Tag Archives: contemporary art

Finding a Way Out of Here…

Doing a lot of audio and sound work with Ableton and Encore. I’m also ripping audio from my videos, tweaking them (subtly and/or completely) and allowing them to take on new form as disembodied episodes.

This is a rip (with subtle changes) from Elevator. Expect a lot of remixing, warping.

MFA Thesis – Televisual Memory and the Telescoping Fire Station: Landscape as Media-Memory Site

From "Foothill Incident,"part of The Cascade - Moments in the Televisual Desert

From “Foothill Incident,”part of The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert

MFA thesis – Televisual Memory and the Telescoping Fire Station: Landscape as Media-Memory Site.

Adams Thesis 4.3 PDF 1 – standard PDF

Adams Thesis 4.3 PDF 2 Adobe – Fancier PDF with hyperlinked footnotes

Adams Works Consulted 3.3 – selected bibliography of works consulted, but not directly cited in the final thesis.

Thesis abstract:

‘Landscape’ is an active site of occurrence—a platform of media-influenced exchange. Reflected through televisual language, it offers a relative experience, tied to our sense of geography, time and shifting notions of history. The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert engages TV-inflected landscape as a permeating condition. In this telescoping space, landscape conflates time and memory, location and topography, television and reality.

Rooted in a personal connection to Southern California, which permeates American television from the 1960s-80s, I hunt, excavate and deploy conceptual instances of the Mojave Desert and its entanglement with the real, the vividly scripted and the iconic. Mediated by television, Los Angeles County becomes mercurial, behaving as stage and script, environment and blueprint—a mythic, cultural hunting ground. This transitory televisual landscape informs our understanding of place and event, blurring fiction and fact. The Cascade arrests this instability as an interdisciplinary investigation: a hot-and-cool mosaic that asks viewers to seek, receive and connect.

Derived from a body of moments excavated from television, The Cascade suspends semi-narrative traces as elements removed from their physical location by the original filming and further removed by capturing and mutating temporal instants. The environments thus inhabit the actual, the imagined and the transient place of recollection—a collapsed space conflating personal history, geologic reality and cultural production. Using layers as an economical mode of storytelling (focused on suspension in the moment), I compress events and location into a system of surface-screens: layers provide non-linear depth and conversations between media offer different modes of viewing and consuming.

 

Introduction:

Through my multimedia work, The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert, I offer a meta-narrative of the television mosaic and the act of watching and remembering. Populated by a vulnerable recast of heroes engaged in a kind of primal forensics, an endless hunt plays out across time-compressed paintings, through active, audio-infused videos, and via digital montage.  Viewers (and characters) investigate this unstable environment, traveling between media, events and their realizations. There is a pervading sense of déjà vu—such that television becomes its own self-haunting specter.

Television is part of our working memory-experience, blended with the ‘actual’ to form a ‘hyper-actuality,’ linked to experience and place.[1] TV itself enables an image of culture and history as an “assemblage of dissembled distances from the instantaneous present,” but the present is always rebuilding itself, revitalizing the once-old (Dienst 78), just as television cannibalizes its own history in a continuous present.[2] The space between the original filming, its presentation as cultural object, its excavation and manipulation, and its relation to past-present-future are part of this telescoping space. My installation is a way of enabling the elusive hunt, of sculpting the media-inflected landscape itself—taking it and its cast of characters out of the living room and into an elastic convergence-space. Theorists Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass claim “media equals real life…” that familiar, deflated distance between broadcast and reality:   “knowing that fiction is fiction doesn’t stop the emotional brain from processing it as real…” (Gottschall 775).
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[1] Philosopher Gilles Deleuze proposes that “when a film returns us to the scene of a room and we recall simultaneously another scene that took place there, there is an overlay of present and recalled, real and virtual, as if facets of a single image” (Deleuze qted. in Farr 23). Though Deleuze saw this in cinema, I suggest it also occurs in television and in our individual relationship to real and fictional spaces represented through image (moving and still).

[2] Archived and older television still exists with a strange vitality that eludes even classic cinema. The televisual past is renewed via the abundance and proliferation of specialized viewing (with growing veracity thanks to genre channels, Netflix and on-demand delivery). Television is a medium that contains its own history and frequently resurrects and cannibalizes it (Buonanno 21), thus televisual history is constantly mediated by viewing it in an endless present.

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Finding a Way Out of Here…

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In my previous post, I mentioned I’ve been working on images for the exhibition catalog, which involved over a thousand screen captures sampled from my video works. In collecting the high resolution set, I nabbed a number of compelling moments from my semi-narrative worlds. Here are just a few!

