Category Archives: Films

Resolution.

Remember how the moon blew up in March?  Well I made a movie about that. Or…

Remember those two filmmakers who were going to team up and make a movie together?  Well I made a movie about that too. Or…

Remember those four larger film projects that I’ve had in post-production, some for around 8 years?  Well I made a movie about that too. Or…

Above all else, I made a film about failure.  I made the film below called “Resolution.”, and it’s below.  Let’s watch now, shall we?

Resolution. from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

So there’s a lot of things here to parse out, but first let’s look at some technical aspects.  I’ve been working on “Resolution” since February of this year when I decided to use it as a way of exploring the software “Resolve” as a new editing suite (I’m still using Final Cut 7 for most of my projects, and I feel like sooner or later I’m going to have to switch to something newer and more up-to-date).  Well, I tried using Resolve, but in the end I just didn’t like it for editing.  It’s good for color work, but not for editing (and it’s designed to be for color work, editing is just something they’re just now incorporating).  But was “Resolution” still a project that should be completed and shown? Yes, in fact now it was more than ever.

The relevance goes to why I chose the projects I chose: Tracy McKnightly, Stories From Sturgeon, and Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters (more on “Lun” in a second).  These are three projects that have been simmering for a long time, projects that are so close to being finished but won’t be because of small but significant things: Tracy McKnightly needed so much ADR work mostly because of a last minute drop-out of the main actor, but also because I had only completed one semester of school and I didn’t understand that sound was a thing; Stories From Sturgeon wasn’t able to get enough footage from the filming of the project itself and so with only interviews to go by there wasn’t much of a documentary I could make; Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters! needed lots of miniature work or animation work or something to get exterior shots of the spaceship, but also I was missing video and audio from when we shot, and even on set I had lost a lot of my ability to plan and work on a film set which resulted in a rushed schedule that didn’t quite work out.  Now I know that no one was waiting with too bated breath for these films to be completed, but I had failed them and I needed to make it right.  So, much like with “No!” before this (the most obvious predecessor, right down to having a punctuation mark in the title), I decided to fuse these failed projects together into one.  I fused them into one project that had itself failed on a small but significant level.

Now, let’s talk about “Lun”.  Right off the bat I realized that the biggest difference between “Resolution.” and “No!” was the projects chosen, particularly how they could communicate and function together.  You see, “No!” is made of primarily visual and experimental pieces, things that I thought would be neat to look at but never quite did.  Fitting these looser pieces into one narrative (“Death is a Corgi”) was just a matter of filling holes.  In “Resolution.” I was working with three pieces that had their own stories, three pieces that each had their own feel and their own flow, and fitting them together proved to be tricky.  So I decided I needed a framing device, and it seemed the best way to do that would be to latch on to the documentary aspect of “Stories From Sturgeon”, the discussion of the moon from “Superb Fire Space Laser Blasters!”, and the single image of a shining moon from “Tracy McKnightly” together into one piece.  This piece would end up being called “Lun”, and I decided that the framing device would be me going around and hosting interviews of one simple question: Why did you blow up the moon?  Lun quickly grew out of control and- as has been the case with many projects that I’ve wanted to complete these past four years- I ran out of the resources to make this happen.  What I was left with was a bunch of images of the moon (which I wasn’t even able to finish collecting, because the moon mysteriously vanished from the night sky.  Thanks, light pollution), and some title cards of Moon “puns” (as is said in “Resolution.”, these aren’t puns.  They’re not even plays on words).

We’ve already talked about “No!” being a predecessor of this piece, but I think the greater predecessor is “I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical” (Another punctuation mark!  I use SO much punctuation!).  Soon, with my project on failed projects failing and everything not quite reaching the titular resolution, it became clear that this was to be another project based on failure.  More specifically, a project based on my failure.  I’ve since been treating this like a “IDTAMTM” Lite.  Whereas the previous film focused on a deeply personal sense of failure to belong and connect and all sorts of other messy things, “Resolution.” would focus primarily on a career-based failure.  So much of these past ten years have been about me growing into and defining myself as an artist, and now that I’m removed from my medium and have made the decision to move away from a career in cinema production, I can’t help but feel a certain loss.  The same loss I feel over the incompletion of Tracy McKnightly.

