Audiovisual Sketch Series | Winter 2019

I wait for it to move, but David Altmejd’s statue The Pit is still. [1]David Altmedj, The Pit, 2011, polystyrene, expandable foam, wood, epoxy clay, epoxy gel, sand, synthetic hair, resin, acrylic paint, latex paint, glass eye, Musée d’Art Comtemporain de Montréal, … Continue reading Something about the repetition of limbs, implied liquid or malleable textures, the fragmented bodies implies movement. Rather than wait for the sculptor, I will animate it myself.

One week is not enough time. My brain switches to producer mode and I stop paying attention in class. At the break, my classmate Simon shows me a sketch of a wooden frame with the camera attached to one end. My saviour understands what I have in mind and how to pull it off. Camille and Anna are also willing to help out. I’m offered an extra week to show my images. Maybe we can pull it off. 

In my application to the MFA, I propose to repeat an exercise I had where I create a moving collage equivalent to an art piece of a different medium. I had done this to an illustration by Michael Deforge [2] Michael DeForge, Very Casual, Koyama Press, Toronto, 2018. in my 2 min film Deer DeForge. I did not take the illustration and animate it directly, but found ways to animate equivalents. In the following sketches, I repeat the exercise with other pieces of cultural production that imply a movement. The exercise led to new discoveries and more unrelated experimentation.

I go to Home Depot with Simon Sunday morning to build his sketch and Ali helps with the spaghetti. I was able to reserve the basement black gallery room for Monday to shoot with my now assistants and models, Camille and Anna. Everyone else joins with beers following our afternoon class. Things get out of hand as we film mouths from up close. The following week, I layer the images, taste the results. Rinse and repeat. 

#1 Spaghetti Face

Can I recreate this sense of attraction? Big Kids by Michael Deforge (again) [3] Michael Deforge, Big Kids, Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal, 2014

We dropped spaghetti onto a mask at the end of a long cubic frame with a camera at the other end. I switched the mask for a face and layers different shots of the spaghetti. As they hover over the face there is a tension and yearning. I would love to do this with a slow motion camera to lengthen the landing, though it’s unclear to me whether it’s the tension or the landing that is most important.

Click image to go to video

#2 Ghost Shirt

A dissonance of movement between the strings of this old costume shirt and the dancing legs is emphasized by the digital glitches created in the composition of the two. The effect is joyful and disjointed.

Click image to go to video

#3 Inside Out Face

I copy the effect of light in the mouth from Laurie Anderson’s O Superman video [4]Josh White, Laurie Anderson – O Superman, Warner Bros. Records, Los Angeles, CA, 1982, YouTube music video, 9 min uploaded by  Nonesuch Records, https://youtu.be/Vkfpi2H8tOE?t=107, … Continue reading and play it against the eyes on black from an old project and the extreme close-up of taste buds on a tongue to create a face without a head. I’m disappointed to discover that it reminds many of the Têtes a Claques .  [5] Têtes à claques, “The Will Waller 2006”, Têtes à claques, 2008, YouTube clip, 4 min, https://youtu.be/hJgQCbRsq-I, accessed on December 1, 2020.

#4 Bubble Face

Full boday intermediate – Click image to go to video
Head Intermediate – Click image to go to video

I was fascinated by the Espace Go’s 2013–2014 season posters (above right) [6] Marc-André Rioux, Isabelle Allard et al, Théâtre Espace Go — Saison 2013–2014, Ad campaign, Cosette, Montreal, 2013. when they were pasted all over the metro, which is before the first time I used oil and vinegar as a mask for Deer DeForge in 2015 and then Dinos are Not Dead in 2018. I film my colleague’s faces moving at a designated angle every minute from three cameras to create an intermediate. These intermediates are a discovery in themselves. Out of all the sketches, this result is closest to the inspiration image. 

#5 Arms

Imitating the double arm in the top right corner from David Altmedj – The Pit
Norman McClaren – Pas de deux
Click image to go to video

I start with the arm. David Altmejd’s The Pit hovering double arm embraces the air. The result is closer to Norman McClaren’s Pas de Deux. [7] Norman McLaren, Pas de Deux, National Film Board of Canada, 13 min https://www.nfb.ca/film/pas_de_deux_en/, accessed on April 13, 2022. The digital tools permit irregular time and size manipulations. I try to integrate legs. Can I integrate this with other body elements? What’s missing?

Click image to go to video

#6 Fire Hands

I want a head for the floating eyes and teeth lights from #3 Inside Out Face. My hand jerks in and out of a black frame, then I layer the clip. Layered. It’s not a head, it’s better than that. When I layer this fire hand against itself and it turns into electricity.

Click image to go to video
Click image to go to video

Sound and Installation

Can I translate the images into sound the same way I translate still images into moving images?

When I present my work two weeks later, I hand over feedback sheets asking about the sounds they imagined to avoid obvious directions. The pieces are well received. I’m told they are beautiful, which rubs me wrong. I want the sound to emphasize the uncanny and discomfort. 

AM DeVito responds to my call for collaborators in the electroacoustics department with whom I learn, exchange and play. We record the sound of pasta, crunching celery onto which they sprinkle Ableton magic and bake it into #4 Bubble Face and #5 Arms.

I repeated my layering process from the #6 Fire hands, with varied sounds like frying bacon, hands rubbing, glass edge rubbing against guitar strings, biting into a pear. 

We did it. They are great sketches made fast and dirty in two weeks.

Stratum | Three Audiovisual Sketches | 7 mins | Dec 2019

“So where do you plan on exhibiting these?” I didn’t. These were meant to be tests with many loose ends that bugged me. However they were well received. Not sure what to do with them, so l collected these three audiovisual sketches together and threw it on the internet.

Many saw these as life sized or bigger than life installations. Sometimes a suggestion turns into a discovery. I borrow three small projectors and play around with them in a windowless room, but I don’t know what I’m looking for. I do not understand the advantages of this projection format. The materials are silent to me.

References

References
1 David Altmedj, The Pit, 2011, polystyrene, expandable foam, wood, epoxy clay, epoxy gel, sand, synthetic hair, resin, acrylic paint, latex paint, glass eye, Musée d’Art Comtemporain de Montréal, Montreal, https://flux.macm.org/en/the-gallery/the-pit/, accessed on December 1, 2020.
2 Michael DeForge, Very Casual, Koyama Press, Toronto, 2018.
3 Michael Deforge, Big Kids, Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal, 2014
4 Josh White, Laurie Anderson – O Superman, Warner Bros. Records, Los Angeles, CA, 1982, YouTube music video, 9 min uploaded by 

Nonesuch Records, https://youtu.be/Vkfpi2H8tOE?t=107, accessed on December 1, 2020.

5 Têtes à claques, “The Will Waller 2006”, Têtes à claques, 2008, YouTube clip, 4 min, https://youtu.be/hJgQCbRsq-I, accessed on December 1, 2020.
6 Marc-André Rioux, Isabelle Allard et al, Théâtre Espace Go — Saison 2013–2014, Ad campaign, Cosette, Montreal, 2013.
7 Norman McLaren, Pas de Deux, National Film Board of Canada, 13 min https://www.nfb.ca/film/pas_de_deux_en/, accessed on April 13, 2022.

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