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An Encounter in the Desert

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I’ve been preparing materials for the exhibition catalog, which has required revisiting each of my completed videos, to capture high resolution stills for printing. In so doing, I’ve rediscovered the fascinating surface undulation of the elastic-space inhabited by my vulnerable heroes.

Here are a few extracts from Encounter…

First Mentor Meeting

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Above: two views of Soledad Canyon. Though they do not share precise coordinates, they do suggest the almost interchangeable nature of both canyon and project topography; one mediated through a contemporary site-logging image practice, the other recorded as an (inadvertent) site-log via television. Together they facet two points of access into an elastic-space.

I had my first mentor meeting with Oliver Wasow last week.

Oliver has been pivotal to my developing thesis since the first residency (The Cascade grew out of a curatorial exercise from his Digital Visual Culture in the Age of Social Media seminar, combined with a daily media exercise suggested by John Kramer) and we wasted no time jumping into discussion of the installation. He had viewed the recent installation in person and had seen all previous versions, he just needed to catch up on the videos. We discussed the installation as it was presented in Cambridge and we analyzed various optimal, or variable setups.

In a larger space, I would ideally display all of the paintings, each video on its own monitor, View-Masters on pedestals or tables and (possibly) additional digital images in a room-like formation. The condensed installation he viewed in Cambridge was worked via discussion with my advisor, and it suggested a living room space. Oliver said the installation, even abbreviated, does not necessarily need to stay in that form. In fact, the domestic space won’t really work and is not particularly necessary. He is easily able to relate all of the parts, without the physical superimposition and felt the average viewer would not sit and engage a ‘living room’ with any guarantee.

We also discussed the ongoing nature of the project and its output. All this time, I had been expecting The Cascade to reach a finite, finalized, ‘evolved’  form (how Hegellian of me!). In writing my zero draft, I also came to realize The Cascade is a fluid, ongoing archive–capable of developing new ‘databases’ and being expressed in a number of ways. Ultimately, I will adjust it, and its components, to suit the space at hand, knowing I can always present it in other ways in the future (and I can discuss optimal or alternate installations in my thesis).

Oliver suggested I can work with this variability over the semester  (and the future), and it can be adapted to communicate with the final exhibition space, to suit the project’s deployment at each location and in each localized moment.

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Street Views

One angle Oliver felt could be addressed more directly is the original site-as-platform, landscape-as-cornerstone found more readily in earlier versions of the project. He felt this was still very important, and might possibly have become subordinate to some of the newer developments (like the hunt, the semi-narrative, televisual space, etc.). Since the landscape itself is still vital, it can be pulled back into the project with a stronger presence that can, in turn, strengthen the other elements.

He asked me to revisit landscape as landscape itself by including additional media–digital or photographic street view images. These unmediated, unlayered images provide a different kind of time engagement, perhaps even functioning as ‘breathing room’ within the tension of the painting-video-reel dynamic. He asked me to consider the Google Street Views and in-program, still landscape screen captures I had dealt with last semester, with my mentor Kevin McCoy. Kevin found the street view/TV cap pairings compelling in much the same way as Oliver, so it’s worth revisiting if it contributes to the whole.

Since the painting provides important physical and temporal layers, suggesting initial jumping, and the video works offer a complementary fragmentation of the suggestion of the ‘real,’ including single-layer landscapes might offer the critical distance of comparison Peter Rostovsky suggested was left out of the installation. Of course, without the safety of critical distance, the viewer is thrown into the action–my intention all along–and a point which Oliver and Peter suggested is fine. However, including a moment of pause may be beneficial.  The straight landscape images may provide the critical distance that is denied in the panicked, fragmented videos, reels and paintings.

Oliver likes the idea that the landscape itself, as a physical site, and as a media backdrop, is really interchangeable with itself, in its own sphere. I’m fascinated by this as well; the original impetus behind the curatorial project. The sunny, arid locations are almost modular (like the two shots at the top of this post). In fact, rather like the entire thesis project itself. When I compound forms in my thesis, they behave like jump-cuts, creating a density of space, place and nostalgia itself that can obliterate this quiet, weird, modular simplicity. Allowing the land back in reinforces the importance of site and gives the density a place to happen.

Though other aspects of the project grew in weight (the re-cast characters, the pervading tension between fiction and reality, the dissection of story), the original anchor was this landscape, or site, itself. All of it remains important. And, there’s no reason I must stop at only three media. It’s interdisciplinary. I can use as many as I like.