So I suppose that’s all why I made a movie about why I can’t make movies anymore.  Or maybe I made a film about why I can’t make films anymore.  It all depends on whether I’m One or The Other.  But at least one thing is certain: I shot for the moon and blew it all up.

Lincoln Park Zoo 07-16-15

Another Data Bend!  Much like with the previous Grand Island entry I was trying to bend some separate aspects of the original file separate from each other; this time it was Whites, Mids, and Blacks.  After more overlaying, etc. we get to the final file embedded below.

I believe I may have reached the point where I’m bending too much, or at least trying to do too much with all of this.  With the constant overlays and bendings, etc. much of the original file has been lost (not much of a problem), but also much of the chaotic beauty I find in these is being lost and obfuscated (very much a problem).  We’ll see if I’m able to fix this come next bend, or if I’ll move on to another experimental obsession.

Grand Island 07-05-15

 

I’m beginning to move into more exploration with my bends than the bending itself, this Grand Island glitch of a crab being an exploration of bending each color (RGB) separately.  The result is a fascinating bit that evokes a haunted security tape, that by glimpsing this crab on the beach we’ve somehow glimpsed into an extra-dimensional rift that’s destroying the fabric of reality itself.  The smattering of this reality boundary continues to be the thing I’m most interested with in these bends, and it’s something I hope to continue to explore.

The only regret that I have with this bend is that with all of the ensuing pixels, rainbow shatters, and freezes that the footage of the crab itself gets a bit lost.  With most of my other footage this doesn’t matter too much, as the footage for these bends is much like the footage for any other film, merely a tool for exploration and (in more narrative works).  The main difference for this ghost crab then is that I liked the little guy, I thought he was pretty cute.

I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical

Let’s have a conversation!

Okay!

YOU.

No, YOU.

Okay… me.

For those of you who are following the journey of The Tape, the above was Andrew’s summation of what this “conversation” has been.  For those who have followed my analyses of the past entries, you know that for the most part I’ve been seeing them as a way of visualizing the internet itself.  Well, that is until “Missing“.  With Missing we started a new conversation, marked both by the overwhelming honesty of it and how deeply personal the film was to Andrew.  This was also marked because the old tape, the one with “I Got the Poops” to “Powerful Magics” on it that was inscribed with wacky magical runes and everything was destroyed.

This new conversation took me by surprise.  I had planned for a lot of thing in between Powerful Magics and Missing, but I hadn’t planned on that.  I hadn’t planned on something personal.  How would I respond?  Clearly a lot of the more wacky ideas I had come up with wouldn’t work, clearly I couldn’t just mirror and refract like I did before.  So then how?  By making something personal.

Before you watch the video below, I must warn you that it’s deeply personal and explicit.  For those of you who wish to watch my films and be interested in my genre explorations and digital experimentation that’s perfect and wonderful, but this is not a video for you.  This is a video for anyone who wants to truly know more about me as a human. You may continue at your own choosing and your own risk.


I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

I don’t like talking about myself, and the very idea that you’ve just watched half an hour that’s all about me is something that a part of me finds disgusting.  However to respond any other way but personally would be to disregard Missing, and it would be to disregard Andrew.  That was something I didn’t want.  But IDTAM:TM is more than a simple need to reply to a video that one person will see.  This correspondence, though presumably just between Andrew and I, has always been open and these videos are always available for anyone to see.  So why make a video that I find deeply uncomfortable and whose subject matter deeply bothers me if I know it will be seen?  1) I’m not 100% sure this will be seen; and 2) Because I need to say this.  I needed to make this video.  Now that it’s released I’m not going to lie and say that I’m Okay, but I feel like I can start moving forward.

So now, let’s move into looking at what this film is.  And it’s a bit of a mess.  I have hours and hours of footage related to this project on my computer, enough to probably make an entirely different movie about an entirely different subject matter.  Going into the reply I knew that I’d answer Andrew’s plea for “The Truth”, but for me there’s a reason I don’t like telling the whole truth: It’s painful.  It’s painful because the Truth, so much as it exists (and one of the things I’ve been coming to realize is that truth is something very ill-defined), is that as difficult as these past years have been for Andrew they’ve also been difficult for me.  Going back to CSF, graduating, working several minimum-wage jobs, getting shouted at and demeaned by 12 year-olds — things haven’t been going my way.  I don’t know if this is “true” or “false”, or rather I’m not sure how much of this is out of my control and how much of this is my own attitude towards events that have happened.   So life is messy. Life is complicated. Life is sad,  Life is something I haven’t really ever been prepared for.

