imagination is a powerful tool and is the forefront of progression and innovation.

 My imagination has a strong disposition and has never subsided.  I now refer to the imagination as visions.  These visions come to me by the triggering of the senses.  A sound or smell, a visual stimulation recalls a memory or dream that associates a forgotten emotion and together they create a powerful vision that will not leave me at peace until I bring it to the physical World.  I believe that these visions are part of the collective conscience.

            With that in mind I have decided to create a series of five experimental films that are designed to trigger the imagination, to tap into the subconscious, to bring out those forgotten emotions, with the intent to surface the collective conscience in a story about birth, love, life, Death, and beyond.  My means of doing this is through the use of perspective, both visual and storytelling, through instigating the animal instinct, triggering innate behavioral responses, by the actions of the characters, and through memory association by the use of general images/props that all humans have a memory. There is no verbal narrative

 The series of films is titled FIVE and consists of BREATHING, Asphalt, the Chicken and the Coyote, The Feast, and Flight/Migrate.

 Film as medium

            Why use film/digital video as the medium to tell the story? I believe that the performance as a medium is the most powerful form of communication as well as a significant mode to fully immerse the audience, but it does not have the same accessibility as film.

            I started this research five years ago of tapping into the collective conscience through storytelling, music, and imagery with a modern opera troupe called Queen Mae and the Bells that I co –created with Tina Matthews and Gendala Kelli Anna, We were a performance troupe that summoned our ancestors in the guise of animals, shapes, or sounds to tell the stories of our lives.  We also used some of the same tactics that Augusto Boal describes in Theater of Oppressed, in that the “the spectator no longer delegates power to the characters either to think or to act in his place.  The spectator frees himself; he thinks and acts for himself! Theater is Action! “(132-156) We performed on invisible Stages, in environments that were unexpected and to audiences that were not planned.  We immersed into the audience opening ways for participation, our mission was to spread our art to all levels of class, race, and age.  Even though we performed for incredible audiences the overall impact was negligible.  Our performances were limited by funding, energy, and time, which limited the accessibility.

             This was strictly a performance-based group with film used as a way of documenting the process.  I became more interested in film as I saw it as a powerful platform to send ideas to a larger audience by means of the World Wide Web as well as a method to hone into specifically expressing my Visions through camera angles, and post editing.  However each film is set up as if it could be a live performance but is made specifically for the camera.

            Film is a powerful Medium.  It crosses many dimensions.  The first dimension is existence.  The two points on the Cartesian plane, the representation of the line, the 2nd dimension, is four points on the Cartesian plane, the representation of the square or a plane, the 3rd dimension is eight points, the representation is a cube/volume, the 4th dimension is the integration of space and time a temporal dimension.  Film can incorporate all these dimensions.  Through the idea of existence, a real human or object is being shown in front of you, the film is projected or shown on a 2 dimensional plane that is recording three dimensional objects that are traveling in real life time that at some point was recorded live.

            Film also can be manipulated.  With the development of digital camera technology and editing software every shot can be customized to reveal exactly the director or makers intent:  The length of the shot, the speed of the shot, the angle of the shot, the color of the shot, even the imagery of the shot. “As defined by all computer software, a digital image consists of a number of separate layers, each layer containing particular visual elements.  Throughout the production process, artists and designers manipulate each layer separately; they also delete layers and add new ones” (47) In a sense film has become a series of databases that can be cut up and placed in any order with any duration. There are no limitations except for the mode of viewing, which is still mostly constricted to a 2 dimensional plane.  However that is quickly changing as projection is becoming more available as well as software programs that allow masking the image on three-dimensional Objects. 

 Perspective:

             Perspective takes on many different forms.  The first type of perspective I would like to discuss is visual perspective and the use of linear perspectives to give depth to visual story telling.

             When working with Film I could not get away from the fact that the end result was on a 2 dimensional screen.  As I made lists to research for each of my films I noticed that the perspective in which the film was shot or seen was at the priority.  This was a consistent thread throughout each of the films.  It made me rethink my choices and to look at what these perspectives were doing and why each perspective was particle for each piece. Linear perspective is an incredible tool in film to immerse the viewer subconsciously into the time and space of the story.  This can be done through set design, framing of the view, Camera angle, as well as depth perception through giving focus on certain objects.

            Visual perspectives cross all borders. They are a set of lines that suggest depth, time, or space.  The horizon exists everywhere in the world and the sun and moon sets and raises everyday for everyone.  These natural elements are the inspiration for logically explaining where we stand to something else that stands in sight.  They are our basis for comparison.

To understand perspective mores clearly I chose to study the mathematic elements behind perspective and the examples of 2 dimensional artists to explain the different types of linear perspective.