Other notes on this:

  • Memory is similar to old TV shows.
  • We reconnect with a filter, passing through, experiencing things in different ways.
  • The street view, as in the TV  show, is an experience.
  • The street views, if used in the installation, should always be visible as a reference point–not stuck as oscillating slide shows between videos. Try them printed out and framed, or if they are digital, they need their own permanent monitor.
  • Some concern that the videos may dominate the installation. Will they? If they do, is that okay?
  • Do not stick the street views on View-master reels.
Johnny, Roy and the blank canvas--just waiting for me to begin.

Johnny, Roy and the blank canvas–just waiting for me to begin.

The Relevance of the Painting

The paintings are important and necessary to the project. They provide another model of representation, interaction and consumption.

Key points:

  • The paintings become a slower, meditative (subjective meditation) on the immediacy of the video
  • They are warm vs. the cool of television and the View-Masters (which fits into my three-screen and cool vs. warm research/theory). The painting warms the installation up, invites a different form of reflection.
  • Time unfolds differently in the paintings than in the other media, which is important
  • The paintings, for Oliver, are actually the most effective at making use of layers. Layers behave differently in the video, but offer a counterpoint.

Interdisciplinary Installation

Oliver’s thoughts:

  • The project is concerned with different forms of representation and consumption, different modes of mediation and memory.
  • It is also not specifically tied to that time period, even as large parts root it in the 1970s
  • There’s no need to be limited to three media
  • The paintings are important. It’s okay to combine new and old media.

Warnings:

  • An overly theoretical approach can kill the subjectivity of personal memory; be careful to preserve it
  • The digital manipulated/layered stills should not be included on paper in this version of the install, because they become redundant with the painting and video present. In the View-masters they play a different role, so it’s okay. But no photo print outs. The digital layered stills suggest time-based temporality that the videos handle better.

Sound

The sound is incredibly important. Oliver and I agreed that it should be openly audible. It is designed to be heard both while intently watching the videos, and while observing the painting and View-masters in an indirect manner, rather like overhearing a television set they may suck you into the drama if you hear something compelling. Forcing viewers to don headphones limits the concept of the work (and most people won’t do that, anyway).

If the final setup prevents full, audible sound, he suggested I at least go with an ambient volume that can still be heard, without disturbing other installations. Worst case would be headphones.

Oliver identified the importance of the multi-layered sound as another function of time.

Polish

At this point in the program, my studio practice is focused on resolving the installation, completing the third painting and doing some output work with the street views and single-layer stills.

I have plans for additional videos, paintings and digital reels, but these will be reserved until the thesis is complete. If there is time to do more, I will. If not, I have enough digital material to work with already. I am focusing on arrangement and painting.

I am aware that the integrated whole and its modular parts do not have to settle into a single, final form,  but can exist in a remix-heavy system of permutations, which gives the project the possibility to be worked an re-worked as part of its very nature.

With that said, I still need to resolve the final installation for June. I will meet with Oliver again in about 2 weeks and we’ll experiment with installation formats.

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Thesis Semester, Engage (10-4, Rampart)

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A more connective, centralized install, featuring videos front and center. The videos would be displayed on separate televisions, not a laptop, but this arrangement opened discussion into the relationship between the painting and its video counterparts.

 

My thesis semester has begun…

Fresh from the January residency, crit notes in hand, I face a synthesis of work and research, method and methodology, text and talk.

I had the opportunity to show the interdisciplinary elements of The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert in several configurations, the last of which is highlighted (rather informally) in this post. A tightened space, slightly reminiscent of an entertainment center, invited the most connective read of the work, but the installation is not yet resolved. This semester’s studio component will allow me to finalize the most logical install. 

By and large, viewers felt the project was 90% complete and visually & conceptually fascinating. Most found the work contemporary, rich and relevant and enjoyed (or at least understood) the interdisciplinary approach. Dissonant responses mostly suggested focusing on one medium, rather than employing an interdisciplinary approach.

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One of the more linear installs, featuring the Viewmasters on a separate podium.

I also had the opportunity to show the video works in two time-based screenings, as large-scale projections.

For the first screening, I presented three of the “episodes” without context. Viewer response was compelling and surprisingly on-target, even for those unfamiliar with the project. Responses suggested a pervading sense of panic, time-ambiguity, doubt and narrative denial, recognizing an unstable televisual space where actions and reactions occur in a wormhole-loop. Other responses included a sense of confusion (what the hell is happening?) and recognition of color palettes and recast characters as iconographic moments.

The longer screening allowed me to briefly set up context, which actually led to fewer comments and questions after the showing. Perhaps the setup explains everything left confusing (or tantalizing?) in the original works.

