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Immersion and “Art and the Moving Image”

Tanya Leighton discusses well the influence and importance of immersion in “Art and the Moving Image.” She explores first the goal of immediacy within works of early video and how such an action is an early stage of the now more potent intent of “internal, psychological experiences” (33)  within the works of contemporary digital media artists.

Immersion, defined by Leighton in relation to the works of such artists as Bill Viola, is typically established by images that “envelope and immerse the viewer to be exhilarating, even mesmerising… [they] seduce and captivate the viewer are particularly disturbing because of their ‘rush of special effects'” (34).  Leighton continues to argue that such an effect is analogous to that of the slick images of broadcast and cinematic media, yet is not without problems.

These problems namely range from a lack of self-awareness in that the works are more concerned with the act of immersion as opposed to a critical political or cultural message. Additionally, such works are, at best, distracting if not overly involved with the mechanisms – leaving the viewer without the proper ability to assess the work from a critical or adversarial understanding.

While I do not agree that such works of immersion are likely to “fetishize” scale over message, I do believe Leighton takes her argument here to an extreme by not allowing for the possibility of a balance to be struck well between immersive and critical qualities. Furthermore, her lack of appreciation or even recognition for the potential purpose of such immersive strategies leaves me grasping for an ability to understand where she derives importance of a work.

Without doubt, immersion – in all of its possible forms – can be a disguise for poorly articulated art, I am quicker to think of successful examples of this practice, especially in contemporary works such as Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s House (2002) – a video work presented on three channels using three surrounding displays. This video as a singular work is enticing and sharp witted as a criticism of the banality of life  yet takes on an entirely new message regarding the experience of repetition and even deja-vu when displayed on three channels.

In this way, I may not be quick to agree with Leighton, however I find her criticism of immersion worthy of consideration as it explores well some of the downfalls and distasteful qualities.

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Thoughts on “Art and the Moving Image”

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In Tanya Leighton’s  “Art and the Moving Image,” the production of video as a medium and expression of hybrid media is presented in the format of an abridged yet well considered history. From form and function to utility and criticism, Leighton provides great insight into the ways in which video has become a central component of the evolution of hybrid media.

Key to her introduction to the moving image is the means by which the art form of the moving image became accessible to artists and the public alike. Leighton points to a major turning point following World War II:

The focus on the 6os has to do not only with the greater hybridity between art forms that was established during the decade but also with access. The decades after World War II were a time when access to 16mm- film equipment (at least in the US and Britain) was reasonably affordable and uncomplicated, and video became available from the late 6os onwards…The period also marked the beginning of widespread state support for the production of media workshops that encouraged different forms of experimentation. With the acceleration of new technologies, and as film gradually gave way to new forms of electronic information in the 70s, there was also an embrace of recovered or displaced media discarded by the industry. (Leighton, 14)

Without the proper affordability of videography equipment there was little market despite a growing appreciation among artists to explore the relatively young art form. With the introduction of less expensive film and less complicated gear, artists around the world were quick to begin experimentation. With the added support of workshops and other introductory courses for those interested in their own film production, it is not surprising that the moving image soon became a more accessible and incredibly popular form of hybrid media by the late 60s.

With the advent of electronic information storage and recording equipment, the remaining limitations of filmography and recording were further diminished. This served well artists and the public as the novelty of hybrid media continued to grow with each new development.

Leighton continues to develop the history of the motion image with visitations to the notions of video installation, manipulation, and, naturally, cinematic utility – all of which help to better establish the importance and grounded history of the moving image as a media and an incredibly accessible form of art production.

An Artist's Inspiration

Stop-Motion Animation: An Artist’s Inspiration

Turns out the easiest way to garner attention from just about everyone from students to professors is as simple as playing with Barbie and Ken dolls around campus.

Tasked with a stop-motion animation for my Intro to Digital Media course at Cornell University, I created a narrative not far from my own experiences at college. Overall the project was staged and created over eight days during which I recorded audio on a digital handheld audio recorder, staged the dolls with ample duct tape, floss, and luck, and captured each section with a Canon 5D MkI camera.

The final animated sequence was composed, edited, and animated using Adobe Photoshop CS5.

I had a great time creating this lighthearted film and enjoyed my first forray into the world of stop-motion animation.

2030: VIVIFI

2036: VIVIFI

Pronounced “vivify,” this video was created in a weekend for my Introduction to Digital Media course at Cornell University in Fall 2011.

The project required students to create a new reality within which they exist. I wanted to turn the camera on myself and explore what it might be like to go through my morning routine with a little assistance from technology.

Although rough around the edges, this is my first time using Adobe After Effects – a program I cannot wait to learn in depth, particularly after creating this video.

This video was shot entirely on a Canon 5D MarkII with MagicLantern and a Rhode Pro mic.
Editing – Adobe Premiere CS5
Graphics – Adobe Photoshop Pro CS5
Effects – Adobe After Effects CS5

Feel free to leave any feedback and I hope you enjoy one of my earliest digital video works from college!