Saturday, October 20, 2007

Transient Appearances

"Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows..."

"It is terrifying to see, but it is the movement of shadows, only shadows. Curses and ghosts, the evil spirits that have cast entire cities into eternal sleep -- come to mind -- and you feel as though Merlin's vicious trick is being enacted before you..."
The above is from a review of the Lumiere program at the Nizhni-Novgorod Fair on July 4, 1896, and is signed "I. M. Pacatus" -- a pseudonym for Maxim Gorky.

Gorky feels haunted by "[a] train of shadows" whose "[s]trange imaginings invade your mind and your consciousness begins to wane and grow dim..." Basically, he is falling into a cinematic trance and if he were capable back then of tapping into his creative potential as a remixologist, he would have used that trance state to autohallucinate (envision) another world (within our world). But how could he? Could anyone watching films for the first time in 1896 proactively envision an alternative reality that borrows from cinematic reeltime while anticipating the oncoming of digital culture's "asynchronous realtime"?

In the essay "(De)realizing Cinematic Time," Mary Anne Doane writes:
For the term "real time" can only take on meaning when there is the possibility of an "unreal time," the time, for instance, of an edited temporal flow, which is capable of reducing days to minutes, years to an hour.
She goes on to suggest that "[g]iven the viewer's heightened knowledge of the manipulability of the visual image -- its status as a simulacrum with no origin or referent -- time rather than space becomes the residence of the real." It has "a much longer history, an examination of which can elucidate the embrace of the seemingly contradictory attributes of continuity and instantaneity by the concept of real time. It is a history which coincides with that of the intensification of capitalism and its investment in a commodification inseparable from the notion of innovation -- it is the pre-history of real time." What Gorky saw as "a vicious trick" is not the result of some sleight of hand but rather the (de)realization of an emergent form of creative potential manifesting itself as cinema, one bound by its inseparable attachment to the apparatus.

The contemporary remixologist, an artist-medium melding with the apparatus in asynchronous realtime, innovates / remixes / manipulates / commodifies, that is, they trade in images, the way jazz players intersubjectively jam with each other by trading licks.

The process of envisioning, part image capturing, part hyperimprovisation, part trading/jamming, and part articulating a heretofore unimagined rhetorical drift running parallel to ones ongoing pseudoautobiographical narrative, spurs the remixologist on so that they continually and instantaneously play to play using indeterminacy and fringe-flow sensation as the roots of a practiced methodology (this kind of autohallucinatory performance is the live A/V artist's version of "method acting").

The hyperimprovisational play improvised by the live A/V method actors drifts inside an embodied durée where punctual present smudges with just-in-time past. Just-in-time past is a space of time where you have both "been there, done that" and are on the verge of another compositional breakdown -- no longer able to distinguish between the two. You're acting so fast, so methodically, in effect becoming the body-image in rhythmanalysis, that you turn into a kind of postproduction medium.


(editing cracks the dice -- spills the beans -- splices the scene)

Which leads us to the question that all experimental remixologists are programmed to ask:

"Is it happening?"

The answer is YES.

This is happening. This is happening too. And this.
"No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time." -- James Baldwin
Yes, it is happening.

But "Is it happening?"

Yes, it is happening. It's totally unreal.

Maybe the difference between 1896 and 2007 is that back then, you got freaked out by the question.

Now we just tap into our creative potential to innovate new work(s) that further programs the environment we find ourselves performing in.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Remixological / Postcinematic / Performance / Machine

In METADATA, I write about wanting to turn my university seminars into mini club-like performances and my live A/V club performances into multi-media seminars that you don't necessarily have to prepare for but can experience as a direct line to the source material being manipulated in asynchronous realtime.

Although I am not evangelical about this, I do find that with the right group of students, colleagues, and/or alternative club-goers, you can actually make this kind of "workshop for the post-literature of potential" happen and at the same time stimulate the development an emerging digital poetics too (not everyone will want to write it out but most participants will at least want to talk about it and possibly integrate it into their online social networking scene).

In Bremen, we turned it into the "ZKM VJ Remix" where a field trip to ZKM became an excuse to travel, socialize, capture data, take notes, and learn how to use new equipment. Once we arrived back in Bremen, the entire crew put on a live A/V show in front of over 300 people in the old train station (we did all of this in less than 72 hours and most of the workshop participants had never performed this way before). Soon after the event had transpired and I was back in the USA, a more elaborate festival grew out of it and a very good VJ crew expanded into something beyond...

In San Fran, there was a more formal structure: a panel, a few simultaneous performances in a hip gallery, a great after-party.

In Karlskrona last month, it was a lecture, a workshop, and then ... well, I had to take off to catch a plane out of London (long day!). But the "remixological tendencies" caught on.

My colleague Talan Memmott reports the vibe kept flowing:
Most of the students got quite a bit from your talks and stimulated ideas for what ended up being called the Karlskrona Remixological Postcinematic Performance Machine.

Live remixing of about 150 videos, over 300 images, and some audio. A sort of new millenium city symphony (of sorts)... four separate applications played (like instruments), with a live conductor. Very happy with the hardwork of the students and the results of the project, which saw its debut yesterday at the League of Worlds conference.

A quick and dirty documentation video is available on YouTube.
As you watch the YouTube video, you'll notice that the performance takes place in what looks like a classroom and is part of the League of Worlds conference but in many ways is no different than the kind of performance you might find at club.transmediale or any number of less known but equally exciting electronic arts festivals like the Canariasmediafest I headlined a couple of years ago.

What I find most useful about this "workshop for the post-literature of potential" approach (this version of remixological events) is that it can become a kind of bonding experience for the participants who intersubjectively jam with each other while collaborating on everything that leads up to the all-out performance (the convergence of "process and reality" per se).

I'll be writing about it in my next book, the one that grows out of this remixologoical blogspace, and that will be taking up most of my time (along with my two feature-length "foreign films") in the many months ahead, although I will take a short break from these activities and lead one more seminar/club workshop in Brussels next Spring as part of the Cimatics Masterclass.

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