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Screen cap from “Rental (Requesting Backup”

 

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My info “station,” featuring bibliography, works from previous semester and other vitals.

Though I’m not required to write an official residency summary this semester, I did excavate my residency notes, crystallizing a “road map” for my own backend use.

In a nutshell, my academic component is centered on writing the thesis and artist talk, completing any necessary (additional) side research, polishing my defense and practicing my performance.

The studio component will deal with resolving the installation, completing a third painting for the series, digging into the digital imaging (and true stereoscopy) and working through a few additional video episodes and presentation strings, in dialogue with my final mentor.

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Time-Based Screenings

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If you’re attending the Spring, 2015 residency (or if you will be near Lesley University) this January, please do stop by the screening for our program’s video art and film folks. I will be showing So I Asked…, Elevator (Finding a Way Out of Here, I Hope), Rental (Requesting Backup) and Encounter.

Monday, January 12, from 4-6 pm.

Snacks. There will indeed be snacks.

The Cascade(s)

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Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades, Sylmar, CA. Near Foothill Freeway.

“Connecting images to images, playing with series of them, repeating them, reproducing them, distorting them slightly, has been common practice in art even before the infamous ‘age of mechanical reproduction.’ ‘Intertextuality’ is one of the ways in which the cascading of images is discernible in the artistic domain – the thick entangled connection that each image has with all the others that have been produced…”

–Bruno Latour, What is Iconoclash?

My third semester is now folding into my fourth, or thesis, semester at LUCAD/AIB and I’m in the process of wrapping up for the January residency. I will be shipping Roy and the Mojave Subsequence in late December and the video pieces, View-Masters and reels will accompany me in person.

My semester bibliography, thesis outline, and artist list are available under Papers.

The Los Angeles Cascades (Sylmar, CA)

The Los Angeles Cascades (Sylmar, CA)

“As we encounter the data cascade, each of us constructs our own personal mythology from bits and fragments of information extracted from the media flow… transformed into resources through which we make sense of our everyday lives.”

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture

This semester, The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert (my interdisciplinary thesis) made tremendous headway and I have a clear direction for resolving the final moments of …Moments. 🙂 The residency will give me the opportunity to gauge ideas about installation and continued relevancy of its interrelated parts.

“…the crucial distinction we wish to draw … is not between a world of image and a world of no-image– as the image warriors would have us believe – but between the interrupted flow of pictures and a cascade of them.”

–Bruno Latour, What is Iconoclash?

I also met with Les Ann Holland, my second semester mentor, during November and brought her up to speed on the project’s progress since we last met. I’d like to work with her during my final semester and I’ll be proposing that to my final adviser in January.

Between the (technical) end of the semester and the beginning of the residency, I’ll be continuing work on the next video piece, Ambush, producing more digital stills, and practicing stereoscopic imaging. I’m also doing a lot of reading for the upcoming critical theory course and fleshing out side sections of research that were identified while writing my thesis outline.

Onward!

The Cascade(s) in Situ, Emergency!

The Cascade(s) in Situ, Emergency!

Semester Summary, Fall 2014

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Ren Adams
Peter Rostovsky – Advisor
Semester 3 Summary – Fall, 2014

Download PDF Version

My work this semester centered on the development and articulation of my interdisciplinary thesis project, The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert, including the production of new pieces and formatting refinement. The semester was punctuated by major decision-making, significant breakthroughs in video work and continued cohesion of the three-part installation.

Studio Work

I knew The Cascade would be interdisciplinary, but the final format had not completely coalesced. This semester, I determined the final media, refining, reshaping and abandoning divergent leads. Research, residency feedback, mentor conversations and personal brainstorming made this shape-up possible. The final three components are: video, painting and digital imaging (View-Master reels), reflecting my investigation of Lev Manovich’s three-screen theory (classic, dynamic, real-time) of new media.