So naturally I’ve been thinking about ending life.  This was the truth.  This was what I would look at. This would be my Self-Portrait.

So why the mess?  Part of this is the problem presented in the film itself: I’m tasked with replying to a film, so if I throw out everything about the previous entries and the means of communication that we’ve set up then I wouldn’t be replying to it.  But If I were to just copy the structure of Missing then I wouldn’t be staying true and I would lose the point.  It was a damned if I do, Damned if I don’t scenario, and as always when I come the clearing with two paths I decided to take the road never traveled and make my own.  I decided to do both.  After all, this is a Self-Portrait, and one of the things I can tell you about me, the true me, is that I’m a self-contradictory mess.  There are plenty of nods to “Missing” in this piece, from the very opening mirror (I had a better sync up where my face was exactly half of Andrew’s, but I think it came at the wrong part of the song? Maybe the camera ran out of batteries?), to the shot of Andrew walking around alone with headphones in, to the cinematic montage of exploration, to the very idea of having personal log entries scattered throughout.  This was a reply to Missing.  It’s also a companion piece to Powerful Magics.  Look at it this way: If Powerful Magics is the Great and Powerful Oz, then IDTAM:TM is the Man Behind the Curtain.  Powerful Magics was about, among other things, putting on a show and showing off expertise and- perhaps one of the main things- magic.  IDTAM:TM Mirrors a lot of the segmented nature and jumping around that Powerful Magics did, hell it even has a musical breakdown in the middle of it and an experimental deconstruction.  You can even go all the way back to the first pair of videos in this correspondence for references in IDTAM:TM with the reintroduction of Pokemon and Disney films into the discussion.  There are plenty of cosmetic and structural references to the prior pieces all over IDTAM:TM, to the point where it can very well be argued that I did nothing but remix and regurgitate everything that came before.  Gimmicks abound in this piece.

It’s also one of the most outwardly honest and open pieces I’ve made and probably ever will make.  It’s a half-hour straight of a straightforward discussion of my insecurities as a filmmaker and a person and how those insecurities came to be.  It’s a discussion of the idea of friendship and connection and how it has been a topic of pain for me, especially in these past few years.  This film is where we finally confront the 800 pound gorilla that has always been looming around this discussion (at least for me), which is the closing of CSF and how exactly that effected me, in the short and long term.  The Closing of CSF is something I’m still working through, and it’s not because of the loss of the school.  It’s the loss of friendship I experienced as a side-effect of it.  It’s the painful reality that we all have to face sooner or later: People move on; and for me it seems like people move on a lot more often.  The point of this film is also to explore why this betrayal hit me so hard: because I’ve never felt like I belong in this world, even though by all accounts I should.  To tell the story of my isolation, the school closing, it’s reverberations to this day I had to skip over a few decades worth of explanations as to my actions.  But again, this is meant to be a portrait, not a biography.  But in terms of leading to the climax: my thoughts of suicide and finally going on mood stabilizing medication, the story is very linear and paced out rather well.

But this is also a self-portrait, shaped by individual style and how I see the world.  It’s a world of chaos.  A world where dominoes are carefully set up then stomped on and destroyed, falling in ever more complex patterns.  Mine is a world where I am the video game villain, the mastermind who has little motivation for wanting to ruin everything except for “Thing just didn’t work out”.  Mine is a world where reality can be ripped apart, and throughout the piece the moments of data bending, of sync errors, of dead pixels and duplicating images, they all come together in these moments of stylistic flourish.  They’re also all very deliberate.  True, the sync errors were a constant problem I ran into when exporting this project, but it was something that I could and did fix if needed.  But the dissonance between sound and picture and the removal experienced by the blinks to grey are there to communicate the delicate chaos of our world: One error and we blink to grey.  One blip of code and suddenly what you see as life and what you experience (hear) as life are out of sync, and you do what you can to fix it.  Every moment of pixellation and of bending also serve this point: peeling away layers and exposing these images for the conglomeration of RGB that they are.