            In 1435 Leon Battista Alberti introduced the first model for a perspective representation, De Pictura is the title of the drawing (1) In this drawing the person is looking through a plane and a line that crosses the plane onto the other side represents their gaze.  The line and the plane produce an angle, which creates the perspective or central projection, the projection from the viewer.  “Alberti began his construction by drawing a rectangular frame for the painting “of whatever size”, and he characterized this as “an open window” through which the subject to be painted is seen”(23) Linear Perspective was discovered by artists/thinkers that painted what they saw through a window.  The window acted as a 2 dimensional framework that gave borders to the lines of depth.  Once this 2 dimensional plane was set, the Cartesian plane came into action enacting grids to organize and stabilize the lines of sight.  The Cartesian plane gave the artist the ability to manipulate the perspective in order to draw the viewer’s sight to specific parts of the painting.  It also gave the artist the ability to logically define distance by the size of the subject in comparison to where the subject stood on the grid in relativity to where the artist was painting the picture.  The Origin of Distance. 

            In my work I am interested in utilizing the vanishing point to which all lines recede and aerial views.   In particular, one point perspective is of interest because of its central point that diminishes into the horizon.  The railroad tracks vanishing off into the distance is a classic example. The simplicity in design is obvious and directional. As the camera follows the one point perspective the viewer embodies the camera’s view and is subjected to also become the traveler.  Throughout the film I am also using different vanishing points to draw focus on certain props or actions that I deem significant and want the viewer to subconsciously pay close attention.  These altered vanishing points, put the viewer in the space where I am shooting as if the person is sitting in the room. Aerial view is another perspective that I use frequently, because of its ability to grab the whole scene with one capture.  It also disembodies the viewer allowing them to view a situation that they are incapable, without the help of technology, of seeing.  This puts the viewer in the position of the omniscient, the all knowing, sort of to speak.  Linear perspective is an incredible tool in film to immerse the viewer subconsciously into the space and into the story

            This leads us to the perspective of the camera’s view.  The camera people represent actual characters as I use the view of the camera as if the viewer were actually walking or acting in the scenario.  So the audience, in a sense, embodies the cameraperson’s position, or takes on the cameraperson’s perspective.  These Camera people have leading roles in the scenes; they play the hero, the voyeur, the executioner, the lover, the witness, the God, or part of the family.  This means that the audience also gets to embody these roles.  This is an important part of the audience passing through the 2 dimensional blockade of the screen and entering the world that the film is creating.  This allows also the audience to take on a new perspective, which creates a community within the audience since they are traveling together on the journey through the eyes of the characters.  From this experience they can either agree with the perspective or create their own.

            The last perspective is the writer or directors perspective that creates the content of the story.  It is my visions that are being portrayed.  Though the films have no verbal narrative, the narrative is portrayed through sound, movement, character development, character interaction, costume, set, and camera angles.  Each film has its own specific message that is communicated through these elements, as well as in entirety of the five films there is a common story.  As the creator I have made the films somewhat abstract as to let the viewer summon their own experiences and associations but within that abstraction are specific rules that are set so that the themes of Birth, love, life, Death, and Beyond definitely come across.

 The Other/Abjection

            The Other is a term that was brought about in the 70’s that referred to the idea that humans repulse and desire things at the same time.  These Others were using in connotation with Sex, Death, Blood, Obsession, Fetishes, Birth, and the Beyond.  Kristeva takes the Other and terms it as Abjection. “Abject.  It is something rejected from which one does not part, form which one does not protect oneself as form an object.” (3)

            I am particularly interested in the abject as a form to signify or represent our primal instinct “We are no longer within the sphere of the unconscious but at the limit of primal repression that nevertheless, has discovered an intrinsically corporeal and already signifying brand, symptom, and sig; repugnance, disgust, abjection. (238)

Abjection taps into primal instinct, the idea that we belong to an animal kingdom that we no longer remember.  Certain instances pop up where we get a glimpse, a sense of understanding of this distant world.  These occurrences happen when our body and mind are able to connect.  Humans have different methods of reaching this abject.  Meditation, sex, activity, violence, survival, drugs.  The list goes on.

“The abject confronts us, on the one hand, with those fragile states where man strays on the territories of animal. Thus, by way of abjection, primitive societies have marked out a precise area of their culture in order to remove it from the threatening world of animals or animalism, which were imagined as representatives of sex and murder.”(239)

            This Primal instinct is something that all humans embody, most of us our unaware of these moments when our animal triggers a reaction.  That moment is the point I want to recreate so that all viewers have a connection with their animal and that moment will help to open the way to the collective conscience so that all the viewers will be in tune and aware for the next progression of the Story.

In the films that I am creating I am mixing fear with death and birth, to mix lust with sacrifice and life, to mix hardship and survival, with perserverence, and hunger with community, and finally, poison with resurrection.