Other developments:

  • I worked with ways of dimensionalizing the television experience. Feedback from my advisor and from the residency encouraged me to consider methods of collapsing viewing into geometric interludes. These interludes locate references specifically in the text and can synthesize, simulate or otherwise add dimension to the act of engaging television. This investigation impacted all three formats—and I considered how large-scale paintings, video and hand-manipulated digital reels played on different qualities of viewing and consuming, literally and philosophically.
  • Working with SOUND. It came up in nearly every residency critique. I needed to work with sound—and I did. Rather than simply add sound to the original video animations, I dug into my audio background and sampled, recorded, remixed and produced entirely new soundscapes designed for the video art (and also to be ‘overheard,’ as we do televisual noise, if played aloud near the paintings and View-Masters). This required a combination of sourcing and recording both appropriated and original material, then deeply mixing the clips into complex, articulated audio. Sound is absolutely pivotal to the project and I made ample use of my musical background, combined with theoretical concerns. My mentor was also very pleased with how radically the sound intensified and complicated the video experience.
  • Developing a clear iconographic system. I investigated ways of using direct referentiality to my advantage. Stuart Steck suggested, “why not embrace Hollywood more directly? Specificity is okay.” In response to this (plus advisor feedback and personal research), I folded more specificity into the mix, allowing some segments to remain ambiguous, others to embrace their Hollywood referentiality. I considered the ever-expansive mythology of the west as a cultural and political construct and I asked how these considerations were playing out in the work. The west behaves as a blank physical and cultural canvas, cut through by human intervention and I added and removed material to create a ‘scape in flux, no longer shying away from specificity. Characters allow a point of entry and disrupt the ambiguous space. Thus I settled in on iconography related to hero types, as well as an iconography of vehicles, colors, marks, shapes, mountains, industrial symbols (power lines, factories) and other rhythmic motifs.
  • Tony Apesos suggested I go either more minimal or intensely baroque—avoid the in-between—and I worked with this. I made the painting denser, more populated and more entangled while simultaneously emptying some of the newer digital stills (and certain aspects of the video work) to balance.
  • I also continued:
    • Allowing the work to collapse the essence of site into a single moment
    • To produce directional entanglements that create a philosophical space where the past erupts into the present.
    • To maintain a sense of time-relativity, ambiguous perspective, contingent and indistinct intervals.
    • To deny finite resolution. There is no single, grounded moment—the instability and contingency speaks to the unreliability of memory, geology, Hollywood fabrication and television.
    • To manipulate a sense of memory, recollection. To use layers to make it a challenge to separate memory from lived experience; a sense of obscuring/revealing occurs.
    • To deal with the space between objective and subjective ideas of landscape, operating in a middle-ground that provides tension; an engagement with interstitial space.
    • To reference our strange reality we’re, where TV informs our memory of real places and events. To manipulate the scripted, the cultural and the real.
    • To suggest that characters and landscape behave as ephemeral, ghostly, even spectral intrusions—spirits from our own mind (personal or cultural) that inform how we understand landscape, place and time.
    • To produce images that act as sites of activity and archaeology.
    • To investigate ways of representing how fantasy-Hollywood happened in real space.

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Video

I produced several video art pieces by synthesizing residency, advisor and mentor feedback on the original set of oscillating videos I presented in spring.  The video work made tremendous headway and brought a whole new vitality to The Cascade that has become indispensable to the final project. I made an effort to stay at a critical distance from the exactness of film, instead embracing the mosaic/montage flavor of television and deeper issues of television theory.

Major pieces:

  • So I Asked…
  • Elevator (Finding a Way out of Here, I Hope)
  • Encounter
  • Rental (Requesting Backup)

Rough Cuts:
Early, in-progress drafts which will not be shown at the residency.

  • Ambush
  • Untitled (Car Chase)

I also produced a number of side experiments leading up to the formal video pieces, to investigate formatting, aesthetic relationships and the language of digital elastic-space. They were useful in working out technical details and conceptual rhythm.

Another completed side video, Opening, was a useful foray into overlaying multiple opening credit sequences with painterly flavor, guided partly by feedback from the residency where some viewers suggested trying a literal method of building out the physical parts of a television program. My mentor and I ultimately decided the video was a useful exercise, but not a specifically relevant part of The Cascade, especially when ranked next to the other videos.

Video Display

At the start of the semester, the exhibition format of the videos was literally up in the air—they could have taken nearly any form, from wall projections to tablet playlists. My mentor suggested that I make critical decisions about the final installation format, in order to better work with, and serve, the videos as they are produced. Knowing how they will be engaged, and in what scale, affects viewer response and even production. I comment on this decision in several other parts of this summary, but in short, television will be shown on television.

Finished piece.

Finished piece.

Painting

I need several paintings to form a counterpoint to the digital work and I completed the first in the series last semester. This semester, I finished Roy and the Mojave Subsequence, another 38” x 50” work on Lenox 100 cotton paper, composed of layers of acrylic, watercolor and ink.  