Finally, we come to the Jellyfish.  This was come of the most beautiful footage I ever shot, and there’s always an otherworldly elegance to the Jellyfish.  Elegance, danger, and mystery all combine in the nature of the jellyfish in their movement, their sting, and their biology.  They are an ancient creature which has survived through millennia lacking the one organ that I feel defines life: The brain.  So do the jellyfish here represent stupidity, mystery, timelessness, beauty, reaction, survival, or danger?  It’s all that and more depending on where the footage is used and how it’s used, and yes this openness is very much planned.So with all this conflicting structure and conflicting ideas it’s no wonder that the final piece is a mess, and that’s okay.  It’s okay because I think in the end it accomplished all I wanted it to, mainly showing what these six years or so have been like for me in between Powerful Magics and IDTAM:TM.  Because these past few years have been messy.  But I’m starting to be okay with that, and putting this together was a big part in getting here.


So that’s that.  Look forward to a bit of a write-up on how exactly I went about crafting a package for this piece, and I promise that will be a bit closer to my usual analysis of form and how to incorporate references to prior packages and pieces in a meaningful way.  I may also do one final write-up on the state of The Journey of the Tape up until this point.

If you’re interested in Andrew’s thoughts on this piece, I will link to it HERE when it goes live.

As a closing remark, though, I can’t help but feel Andrew got his summation of our conversation wrong.  He’s been ignoring context and a lot of space around the pieces.  Here’s how it’s felt to me:

Are You Okay? (I Got the Poops)

Yeah, Sure! (In Fridge)

Well, Good. Things looked a bit bleak there. (Happy Birthday, Murderer!)

Of Course I’m Okay.  Maybe you’re not Okay! (Powerful Magics)

You’re right. I don’t think I am. (Missing)

Well neither am I.  Sorry. (I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical)

 

A Study in Brown

This one is an old video, from maybe a year ago so not too old, that I had thought I uploaded here but apparently I didn’t!  So here it is now, A Study in Brown:

A Study in Brown from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

I like to see my data bending work as gradually improving, and this marked the point where I was confident in creating these bent images, and wanted to begin pushing the boundaries further.  So For “A Study in Brown”, I not only had numerous versions of the main chick video on top of each other, but I also had a separate, also brown, video that was overlayed of sand falling (both videos were taken during a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago).  I think it’s a successful experiment and a good mile-marker for me as a growing experimental artist.

As an actual film to be seen online?  Eh, I’d put among my “Cat Video”, as something to watch keeping in mind that it’s an experiment.  A fuller experiment than my other bends, but still an experiment.  I do think the Brazillian Jazz adds a much more relaxed feeling than some other works, and mimics well the sleepiness of the chicks seen beneath the fraying video, and so perhaps this is all a way of visualizing the fraying of reality as a chick goes to sleep and enters the dream world?  Or maybe I’m just reaching too far.  I leave it to you, Comments!

Arsea, or on the creation of Language

I’m currently wading into the world of creating an animated series about talking animals in space and as time goes on I’ll be posting more about it.   For this show I wanted to create an alien language to use for background signage and the like, both as a way to explore more of this universe but also as a way of creating a more lived-in universe for my space- crustaceans to live in.  This fictional language is Arsea, and it looks like this:

Now I know the question on all of your minds: Is there some overly-complicated linguistic history to back up this neat little alphabet? Why yes there is, thanks for asking. It all begins with emojis…


 

The Earthen Letterglyphs

Currently language is in the process of being deconstructed, and we’re starting to use pictures, numbers, and standalone letters to represent ideas and to replace whole words.  My first task was to go through and figure out which of these pictures/letters/numerals would be included as a glyph once we inevitably create a unified logographic language.  I ended up with thirty different glyphs that I would end up working with for this, all listed below:

The Emoticonal Letterglyphs
The Emoticonal Letterglyphs

From there I had to do the best I could going through hundreds of years of letter-shaping, much like our own alphabets did, in the span of a few days.  I did this through taking the glyphs and tracing over them (sometimes with my left hand), and re-tracing them, and simplifying the forms so I use less strokes, etc.  Eventually I ended up with a simplified New Earth Alphabet.  Some individual glyphs (my favorites) are below, the befores and after.

