Monday, 29 August 2011

Unit 2 Assessment

1. Present, in the final exhibition, a resolved body of creative practice that has evidenced the systematic enhancement of your knowledge and understanding

Initially, my proposal arose to verify the breakdown of narrative in the VJing playground. At the end of unit 1 assessment, and after narrowing down the spectrum of interest into a clearer pathway, I realized that my main involvement with this project would revolve around autobiographical compositing through transitional digital objects in live cinema. Transitional digital objects would play the role of the moderator in the narrative, the elements that would drive the process, setting it in motion.

At the beginning of unit 2, I started working on two different levels, the first that is creativity related and the other mainly related to the technique. I started searching for VJing and live cinema platforms that could meet transitions that I am aiming to use within the project. I realized that during a live show, there are only few functions of the software that I will be using.

On another note I was roaming around in Beirut, location hunting and I started finalizing the places which I was sure about wanting to include in the project, personal landmarks that I started photographing once I got my digital camera in February. On the theoretical note, I was reading (and posting on my blog) about artworks that are objects related to get a wider view about my next step or what comes after setting up the background layers of the project, that is the Beirut photographs or the outdoors context.

At this point, I realized that my project is going to be based on the idea of topping up layers to compose a universe and create a mood; that was a solution that I found reflective of how I started perceiving autobiography in the digital realm and that was also the result of the readings in Tarkovsky’s “Sculpting in time” where he suggests that “reproduction of real-life sensations is not an end in itself, but it can be given meaning aesthetically, and so become a medium for deep and serious thought”, and then later on he insists on the importance of building up a mood similar to our own (the person creating) to compose a genuine scene.

So here started the actual execution of the project, I collected all my “leftover” objects from childhood years, my photographs with some of my family members when I was five years old (my first memories) that I started rotoscoping. To rotoscope my family photographs was honestly an instinctive solution, the photographs were old, small sized and the negative did not exist, so I decided to digitize these photographs and I took refuge in this rotoscoping technique that, even though it was going to take me some extra time to achieve, but it was going to be quite practical for future use.

Multitasking was very useful, especially in moments when I found myself procrastinating, so instead of wasting time, I would start researching other aspects of the project, like for instance the technical details for delivery or I would explore further the technique that I already started applying and try to relate it to autobiography and to methods of retrieving memories.

At certain points, I was losing confidence in what I have started working on, research in similar moments was a saviour, I would start watching different kinds of animations which helped me realize that there is no right or wrong way to do things.

The feeling that something was missing was later on resolved when I decided to include again, one more layer, that is the interior of my grandmother’s house, where I spent a fair period of my childhood years, which also affected the compositions settings in After Effects, since I decided to, sort of, project my clips that were already created, into this new interior.

Finally, after studying the space dedicated to the show in London and after considerations of creating the live in the context where it belongs, that is Beirut, I presented a live show in an outdoor café with a capacity of approximately 80 people seated outdoors. Later on, another live was presented in an alley in Beirut, this time, I did not invite people, and it was more of a surprise projection for passersby.

Both lives were documented and later on edited using Final Cut Pro. For the final show in London, I will be presenting a split screen between the documentation of the Beirut live shows and an edited version of the clips with sound (created for this project). I have written the text for the soundtrack earlier and throughout the past two years, and for the final execution of the sound piece, I asked a tenor friend to read some of the long sentences and sing the less lengthy ones, as an improvisation exercise.

2. Analyse and reflect coherently upon your own practice and its context in both written and verbal forms

Again, I will have to insist on the importance of the research paper that informed me much about my practice, and how the question itself, when it was finally formulated, made the development of my project clearer. Foucault’s statement on the “wholistic fictionalization of the past” and how “we ought to be paying greater attention to ‘discontinuities’, ‘ruptures’, ‘fissures’…” paved the way to start constructing scenes from a cluster of materials. So at the time when we had to present the 20x20 presentation, I was already foreseeing what was going to happen visually and what was going to be presented.

Showing people some of the clips and taking their advices was also a good exercise, a filmmaker from Beirut remarked that the characters in the clips are mainly playing with the tools (or objects) that I am giving them, rather than playing around architecture, which he found more interesting. He concluded that these clips are not revolving about childhood but it is mainly childhood playing in the world of the adult/designer, which I found quite amusing and inspiring, even though I haven't thought of it that way earlier. So this started making sense and in a way I continued building up the rest of the clips with this idea in the back of my mind. Evocation became an element I use while building up my clips, like the elements that travel from one scene to another.

I also needed to ask for technical advices about the software that I chose to use for the live and the equipments that might be needed, it was at this point that people seeing the clips started insisting on the importance of having music and how it will be setting up the clips’ rhythm.

And I did have to refer to many online tutorials to resolve technical matters or sometimes just to understand how to achieve a specific animation movement.

My last tutorial with Jonathan set me up once and for all, I was confident about what was needed to be done to wrap up the whole project and get prepared for the show.

The rest of the project was technical details that I was resolving one by one.

3. Summarise your overall progress and formulate a constructive plan for continuing Personal and Professional Development.

I see this MA as an extension of my previous skills in graphic design. Yet, I have never been more convinced about the idea that theory leads to practice. I have always thought that I do have some sort of “baggage” that could rescue me when I need to create. Nevertheless, this baggage now looks floating on a surface, I have gained confidence in exploring deeper and further, in details, even randomly, following a question, be it in books, in traveling and observing, or just getting exposed to other people’s ideas and debates. Now, a good project for me requires research, collaboration, intuition and technique.

I do not wish to finish this course, yet, I am eager to start putting my work out there, in the digital arts scene, where I can start remixing further my material, present live shows in different contexts, and try to connect through my narrative, with future collaborators.

Lately I applied to the “Cascade” workshop, and I am really hoping to get the chance to take part in it, an initiative which offers a creative collaboration across many disciplines to foster personal and professional development for fresh graduates “those who are about to embark in the creative and cultural industries”.

I also applied to the UAMO festival before course ends, and I got an approval on showing my clips in Munich, this alone encouraged me to start pushing further this project and helped me realize that I want to embrace this field and do what it takes to focus on digital arts in my coming years.

Last summer, when I was doing an internship at D-fuse’s studio, I got curious on how in practical life things happen, so I asked about how one can make a living from creating clips. The response was that 60 percent of your time should be spent on doing independent projects and the 40 percent left should be dedicated to work on commissioned projects. I liked this formula, and I will be doing my best to make it work for my future plans.

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