Fear, Lust, Sacrifice, Death, Birth, Hunger, Survival, Community, Joy, and Resurrection.

George Bataille

 The Image.

            What amongst us is seen daily, globally?  What Icons are through out? What images or items exist that puncture all walls of cultural differences?  I have been trying to think of a word that encompasses this idea and have not been able to find the exact word so I termed it the Global item. A global item is an item that is found all over the world. Since there are no words in any of the films, the imagery, action, and sound take on a new level of interpretation.  These areas must have enough abstraction to allow the viewer to enter with their own perspective but then be able to direct the viewer to the next level of the story.   The global item is the memory trigger.  Every person in the room has had some sort of experience with the item, or image.  This association allows for a personal connection between the viewer and the story.  It gives a door way an entrance and exit form the memories of the viewer with the story of the film.

            What are some of these possible images, Plastic Bags for instance are found all over the world.  Whether the culture uses them or not, they have seen a plastic bag.  There are over 3 trillion plastic bags produced every year.  Rope or binding material is found in every culture, a very old form of technology.  Every person has seen blood.   The chicken has the highest bird population and exists or has been seen all over the world.  The coyote is an animal that lives all over the world. The Wing is another form or symbol that is found all over the world the list goes on. All of these things trigger a memory for the viewer.  They are not specific.

        I thought for the next section I would briefly describe how I am using these tactics in the films that I am using.  Breathing is the first film and tells the story of love, life, death and time passing.   The set consists of twenty performers sitting on chairs on tables, breathing in plastic bags.  The tables are set in a Grid.  The two other characters are a cameraman that is witnessing the scene and an aerial view cameraman that acts as the executioner, or godlike figure.  As the ground cameraman travels into the space of the breathing cocoons, the cocoons start to get executed and implode inside of their bags.  There is no panic within the breathers but they resume their breathing as if they are sleeping totally unaware that one of the lives have been taken.  The ground level cameraperson is the only person that reacts, which is fearfully and the camera shots become more frazzled as he continues his search.  In the end he finds the bag that he is looking for and takes it from the execution space. 

            This film has a lot going on with such limited sets and actions.  I use the aspect of perspective with the grid formation the tables are sitting.  This creates multiple vanishing points for both the ground and aerial cameras.  It also cuts off sight by creating corners.  The different perspectives of the camera are also important, in each case they are shot so that the person watching the film becomes each of the parts.  Either they are the witness or the executioner. 

The action of the executions kicks in the animal instinct by the idea of fight or flight.  It creates a panic situation, which is known to all animals, and the shock of the scene triggers a fear reaction, which is a defense mechanism.  The Blood is something that we repulse but desire.  It is a signifier of death but we are drawn to it and cannot take our eyes off of its beauty.  The bags also draw us to the idea of suffocation.  It is beautiful imagery but haunts us forever after.

            The imagery used hits many levels of interpretation.  The plastic bags being worn over the head taps many types of memories or fears.   Torture, waste, baby’s deaths, lungs, and body bags, ect.  The chairs on top of the tables creates instability because of the false imagery, the upside down of what most people recognize, which is the chair sits under the table, the ropes a mechanism to tie down, to constrain, the grid was to hit the childhood memory of the lunch room, social interaction, institutions,

            The time aspect was also relevant; the executions were taking place at random and were not stopping, which means that there is a set time when all of the breathing bags will be dead.

            Each of the films that I am creating follows a similar train of path in the psychology behind the films.  The use of perspective, the abjection as animal instinct, and the global image as memory association are the driving force behind the content.  This is to create a bonding between the viewer and the story as well as the viewer with the collective conscience of the all the viewers.

In the end we must decide whether these films will stand up to tell a story that can potentially impact the world or whether they will stand as just figments of imagination.  As they are my visions and my imaginations I can only stay true to their purity in idea and allow them to fully be represented in the film medium I have chosen.  

It was a test to write this paper but it has given me a strong platform on where to start my research. 

 

Work Cited

 

Boal, Agusto, Theater of the Oppressed, 132-156. Trans, Charles McBride and Maria-Odilia Leal Mcbride. New York; Theatre communications group, 1985. Reprint; New York; Urizen Books, 1975132-156

 Manovich, Lev. Database as Symbolic Form. 39-60.

 Anderson,Kristy. The Geometry of an Art: the History of the Mathematical Theory of Perspective form Alberti to Monge. 1-40. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. New York. 2007 1-40

 Kristevia, “Powers of Horror” 220- 230

 Bataille, George. Erotisim, Death and Sensuality. City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1986. (1-47)

 Barnett, S.A.. Instinct and Intelligence, Behavior of Animals and Man, First Prism, 1971 (1-167)

 Scarry, Elaine. Body in Pain, Oxford University Press. New York 1985 1-30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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