After experimenting with projection, film, colours, shapes and more, as well as collaborating I felt like I was at a comfortable stage to start filming some more black & white 16mm film, but this time incorporate a protagonist and an other worldly experience. I got in touch with a few actors and agreed on dates and all with one of them, Maryanne. She is in fact more of a performance artist, rather than actor and she loved the concept I pitched to her in regards to a less scripted performance in front of the camera.
The concept of this short film was to situate the character in an obviously natural environment, yet make it seem like a very unnatural experience for them. I picked Richmond Park as it has woodlands and not too many people pass through at certain hours. I really was looking for a dense woodland, where I can really isolate the character on screen, but this location seemed the most convenient for the actress.
I was also was looking for confusion and distortion of perspective of reality as an aspect of how we as the viewer see the actor, but also somewhat confuse the audience as well. I sketched up some storyboards to help me in the shooting process but they will not work as indefinite directions.
The idea within the storyboard above was for the character to blissfully explore an environment they have appeared in and for the environment to suddenly start glitching out as if there was an error in the system. I had recently watched all of the Matrix movies and that might have impacted the thought process behind the storyboard, but either way the plan was an outline of thought rather than an indefinite script, or at least I treated it as such.
Although as seen above the idea was to work with 1 actress and film them in 2 different realities, the one of the 16mm world and the one of the green screen. Natural vs Abstract. As the project developed so did the rigidity of the concept. The b&w environment was not only focusing on its simplicity anymore, in fact its nature of 4:3 aspect, its materialism is what really carries the film and the concept of the character being trapped in their psychological alternate reality. The existence of the abstract reality as a totally separate film, yet it being a part of the same project builds a more thorough experience of these imagined worlds as a collective of realms.
The raw footage of the 16mm film itself, as seen below, has some beautiful shots. The sequence they are in however make some of them look silly, almost comical in some ways. However the textures and the way the light comes across in the materiality of the black and white film create a sense of unreality. Even with the slightest movements of the camera the light appears to create some sort of ephemeral, yet everlasting experiences.
Another aspect I would like to touch upon is the upside down shots. I filmed those by being very close to the ground and having my head upside down along with the camera. That was the only way I could properly see through the viewfinder. The scene of the upside down section was inspired by the work Finding Focus (2016) by Laura Hindmarsh.
Abstract World – Green Screen Planning
The shoot went well and I got all of the shots I had planned , which is very uncommon for my practice usually. However as I was working with this highly technical new medium, which I had not worked with before, planning and following that plan was high up in the priority list. There is one aspect of my green screen filming experience which broke the rules of green screen as a sort of experiment. I used RGB LED tube lights and programmed a setting for them via an app for them to flash at different instances with different colours, excluding any sort of greens ( which did not actually work out 100%). That created for some interesting effects later on, a mismatch in environment and lighting, contributing to the concept of alternate realities and unnatural phenomenon exposing their multiplicity, questioning the validity of physical reality. It is important to mark the fact that this also happens through the medium I have chosen to work with in this case, The nature of green screen, and how it is used to place characters in fictional places or real places without having to film on location.
A lot of the development of this world happened during editing. This is one of the initial drafts which mostly includes the technical side of editing, such as introducing the visuals for the green screen and having certain consecutive shots.
Certain edits here were about embracing the green screen more and leaving behind most of the rigid square spaces I had created as they almost mimicked the space of the green room . I reintroduced portals within the film as well as shifting the characters essence between the front and back of that layer of environment, making it a rather awkward and hazy experience for both the character and the viewer. I also reintroduced the silhouette concept which I previously explored in Blue Esc. As I have the projector installed on the floor, it is inevitable for people to walk in front of it. They are also invited to lay down for a longer observation on beanbags provided. Either of these happening would introduce the viewers shadow within the piece, pushing their intangible selves into the universe the protagonist exists in, immersing them in the experience.
By draft 4 I had started editing the film to the sound of Mateo’s composition, which is also included in the export above. Sound often helps me to shift my storytelling away from narrative and focus on the experience of the piece. I really do believe that introducing sound whilst editing took this piece further, despite the fact that it is looking like I might not actually end up being able to use the sound of Mateo’s piece. The chaos of his sound helped me find some harmony in the uncomfortable shots of the film. The detachment that the character experiences in some instances, versus the breaking of the fourth wall as they intensely stare at and question the environment that they begin to feel trapped in. As they shift between different realities, their experience and perspective shifts too. They sometimes seem trapped, other times intrigued, uncomfortable, mesmerized.
This edit also brought in the development which happened through loops, rather than it being planned. I introduced a couple loops of video simply as a way of fitting it in with the length of Mateo’s video and synchronizing his sound to my piece. It quickly became obvious that synchronisation was not necessarily the best choice. His sonic composition was very disruptive in nature at times and it would not make sense for my visuals to go along with it and try to compliment it. In fact it worked much better as a disruption to the psychological places and environments present in my film. The loops then became unnecessary length wise and became something totally different. They became a deception or a delusion. They also became uncertainty and deceit. I edited each loop to be different, in some way. The worlds start to flood each other and break the boundaries of their indefinite and absolute individual existence. The character stays entrapped within.
