journey through contemplating a mountain
EXPERIMENTATION 1: VISUALS AND PROJECTORS
manipulation as challenge: i have been doing lots of reading about the manipulation of the image – manipulation being gendered female, manipulation being material, bodily and subjective against un-manipulated, immaterial, objective and apparently masculine image making processes. aren’t all processes a manipulation anyway? isn’t the act of framing a manipulation? i am in the throws of doing some image manipulation myself – manipulating the image using multiple frames as a way to challenge the single, fixed (and male) perspective (Rosenblaum’s ‘A History of Women Photographers’ (2010)). this runs parallel to what i have been researching in terms of landscape’s rectilinear pictorial frame – seeking to manipulate and blur its defined edges and its format as a challenge to what is established, ordered, commanded within the boundary of the framed landscape.
developing stereo landscape – visually/haptically: as outlined in my exhibition proposal, i intend to develop my stereo landscape as a multiple (dual) projection installation rather than a split screen. i feel the need to translate my stereo work into projection because of the way it lends itself to a physical image, a physical landscape and a physical experience for the audience. image as projected light and sound interacts viscerally with the body and holds so much potential for haptic qualities and all that Laura Marks describes in Touch and The Skin of Film (2000). so i spent today looking at the some landscape footage through 2 projectors in various formats – separate or overlapping in different ways. another reason why i feel it is important to develop it as separate projections is because as a split screen it is still contained within the rectilinear pictorial frame but as projections it can move beyond its rectilinear format and distort according to the angle of the projectors.
developing stereo landscape – audibly: i also want to experiment with a narrative soundscape and see where that takes me. again this in conjunction with what i have been researching in terms of non-linear narratives – another form of manipulation. i want to experiment with narrative through the disembodied voice – a voice usually considered a knowing position of fact – rational, objective, powerful (male). i think it might be really interesting to see what becomes of the disembodied voice with the lens as an embodied practice or the disembodied voice (objective) as a steam of consciousness (subjective).
experimenting with multiple frames: first things first, some experiments with landscape as a multiple projection. i returned to the footage of the mountain. with nan shephard’s thoughts of tops of mountains and gender in mind, i think it might lend itself to some kind of narrative – contemplating a top from a bottom or whatever comes from it.
some reflection on experimentation: i almost forgot how temperamental projectors can be but eventually figured out that one of the projectors SD readers was not working. i have some small projectors that do not have the greatest colour correction options but are easy to install on the floor as they are small and fit nicely on small tripods which i had from another installation i did a few years ago. i did lots of experiments in terms of overlapping the images and as i worked quickly, i did not always adjust the focus – hence some blurred video shots. i think there is so much potential to work like this in the exhibition space and adjust the image size and the amount they overlap according to the space. i also think that the lack of keying might work to my advantage as a significant sense of 2d ‘sheet’ that the image is on and its reference to perspective and its distortion in challenging the single, fixed perspective and male gaze. anyway, i did many variations today and am probably most interested in the ones where they are overlapping yet side by side and also at equal scale – maybe because they compete and one is not dominant over the other. i also think that if i experiment on a darker day the visuals will improve in a darker setting. in terms of sound, i think if i work on a soundscape this could be either part of the SD card or could be on separate speakers installed on the floor. this separate sound system might offer possibilities to echo the sound and throw narratives off kilter or out of sync. might complicate the installation set up though. all in all, i was excited by today’s set up – the movement of the images, the sound of the projectors’ hum and the shaping up of a physical exhibition and a physical experience for audience … to be continued.
setup – floor mounted projectors on tripods
EXPERIMENTATION 2: VOICE & NARRATIVE
voice: i have been thinking about experimenting with some soundscapes and vocal narratives in my video pieces, something integrated into and layering on the visuals. i want to see how the voice responds to the framing of the landscape in some way – either as sound or narrative. for the moment this is occurring in post-production which i will also have to tease out the whys and why nots. at production maybe responds to the embodied lens and its framing and perhaps at post-production responds to a manipulation – voice of authority or a play on the experience of that landscape in some way. while doing a bit of research reading on the gendered frame and gaze, i came across some text related to gender and the voice …
Solnit (2001) as eve said to the serpent: the voice and the disembodied voice has the potential to disrupt gendered binary relationships that exist in terms of subject/object, observer/observed, creator/created, immateriality of mind/ physical body and matter. disembodied voice is associated with authoritative objectivity while the embodied voice is associated with subjectivity. Solnit discusses how by grounding voice, this deconstructs the authoritative voice and their gendered histories. Solnit argues, that feminism has undone the hierarchy which gives greater value to those associated with male (objectivity, mind) than those associated with female (subjectivity, matter, body).
