Welcome to the conceptual laboratory of Diploma 9 – the world in which students invent, manufacture and design their identities alongside their architectures. Unit Staff: Natasha Sandmeier, Manolis Stavrakakis
The film ‘poster’ containing fragments of what or where appears in the ‘telescape’ of the film, scattered across the narrative landscape of the desert.
The Live set-up, streaming from a distant room.
In terms of jury feedback and what next the construction of my own fiction and even the production of drawings/objects and pieces that can feature within it was quite interesting. Thinking of ways of developing this further than just “it’s a fictional story made to seem real/factual”
From the Jury discussion there were several topics I found extremely interesting and I am currently organizing thoughts into a new potential direction.
Through a series of pieces the next stage of the project could be described; The pieces are to include highly specific films each accompanied by an illustration/drawing, an object and text/poem/article. A balance between visual ambiguity and clarity could describe a narrative through each piece and altogether would form the story.
The proposal for now aims at focusing on ‘War’ as an apparatus for discussing new architectural aesthetics (purely War at its most beautiful and spectacular forms in contemporary media) and instead of the output being a narrative about warfare its phantasmagorical effects are used as a proxy for new narratives.
1. The Forever War
In this way war phantasmagorias are to act as a framework for both commentary and design proposal within the context of a state of perpetual war and arguably one in which war or the military industrial complex are mothers/fathers of culture itslef.
2. It Is beautiful!
War Is Beautiful – by David Shields David Shields analyzed over a decade s worth of front-page war photographs from The New York Times and came to a shocking conclusion: the photo-editing process of the paper of record, by way of pretty, heroic, and lavishly aesthetic image selection, pulls the wool over the eyes of its readers; Shields forces us to face not only the the media’s complicity in dubious and catastrophic military campaigns but our own as well. The mighty Times, far from being a check on governmental power, is in reality a massive amplifier for its dark forces by virtue of the way it aestheticizes warfare.
3. Brecht’s Primer in 3 steps
With Brecht’s work, re-readings by Walter Benjamin as well as subsequent reproductions of his War Primer, I aim to identify characteristics of theatricality/phantasmagoria (baroque effects) that are prevalent today and can become the crux to a language of aesthetics.
Book by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin Above Jospeh Goebbles is shown with a caption as he appeared in Brecht’s original War Primer but Bloomberg and Chanarin add a new dimension by overlaying a munch discussed photoshoped image of Iranian missiles over the Nazi chief of propaganda’s face
Oliver Laric ‘Versions’ – at 2:10 the missiles image shown collaged above Goebbles face is discussed.
4. War as Culture – Objects and Iconography
The famous spectacle of the ‘Fly-By’ during major events over London is predominantly a parade of aerial military technologies where even commercial objects (concorde and later A380) become nationalist icons and int he case of the concorde produced as competition during a climate of war (Cold War)
5. ‘Punk’ as the Counter-culture to War:
Through music, fashion and the arts the counter-culture to political establishments is seen.
Punk aesthetics of the 70s and 80s are already dated, what would 21st Century Punk look like or Punk architecture?
Evolution of war iconography, Robert Overweg 2011, Greenspon, Oliver Stone / Willem Dafoe, Call of duty black ops. The photo on the left taken by Greenspon during the Vietnam war features a soldier in an iconic and archetypical posture. It displays pain agony, possibly a call to god* all things the American public could relate to during the ongoing vietnam war, the assassination of Martin Luther King jr. and Robert Kennedy. This same posture was used as an inspiration for another iconic image. Oliver Stone featured Willem Dafoe on the cover and posters for the movie Platoon with the same iconic hands in the air, agony and a call to god can also be found in this posture. Oliver Stone adds a new cultural meaning to the image of Greenspon. The same posture and reference is yet again used but now in the game call of duty: black ops. During the first quarter of 2011 this was the best selling game of all-time in dollars on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The iconic posture once introduced to our popular culture by Greenspon went from subjective registration to critical movie icon to be used in a commercial computer game.
Post-jury jubilation …
Tony Blair and the famous Selfie montage which ended up in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.
Below the short film produced for the Jury:
Updates on overall direction and new ideas to come
Here is a rough preview of the first act to build up the approach to the fire and topic. Fire footage is ready and is currently being edited into Act Two. Act one is subject to further editing and fine tuning as everything is brought together.
5 hours = 15 seconds of stop-motion from 3 camera positions;
. . . now off to burn it all!
Below are some images of the final set-up from the well-head to the plumes spewing out of it. The next phase is the burning. The stop-motion process and construction of the model and well-head have all been footage generators (have been recorded as ‘making-of’).
