Moshe Ladanga

Materiality in Immateriality

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I’ve been reviewing the video experiments I’ve made, sort of studying them in their final cut pro state. I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly I experiment with, and trying to discern a line of development in my work.

For instance, in the self-portrait video, what is immediately obvious is the slowing down of progression. The slow motion actually reveals the movement of light across the body, across the space. The features of my face and my body also attain a different pictorial quality, since the contrast is jacked up quite high, so much so that the pixels can be perceptible, oscillating in the effort to place and read the light.

I’ve juxtaposed frame grabs from the raw footage with the ones from the finshed piece to better illustrate it:

self-portrait-orig01.jpg self-portrait-dev01.jpg

self-portrait-orig02.jpg self-portrait-dev02.jpg

self-portrait-orig03.jpg self-portrait-dev03.jpg

Then I remembered my research into digital cinematography when we were planning our purchase of the camera we have now. I’ve worked with video cameras before, but since we were looking for a cam that will be able to do cinematographically what we initially wanted to do in 16mm, we studied how digital video actually works. The main difference between film and video is in its process of image capture. In film, patterns of silver halide that records light is random from frame to frame, since the material is organic. In video, the sampling of the ccd/cmos chip is based on a fixed grid that remains from frame to frame. I was actually reminded of this by Rachel Thew’s mother at the Abstraction show. She is an experimental filmmaker who is arguing for the restoration of film stock production, because, in her own research, she has found that film, in terms of light sampling (or in the case of digital video, data sampling) still trumps video in terms of richness of detail and variation of grain.

But in reviewing my video work, I found that I did not necessarily try to produce a film-like image, but use the ‘material’ qualities that is unique to video itself. In Manovich’s theories on new media, he describes the nature of the digital- from the technological to the cultural level, new media simulates old media. In terms of digital video, this holds true; from the design of the sampling algorithms, to the controls of the camera, even down to the editing software interfaces, it replicates and brings together the aesthetic and technical features of filmmaking. But what those jpegs hold is I think is a potentially unique property of digital video. In the patterns of pixels, there is the oscillation of sampling that occurs, due to the algorithm of the Panasonic patented RGB 3ccd code. But when confronted with the dynamic of moving light, its effort to average its values produce an interesting effect on the moving image. Rather than smoothly portraying the movement of the light, it stutters, disperses and paradoxically reveals a different nature, one I think that oscillates, rather than averages. The difference in this respect to film is in the nature of the data acquisition itself; organic film grain is paradoxically predictable, a steady stream of random forms that produce a median of images. Digital video though holds the potential for play, for experimentation with the materiality of the image itself.

Written by mosheladanga

February 14, 2008 at 2:38 AM

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