so… disembodied voice: authority, objectivity, creator, observer
…….embodied voice: subjectivity, material, body, matter
voice and sound as signifier of power: another interesting paper i came across was an article about the voice being a carrier of gendered hierarchies and how these gendered hierarchies may be projected and heard in sound environments (see ‘gender and qualitative methods by Helmi Järviluoma, Pirkko Moisala, Anni Vilkko 2004). we not only “learn gender through the total sensorium,” as they put it, gender is also represented, contested and reinforced through the aural. they discuss how soundscapes can help conceptualise spaces as male or female and they discuss the ways in which power plays out through sound as agency or passiveness etc – in other words:
voice/sound: signifier of power (passive/active)
voice/sound: conceptualises space as male of female
voice & gender construction: almost all human voices indicate gender, supported by some reading i did in various papers on ‘vocal gender and the gendered soundscape: at the intersection of gender studies and sound studies: gender and the human voice’ . a little like the nurture/nature divide i suppose, where gender in voice is determined by physical biology and also by performative and cultural practice. the disembodied female voice can be seen as a disruption of the female/matter/body hierarchy. but can a voice really be disembodied just because it is not seen? can voice exist without body if it must also be heard through the body. and where does all this stand in relation to the landscape and its framing?
some further experimentation…… anyway, putting all this theory to the back of my mind, i returned to the footage of the mountain that i have been using to layer projections and i started experimenting with sound first and then narrative. i recorded the video projection to see how sound, voice and narrative might work against this installation and see what this video or recording of the installation might suggest.
experiment 1: frame facts as narrative: double voice exposure: i wasn’t sure where to start in terms of text or narrative so i thought i’d begin with some facts about framing the landscape – an objective description of the landscape shots. i doubled the sound by layering 2 on top of each other slightly out of sync, which adds a dreamy stereo chorus to the soundscape.
experiment 2: frame facts as narrative: double voice exposure using different facts: as a follow on i thought i would see what it sounds like with different facts about its aspect ratio, pixels etc – 16:9 versus 4:3 and 1080/1920 versus 1280/720. sound not quite as stereo as a layered double. there is also a difference in tone – higher and lower which could tap into notions of gender if explored further.
experiment 3: subjective thoughts as narrative, double soundscape: i watched the video and just recorded some thoughts as i watched the video, just a quick and short response without too much thinking – the physical sensation of the body in this place, contemplating a mountain or a landscape – again leading me back to nan shephard at the need to mountain tops or a middle position.
reflection: there are so many other areas i want to continue to explore in terms of voice and narrative – changing the tone of the vocal sounds – high/low: male/female: tone/depth. i would also like to work with vocal sounds without word meanings and see what happens. i like the random and subjective narrative which might work well interspersed with facts about the framing of this landscape. i am also thinking of it competing with another narrative – maybe a narrative based on facts or fictions about this landscape (must research). i think i like the random narrative because of its unpredictability. it might be worth recording the soundscape narrative in situ but there is also something interesting about this disembodied voice with the embodied lens. i also think the narrative needs to balance with the visuals and there needs to be space and time to watch – i’m thinking a narrative might need to feel pared back for this to happen. i also think that the close double echo works best when the voices are close but not close enough …. starting to take shape though. i think the narrative is suggesting scaling the projection image size up for some reason. maybe to fill the space as close to life scale as possible?
EXPERIMENTATION 3: FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS OF AUDIOVISUALS
experiments in projection installation: so now that the physical exhibition is a digital exhibition i have been grappling with how to continue my physical projections and capture this physicality for the exhibition online. i spent last night in the studio experimenting with different way to project the landscapes again – testing exactly how they could be layered on top of each other yet still read as left right frames and overlapped sufficiently in the middle. when i was happy i filmed the projections from different angles and i also filmed myself as viewer/shadow in the frame to show the scale and viewer in context. i would ideally like to scale these up for a physical setting but for digital exhibition purposes this scale works at 16:9 ratio and this throw distance. ideally i would like to find a way to physically exhibit this work when the restrictions are lifted and things return to … whatever they return to? so when setting up the projectors i kept in mind that they would need to be practically installed either as 2 projectors on tripods on the floor or wall/ceiling shelf mounted. i thought it was important to keep this setup semi-achievable as a physical installation. i also recorded the projections close up as for this digital exhibition they will be viewed on a screen of some kind but all the same the work is a video installation.
