Broken Cinema: The Eye and Hand in a Time-Based Art

Broken Cinema: The Eye and Hand in a Time-Based Art

Raphael DiLuzio (University of Maine, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-352-4.ch008
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This is a guide for working with a visual art form using a digital time-based medium. This chapter will provide an overview of the necessary theories; processes, concepts and most important the “elements,” needed to create expressive visual artworks through the technologies associated with this visual art form. It will examine in some detail how people can effectively visually communicate and express our artistic ideas and intentions through a digitally time-based medium. We have reached a point in time-based visual art where the tools and technology have matured enough to allow us to focus our attention more on process and concept rather than specific hardware or software tools. Please understand that more than a theorist, the author is a practitioner of the art form that he will discuss in the following pages. As such, at times, the author will be using his own empirical experience to support arguments in combination with or in place of the opinions of others. The ideas this chapter would like to address are rather complex and there is not enough space in a single chapter to put them forth in their entirety. Therefore, by necessity the atuhor will have to be brief, somewhat simplified, and a bit reductive. Nonetheless, he hopes it provides a basic understanding of the concepts and principles for creating visual art with a digital time-based medium.
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“To See a World...”

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.

(Fragments from “Auguries of Innocence” William Blake)



Visual art forms continue to evolve due to new innovations and the combination of traditional and emerging concepts, technologies, and processes creating new mediums and tools of artistic expression. How the artist works with these new mediums and how we, the viewer (or participant) understand meaning through visual perception is simultaneously evolving as well. The way in which the visual artists creates new works relative to changes in technology and the way we extract meaning from these new visual art forms and understand their inherent narratives in their new appearances is continually adapting.

During the Italian Renaissance, science and art would often intermingle, overlap and sometimes be engaged in by practitioners of both disciplines. Leonardo da Vinci was a perfect example of the type of creative artist who was able to work in both areas and combine them. Over time a divide occurred between these two disciplines that separated art from many of the technologies and innovations of science. In the ensuing five hundred years, from the Renaissance to the later part of the nineteenth century, the creative technology available for artists to use changed very little.

Driven by artistic urges and developing naturally out existing practices and technologies, innovations in printmaking and still photography, such as varnishing advanced the technique in oil painting of glazing and the camera obscura that was the predecessor of the photograph. Unlike prior artistic forms, the historical development of film, that is to say the motion picture, as a creative medium was unique. The medium did not arise from the needs or creative explorations of the artists. Instead, the invention of a new technology “gave rise to the discovery and gradual perfection of a new art” (Panfosky, 1997). No sooner had this art form been established then the reverse became true and much like other visual art forms the creative desires and explorations of art-makers spurred innovation and advancement of the art form itself.

Initially, the invention of the computer seemed to have little or nothing to do with art. Eventually, as we well know, the computer came to play a fundamental and influential role in evolution and creation of new creative art forms. Through its processing power and the ability to work with digital sound and image many pre-existing art forms including music, photography, drawing, and printmaking can now be created with the computer as a tool (please note, I specifically refer to the computer as a tool and not a medium). This has allowed the artist to creatively use and engage new technologies as they develop. It has also brought about a re-consideration of the relation between art and science and resulted in a tremendous amount of innovation and fusion in both areas.

The continued innovation of the digital process and its inclusion of motion picture technology created new opportunities of creative expression for the visual artists, very distinct from that of the traditional motion picture or contemporary cinematic mediums. Digital time-based visual art is the form that has resulted from the advancements in the technology and its accessibility as a creative medium for the artist. Used as a time-based tool it enables the artist to create visual work that embodies time as a formal element and engages it as an aspect of expression and narrative structure. Although it does share some of the formal qualities of the motion picture and cinema (as many art forms share qualities) it has a unique set of elements and principals all its own.

