Kurt Ralske
Work in Progress
January-February, 2004

____Video as a tool for re-mapping 4 dimensional space

“These possibilities are very exciting to me, and my hope is that work that reveals time by transforming it causes the viewer to experience a different, expanded sense of time, and thus a different, expanded sense of their own life passing through time.”

These three works explore time, and our perception of time. For me, one of the most interesting qualities of video is that it is in reality only a collection of still images. At 30 video frames per second, any 10 seconds of fluid movement can alternately be considered as a static collection of 300 related still images. Working in the digital realm in a real-time manner, there are endless possibilies for instantly treating a new video recording as a library of stills, then deriving new material by analyzing or modifying this library: reordering entries, comparing similarity or difference between entries, deriving a single image from multiple entries, etc.

In painting and drawing, the artist makes decisions on what rules to follow to project the 3 dimensions of physical space onto the 2 dimensions of the canvas. Classical vanishing-point perspective, Byzantine reversed perspective, and Cubism are some familiar examples of various methods for collapsing 3 dimensions onto a 2 dimensional image. Every artist’s personal style of 3d-to-2d mapping become an identifiable element of his/her “hand”.

Similarly, the video or film artist makes decisions on how to work with events that occur in time (the 4th dimension) to re-map 4 dimensions onto alternate, transformed 2, 3, or 4 dimensional spaces. There are endless possibilities for converting time-based events into modified, transformed or collapsed representations.

We have learned techniques for “reading” transformed representations and unconsciously use them all the time. We know the map is smaller than the territory it represents; we know the Mona Lisa is “closer” to us than the horizon; we know that the 1 hour 40 minutes of a Hollywood film do not represent a slice of real-time (as we experience it), but instead, events that occurred at various times.

Digital video (especially when combined with custom software processing) offers new possibilities for re-mapping 4 dimensions that extend far beyond the familiar techniques of film and analog video, which we can already “read” without conscious effort. These possibilities are very exciting to me, and my hope is that work that reveals time by transforming it causes the viewer to experience a different, expanded sense of time, and thus a different, expanded sense of their own life passing through time.

____”Zebra Time” (aquarium, fish, video camera, custom software, computer, projector):

A small school of fish (Brachydanio rerio, commonly known as Zebras) swim in an aquarium. A video camera is pointed at the aquarium, and images of the fish are captured into the computer. The artist’s custom software processes the images, which are projected behind the aquarium. The processing of the images destroys their temporal integrity, that is, events that occur at different times are represented simultaneously. At times, the frame fills with the residue of previous actions; in this way, the fish, by their actions, are the creators of a “painting”.____”Cold Time / 3rd Time” (DVD) :

Two audio-visual pieces are played consecutively. In “Cold Time” (4 min), a small number of abstract b+w still images are animated in subtle, painterly ways. The images drift, melt, and move erratically. The soundtrack is a recording of shortwave radio noises from the 1950s, which are allegedly transmissions of encrypted information by cold-war-era spies. The mood is dark and foreboding. In “3rd Time” (15:30 min), one minute of 1950s footage of the NYC elevated subway line is drastically extended by a cyclic, iterative looping algorithm. A soundtrack created by the artist to match the one-minute version is similarly processed to be tightly synchronized with the looping of the image. “3rd Time” is a record of a real-time performance (that is, its 15:30 minute duration required exactly 15:30 minutes to create), and is presented unedited, as a document of the work process. The temporal integrity of each frame is fractured, that is, parts of each frame are actually a record of previous events. As a result, objects themselves become fractured and lose their distinct location in space and time. The incessant repetitive cycling of the images risks an overdetermined single-mindedness, but instead approaches a hypnotic and visceral thrill.

____”Mer Time” (DVD, 3 monitors, ink-jet print 150x50cm) :

A still image is created through the residue of a video performance. The still image is then re-converted back into video via a long, slow close-up pan across its surface. Thus a time-based process (the unseen video performance) is transformed into an inanimate object (still image), and the inanimate object is transformed back into a new time-based process (video on monitors). This sequence of mappings is 4d to 2d to 4d.