experiments in soundscape: following on from earlier experiments looking at different ways to create a stereo soundscape, i redeveloped my stream of thought narrative – as a time-delayed/out of sync stereo soundscape with some varying words at times to again to interrupt and play different ideas together – mainly as subjective experience against some facts and objective information. the title has changed to contemplating a mountain – as the gaze in the visuals seems to suggest and also as a nod to nan shepard as her views gender attitudes to tops of mountains. i also reread passages of susan griffin’s woman and nature again making note of her ability to follow and switch in her thoughts. i think the act of contemplating a mountain seems relevant at the moment – confined and unable to go to the mountains to walk, gather, record, make. the content switches between my physical being there and my aspiration to be there – a real and ideal, a subjective and objective. for the digital exhibition i spent a lot of time cleaning up the sound and also included the sound of the projectors as it gives a sense of the work in situ. i plan on editing this so that it ready for a physical submission when the times comes.
notes on glenasmole: i have been researching this particular landscape of glenasmole. glenasmole is on the out skirts of Dublin – a rural world running beside the urban. the areas has a deep history going back to the mythologies of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and has one of the oldest graveyards in Ireland. The name means glenn of the thrushes – gleann na smol . Glenasmole is mentioned in many of mythical stories about Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna. it is said Fionn enjoyed hunting here with his dogs for red deer and elk. The mountain in the glenasmole valley is called Seefin – seat of Finn, where Fionn and the Fianna feasted there after their hunts. Records show that glenasmole was an Irish speaking area into the 20th century. interestingly – glenasmole was formed during the ice age by a glacier and consists of two valleys – a higher one and a lower one.
glenasmole in legend. i came across a mention of glenasmole in a written account of Oisin and Tir na nÓg (Celtic Encyclopedia) – glenasmole seems to be where Oisin fell off his horse and died when he returned from Tir na nÓg – falling and withering when he set foot on the land.
summary of the legend
PROGRESSION: MOVING TOWARDS DIGITAL EXHIBITION
setting up for a digital exhibition – gifs and other things: i have been trying to work out the best way of getting a sense of the work, as a physical installation with sound, colour, light and shadow etc. scale is also important to the work but this would have been worked out in the physical gallery space related to the projectors’ capabilities, so i have freer range as a digital exhibition. i could place an object (chair?) beside the projections. i tried this but the camera did not pick up the chair against the dark background and i didn’t want to throw on spot lights as i want to keep the dark contrast as uniform across all the pieces which works well with the colour on the videos. instead i am simply going to scale the works to each other – roughly. that means this one will have some space around the projections but feel large against some of the smaller installation works. i think how i record the installation can also offer lots of possibilities that will suit the work. as the audience can approach the installation from different sides and head on in a physical space, i have been recording the work from these angles and editing them together – feels kind of like chapters to the narrative. i hope to make short (and silent) 5/6 second gifs the link to the longer videos, which will hopefully play full screen with full sound. i think my audience will probably nly view the work briefly as a digital exhibition so thats another reason for making these moving gifs. a bit of a learning curve re making gifs – here is my initial attempt and i will try different qualities to see which works best. i also tried it as a square format but this might be an odd lead to a rectilinear full screen.
gif for digital exhibition
reflection on gifs: they stack up very well together in a grid and i think this will be a good initial page to lead to further viewing of the longer video installation work. i found working and exporting gifs in photoshop (after initial video in premier pro) produces a much better gif without the little white dots. i think these gifs might be good for social media too.
Healy, Patrick. “The Valley of Glenasmole.” Dublin Historical Record, vol. 16, no. 4, 1961, pp. 109–130. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/30102712. Accessed 22 Apr. 2020)
Järviluoma, H. Moisala, P. Vilkko, A. (2004) Gender and Qualitative Methods [online blog] At: https://soundstudiesblog.com/2015/02/02/vocal-gender-and-the-gendered-soundscape-at-the-intersection-of-gender-studies-and-sound-studies/ (Accessed on 15.01.20).
Rosenblum, N. (2010) A History of Women Photographers, 3rd Edition. New York: Abbeville Press.
Solnit, R. (2001) As Eve Said to the Serpent, On Landscape, Gender, and Art. Georgia: University of Georgia Press.
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