The Iterative Frame, HD, 13'34", 2015
The starting point for this production was van Gennep’s model of rites of passage. The film was shot in three parts, each one corresponding to one chapter of the theory section. Rehearsal involved showing the actors three scenes and plotting a very clear character arc.
Part 1: Separation
The film begins with a remake of the opening scene of Chronicle of A Summer. This version departs from the original in a number of ways: The genders of the directors and the interviewed are inverted, with the two women playing Rouch and Morin and the man playing Marceline. Crucially as well, technology that did not exist in the first film now enters the vérité frame: the UBC detection algorithm scans the frame for salient setups, creating a contradiction in terms, as the directors demand transparency from the subject. The subject also deviates from the script, initially telling them he is a market researcher, then a filmmaker and finally a carpenter (in subsequent scenes he will becomes the editor). The colour gradually drains from the image as the detection algorithm becomes more invasive.
Part 2: Liminal
The liminal section re-enacts the hypnosis scene from The Host and The Cloud. Here the editor is cast as the hypnotist. As with many rituals, this involved an inversion. The trance the filmmaker falls into brings up a vision of a very different space. We see the two filmmakers conversing in the sanitized kitchen of a ‘smart house’ at the Hamburg Technical University—a living space that adjusts light and temperature based on biofeedback from tenants. This automated relationship seemed ripe for analysis by an automated editor, Magisto. The two directors reiterated scenes against these different backgrounds in an attempt to see how sensitive the editing application was to color. We controlled for all other elements of performance to see how the automated living space would interface with the edit. Ultimately, these attempts to reverse engineer the Magisto were inconclusive. This is the point—as everything it is fed contributes to its predictive capabilities—studying the code in earnest is not possible for the performer. Thus, the short automated clips become the dream sequence of the vérité director while under hypnosis:
Part 3: Incorporation
Here the editor is incorporated, becoming continuous with the contents of the frame: A set of dice, thrown by the editor, dictates the cut. The vérité directors are transfixed by the game. Over the course of the game the filmmakers realize that they are no longer in control of the edit. The editor shows them a film of an automaton bear edited by Magisto. Clips from the director’s hypnosis begin to enter the frame.