Project: Michael Karr

Three cognitive states with functional integrity versus personal response, plus the erroneous state; versus a 'Concise (...) Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English'

thirty-two percent abridged

Let us consider the point at which a person begins to watch a film for the first time to be their birth into that reality, as a person is just as new to the film at such a moment as a newborn is to his surroundings. Different forms of art speak different languages and, although it is not an easy or straightforward task, translation is possible. Consider the different art forms as separate regions, built up of many countries or states that share a common language with a broad variety of dialects. The pertinence lies in the notion that a film, or any work of art, is produced by the nature of a creative mind. In witnessing this nature, you receive signals from the work in a language that you must, but will not necessarily, learn to interpret. When you are invited into such a world, know that natural selection is a much harder law, the average life span is short and the infant mortality rate is staggering.

It starts on May 1st, 13th and 29th, June 5th, 6th, and 8th and July 4th, all at once. I, with a cold, am sitting in a chair in a dimly lit part of my room, getting used to looking at myself on camera. I, without a cold, am lying on a couch in another part of my room and am operating my text cue using two buttons on a computer keyboard. This is not so comfortable with the extreme vocal maneuvering and my neck, so I decide to sit upright. A friend of mine in another take, sitting on the same couch and without his glasses, squints to read his lines. I, on the 4th of July, am switching between facial expressions and reading with the tempo of a piece of music playing in my ears; various painted objects stand in the background in a well-lit, colorful part of the room. One by one, these shots end and new shots come in; new faces, voices and settings/arrangements appear.

With:

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The film is a psycho-cognitive self-portrait with a supporting cast of 14 people. You see me at work on this film, performing many different tasks at the same time. Reading 68 percent of a dictionary aloud with clear articulation and fluent speaking tempo whilst following instructions in the script to switch quickly between three different voices, octaves apart from each other, while keeping the facial expression consistent. Keeping the voice constant while switching between three very different facial expressions. Verifying and correcting typos in the text as they present themselves, looking up a pronunciation when unsure, etc.

I aim at every public and no public at once. The audience is an inevitability. I do like to observe the audience and their natural relation/response to the work. I am not interested in unnatural or forced response. I am interested in working with film festivals and artist initiatives with a mind for transmedial applications of artistic intent.
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A live musician will control the soundtrack from an electronic keyboard, sending auto-tune signals directly into the render stream of the film. The program pre-processes the signals based on the loudness/length ratio and routes them to the appropriate audio layer. From each shoot, the audio spectrum is analyzed by Fast Fourier Transformation (FFT) and converted into a series of dots that graphs the fundamental frequency of the speech along a timeline. These dots are layered over each other into a graphical musical notation, much like the video images are layered one on top of the other. These dots, more precisely ellipses, have a different size/length ratio depending on which layer of audio they represent. (Vertical) height indicates how loudly a note is to be played and (horizontal) length indicates the length of time the key is kept depressed after attack. Through the implementation of new media and manual labor, the film returns us to the time when the soundtrack was played live at the screening of a film.
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The heads move like accordions, sometimes with a very large forehead or a very small chin, sometimes no lips. You see us conjoined at the shoulder, features melting off of our faces, one head with many different faces, interchanging in quick succession with each individual movement. The video sequences are all split into five equal strips, cropped so as to show only 68 percent of the image at any one point in time. The camera view moves up and down in real time, using the first five frequency layers in the audio spectrum as parameters. This happens for every layer, thus all figures will be moving independently of each other most of the time.

The film is subtitled in paragraph form, constructed of the many fragments of speech being recited, up to 15 layers at a time. Like the speakers, the subtitles do not change all at once. Portions of the paragraph disappear and new ones come in their place, giving the paragraph a different cumulative meaning or turning it into nonsense. The paragraphs become shorter as the sound and image become thinner. As different light sources mix and different attires are worn, the colors in the film undulate between hot and cool in a dense construction of long layered waves. The voices and the facial expressions also evolve over time; new colors develop in the voices and new shapes in the faces as they are exercised for extended periods of time. A cacophonic layering of voices coming from this psychedelic layering of faces, all reciting fragmented definitions of slang terms and expressions in their own complex rhythms of speech.

The topics range from childish slang (‘momo’, to mean ‘a motor or car’) to necrophilic pet names (‘soft one’, to mean ‘a corpse that has yet to stiffen’). Reading the text, one is confronted with an unbiased mélange of figurative terminology, none of which is intended to offend, entertain, irritate, be cute or to directly invoke any other personal response. Though it will (and did) do all of this, it is a dictionary and thus nothing other than information.

The audience will inevitably move in a similar fashion to all aspects of the film. An audience will enter the screening area, each is free to come and go as they please, to be replaced by new audience members. The film, lasting precisely 9 hours, 59 minutes and 10 seconds, accounts for the natural and synthetic processes by which the work as a complex organism came to exist; the screenings will be documented to record the relationships amongst all elements of the film, audience included, for further research and publication.
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