The cat-glyph
The cat-glyph, before
The "Cwa" Sonoglyph
The “Cwa” Sonoglyph, after
The "Pizza" logoglyph.
The “Pizza” logoglyph.
The "Eee" Sonoglyph
The “Eee” Sonoglyph
The "Poop" logoglyph.
The “Poop” logoglyph.
The "Guh" Sonoglyph
The “Guh” Sonoglyph

 

 

 

So I had a Nu-Earth Sonoglyphic language from which I could now expand as the Human Race was about to expand.  At this point in the story-world  I’m creating humanity let loose leagues of Arks carrying with them all sort of animals as well as phonograph machines that will teach these animals language (Fun Fact, these phonograph machines are where the name “Arsea” comes from).  We now enter into a new age of this language, the age of the arks.


 

The Space Arks

The Digitized "Puh" sonoglyph.
The Digitized “Puh” sonoglyph.

The first step was a simple one: As shown above I took all of the sonoglyphs (pictures that equate to a sound, or a fancy way of saying letters)and I “digitzed” them by tracing over all lines with tiny black pixel-like squares.  Once everything was digitized, I could set out creating certain words, phrases, etc, which I would then use for the next step of this alphanumeric rabbit hole.  I ended up with about thirty-five words and phrases that I eventually used to created a new round of letters, a few of those are included below to see how the Nu-Earth Sonoglyphs work together.

"Error", an important word in this world.
“Error”, an important word in this world.
"Gagnepain", yes I have a problem.
“Gagnepain”, yes I have a problem.
"Twarogowski", to honor the co-creator of  a lot of this imaginary mythos.
“Twarogowski”, to honor the co-creator of a lot of this imaginary mythos.
"Heisenberg 1", the name of one of the Arks.
“Heisenberg 1”, the name of one of the Arks.
"Quarters", for where creatures would live.
“Quarters”, for where creatures would live.

Well,  as luck/fate/chaos would have it the Human race destroyed themselves and all that was left of them were these giant floating space arks.  These arks floated around for thousands of years in space as new stars and planets were born (time also got a bit wibbly-wobbly here, this is all backstory for the animated universe).  Eventually these Arks crashed on to planets and let loose all of the creatures held inside, and when these creatures gained self-awareness they would see these giant ships and the wreckage from them and begin to craft their new language from these ruins.

So my next step was to mimic thousands of years of wear-and-tear and damage from entrance to the atmosphere and crashing onto planets.  This was done with the aide of data-bending and massive photoshop manipulation.  Unfortunately a lot of the documents I had from this step seem to have disappeared, but I do have what came next: breaking up all of these wrecked and pixellated images and beginning this whole process of of abstraction to logoglyphs to abstraction to sonoglyphs again.


 

Fonos: The Hieroglyphs of the Old Systems

So we’re back at step 1: Creating a hieroglyphic language to be then transposed into a sonoglyphic language.  I used the broken up chunks of the old Ark glitches to create new symbols.  Some of these symbols were near direct translations from the Ark to the Glyph, others used ideas from the Arks but rotated or combined them to create a new glyph, and still yet some glyphs are based around other Fonos glyphs.  I ended up with about 100 of these heiroglyphs.

All 100 or so of the Fonos Logoglyphs.
All 100 or so of the Fonos Logoglyphs.

Aside from directly translating these fractured bits of broken imaginary broken screens and spaceships, I also wanted to try and simplify these glyphs a bit, or at least make them more organic feeling.  So to get each of the cards above I again went through and traced and re-traced each sketch until the glyphs were broken down enough.  Then I brought them back into the computer, which that process in itself then added new wrinkles to each drawing (often times the filters I used would fill in circles with smaller circles, or they’d cause smaller lines that were just wrinkles in the paper to appear).  So to get the digital files that I’d then be working on, which I’ve included some of my favorites below, I would pick and choose which aspects of the new files I liked and which aspects needed to go and finished off with all of these:

The Fonos logoglyph for "Fire".
The Fonos logoglyph for “Fire”.

 

The Fonos Glyph for "Living".
The Fonos Glyph for “Living”.

 

The Fonos Logoglyph for "Sense"
The Fonos Logoglyph for “Sense”.

 

The Fonos Logoglyph for "Government".
The Fonos Logoglyph for “Government”.

 

The Fonos Logoglyph for "Reason"
The Fonos Logoglyph for “Reason”.

 

The Fonos Logoglyph for "Interest"
The Fonos Logoglyph for “Interest”.

