Scrub solo 3: soliloquy (extract)

Curator's Note

In my "Scrub solo series", I used the process of "scrubbing" (= manual alteration of the audiovisual continuity of a video sequence, a bit like records "scratching") to manipulate a thread of movements improvised by a dancer in front of a super-8 camera. This technique allowed me to recreate a new choreography, but also to explore the intervals between frames. In this extract for example, I extended a ten or fifteen seconds sequence to two minutes. And for a good part of it, I only used two or three different frames, exploring micro-movements and intersticial space by "scrubbing" back and forth at various speed.

What interests me in this particular use of technology, is that the image of the dancer is turned into a puppet, and that I can interact with it in a very simple and intuitive way. This "body of light" is at the same time less and more than human. Less because it’s only the visual trace of a human body in a certain spatial-temporal context. And more because this trace keeps its human characteristics while gaining super-human capacities when manipulated through digital means. It’s a digital puppet, or a cyber-automata.

To speak about interaction between the human hand, or body, and technlogy, I could also go back to the shooting process used for the "Scrub solo series". My idea was to use a super-8 camera set to long-exposure setting. With this type of setting (designed intially to film in low-light conditions), the speed rate of the recording vary (in real time) depending on the amount of light perceived by the camera. I used a black background, and lateral lights, so when there is nothing in the frame, the recording speed is very slow. But when something (a body) enters the frame, it sends a certain amount of light to the camera, so the recording speed increases. This means that the dancer was in charge of certain parameters of the recording by just moving his body around. And his only cue was the irregular sound ("click") indicating the recording of a frame.

In the process of making these videos, two different interactions between human movement and technology took place: first a relationship between the dancer and the camera (through old mechanical techology); second, through the use of scrubbing, a relationship between the digital trace of a body and the human hand.

(Another possible topic, but not enough place left: the way the long-exposure technique alters the representation of the body through movement…)



stamatia portanova's picture

Hi Antonin, and thanks for

Hi Antonin, and thanks for showing us your work. Every time I see it I like it more, as you know…

There is of course an interesting parallel between ‘scrubbing’, or the technique of giving to the video image a particular temporal quality, and Ashley’s practice of experimentation with the ‘digital tone’, the manipulation of the image by the whole dancing body. I think that both these examples bring to the fore something more than mere ‘interactivity’. What is a stake, here, I think, is what Erin has defined as the particular technicity that is implicit in the moving body, and which in this case emerges into the spatio-temporal alignment of technological and human bodies with each other: the technicity of movement (in its relational character of dialoguing with another body, rather than simply directing or guiding it) and that of video editing (more ‘sculpting’ than ‘logically adding’, as Erin said). The temporal and spatial shaping of the video happens thus not in the pre-exising movements (of the hand, of the body) or in a pre-programmed technology, but in their reciprocal adaptation. 




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