had a lot of fun with my talk ‘visualising performer–audience dynamics’ at ISPS 2017. with a title like that, some play with the ‘spoken paper’ format had to be had.
pleasingly, people were coming up to me to say how much they enjoyed it for the rest of the conference. huzzah!
i recorded it, and have stitched it together with the slides. the video is here, on the project page.
here’s a moment from the talk, as i recall it:
lisa – come to the sheffield doc fest, we’re curating live performances and there’s budget
chris – what! they’ve been turning down live work for years. it’s been maddening.
i mention this as it might mark the point where live cinema pieces (a wide definition per lisa, but including what i’d say and like to see) might start to be commissioned and appear in more mainstream contexts.
invited up to manchester to give a talk at test card.
Test Card is a community exploring the developments in new software, technologies and techniques in the area of audio visual performance.
it’s common to hear people talk about the beginnings of projects, but rare to witness a post-mortem. doubly so in the world of kickstarter: the pitches are now part of maker culture, but where’s the venue for a summing-up at the end?
i wanted to do that. with what could be called the modest success of the *spark d-fuser, i had something i could be proud about. moreover, and this probably gets to the heart of the issue, without the disincentives of stratospheric success shrouding the business in secrecy or abject failure making me want to crawl into a hole or quietly move on.
and where’s the venue? well, elephant and castle mini-maker faire seemed a good place to get a draft together and punt it out.
it’s still a work-in-progress, to be done when the last mixer is sold and accounts reconciled, but nonetheless it’s great to have the bones together.
james sheridan saw SPK-RectPack, and invited me to see the dome setup he develops the tech for: igloo, the company, could do with something like screenrunner running in the dome, and more generally james is a creative-coding guy keen to meet like-minds. well, i was impressed; it wasn’t long before screenrunner was running on the dome’s mac pro1, and not long after that james was organising a creative coding night in their mini demo dome.
as part of that he invited the london quartz composer group along, and invited me to show what quartz composer was doing in screenrunner. i was happy to talk about it2, i really like the mix of cocoa for the app, OpenGL + QCRenderer for the rendering engine and Quartz Composer.app to visually patch each client’s bespoke design and animation together. it’s not often i can show what lies underneath!
happily rendering 9600x1080 and handing this over to james’s openframeworks edge-blending dome warper via syphon. the ease and painless 60fps of this blew my mind. ↩
doubly so as tom butterworth would also be there, and in thanks for ^1 i could buy him a real — not over the internet — syphon pint in thanks and respect. https://twitter.com/tobyspark/status/433157752073224192 ↩
b-seite charge one: provoke vjs into thinking about the future of their practice, via showing the toys and talk about how i made it as a post-vj. this was a tidied up version of the talk i improvised at LPM last year, except that then the mixer was a final prototype, and here I was at a festival with two d-fusers as part of their tech setup. mixer’s i’d sold but had never seen, the boxes opened up by hands other than mine, in a country far away.
the live cinema foundation finally hits the ground with ‘av assebmly’. an idea much talked about over the years between various london folk, chris found the kind of venue that could incubate work, and made a booking on spec. jump-cut a month later, and i’m presenting ‘about the live in live cinema’ to an on-topic audience as you can get.
to oxford for the ‘Inaugural RCUK Digital Econmy Theme CDT Student Research Symposium’, ie. gather the guinea-pigs and see what they’re up to. happy to regain the overview of my research though, and working on a presentation is so much more enjoyable a process than writing for me.
given my research is on liveness and lecturing comes into it, there had to be a punchline or some way for the act of presentation to be reflexive of its subject. so the slides ended up looking like tweets, and they sent themselves out hashtagged up as parcels of backchannel fodder. unfortunately i didn’t realise the script i found wasn’t clever enough to parse multiple tweets per slide until afterwards, so all the links and asides that went with each slide didn’t get out, which was kinda the magic i wanted to happen - as if i was talking on two levels with two modalities at once. brushing off my applescript, that is now fixed and available for all.
in which i set out my stall, hawking the wares and ideas that have helped make my ‘post-vj’ life. half an hour, somewhat off the cuff, and probably ill-advised in parts. the bulk of the talk covers some of the backroom work and event life of the dvi mixer hardware and screenrunner software projects, but contextualised by how i. vjs should work towards exploiting the liveness possible in their practice, ii. which should lead to a more rewarding, less clichéd life, iii. and one more profitable and sustainable.
a day in a coffee shop making a major revision to the about the live in live cinema talk, and then back to USC to give it as a IMAP seminar. the host was holly willis – former editor of the amazing res magazine amongst other things – and somebody who not only is published on digital cinema and live cinema, but whose definition of live cinema is often embraced: “real-time mixing of images and sound for an audience, where the sounds and images no longer exist in a fixed and finished form but evolve as they occur, and the artist’s role becomes performative…” Holly Willis (Afterimage July/Aug 2009, Vol 37, No 1, p. 11). my talk is not about definitions however, its about exploiting the liveness, and what that could mean.
also found the adage that everything can change in two blocks is indeed true, routing from the recommended coffee shop that turned out to be closed to one that was open put me through some streets i’d prefer not to walk down, let alone with a bag packed with my digital life. the no-healthcare-mashed-up-bodies of the homeless seemingly kettled / corralled to then be routed around: it isn’t a phenomenon unique to america, but its the one that alienates me the most.
and onto me
In the 1970’s cinema was expanded; in the 1990’s it met ‘new media’ as soft cinema. In 2010 the technological landscape is ripe to combine these, siting cinema in a live performance context. As such a body of work is built, called ‘live cinema’ by its practitioners and curators, it is worth taking a step back and asking just what the value of the live in live cinema could be?
To examine this closely, we first need to address what live cinema could be, and what current practice is.
To address what live cinema could be, we will extrapolate from the aforemen- tioned expanded cinema as characterised by Gene Youngblood, and soft cinema as characterised by Lev Manovich. We will consider a ‘cinema of the imagination’ as practised by oral storytellers, and hear of directors such as Peter Greenaway and Mike Figgis who have experimented with live perfor- mance as well as enjoying Hollywood success.
The current practice of live cinema will be presented through an experimental documentary offering a novel approach to representing this overtly ‘broken out of a pre-determined, linear, framed practice’ in pre-determined, linear and framed video.
In summarising the characteristics that could make cinema live, we will con- clude that an analysis purely of production and medium does not provide suf- ficient differentiation from previous forms of cinema to justify any claim of live cinema to offering what could not be offered before. We shall instead turn to studies of other kinds of live performance and focus on the human interaction and ideas of audience. By identifying some unique qualities of storytelling, we shall arrive at a conclusion of what could truly make live cinema an art form with unique, compelling qualities: where core to the experience is that as well as a story is told, the story world is explored as a group experience.
full presentation: http://vimeo.com/17485334
photo by blanca: http://www.flickr.com/photos/whiteemotion/5189942616
having spent most of my time since arriving in berlin behind a laptop screen, it was time to unveil effort #1: a dvi mixer project presentation, keynote document with i’s dotted and t’s crossed. more importantly, for the swedes won’t buy a pig in a sack, the presentation was followed by a demo of - and hands on with - the new *spark d-fuser prototype.
thanks to prack for the photo, although i do look like a muppet…