Finally architecture as DISTRACTION, could perhaps form a refreshed way of describing the ideas encompassing all my apparatuses – of screen, footage, time, baroque special effects/phantasmagoria, or indeed the war – came to mind after our last tutorial with Natasha and Manolis when referring to ‘Wag the Dog’. Since we discussed how the detailed construction or re-framing of information/footage could be seen in relation to actual events and their theatrical dramatisation as ‘distractions’ or indeed ‘confusers’ of reality – Perception thusly Managed!
When Bush senior took the US to Kuwait. At 7:37 A New World Order is introduced for the first time here.
Below is my narrative set up, a first draft of the overall script. It will be reworked while I start putting the footage into place.
Gogglebox – reaction as spectacle – We become the story
The overarching ‘Why?’
Disproportionality of footage versus events turns anything into spectacle; We become the story and the content of the story no longer matters. We stare back at ourselves.
A neo-baroque spectacle: What interests me socio-politically with the introduction of the term “neo-baroque” is to use it as an umbrella terminology to weave an argument referring to the relationship between footage and counter-rational dramatization of moments that are exploded within it. I have been compiling readings and references to sharpen this argument and its specific relationship to contemporary media and time (a lot of the terminology and philosophy spins it back to imploding or expanding of time through spectacle) It could, down the line provide characteristics of further “effects” that might be achieved with my proposal/footage/project structure.
What I allude to with Baroque and Neo-Baroque Spectacle (parts of the narration will start defining characteristics to open this discussion):
‘baroque’’ implied an art or music of extravagance, impetuousness, and virtuosity, all of which were concerned with stirring the affections and senses of the individual. The baroque was believed to lack the reason and discipline that came to be associated with neoclassicism and the era of the Enlightenment. More importantly how it was embraced by the Catholic church as tool of political power in the counter-reformation era very much how the media corporations today online or on various news feeds embrace our proliferated footage to generate meaning, often deliberately confusing and thusly managing perception of what is shown.
As a result of technological, industrial, and economic transformations, contemporary entertainment media reflect a dominant neo-baroque logic. The neo-baroque shares a baroque delight in spectacle and sensory experiences. Neo-baroque entertainments, however—which are the product of conglomerate entertainment industries, multi- media interests, and spectacle that is often reliant upon computer technology—present contemporary audiences with new baroque forms of expression that are aligned with late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century concerns. The neo-baroque combines the visual, the auditory, and the textual in ways that parallel the dynamism of seventeenth-century baroque form, but that dynamism is expressed in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in technologically and culturally different ways. Importantly, underlying the emergence of the neo-baroque are transformed economic and social factors.
To conclude I don’t wish at this early stage for the terminology to distract but to frame a wider argument of the “Why” and it might help focus the next steps not only the ‘making-of’ ideas but also how to cement the footage-spectacle relationship.
Here’s the Humvee and toy soldier guarding my mirror pieces for size reference.
The past two days have mostly been focused on managing logistics of my physical model set up. Pending replies from Joel and Jillian on footage advice and health and safety respectively.
In other news, have 5 60x60cm mirros and picking my two-way spy mirror up tomorrow afternoon. Advice from Tris has really helped advance the flaming side of things: Pressure weed sprayer I’m getting tomorrow as well will be filled with fuel and the nozzle will shoot the fuel out past a cotton bud laced with WD40 that will ignite it (the sprayer device and this overal set up IS apparently as safe as I can make this for distancing fuel source from ignition point and getting the desired effect). Here’s a super low-res reference for visual (not many people build flamethrowers for more serious applications it seems other than ‘fun’):
I show this one specifically because they use exactly the tools I am gathering for mine.
I am currently working on the narrative as the vehicle to frame my wider argument; my ‘why’ side of the project. I have some clearer idea and this is what I plan to focus on discussing tomorrow at tutorials since set-up wise with the physical model I just need to start putting the elements together and running some tests with that flame thrower over the weekend.
Stay tuned for the narrative …
Brought to you by The Agency of Perception ManagementFootage as an apparatus for neo-baroque spectacle!
Looking at the frame as a threshold and surface, I took a photo of a standard Georgian room and created it in 3d and in paper. The real, the virtual and the physical are then used to compress time and space into a fixed frame. Past, present and future come together into this frame which determines what gets recorded and influences our understanding of the space.
Lessons of Darkness is a documentary on the Gulf War by Werner Herzog, beautifully shot with great aerial footage of the oil catastrophe
Following the overall topic of interest in ‘Exploding Moments’ and discussing the construction of an idea/event within the expanded ‘site’ of prolific footage, I am using the screen as a space to reverse-engineer the narrative of an event (the Gulf War). When I say ‘reverse-engineer’ it is understood from a non-linear narrative perspective.