The painting collapses time and a sequence of (potentially) interrelated events that play out in a dramatic urban-desert landscape. There is a sense of anxiety and unreliability as planar intrusions fracture to suggest various moments witnessed simultaneously. I consciously played with establishing shots used in television to indicate location, and I gave critical consideration to the migration of work between painting and digital. When I asked myself what happens in this transitional state, I found there are fascinating ways of expressing ‘digitality’ through the classic ‘screen’ of paint. Paint even made it possible to show a collision that seemed too artificial or noisy in a completely digital context.

During the residency, Tony Apesos pointed out that over time, landscapes became emptied of people. 16th century landscapes, on the other hand, were crowded with characters, events and intersections of activity. I had this in mind when further investigating landscape repopulation.

My students also gave candid responses to the work as it developed. Some suggested a sense of pervading violence—the car culture of Los Angeles and its hurtle toward physical ruin. Others suggested it captured a rather direct sense of our lived, real space—where industry and accident fuse with geology. All of them gathered a saturated sense of Hollywood. Thanks to the specificity of television, friends who grew up in the same region instantly recognized and cohered an understanding of televisual space-place and its connection to Hollywood memory.

I have also begun work on a third painting, which engages aerospace. I may proceed quickly enough to bring it to the residency, but it is currently in early stages.

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Digital Images

I produced a number of straight screen caps this semester—so many that I have not documented them all on The Cascade sandbox blog. The stills were worked into stop-action sequences, used as stand-alone works, or folded into the View-Master slides. I also produced several new sequences of digital images, abandoning the printmaking and drawing intrusions that populated earlier stills. Selected pieces can be seen in the “gallery” section of my blog.

I also produced a number of stills taken from the video pieces, which added a new dimension to the project.
Interactive

The interactive component underwent major changes this semester. Prior, I had an overwhelming list of possible formats—everything from websites and phone apps to interactive prints on paper (like QR codes). I did some conceptual housekeeping, sweeping away techniques that did not directly communicate my concept and its ties to televisual experience.

Instead, I am producing a series of 2D and 3D View-Master reels, which provide a semi-narrative of linked slides. My reasoning (mentor-approved!):

  • The View-Master format provides a relevant, interactive method of negotiating the digital stills. Using an app, website, Processing/Arduino or specifically electronic angle may have pushed the content and concept too far away from televisual language (though they are options for future work).
  • View-Masters have been a popular way of dimensionalizing television, media and even landscape/vacation photography (site as participatory culture) for a number of years, especially during the 60s, 70s and 80s (the related period of TV I’m working with). They may also suggest nostalgia, which is fine, but they are not completely rooted in it as they are still actively produced and consumed.
  • It provides a method of interaction that speaks to the original, semi-narrative forms of the reels themselves (and to my video works).
  • It breaks the digital stills away from a simple life on paper
  • It provides an opportunity to work with micro-narratives, of archival considerations, where reels contain sub-groupings of space, event or specific categories of visual information.

I will have three of the 2D reels and two View-Masters at the residency:

  • Foothill Incident
  • Mojave Superchase
  • First Responder

I am treating each reel as part of the installation, but also as a self-contained work. 

Major Decisions

I had several major decisions to make, in order to direct my final thesis work:

  • I narrowed down my list of television programs. Hundreds of programs were filmed in the area; an overwhelming list of sources. To make matters worse, every viewer suggested their own favorite shows, stretching the list farther. Early in my first mentor meeting, Kevin asked me why I had chosen Emergency! (an admittedly obscure reference). In answering his question, I also answered broader questions related to which programs I was using, why I used them, and which would be allowed to participate in The Cascade (see mentor report: https://renadamsmfa.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/first-mentor-meeting/ and https://renadamsmfa.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/major-decisions-the-narrow-way/.I laid out ground rules for the incorporation process:

1.) They had to be filmed in Los Angeles County during the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s (the heyday of LA County as the seat of American television).

2.) They had to be programs I had originally watched in their first (or partial first) run, or in syndication during those same decades (in-context viewing).

3.) They had to offer some kind of iconographic contribution to the project; the “paramedics” or the “detectives,” yellows or blues, etc…

4.) They had to be dramas (I excised sitcoms, cowboy serials and other programs early on, as the language is quite different–though I can see returning to investigate these genres in the future).

5.) They had to be programs I had actually enjoyed watching, or felt some obsessive compulsion to engage with. This is why, for example, Airwolf isn’t on the list. I frankly didn’t like it. This is important for the earnest angle, which leaves sarcastic critique at the door.

6.) It had to be a distilled, representative array, including highly recognizable works paired with obscure memory-traces (a la Douglas Gordon, Renee Green).