 

The Fonos Logoglyph for "Beauty"
The Fonos Logoglyph for “Beauty”.

 

THe Fonos Logoglyph for "Ground"
The Fonos Logoglyph for “Ground”.

 

The Fonos Logoglyph for "Science".
The Fonos Logoglyph for “Science”.

 

The Fonos Logoglyph for "Feast"
The Fonos Logoglyph for “Feast”.

 


 

The Final Frontier

Okay, we’re near the end.  Once I had all 100 or so glyphs finished and digitally uploaded I split them all apart into different categories based on what their main features were.  From there I combined the glyphs, simplified them, anything to see what sorts of forms or recurring shapes could be seen among all of them.  I then took 44 of these combined glyphs (though some were direct translations) to match up with the 44 phonetic sounds.  These 44 starters can be seen below:

The Antiquity version of Arsean script.
The Antiquity version of Arsean script.

As you can see, though my goal was simplification, it didn’t really work out.  But that was no matter, because it was time for another round of tracing and re-tracing these pictures in an effort to compress hundreds of years of letter-mutating in the span of only a few weeks.  On top of tracing and re-tracing I also wanted to be sure that (almost) every letter for this new language could be accomplished with only three strokes of a pen/pencil/claw, and so through eventually amongst all of this change I came to the final 44 letters of Arsea, shown in two plates below along with their phonetic alphabet words to let you know the sound they make.

 

The Modern Arsean Letters
The Modern Arsean Letters
Organ
“Or” making that sound, or the beginning sound of “Organ”.

And a few closer looks at some of my favorite letters:

"Wee", making the "Wuh" sound.
“Wee”, making the “Wuh” sound.
"Tho" making the beginning "Th" sound in "The".
“Tho” making the beginning “Th” sound in “The”.
"Oure", making the O-U-R sound in "Tour".
“Oure”, making the O-U-R sound in “Tour”.
"Go", or the "Guh" sound like in "Goat".  Also, it looks like a goat.
“Go”, or the “Guh” sound like in “Goat”. Also, it looks like a goat.
"Io", the letter that makes the sound "I" or "Eye" or "Aye".
“Io”, the letter that makes the sound “I” or “Eye” or “Aye”.
"Eer", making an "Ear" sound.
“Eer”, making an “Ear” sound.
"Choo", making the "Sh" sound like "Charlie".
“Choo”, making the “Sh” sound like “Charlie”.
"Al", making the hard "A" sound which begins "Alpha".
“Al”, making the hard “A” sound which begins “Alpha”.
"Oop", making the middle double-o sound in "book".
“Oop”, making the middle double-o sound in “book”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s it.  Arsea is a direct phonetic cipher, so any word you want to write you just break apart into its sounds and pick out the correct letters for it.  Was this an extremely complicated way to get at something extremely simple? Yes. Did I waste my time?  That, I open up for your discussion.

Vanitas

Huh.  Well I’ve realized that I’ve been a bit behind on posting up-to-date films.  Sure, I’ve been putting up all of the short experiments that are on my YouTube Page, but what about all of the more important films on my ever-popular and beginning in a much better letter Vimeo Page?

If it weren’t for every major newspaper covering my life as front-of-page news, none of you would know of the slightly longer, more put-together experimental shorts that I’ve been making!  Well, I’m going to fix that. I’m going to fix that today.  Here,  Watch my latest.  Watch Vanitas:

Vanitas from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

Wow, that was fun!  So let’s first take a look at how this was all put together.  Firstly, I wanted to try my hand at time-lapse filming, so for every ten minutes or so for one afternoon I took about 15-30 seconds of video of the same still-life in front of my Cactus: Okonkwo.  Once I put all of the clips together I had about six minutes of video, far too long for an experimental piece, and so I got to work speeding everything up to get it within the typical 1 minute these data bends are (Also: The longer the video, the greater the chance that my Data Bending program, Audacity, will fail to load everything).  After that I took the sped up video and transferred it into Audacity, where you’re able to manipulate the data inside of the video file and get the resulting glitches.  I repeated this about six times, each time exporting a new video file with the already-bent video files in it, sometimes these were overlaid on top of the original file, sometimes there were two bent files overlaid on top of each other, and I would also alternate the speed of the video (sometimes the file would be 1 minute, sometimes 2, sometimes 30 seconds).  Finally I had the completed video, I did a bit of color work (mostly to get the dead grey space resulting from numerous manipulations of data to be something a bit more interesting), and there we go.  The product is above. You should have seen it by now.

BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN? The title, set-up, etc. of this film is based around the Flemish painting style of the renaissance, which features heavy themes of futility, inevitability, and death.  All the fun things.  I wanted to do something a bit more involved than using vacation videos, and I figured the best way to explore this (as well as using it as a focus on light, time, and interactions of form) would be to make a still life, and when I think still lives I think of the Vanitas.  Vanitas also feeds into what I’m exploring through these data bends: Using the essence of a digital video against itself.  There are two large camps of digital filmmakers: Those who use the digital medium and try to make it look “film-like”, and those who don’t try to make the digital video look like film but don’t try to do much to differentiate it from what has come before.  With my data bends I try to look at what makes shooting digital unique and explore the aesthetics of the digital (so pixels, frames bleeding into each other, freezing, etc).  Also, with digital works there is no physical record of what you’ve done.  Instead everything exists in a series of ones and zeroes on a hard drive somewhere.  So, in the end, a lot of what this piece plays with is the transient nature of the digital image and how soon (maybe in a week or so) this piece will be lost to memory and time and, as such, reach its “death”.

Top 100 Movies

People  walk up to me in the street and scream in my face “What’s your favorite movie” at least once,  and so to be prepared for this again here is a current list of top 100 movies. Perhaps come next year this list will change, but here’s something hastily scrambled together for now.

Top 10 Science Fiction Films

  1. The Day the Earth Stood Still (Wise, 1951)
  2. Brother From Another Planet (Sayles, 1984)
  3. Stalker (Tarkovsky, 1979)
  4. Alphaville (Godard, 1965)
  5. Gojira (Honda, 1954)
  6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977)
  7. Fiend Without a Face (Crabtree, 1958)
  8. Blade Runner (Scott, 1982)
  9. Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
  10. City of Lost Children (Jeunet, 1995)

Top 10 Animated Films

  1. My Neighbor Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988)
  2. The Triplets of Belleville (Chomet, 2003)
  3. Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)
  4. Grave of the Fireflies (Takahata, 1988)
  5. Finding Nemo (Stanton, 2003)
  6. The Brave Little Toaster (Rees, 1987)
  7. Dimensions of Dialogue (Svankmajer, 1983)
  8. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Hertzfeldt, 2012)
  9. Aladdin (Clements, 1992)
  10. Castle in the Sky (Miyazaki, 1986)

Top 10 Films Noir

  1. Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950)
  2. Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)
  3. Shock Corridor (Fuller, 1963)
  4. The Man Who Wasn’t There (Coen, 2001)
  5. Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944)
  6. Scarlet Street (Lang, 1945)
  7. Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich, 1955)
  8. The Lady From Shanghai (Welles, 1947)
  9. The Long Goodbye (Altman, 1973)
  10. Red Rock West (Dahl, 1993)

Top 10 Comedies

  1. Fargo (Coen, 1996)
  2. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera (Blamire, 2001)
  3. Being John Malkovich (Jonze, 1999)
  4. Daisies (Chytilová, 1966)
  5. It’s a Disaster (Berger, 2012)
  6. The Brothers Bloom (Johnson, 2008)
  7. In Bruges (McDonagh, 2008)
  8. Survive Style 5+ (Sekiguchi, 2004)
  9. Raising Arizona (Coen, 1987)
  10. Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, 1924)

Top 10 Dramas

  1. Blood Simple (Coen, 1984)
  2. Melancholia (Von Trier, 2011)
  3. Oldboy (Park, 2003)
  4. 12 Angry Men (Lumet, 1957)
  5. L’Eclisse (Antonioni, 1962)
  6. The Phantom Carriage (Sjöström, 1921)
  7. Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942)
  8. What Time is it There? (Tsai, 2001)
  9. Oasis (Lee, 2002)
  10. Network (Lumet, 1976)

Top 10 Horror Films

  1. Videodrome (Cronenberg, 1983)
  2. Evil Dead II (Raimi, 1987)
  3. Woman in the Dunes (Teshigahara, 1964)
  4. Gremlins (Dante, 1984)
  5. Alien (Scott, 1979)
  6. The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973)
  7. House (Ôbayashi, 1977)
  8. Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)
  9. The Thing (Carpenter, 1982)
  10. Re-Animator (Gordon, 1985)