The screen will provide the space for formatting the footage. The structure I have laid out for now is within divisions of a factor of 3. Vertically the groups are distinguish by ‘scale’ of footage; horizontally they are grouped by ‘perception’ or ‘view point’.
I am compiling footage (an ongoing process) from primary sources reporting the event, to films based on it or footage with unrelated subject matter but useful shots.
For now the key elements I am bringing together include:
1. Out-sourced footage
2. Physical Model of object and landscape (oil valve, desert and infinite landscape effect)
3. Digital model (a landscape piece of the desert with elements from the event/footage e.g. oil wells, ruins of large satellite dishes, oil lakes)
4. The Script and Storyboard (I am compiling pieces of text and audio files to go hand in hand with the narrative)
More importantly I am revisiting my Mulholland Drive Diamond to use the relationship between a dreamscape and factual realm of information as a non-linear narrative structure for my own footage. The aim is to refine the analysis and adapt the structure to my own storyboard.
Below is the beginning of story boarding of the opening: a sequence to introduce the ‘dreamscape’ as one of multiple footage screens observed by the an ‘agent’ and subsequently zooming into one to begin the narrative of the Gulf War.
Opening Scene: “The events depicted in this film took place in Kuwait during the First Gulf War in 1991.At the request of the survivors the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead the rest has been toldexactlyas it occurred.”
The next steps are to continue the storyboard set up with select shots from the footage I’m gathering. Also plan the physical model to be constructed and start putting together a digital model of the landscape.
Time and Scale are formatted within the 16:9 world of our screens making them an apparatus for exploding moments and managing their perception.
I began arranging screenshots and images to develop a story board and open a discussion focused on the techniques deployed: from the physical model as a simulation, a rendered model, drawings/mappings and the methods of recording different scales. The technique is something I plan to illustrate in the next video test I conduct. Also through the technique I start identifying agents and scales (whether from a soldier, ground texture, satellite views or drones etc) who all contribute to the explosion of the moment and the management of its subsequent perception.
Sharpening the argument:
What is also important to clarify is my position in terms of the overall direction. Although still at an infant stage, the project I find rests more on how proliferated information explodes a moment in time and scale. The way the information is later “managed” or “perceived” according to how “agents” weave into a narrative becomes an added area of interest.
What the overarching question should avoid is a discussion on the fake versus the real or simulations etc. Deception is to me different to something fake or indeed a simulation.
Hence the focus is on this idea of “managing perception” as an apparatus for building up anticipation that will then begin to be subverted shattering the linear relationships that the different pieces of footage might establish between each other and the viewer. It is also important to note that I decided to eliminate the frame between the footage to allow for “spillage” and moments of confusion to develop as the narrative breaks down.
The content, for now, remains within the Gulf War.
Working with the 16:9 frame and shaping a flexible footage space
Identifying the Agents:
An Agent – the “actor” within the narrative and the one responsible for exploding the moment (be it from recording footage, managing its construction, or viewing it)
1. Informants/Footage Collectors
2. Footage Processors – Perception Managers
3. Receptors – Display
The next step is to continue refining the story board and start bringing in physical and digital versions of the event and incorporate them as footage within the narrative.
Above, Fargo Season 2, used the split-screen as a technique to relate events and build up to moments. Sometimes it becomes interesting where there is an overlap or bleed between the screens.
The emmy winning music video by Slayer titled “Eyes of the Insane” relates to the second Gulf War as a topic. What I find interesting is the shooting choice of using a soldiers pupil to reflect imagery he perceives but more importantly how some of those events escalate and we experience a gradual effect on the surroundings of the eye (some more expected than others like when an explosion occurs).
Belief, anticipation and narrative interruptions – focusing on the technique of constructing a scenario using the screen space and the relationships between the different images/pieces of footage shown. The aim is to further develop this process and construct the technique (for now populating it with the Gulf War scenario).
“Perception Management” was pioneered in the 1980’s under the Reagan administration in order to avoid the public opposition to future wars that was seen during the Vietnam War.
The United States Department of Defense defines perception management as:
Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders at all to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator’s objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations, security, cover and deception, and psychological operations.
“… artistic gratification of a sense of perception altered by technology. This is evidently the consumption of l’art pour l’art. Humankind, which once in Homer, was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, has now become one for itself. Its self alienation has reached the point where it can experience its own annihilation as a supreme aesthetic pleasure. Such is the aestheticising of politics”
Walter Benjamin, Kunstwerk essay, 1936
The quote alludes to perhaps a further progression into a project and development of my position on expanding moments. With the amount of information and the technology through which it is experienced, all these narratives and their interaction with the viewers are increasingly non-linear both in terms of time and space. It is also interesting how Benjamin makes a parallel between the homeric apparatus of “Olympian God-view” that Manolis also referenced as a device in the Illiad has transformed, through our technological experience of events, into an aesthetic experience for everyone.
