Assessment Task 3: Professional Practice

How can lacuna be visually explored and represented in the context of public human interaction? Gathering stimulation from the film, sound and comedic techniques of 20th century satirists, depict the empty space we see in the learned tension of societal communication.

Answer: Inspired by the works of Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati, we’ve decided to use a blank studio space and simplistic props to convey the cautious and stunted nature of strangers interacting. Through instructing our actors on what to do and how to act we explored aspects of artificiality driven with our uses of glitches and hand movements mimic the artificial scenes you see on TV. Minimalistic sound and colour, along with static camera angles and no dialogue force the viewer to engage in the awkwardness of the situation and be consumed by at times the uncomfortable humour. We developed our ideas by viewing human interaction and then choreographing one of our own, dramatizing the rigidity and anxiety seen in our actors’ body language. The box is symbolic of the unspoken gaps between strangers; neither party address, but both are aware it is there leaving the boundaries of human interactions and personal space ignored.

Our project has really developed from our original intentions. As you can see from the progression of our blog posts, our goal has always been to explore human interaction, but our tools for depicting this have changed drastically.

I think the first standout has been the utilisation of studio space. We originally wanted to invade the privacy of random persons in order to survey their use of public space, reflecting upon how the viewer would feel as they interrupted their private space, despite the communal setting?

Hence, the organic nature of our project made filming difficult, and it was hard to find a concise aesthetic. Furthermore, we felt like there was very little space to explore the photographic and conceptual ideals from other film artists.

So, we moved on to our next idea. Using architecture and ‘wasted space’, we wanted to portray the importance of lacuna in design, and the irony behind terms such as ‘waste’ when talking about design (and then how this is symbolic of human interaction). When building houses, buildings, temples, workplaces etc., it’s impractical and dysfunctional to utilise every space; there is clarity and order in the blank spaces. So too does this apply to the physical and relational gaps between strangers. Boundaries, although negative at times (which we also aimed to explore. E.g. mega mansions) create a sense of safety and control.

However, this idea became too literal. Filming churches and gaps in architecture was going to be too difficult to evolve into a study of human relations. BUT it did directly feed into our final idea, so was definitely not a waste! And our original imagery of this provoked our clean, clear aesthetic.

So, we took a step back decide to look into European satirists. After surveying their film techniques and comedy styling, we decided to strip our film to a choreographed interaction in a studio. Particularly, (as seen in blog post before) Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati. We were inspired by their use of silence and non-diegetic sound. The orchestral tones are really vital to setting the mood, so we didn’t include any diegetic noises from our actual filming, but manipulated the bass guitar give an unnatural feel to our work.

Our two strangers were told to interact in a certain way in each clip. Our choreography revolved around the box, which served as our lacuna. The lacuna we explored (as seen in our concept statement) was the societally enforced rules around human interaction (hence, localised to first-world western situation). Their movements are stunted, and often unresponsive to the others situation.

The glitches are representative of communication breakdowns, and the constant fear of not conforming in the right way to social norms. (See glitches below)

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We also loved the way the camera stayed stagnant in a lot of Tati’s work, so the viewer focused even more heavily on each movement and expression of the human subject. His jolted and cautious manor builds awkwardness, making us laugh nervously as we’re unsure as to what he’ll do next. We hope to evoke these same awkward giggles from our audience, as they feel the pain of rigidity in the intermingling of our strangers.

Finally, our work forced our actors to move their bodies in unusual ways, creating a sense of vulnerability between us and them. Even the scratching of ones neck is not usually a public act, and as we sat and filmed, the level of self-awareness increased with the silence. Our collaboration has not always been smooth sailing, and out development of ideas has been long and slow, but we’re really excited with our final results. Our final video is below:

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Final Week of Film Planning

We had a massive week this week in the lead up to our last class before the assessment is due. We’ve gotten lost with our direction at times (as I’m sure you’ll remember from our class discussion!) But Karina and Sunny put in a lot of work filming, and we’re really happy with the results, so are going to put in 110% of our efforts to turn the footage into a really raw film with a concise objective.

Below are the screen shots of original footage from this week:

Ella mentioned the comical side to our film, how the awkwardness/tension leads to humour, so we’ve looked into the film styles of French satirists Jaques Tati and René Goscinny. We’ve also been re-thinking our assessment question: it’s now less of a research into human movement/interaction, but rather a comical commentary of private people in public spaces.

The following screen shots are from the Kitchen Scene from Mon Oncle by Jaques Tati. It depicts him interacting with a modern kitchen, struggling to turns things on, dropping items, and so on. His inquisitions are always deliberate but innocent, and I think that’s what makes this scene so funny. The camera does not move, and I think that our film really bounces of this idea of minimalism to highlight a clear focal point.