Top 10 Action/Adventure Films

  1. The Princess Bride (Reiner, 1987)
  2. Face/Off (Woo, 1997)
  3. Kung Fu Hustle (Chow, 2004)
  4. Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone, 1968)
  5. The Sword of Doom (Okamoto, 1966)
  6. The Fifth Element (Besson, 1997)
  7. Seven Psychopaths (McDonagh, 2012)
  8. Looper (Johnson, 2012)
  9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg, 1989)
  10. Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1992)

Top 10 Documentaries

  1. Stop Making Sense (Demme, 1984)
  2. Lost in La Mancha (Fulton/Pepe, 2002)
  3. Harlan County U.S.A (Kopple, 1976)
  4. Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010)
  5. Waltz with Bashir (Folman, 2008)
  6. A Brief History of Time (Morris, 1991)
  7. F for Fake (Welles, 1973)
  8. Best Worst Movie (Stephenson, 2009)
  9. Bowling for Columbine (Moore, 2002)
  10. The Thin Blue Line (Morris, 1988)

Top 10 History/Biography Films

  1. All The President’s Men (Pakula, 1976)
  2. Matewan (Sayles, 1987)
  3. The Informant! (Soderbergh, 2009)
  4. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1928)
  5. The Thin Red Line (Malick, 1998)
  6. Catch Me If You Can (Spielberg, 2002)
  7. Rome, Open City (Rosselini, 1945)
  8. Milk (Van Sant, 2008)
  9. The Scarlet Empress (Sternberg, 1934)
  10. Ashes and Diamonds (Wajda, 1958)

Top 10 Miscellaneous/Uncategorizable/Experimental Films

  1. Eraserhead (Lynch, 1977)
  2. Southland Tales (Kelly, 2006)
  3. 8 1/2 (Fellini, 1963)
  4. Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929)
  5. Naked Lunch (Cronenberg, 1991)
  6. Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier, 2000)
  7. A Movie (Conner, 1958)
  8. La Jetée (Marker, 1962)
  9. Ballet Mécanique (Léger, 1924)
  10. Wavelength (Snow, 1967)

Honorable Mentions:

 

So there they are.  You may now commence telling me why all of these lists are wrong.  You have one year: GO.

 

 

Bonne Terre Mines 5/30/14

So this is a data bend from a while ago, but currently the last one I have finished.  It’s from the Bonne Terre Mines in Missouri, the largest man-made underground cave structures (although most of the mines are now underwater).  Back in the day they were lead mines.  Now they’re a tourist attraction. And now it’s also a data bend:

 

Even for a series of experiments, this one is much more abstract than some of the others (due in large part because, surprise surprise, there’s not a lot of light underground).  The shimmering and jumping effect, then, becomes even more noticed, as does each extra pixel and splash of “missing green”.  I like it.  I’m also a big fan of the cameo of my brother-in-law Hector at the end as he turns around and is almost stuck in a pixelized time loop.  It’s like a monster from a J-Horror movie about a monster that attacks video pirates.

I’m Tired and My Head Hurts

Here’s a seldom seen one from my time in Boulder.  Part of that is because I’ve never thought very highly of it, part of it is because it’s completely made up of copyrighted material that I don’t necessarily want to break the copyright on. At any rate, it’s a “Film Essay” that I made about the themes of loneliness and alienation in “Meshes of the Afternoon”, “The Cool World”, “Ornette: Made in America”, and “Jeanne Dielmann 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles”.  Let’s take a look at it and see if I’m right about it being sort of boring:

I’m Tired and My Head Hurts from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

No I’m not.  The disjointed nature of the film not only helps keep something like this interesting (I had never heard of film essays before, since then I’ve seen a few and so I know it’s a thing and something that could be sort of neat), but it also helps convey a lot of the ideas on these films and how they can connect visually and metaphorically in a scattered but understandable approach.  Outside of the realm of Video Essay, though, I also think that if nothing else this is a good study on alienation through information, as I included so many layers of video, audio, and text, that it overwhelms the viewer when they can’t keep up with everything (plus, the minute in complete blackness is a nice touch).  So in the end, I suppose I learned today that one of the films I had previously thought was pointless is actually sort of nice.  What did you learn today?