Video Vortex #9: Breaking the frame in theory and practice





Saturday, March 2, 2013

In his Breaking the Frame talk, Vito Campanelli takes Vilém Flusser’s philosophy of photography as a starting point for thinking about a theory of online video. Flusser described how photography or imagery was contained by categories covering the culture like a net, where we only see what comes through the meshes. The artist or photographer tests the categories and his apparatus: Flusser talks of a ‘programmed freedom’.

Campanelli raises the question of perspective, like we heard before in the panel about First Person Shooters. Now, in digital times, many points of view are possible, and we don’t necessarily choose the best one. There is an imperative to realize as many points of view as possible, using different devices. The user no longer has a fear of the apparatus, but just uses and enjoys it. There is no critical level, no choices to be made anymore in what is shot with the camera. This means that the issue of reduction in experimentation comes up again (this also rings with the talks yesterday). Still, we need to see video as a product never finished, not frozen in one definite option, instead existing as an infinite, modifiable possibility, an infinite editability.

Campanelli also asserts that space as a category gains importance, which is a recurring theme at this Video Vortex conference. Before, with film cameras, the filming itself didn’t bring about a significant movement. Now, with modern cameras incorporated in gadgets to be carried a everywhere, there is a freedom of movements. Just think about the great difference between looking through a viewfinder with one eye closed, as in old photo cameras, and the way we film with a digital device, holding it from our body towards the object, looking at the screen together. We move beyond the obstacles which were there before and this leads to the aesthetization of the framing act. Moreover, says Campanelli, aesthetization will be the one thing left, working for the pleasure of the filmer and viewer, who nevertheless is still in constant search of information. It is one way of interacting with the data overload which characterizes our digital times. Does this mean that information overload leads to an aesthetic way of viewing and capturing the world? Is the pleasure of framing all that remains?

Robert M Ochshorn uses mathematical filtering in order to reframe the world, really ‘breaking the frames’ so the structure and time lapse of the video is foregrounded. The core of his research lies in the idea of compression, raising many questions about what information is, what is important, what editing means in this process. Or, to draw the line with other talks and themes: reduction and manipulation of material, very much in a repetitive, computational kind of way, concerned with indexing and archiving. Ochshorns work seems more concerned with temporality than spatiality. Shown on the big screen of the conference hall it really hits the spot, and makes me very curious to learn more about his projects.