I started off by testing out different spaces. One thing I knew was that I wanted this projection to be large scale and for it to transform the wall into the world I am trying to communicate to the viewer rather than just projecting a rectangle onto a wall.
My initial thoughts were to have my work exhibited along with Matteo Monje’s piece as I was looking for his sonic composition to spill into my piece. I adjusted my film and edited some instances of accents in accordance with Matteo’s sound. As his piece was 16minutes long and mine was 5 minutes or so I thought I could just loop mine for the sake of the installation.
However this collaboration with Matteo in fact contributed and reinforced the concept of entrapment I am exploring through looping the piece with slight adjustments for each loop. These slight adjustments create unease as well as confusion and really play with that fine line of different perspectives of reality. We learn to understand that the character exists in three distinct worlds. The vibrant one, the calm rose tinted one, and the darker one. She seems to be travelling between them, unintentionally.
When the slightly off loops are introduced the environments start to overlap and intrude into other spaces. That in some ways adds to the discomfort and uncertainty of the reality within these abstract worlds as well as developing the never ending journey of the character and their inability to escape these multiple reality worlds.
Listening to the sound that Mateo has I got reminded about the sounds I recently experienced whilst getting an MRI. I took some notes rights after with the aim to remember the not so pleasant experience. The sounds were so loud, disturbing, attacking me. But there was also a sense of composition, a cooperation in between them. I closed my eyes as if to imagine I wasn’t in this confined space of a tube, telling myself it is just sounds, but it felt like my body was being invaded with some sort of external energy.
I did a little research on how and MRI works. An MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to generate images. My body felt like it was being surrounded by this intangible and invisible essence. Much like the essence I am exploring and aiming to uncover a fraction of through my work. It may also be called a force or motive force. It is what we might experience consciously, subconsciously, mentally and spiritually.
Moving on to the installation of the 16mm Black & White world. As previously mentioned there were some technical difficulties with the 16mm film and a minute of the film was lost. However there was enough footage to communicate the environment filmed as an other world that the female protagonist explores, realising she is trapped in it.
As per the ratio of the film which is 4:3 , I used CRT TVs to present the work in its most authentic form. The materiality of these TVs, their form and volume also contribute to communicating the concept of this piece. The work is in a way incomplete without the physicality of the CRT TVs and their essence.
As the protagonist takes on a psychological journey in this unreal environment and questions their reality the physical shift on the narrative between different screens becomes an extra layer of uncertainty. It questions perspectives and an ultimate reality, whether one exists or the journey between the three screens is simultaneously true and real.
Below are the 3 different edits for each CRT screen.
Thinking back to the interim exhibition and the making of Portal No.1, what I took from it was that the human sized aspect of it is not a necessity and I had focused too much of my attention on it. After taking inspiration from Heather Phillipson’s installation as well as Tony Oursler, who has come up in my research repeatedly during this masters, I wanted to incorporate the portals in a more intricate way. They would not exist as work by themselves, whilst the work is incomplete with their absence. They act as a hypothetical entry way to a multiverse and so having a multiplicity of them seemed appropriate. I originally thought of having 3 portals spread between the two spaces, the Stephen Lawrence Gallery & Project Space. Three seemed like the magic number, but after physically installing them in space, two portals worked better for the exhibition as a whole as well as for my work . As seen in the images on the left, I even considered having one portal as a direct projection of the graphics onto a wall, instead of onto a hanging portal sculpture. It seemed like a great way to activate the space where Ashley was exhibiting his work. Projecting it in the bottom corner of the wall as seen also created a beautiful reflection on the the floor which could have added some movement between the pieces. After considering hanging the portals in different spaces and not being sure about the meaning of where I am positioning them it was suggested to me that I use a projector already mounted onto the ceiling to do a test run of the projection onto a portal.
After shifting the portal sculpture around that area, it became obvious that this is one of the spaces that works in communication with the Abstract World piece and making the connection between the pieces. I went about a similar way with the second portal, by hanging it up, testing it out and considering the space that it is in and the works around it. The second portal was put in the Project space. It wasn’t until my 16mm B&W Film world was installed in that space, that the portal was activated by the connection made between the piece by hanging it directly above. The projection that pierced through the physical portal sculpture and presents itself on the wall is also angled in a more distorted way, laying itself across the corner of two separate walls and almost reflecting itself back at the installed CRT tv’s and hanging portal, making a complete circle of the separate pieces of the work existing as one whole.
The actual graphics projected onto the portal are a reflection of the graphics seen in the Abstract World as well them being slowed down. The fast pace in some instances did not work for the portals. Their hypothesised intangibility, if anything, almost suggests stillness and a break in the rules of time, almost time standing still.
time-lapse of some final touches of portals.
moving poster I made for the exhibition.