Imaginary video art

Posted in thought, wrought by juliobesq on July 4, 2009

Vapour trails  desire-path

There exists on the internet sites that document work that will never be made, but not because of financial hurdles or practical difficulties: the intention is to never make it.

Intention is often quoted as the rationale behind modern art, an approach stretched to the limit in conceptual art; wherein the art lies in it’s own mobius like documentation of the concept itself without recourse to production. The movement born as a reaction against the commodification of high priced art works. Not all web sites reach for these lofty ideals, avoids having to mourn missed opportunities by describing in words what the camera has missed.

It could be that some imagery remains sharper when played out only in the mind. That in the act of envisioning it, it is created, bringing it to life in some incantation of a magic realism ritual. A criticism leveled at the film or television adaptations of novels is that the directors imagine certain aspects inaccurately, breaking our personal cinema.

Consider these a script or instructions for watching/producing an art video. It is a collaboration between us.

#1 Desire path

An ariel camera points straight down on a patch of grass, roughly the area you and a lover would utilise in having a picnic. The grass is a deep verdant green with wide blades, it’s grown to a length where light footfall will cause some strands to topple, the thickness of the leaf causing it to bruise and bend instead of snap, unable to sustain it’s own height. Definition and contrast is good, showing clearly the swirled patina caused by unchecked growth, you know that the blades will be slightly sticky should you puck one to make a whistle between your thumbs, and a faint moistness will linger near the soil from the dew, it’s lushness never fully allowing the sun to penetrate and dry out the ground.

A man steps into view bottom of screen and moves in a slight concave path towards the top. Perhaps he is wearing some form of canvas hat so that no personal features can be discerned. He is, as seen from above, essentially a head and shoulders with brown lace-up boots jutting back and forth as he walks. Behind him he leaves a slight trail causes by the disturbance in the weave of the damp grass.

A short period of time passes. He re-emerges at the same point and begins an arc upwards again, traveling at his chosen pace. The same interludes lasts until he appears again. You begin to anticipate his arrival and your eyes wait at the beginning of his previous paths. You notice what seems to be a thin cord tied to perhaps his belt loop. A modern nylon cord, thin and strong, it’s pulled quite taut, the far end vertically midpoint off screen.

Realisation dawns that it has been anchored into the soil or to a post, and by walking with the twine kept free of slack the man is able to traverse the ground in a consistent circle. He continues his episodic traversing across the screen, swathing a more and more defined path behind him. Perhaps the interaction between the rope and his movement is stronger, instead of assisting in traveling through a perfect arc it is forcing him into making this repetitious circular journey.

The grass in his wake is flattened now. He continues making revolutions at a set pace. You can sense how the smell of the scene will have changed as his regular steps have crushed the fallen grass, releasing a chloroform odour. With the change in fragrance the emerald green turns darker, starting to mush. In the cinematography of our mind the man’s cyclic trek can watched as both endless, boring his way into the dirt itself, the lighting perfect, our virtual sun not changing angle in the sky, keeping the shadows in an eternal day as he continues his pilgrimage; and overlaid with a series of cross fade fast forwards of the green turning almost dark blue before it starts breaking into streaks of brown.

The gradual process of cutting a canyon through eons is re-enacted by our mental visual trickery, we ourselves escaping what in real time could only seem as a sentence handed down, a duty, or punishment, wearing the vegetation into mire. Till a perfect circular ribbon of mud is coursed through the grass. Maybe the decent into sludge is colouring our perception and we are not watching a regression but a quest, an odyssey, to return the turf to a primal form.

#2 Vapour Trail

The sky overhead is a perfect blue. If prompted to name the colour you would compare it the shade of a 1950’s dress, strong but not to a Mediterranean depth of hue. It is cloudless, unblemished. No foliage interrupts your vision. It is not a screen but the vista, it encompasses all, your entire view.

A plane comes into sight, transcribing an up-tilted path across the sky. It’s momentum slow, graceful, fluid. The movement seemingly in harmony with the blue backdrop. You watch it drawing an airbrush line of cotton-wool white. Till the perfectly straight man-made line has bisected the sky.

The angled vapour trail, as if a celestial brush tip has bleached the colour from the sky hovers above you. No breeze discernible. There is no movement, all has become a still life before you. As you become conscious of time passing, that you have been watching without focus or purpose, the far end of the trail begins to softly fade, ever so gently. With a patience bordering on the devotional the white evenly blends out to the blue.

Till only the untouched sky is left again. Maybe a popular song can be heard in the background.

Desire path | Vapour trail

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