The next images are from Charlie Chaplin’s work, The Lion’s Cage. Mr Chaplin is all about body movement and facial expression, putting himself into tense situations, and dramatizing his responses to a comedic level. This fragment of film is very fast paced, but slows down in moments of tension. The camera deliberately reveals to the audience what Charlie sees as he sees it (i.e. the fact that he’d run into a lions cage) giving us his immediately dramatized and comical response upon realisation. As a group, we can’t get enough of the body movements Charlie Chaplain employs, and how the direction and wideness of his eyes convey so much. Although the music is classical, it’s a really important study for us to understand the different methods that create tension and reprieve

Our new Research Question: How can lacuna be visually explored and represented in the context of public human interaction? Gathering stimulation from the film, sound and comedic techniques of 20th century satirists, depict the empty space we see in the learned tension of societal communication.
Answer: Inspired by the works of Charlie Chaplin and Jaques Tati, we’ve decided to use a blank studio space and simplistic props to convey the cautious and stunted nature of strangers interacting. Minimalistic sound and colour, along with static camera angles and no dialogue force the viewer to engage in the awkwardness of the situation. We developed our ideas by viewing human interaction and then choreographing one of our own, dramatizing the rigidity and anxiety seen in our actors’ body language. The box is symbolic of the unspoken gaps between strangers; neither party address, but both are aware it is there.

We also met up last night to re-format the order of our project, and what pieces of film we’re going to use. We feel a lot more confident about the flow of the film. Sarah and I also used instruments to form abstract sounds (influenced by Luigi’s work!) i.e. playing the bass out of tune/tuning it as we played, isolating different sounds on the drum, and getting a drummer to watch our piece and play along with it, forming stunted rhythms and sounds. We then are manipulating these sounds, we were really pleased with the way the drums (namely, high hats/symbols) sounded when slowed down and played backward.

Hence, our final steps involve editing the colour aesthetic on after affects, making the picture clearer and brighter. We also need to place the musical sounds where they belong. We have used cuts of footage interrupting other footage to stunt the flow of our piece, so are excited to aid that with percussive noises.

All in all, it’s been our most challenging week collaboratively, but I’ve been really impressed with our ability to move past the tough times and learn how to communicate more effectively. I’ve definitely learned a lot about the creative process with other designers, and I think this is a project we’re all going to have pride in due to the obstacles we’ve chosen to overcome.

Melancholia Sequence Exegesis

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.20.24 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.20.42 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.20.59 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.21.08 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.21.19 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.21.30 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.21.45 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.21.55 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.22.06 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.22.21 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.22.30 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.22.43 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.22.52 pmScreen Shot 2017-05-24 at 12.23.00 pmThere is a distinct blue hue to this final 30 seconds of the film. The tones grow colder and colder as the film progresses, and this final scene is the paramount expression of this. The characters sit outside under a symbolic shelter, holding hands as the planet strikes earth. The frames capture close-ups of our three characters, revealing their firm grips of one another’s hands, their looks of terror and acceptance, and the tightly shut eyes of the son/nephew, as he braces the impact with terror and bravery.

There is no dialogue, only non-diegetic music. It consists of a powerful/swelling orchestra, building tension and revealing the largeness and finality of the situation. The brass instruments overtake the strings forcefully in the final seconds of this scene (i.e. the movie itself.)

The characters are somewhat still, but the large mass from space grows slowly but surely larger (an on-going method in the movie. It’s an ever-present threat, one that the viewers and characters are unsure if it’s going to engulf them, or simply pass by).

The editing is simple, yet effective. As the white, bright light of destruction encompasses the screen (and flames overtake our characters), there is a moment where one can see their burned, helpless figures as they all face death.

This is the ending we all feared, but were unsure would actually happen. The threat of the foreign planet is an impending danger from the beginning, much like the melancholia that we see in the private life of Justine. It’s a force that poses a slow-burning destruction, giving the viewer a sense of uneasiness and despair. It’s a resolution that defies the normal, a resolution that is the worst possible case scenario. The utilization of tone and saturation also acts as a really conclusive visual aid. The blueness and dreariness of faces, foreground and background show the total envelopment of the colliding planet, which in my opinion, symbolizing the all-consuming nature of our main figures depressive state, and the destructive effect has on all in its path.