In essence from the body and it’s prosthetic footage receivers (phones etc), the home and the city we are all simultaneously in a mount Olympus space.
As a work in progress, the overall setup for my second test is ready to burn! Stay tuned for the video that is to come out of it.
I am in the process of conducting the second test, exploring the idea of exploding a moment through its staging, the way the footage is captured and later to be formated for viewing. This set up is larger in scale but more importantly the views are set up to represent potential “characters” or narrative perspectives that I intend to use to start exploring different narrative effects when the footage is composed together.
For instance, below are the views from an iPad and iphone setup. The former is an almost aerial view of the “fields” or landscape within the Kuwait oil fire scenario. The latter view is a bottom-up ground view, capturing the “ground troop/journalist” effect. The case study of the War and the fires are at the moment a prop for me to explore the techniques I am using and the way I want to set up a narrative and design around the overall ideas of proliferated footage and the way we access/view a project through it.
A fish-eyed view will record the burning from a drone-like position while a God-eye of the entire process will record me coordinating the simulated oil field fires.
Following what was discussed last time, below are methods of formating footage I am currently looking into as well as some general references of how the project can progress beyond the specific scenario of the Gulf War as a case study.
Hierarchy and formating:
An app called mosaic.io (that sadly was pulled from the app store) would allow multiple ios devices to be tiled together. In this example the screen size and position becomes a narrative device/apparatus for exploding the moment. It also plays with the surface of the table since the viewing is predominantly done by laying the screens out flat.
In the Eames IBM pavilion the interesting aspect of the formating is that it becomes more hierarchical in visual terms with the screen positions, angles and dimensions as well as the sound used as methods of driving the narrative.
In the film Timecode (which I got half way through with a lot of patience and concentration; alas it became too overbearing to finish in one go) The narrative hierarchy was established through sound, as the means by which to focus on corresponding grid areas.
Finally the acappella youtube videos Natasha referenced are something I find interesting as a starting point, mazes that can turn into labyrinth depending with the narrative progression. In the video above the focus is shifted by the grids activated and deactivated according to whether it’s bass, lead vocals etc. but the overall composition seams to lack hierarchy because of the consistent grid. A potential break could be to overlap or expand events in some grids to adjacent ones etc. Below another similar video has a central focus on the lead vocals.
Spatial Speculation on the narrative effects of footage manifesting architecturally:
The American Interiors series of 1968 by Erró
Domestic space does not have to be the focus at the moment but this is an example that came to mind of how certain spaces (here the vietnam war) are brought into others (the american home) by the media and the tv set. Today the process is much more complex with the invasive nature of footage not as straight forward as a simple ‘media to viewer’ relationship; and also the spaces are expanded way beyond the home, as televisions have been replaced by increasingly more mobile sources of footage.
Kuwait oil well model fire tests – process video (embedded below)
Above is a short film I put together recording the process of exploding this moment from several vantage points and through the medium of film and photography.
The oil well burning isn’t as spectacular as anticipated but the technique of using filmic space and time to create relationships between the footage gathered and the way this information is displayed (formated) on screen is to be further refined.
The aim is to develop a process for a project narrative to evolve through and to start building an argument on the proliferation of recorded material that explodes events (spatially and in time) and questions values of memory, history and mythography in current affairs/architecture.
Here’s a video on The Phantom Time Hypothesis (whereby historian alleges we aren’t in the 21st but in fact 18th century at the moment)
And with regards to the obsessive recording of concerts someone who made use of it below. this guy, Olivier Gondry directed a music video for a track from Daft Punk’s 2007 Alive tour that features footage shot by 250 audience members put together and, of course, sound edited so hearing it is not as dizzying as watching it! There’s a free app now called yangle which friends can create event-related groups for gathering their recordings (for longer footage than what you similarly can do on snapchat events)
So I set fire to my own field of oil wells Gulf-War-1.0 style. A few hours of footage including prepping and recording generated from an almost 5 minute burning.
Following our discussion on Friday I focused on using time and points of view/perception as means for generating footage and expanding a moment. In a test I carried out below I recorded the burning of a model oil well by setting up several devices to capture the moment (including iPad, iPhone, GoPro, SLR camera and a webcam recording myself and the other cameras recording the moment). Prior to that I recorded myself in the process of putting together the model oil well. The set up wasn’t limited to expanding the moment in time but also expanding it spatially with a simple mirror set up to create an infinite field of moments.