Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Abstract Video from Still Images

Music is the most abstract of the arts, in that it makes no attempt at representation. Abstract painting, on the other hand, can often be seen to be representational. What it means to be abstract has been endlessly discussed, so I don't intend to rehearse that discussion here.

Rather, I want to look at my own attempts to be abstract in the medium of video. Many of the techniques that I use have a close relationship with abstract painting. It makes me wonder why more abstract painters don't venture into this medium more often.

Many abstract artists have been influenced by music and see a close relationship between music and painting. There is a close relationship between music and video, in that being time based media they both use sequential composition in their construction. The difference between abstract video and abstract painting is the just this additional dimension of time.

Obviously you could make a video that was just an image of a painting, perhaps with a bit of pan and zoom to show details, rather like an observer would do for themselves in a gallery. Nothing wrong with that, but it isn't using the video medium to its best advantage, which is to make abstraction in the time dimension as well as the space dimension.

All the examples used here are built from still images (photographs or computer generated graphics) that could be thought of as the video equivalent of Still Life. All have been made on a MacBook using FCPX, although any video editor would be able to do the same thing..

This first example of abstraction in video uses a collage technique. The images collaged together are mainly photographs, although some of them are photographs of paintings. The sequence of image changes has been synchronised to the soundtrack. There are not as many different images as one might expect. There are around thirty different images and at any point in time there will be three of them on the screen. One of the three is used as a mask. The other two are printed through the mask. The changes (on each beat) are either to the foreground image, the background image or to the mask. There are altogether around one thousand distinct images.

This second example is even more elementary. It is simply a slide show with a spoken track. The voice on the track has been edited to have precise time changes and the slideshow has been synchronised to those changes. Synchronised slideshows have endless possibilities.

Finally, this third example combines the techniques of collage, masking and synchronisation. This time all the images used are photographs of the same painting. This is a technique that can be used of many paintings and does, I think, show an artist's work in a different light. Used as an adjunct to an actual image of the original painting, this can be a great way of showing an image in a gallery.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Comparison of embedded code

This page is being used temporarily to compare the merits of different embed codes.

I have followed the instructions from each of the platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook) on how to embed video in this page, in order to see which ones render best on various phones.

I have copied the embed code exactly as suggested by the corresponding platform, rather than tidying it up.

This is Twitter

This is Instagram

This is Vimeo

Sunset - Imaginary Landscape from Peter Henderson @ Systems Art on Vimeo.

This is YouTube

This is Facebook

These embeds render differently on each browser and each phone/tablet that I have tried. some render more slowly than others, some play in place and some don't, some go on to offer alternative viewing which may not be what is required.

I assume most of the viewers of my stuff are using a phone and some of them are on 3G, so speed of starting is probably the most important criterion at the moment.

I was motivated to carry out this test because I noticed that some links in legacy posts on this blog (from 2015) were broken. This was because they used embed code that was no longer valid. I am assuming that if I stick to major platforms this problem will not arise in future.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Sculpture and Video and Fake Third Dimension

Video shares three dimensions with sculpture. In sculpture we perceive three dimensions as we walk around a piece. In video we perceive three dimensions as the camera moves around its subject.

This rather obvious thought occurred to me recently as I walked around the Giacometti exhibition at Tate Modern. Many of the pieces were exhibited in a way that made it impossible to see all sides. If I had been making a video I would naturally have taken views from all sides.

Sculptures deserve to be seen from all sides.

I have previously seen Giacometti figures where they have been installed in the centre of the room so that the visitor could walk around them. Important. To see a sculpture as the artist intended you need to be able to be able to be close up, you need to be able to be far away, and you need to be able to see all sides.

There is a reason the artist made them three dimensional.
So it is with video. When the camera moves (as opposed to the subject) we get the additional dimension that a stationary subject excludes.

You can fail-to-experience this third dimension when video makers use the Ken Burns technique to create a movement from a still image. This technique, supported by many video editors, creates a pan-zoom from a still image. This movement does not exhibit the three dimensional illusion that I am discussing. You need parts to move against parts to see that.

I think this is why I feel the need to walk around sculptures, as well as moving in and out. It makes the three dimensions obvious, or in the case of video, it creates a the third dimension illusion. It fakes it.