I think the director has used a hyper-realistic portrayal of a sci-fi idea as a more symbolic and large-scale representation of a dysthymic struggle. The other-worldly CGI planet is designed seamlessly into an earthly situation (although the time period is unclear, with almost period-era dress but contemporary technology). Hence, the grey line of then/now/later and realism/unrealism forms a really unique design aesthetic, bringing to light a physical illustration of mental struggles. I also found the music a really strong aid to the camera techniques. There are often really high-quality, slow-motion action shots, with still characters amidst a dystopic and destructive scene. The music is grand and reminiscent of a simpler time, one that we envy our grandparents for. A time where families would dress up for the opera or an orchestra, and be taken to world where sound and mood romantically interplay. Utilising this motif amongst a fractured family situation, and in particular, a character crippled with misery creates an eerie contrast of beauty and brokenness.

Research Video

This is a short research video we made from about 30% of what we filmed this week. Our main purpose was to capture personal elements of people from their public personas. Hence, our iPhones are shaky, unclear and zoomed. This invasion of privacy is meant force the viewer into a sense of uncomfortable voyeurism as they enter the space they so often avoid on the streets, on the bus, in the shops, and so on.

Task 2 Research/Planning

This post is an exploration of our artistic/filmography muses, as well as a practical update as to what we’re taking charge of individually and collectively.

First of all below are phone images of snippets of short art films. They’re wonky, grainy, blurry and messy. The background noise is often just the murmurs of a crowd or the hollow sound of an empty street. Our project is focusing on human interaction; the spaces between humanity, and the way in which we create tension/shy away from intermingling with persons we don’t know.

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The first images depict two people separate, moving closer, then further away. The scene then cuts to two persons really closely connected and intertwined. They travel slowly but fluidly. There is a beauty to their movement. The strong red hue blurs the lines between flesh and background, create an otherworldly feel.

I find the next piece of work really inspiring as a way of using light and colour to portray feeling, rather than the human body. Even though our whole piece is designed around ones physical forms, this is due to unspoken societal rules and the inner conversations of ones mind. Hence, the slow, blurred shape (possibly a car?) we see here brings an emotive awakening that transcends just the bodily form.

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Perspective. The adjustment between wide shots and close-ups; human form and architecture are other tools we’re aiming to use. Allowing one to zoom out into a wider context (and also starving the viewer of context at other times) can be super symbolic. For example, we’ve talked a lot about the deliberate utilsation of negative space when designing homes/buildings. It has a purpose. How then does this contrast to the negative space we see in human interaction every day? How can we explore these purposes? Are they alike at all? And if so, how can we use the camera to reflect these similarities?

In terms of roles, our entire group are taking responsibility to devote time to filming. We’re doing it in groups of two’s, three’s and four’s, using public and private space to convey our concept. Using the recontextualisation of private objects in public spaces, we’re aiming to film the physical responses of people, exploring why this is the case?

We’re also all exploring sound. Haesun has already created two sound loops, and I’ve played with the background noise from our last filming session (altering speed, pitch and tone). So we plan to collaborate once filming is finalized in order to choose what best suits our work. However, it will most likely be derived from the human noises revealed to us every day.

Luigi Russolo – Risveglio di una Città

Song: Risveglio di una Città (1/13)
Album: Die Kunst Der Geräusche (1913)
Artist: Luigi Russolo

This work is an extremely clunky, avant-garde piece. It starts off with cluttering drums and the whirring of a car engine. After a slight pause, one is then introduced to a different sounding engine; smaller, like that of a motorbike. Another pause, and the crackling of a record becomes the backdrop to the sound of a faster vehicle. You can hear the gears changing as it moves about. As the speed increases, so too does the pitch as it gradually get uncomfortably higher and higher. It then finally slows down again. One then hears a new sound, the rumbling of an old engine. Possibly made with the pulling of strings/wires, creating a flat yet playful noise. Each new sound is broken up with the record player that has reached the end of the disk, but the needle has not been lifted off: dull, scratchy and repetitive. It ends with a futuristic noise, again, reminiscent of a homemade string instrument. I can also imagine the artist restricting the strings on a violin and grinding a rough bow across the tight threads, creating the piercing, high-pitched that pierce the listener’s ears.

