Composite Tests: 2011-Present
What can be studied is always a relationship or an infinite regress of relationships. Never a 'thing'.
—Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1978)
How to perform for the composite? Each scenario asked actors to project into the liminal space of video compositing. Different modes of compositing: Difference, Hard Light, Vivid Light and Exclusion--all attempt to describe a mode of combining pixel values that is predictable mathematically, but chaotic visually. In a series of duets, actors attempted to create a composited set of gestures that might blend well in post. Method acting for postproduction.
Composite Test IV (2014)
Two men make what is transparent opaque. Two camera angles fall in and out of phase with each other and the composited action. A voice describes the opacity that ritual actions engage the world in. In looping this action, and letting it fall in and out of phase with the voice over I hoped to create a microcosm of how a ritual gains traction—how a senseless action takes on meaning to avoid dissonance.
The project involved scripting an interaction about departure. This was the ostensible point of the action for the actors: that they were making a liquid that would render them invisible by inversion. A ritual that is not only the expression of a belief, but also a script for how belief emerges. The compositing algorithm-difference-echoes this.
Composite Test III: Shill, Mark (2013)
The carnival scam known as the shell game works by creating a false sense of continuity. The scam artist shifts between transparency and opacity, providing a crucible for another slight of hand: the continuity edit. Thus, this was a set in which different analytics compete: first, the embodied and timeless scam of the game, second the newer scam of dual-camera shooting, which enables ‘perfect’ continuity by cutting on motion. Actors were asked to imaging scamming not only each other, but a detection algorithm.
In this context, the meaning of continuity becomes relative. If the viewer asks where the ball is, they must specify the frame, or truth regime they are interested in. The compositing negates the whole grammar of cutting on action, as all the information is onscreen anyway. In adhering to the rules of continuity, but showing the trick from two angles, the film contradicts itself—an embodied trick that is incompatible with its edit. The edit moves back and forth between single channel and composited images, attempting to reveal the workings of the trick on the faces of the performers. As the game itself is cyclic, the postproduction attempts to be so as well.
Composite Test II: Arch Ratio (2012)
A couple walk through Oslo, falling in and out of phase with the difference compositing filter.