  • I finalized the interactive format: stereoscopy / View-Master, which folds nicely into the commodification of television and landscape, and also functions as a sufficient interactive, digital-bridging element.
    • I also have a backup, in the event response at the residency does not find the View-Masters compelling. Digital images can alternately be shown as looping, semi-static sequences on digital frames.
  • I finalized/narrowed video art format
    • The videos are sticking to a 1-6 minute time frame (most are 2:30, the average length of a television drama lead-in before the credits).
    • Videos are to be presented on television screens, with one screen per video. In the event of space limitation, the display can be limited to 1-3 televisions, cycling through the videos as if displaying timed programming.
      • The video display has been narrowed down from a wild list of on-site projections, digital photo frames, and room-filling environmental shifts to a single monitor or system of multiple monitors which play the videos with out-loud audio on the main display. During the last residency I found viewers were split 50/50 on reception of the videos on a large scale or more intimate size. The larger scale referenced the black box of cinema and filmic language. The smaller scale referenced television. While it would be interesting to construct an enter-able televisual space, with multiple projections in a darkened room, I found that referencing television via the televisual screen makes the most sense, especially the more I’ve dug in to the differences between television theory and cinematic theory. The black box of cinema expects the viewer to sit down and focus on the language of film, much like the novel, which restrains, constrains and uses its own cultivated language–characters and locations are fully rendered in a lengthier window of time than your average television episode, yet it has a much shorter expanse in which to develop virtual relationships than a 24-episode TV season. It’s more complex than this, but in a nutshell, cinema is over-arching, encompassing. Television is episodic, fleeting, but builds a dynamic mosaic for interpretation. We engage with TV on different days, in different moods–but film is meant to be consumed in one shot, one specific length.
      • Television is a “white box” medium which co-exists in our personal, social and lived-in spaces. We don’t turn the lights down (unless we’re watching a filmic experience on television) to engage with it. Instead, TV occupies a light, lively room. We may pass in front of the box, doing chores, talking, temporarily engaging the screen, getting wrapped up in bursts of sound, snippets of dialogue… it is a medium of oral tradition, of mosaic image-memory, of fragmentary, flowing storytelling. It occupies more hours with us in our physical geographies, in our relationship to friends and family in location-situated space.

Abandoned Paths
I received a number of formatting suggestions, which informed my final choices. However, there were a few approaches that were attempted and set aside:

  • Print on large paper to test the effect of scale on the viewer’s ability to enter ambiguous space.
    • The painting satisfies the classic screen, past-present-future collapse on paper and offers a similar sense of ambiguous space. The digital images were better received as moving images or as backlit digital components, when viewed in context with the painting. I am therefore relegating digital images on paper to future versions of the project, or side projects.
  • Print many small versions of the digital images and/or try a less modest installation.
    • Will definitely do this for a future version, or adaptation of the project, but the main project is best served by addressing paint, video and digital as manipulation. The three-part installation is growing immodest already. J
  • Try displaying video on cathode TVs.
    • Tried it. Relates too directly to antique, retro or ‘old school’ considerations, making the work more specifically nostalgic or sentimental, even potentially sarcastic, as we have mostly abandoned that technology. Instead, the video art will be shown on what we currently recognize as television in our context, making the work more about re-context in the now, rather than nostalgic, or tease-worthy, retro imaging.
  • Try videos or stills in digital photo frames.
    • This is still a compelling back-up option, as it allows multiple stills to cycle effectively, but I bumped it in favor of the View-Master, which allows a level of interaction by the viewer that the frames do not. If the View-Masters are poorly received in January, I will return to this option.
  • Panoramic horizons refer to cinema, rectangles to television.
    • This was more of an observation made during the last residency, and with deeper consideration on my part, I decided to relegate the widest horizons to a future project, instead choosing to stick with television reference for conceptual reasons.

Mentor

My mentor this semester was Kevin McCoy, of the new media duo, Jennifer & Kevin McCoy. Kevin was consistently helpful, providing clear, conceptual insight into the project and its realization—always able to see right to the core of the idea. He provided direction on which aspects were working and which were leading the wrong way, formally and intellectually, and his insight and familiarity with new media (and other artists I’ve been studying) was indispensable.

Kevin was pivotal in encouraging me to seriously refine and direct the video installation, pulling me out of the ‘stuck in with too many display options’ whirlpool. We worked through the details of the video pieces and the direction of the View-Master reels, philosophically, technically and conceptually. He was also a font of useful information, recommending artists, pieces and projects to consider in relation to my own work.