This particular piece was released in 1913, at the time of the industrial revolution. Russolo is thought to be the first noise artist, and was part of the Italian Futurist movement. Something that I’ve found interesting when investigating this artist, is his historical context (i.e. the introduction of scientific thinking) and yet, his interest/obsession with the occult. The rising of factories and machines clearly fed into the sounds and feel of Luigi’s work, and his ingenuity in his instrumental inventions could also be credited to this era as well. Russolo had a peculiar relationship with the supernatural and the logical, as did a surprising amount of scientists and occultists alike at the time, “generating terms such as ‘scientific occultism.’” (Chessa, 2012) Hence, in order to understand Russolo’s practice, I think it’s vital to look through his historical/cultural/spiritual lens. He clung to the idea that “the universe [was] an organism animated by mysterious and supernatural forces, [yet] new scientific discoveries… shows that idealism, positivism, and materialism gave too restricted a vision of natural phenomena and the cosmos.” (Chessa, 2012) Hence, the futurists set about investigating the spiritual realm with the aid of new technology, rather than dismissing one or the other. The invention of the X-Ray machine was a prime example of proving metaphysical territory with physical tools. Luigi said asked, “Who can still believe in the opacity of bodies, while our acuity and multiplied sensitivity makes us intuit the obscure manifestations of mediumistic phenomena? Why must one continue to create without taking account of our visual power that can give results analogous to those of X-rays?” His fellow futurists agreed that mankind had the capacity to engage in X-ray-like clairvoyance to view the otherwise unseen pieces of reality (for example, the luminous projections of a persons mind, and seen as their ‘aura’. (Chessa, 2012) Hence, I believe that Luigi’s thought life due to his contemporaries was the most vital context that fed into his practice.

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I think that Russolo’s inventiveness in his practice is the most astonishing mark he’s left on the art world. Not only did he create a new form of expression, but used physical instruments (that he had mostly constructed himself) to allude to physical and metaphysical ideals. He “organized noises into six basic categories, from “rumbles and roars” at one end to “shouts and screams” at the other.” (Rotondi, 2002) As shown in ‘Risveglio di una Città’, the artist brings to light how vitally relevant the sounds of the city (i.e. “throbbing of valves”, “the pounding of pistons” and “the clatter of streetcars”) are to the modern man. He wrote, “We must break out of this narrow circle of pure musical sounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise sounds. Today, noise triumphs and reigns supreme over the sensibilities of men… [it’s my goal to] add to the great central themes of the musical poem, the domain of the machine and the victorious kingdom of electricity.”

It is no secret that Luigi Russolo pioneered the systematic poetics of noise (and credited by some as the author of the synthesizer). So I’ve chosen the piece ‘Apostrophe’ by Pierre Schaeffer from his 1949-1950 symphony ‘Symphonie pour un homme seul’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2o9VyuJSD4), which is a musical piece utilizing both instruments and found noise to create an alarming, yet encapsulating piece. Not only does the artist admit to being influenced by Luigi’s practice, but also like Russolo’s work ‘Risveglio di una Città’, there is a consistent crackling of the record player in the background. Schaeffer uses the human voice, manipulating it to be nonsensical. He uses a higher amount of traditional instruments, but creates music unlike what was popular in the 1950’s. Eerie, sharp notes on the piano intermingle with a male voice and a tribal drumbeat, before a heavy disruption is caused with the rattling of bottles and crashing of found objects (and it sounds like traditional drums as well). Below is an image of his mixing desk:

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Hence, it’s evident that Luigi Russolo paved the way for sound poetry to be utilized as a post-modern expression of city life, and in the case of many futurists, the link between the scientific world and the spiritual realm.

REFERENCES:

Chessa, L. 2012. Luigi Russolo, Futurist: Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult, University of California Press.

Rotondi, J. 2002. ‘Luigi Russolo’, Emeryville, vol. 4, no.11, pp. 90.

Task 2 Ideas

My initial personal definition of Lacuna is:

The blank/hollow space or background that reveals the substance. E.g. a black background or pause in a song – without which you wouldn’t appreciate the real focus.

Hence, flowing from this and our experiments from last week, an initial thought would be focusing on blank space, and the importance of forgotten space in order for the eye to focus.

Due to the white on white, the shadow and light were able to form focal points, and therefore, and aesthetic. As seen in the picture above, simplicity = key, less = more.

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Hence, looking at architecture, I think it would be interesting to investigate the usefulness of forgotten, blank or empty space; what is their purpose? Why are we fixated on beautiful, forgotten buildings? When designing a home, why do we leave places with no functionality? How does it effect our psyche to have information overload?

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In design, negative space is the area that surrounds objects within a room. The area occupied by the objects is called the positive space. A negative space in a room is an area that isn’t taken up with design; no pictures, no furniture, no textures. When planning the placement of furniture, fixtures and décor elements, a designer must take the negative space into consideration.” (Adams, 2016) The author then continues to describe deliberate   blank design spaces as integral to ones senses, as they act as a ‘visual respite‘; which is clearly key to a sense of focus and peacefulness.

Therefore, through continued exploration of space and waste through differing techniques, we feel that that would be a strong starting point to our second task.

REFERENCE:

Adams, A. 2016, ‘Negative Spaces: How to make them work’, IDI, <http://www.idesigni.co.uk/blog/negative-space/&gt;