When I typed the word rendering into the digital Thesaurus, it didn’t succeed in alleviating my current pessimistic view of the word. I put myself on this little English language research task as I wait for my overloaded computer to sift through video files and produce a presentable outcome through video rendering. The Thesaurus offers several word alternatives such as: depiction, representation, interpretation, picture, description and expose. But none of those words seems to capture the frustration that this time consuming video process holds for me. After two days of looking at krill footage, several long rendering sessions and frustrating self-reviews all while in 100 degree heat. This working method resulted - not surprisingly- in redo after redo. I have developed an eye twitch from the word.
The krill are captured in dizzying takes that may produce seizures -as one of my artist friends so kindly noted- and so busy are the clips that the editing process is rather brutal. I feel that I cannot possibly be alone in my frustration with editing non-linear video. Most artists pass the editing ball to a pro, while I am cursed with a mid-western “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality. Asking for help doesn’t seem like a viable option, but tonight I wish it were.
When I kick back and view the takes I feel a peaceful calm sweep over me. The swish of the tide and the blur of life are captured in colors so psychedelic that it looks like they have been altered. The beauty of it all is that they have been altered quite naturally. The whole scene is viewed in soft focus because it is being viewed through a heavy concentration of life. The water is in syrup like consistency due to the mass intensity of plankton. Their bodies create a filter effect through which the scene is viewed. The plankton become the rose tinted glasses through which the ocean is observed. Not only is life possible because of plankton, but life is also more beautiful because of them as well.
This scrutiny reminds me of why I do what I do. Although I often blur the world around us through odd perspectives and subjects, I am clearly rooted in the real, tangible natural world that surrounds us. In my striving to use as little equipment as possible, I let nature do some of the work for me. I get so up close and personal that much of the footage is in soft focus, creating the blurred haze reminiscent of opening up your eyes underwater. Throw in a few billion plankton and I have all of the special effects that I need. Part of my actions may be out of contempt for our HD world and all that goes with it. I am a hold out to the low definition world, where mistakes happen and beauty is found there.
I don’t know any other video artist who has intentionally taken a hammer to their camera so to destroy some of the unnecessary functions. But I know they are out there somewhere. This year as I drifted through the Whitney Biennale I felt like I was trapped in a tech trade show. There were so many video displays that utilized HD technology, high end editing software and every tech trick they could dream up, but to me and others, something was lost in the translation. What seemed to be lacking was intimacy. It is hard to bring intimacy to any medium that relies on electricity. I found that in my own early neon sculptures, and I still have an emotional distance with any web based art project. I know intimacy is not an important factor to many contemporary artists-as it is a risky association that implies feelings. But regardless, I still want to wallow in life and feel humbled by the grandeur that exists just beyond our reach.
So with that said, I will return to my 3.5 min single channel celebration of oozing life. I will breathe in deeply and enjoy the placement of cross fades and text boxes. I will remind myself that I learn something new every editing session that I endure. I will also remind myself that 79% rendered is closer than I was an hour ago. But most of all I must remember that until that baby gets rendered, there isn’t any way to share it with viewers like you.