Since Kevin has worked with televisual material before, he was able to provide critical, experiential responses to each situation. In short, Kevin made the refinement of my multi-part thesis possible. We were able to have enriching conceptual discussions that tied nicely into the more physical aspects of the work. Kevin also took the time to keep up with my blog and to read most of my papers, which informed his response to the work.

I have detailed each of our meetings on the blog:

Meeting #1 – https://renadamsmfa.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/first-mentor-meeting/
Meeting #2 – https://renadamsmfa.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/major-decisions-the-narrow-way/
Meeting #3 – https://renadamsmfa.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/third-mentor-meeting/
Meeting #4 – will happen in December

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Direction of work in Semester 4

Final Videos

As part of my thesis refinement, I drew up a blueprint of additional videos I plan to produce, to round out the virtual programming—treating each as a self-contained work of art. These videos will work with my existing sense of place, dominant iconography and televisual tropes/situations. Some of the pieces included in the timeline (working titles only): Secret Air Base, Auto Accident, Car Chase, Desert Fire, Sniper, Military Action.

Final Paintings

Had originally intended 5 paintings in the series, expecting only or two to be exhibited in the Cambridge show. I will aim for at least two more in semester 4, rounding the total to 4. The third painting has already begin, related to aerospace.

View-Master Reels

I will be digging deeply into the production of 3D reels and additional 2D reels, working with digital images and screen caps. Target number of reels currently undecided.
Research

Topics included, but were not limited to:

The Celestial Jukebox

  • Remix, appropriation, sampling, recombination, mashups, plagiarism.
  • Remix culture and its relation to Information Age concerns.
  • Remix and database logic, open-source and collaborative remix in digital systems.
  • Relevant artists: DJ Spooky (Paul Miller), Eduardo Navas, Douglas Gordon, Jennifer & Kevin McCoy, Anthony Discenza, Claudia X. Valdes, Cory Arcangel.
  • Fan culture
  • Contemporary paradigm shift—read, write, read/write culture replacing old models of strict ownership and idea theft.

Television Theory

  • The nature of televisual language, television as medium, television as critical investigation.
  • Televisual impact on daily life, socialization of the medium, domesticity.
  • Television history (and subsequent conceptual changes).
  • White box medium. Fundamental differences between cinema and television.
  • Television as oral tradition, mosaic, montage.
  • 1970s and 1980s television – common tropes, heroism of middle class and underdogs, valorization of civil servants. Television formula, structure.
  • Nature of channel surfing, commercial breaks and program shifts as form of remix, rapid-fire editing, pause and re-context.
  • Televisual impact on memory, cultural history, social roles and understanding.
  • Television as vital component of 20th century thought and as transitional 21st century medium embodying Postmodern and Information Age collaborative flux.
  • America packaged, presented, distributed to the world (and itself) via television.
  • Understanding or constructing knowledge and mythology of place by televisual viewing.
  • Fan culture as expression of subjugated ‘other.’ Fan culture collaborative research.

Video Structure

  • Loops, patterns, anti-narrative, semi-narrative in video art
  • Semantic webs
  • Using stills within motion
  • The “third meaning” and its application to video art (Barthes)
  • Relevant artists: Zbigniew Rybczyński, Dziga Vertov, Anthony Discenza, Len Lye, Maya Deren, Tamás Waliczky, Cory Arcangel, Chris Marker.

Memory

  • Critical modes of memory. Process of memorization and recall.
  • Scientific and psychological understanding.
  • Memory as abstract attachment, method of processing.
  • Memory as incomplete, truncated, montaged, mosaic, relational form.
  • Memory through media, memory of television (and cinema) blended with memories of the ‘real,’ deeper considerations of whether memory of fictional media is real in itself—questions of the real, artificial, experienced and implied.
  • Mediated memory and cultural, personal, historical understanding.
  • Cultural memory, social memory, regional collaborative memory.
  • Televisual memory carried within television programming itself, television cannibalizing its own past. Re-runs, remakes, revisitations.
  • Déjà vu. Haunting, specters, information and media haunting. Re-enactment, re-enactors.

Landscape

I continued research into this broad category by digging into sub-categories like:

  • landscape and memory
  • landscape and cultural identity, political power, social leverage
  • landscape as identity, nationalist ideal
  • 16th century landscape paintings


New Media

I continued investigation into new media and interdisciplinary modes of thinking. Additional sub-categories included digital imaging and questions of remix and authenticity, new media installations, web objects, games and music videos.


Individual Programs

I also did specific research into individual television programs, including documentary material related to filming locations, personal accounts of media impact, etc.
Visual Research Archive

http://www.pinterest.com/renadamsart/research-board-residency-3/