Working artistically and expressively with the available and evolving technologies for time-based creative practice requires consideration, understanding and application of the unique concepts, processes and principles that are fundamental to such a digital visual art form. This chapter will define a set of fundamental elements and formal principles specific to digital time-based art. It will also examine how the artist’s approach to the creative process has changed relative to working with an art form that is distinguished by its unique and particular set of temporal qualities. The discussion will cover a definition of terms specific to a digital time-based art form; the structural aspects of a time-based art; its relation and similarities to other mediums such as drawing, poetry and music and how its narrative form may differ from the traditional Aristotelian idea of narrative or Poetics as well as the established and conventional form of cinema.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Silent Eye: How we perceived and interpreted fixed visual imagery, such as paintings and photography prior to the introduction of motion pictures.

Superimposition: The ability to make a single composite image from two or more frames, clips or shots by laying one image over another by one of several means including chromakeying, transparency and blending effects.

Sequence: A series of clips in which the relation from one clip to one another is what begins to generate meaning. In principle it is related to the concept of semiotics as the individual clips can act as a kind of sign and signifier. In a sequence the contrast of the clips is what leads to expression and meaning.

Eye in Time: How we perceived and interpret time-based visual imagery after the invention of motion picture technology.

Frame-Rate: The amount of frames per second (fps) at which the work is either, recorded, edited in postproduction or played back. Frame rate refers to the ability to vary the speed of the film in adjusting the rate of the moving frame by showing more or less frames per second. The minimum amount of frames needed for relatively smooth motion is, arguably, twelve frames. This is minimum is referred to as persistence of vision.

Time-Form: The overall structure of the completed work. The time-form has a structure that is open not closed. It is a structure that contains a push-pull between static/fixed and motion/moving.

Clip: Any number of frames beyond one. A clip can show action event, but unlike the cinematic shot he clip only begins to act as a part of the language of the medium, it is not language itself and must be seen as mute to a degree unable to communicate anything beyond the most minimal.

Montage: The cutting together of two separate clips or sequences each with an independent meaning and the result of which is to produce a third meaning independent from the two.

Frame: The basic element of a time-based work that cannot be divided or separated or edited any further.

Duration: Duration is independent of frame-rate as it is the amount of time for which something is shown or continues not the speed of the thing shown. Duration can be used to create rhythmic structures. It can provide a kind of musical structuring. You can use duration to create visual beat even matching the tempo of a musical score.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Gabriele Meiselwitz
James Braman, Giovanni Vincenti, Goran Trajkovski
James Braman, Giovanni Vincenti, Goran Trajkovski
Chapter 1
Adérito Fernandes Marcos, Pedro Branco, João Álvaro Carvalho
Art objects might be described as symbolic objects that aim at stimulating emotions. They reach us through our senses (visual, auditory, tactile, or... Sample PDF
The Computer Medium in Digital Art's Creative Process
Chapter 2
Salah Uddin Ahmed, Letizia Jaccheri, Guttorm Sindre, Anna Trifonova
The interaction between art and technology, especially computing technology, is an increasing trend in the recent years. The context of this... Sample PDF
Conceptual Framework for the Intersection of Software and Art
Chapter 3
Joseph William Pruitt
The purpose of this chapter is to define the roles of engineering and design within the product development cycle looking at both the scientific and... Sample PDF
The Design of Engineering
Chapter 4
Jim Bizzocchi, Belgacem Ben Youssef
The chapter describes the synergistic integration of distinct research and creation agendas, each firmly grounded in its own set of practices and... Sample PDF
Ambient Video, Slow-Motion, and Convergent Domains of Practice
Chapter 5
Ethan Ham
Randomness is a slippery term that conveys different meanings in different disciplines. In mathematics, an individual number is random when there is... Sample PDF
Randomness, Chance, & Art
Chapter 6
Holography: Re-Defined  (pages 103-112)
Martin Richardson, Paul Scattergood
When writing this chapter it became apparent that we were not only exponents of digital holography, but also the critics. This is a problem when it... Sample PDF
Holography: Re-Defined
Chapter 7
Lorenzo Picinali
What is the real potential of computer science when applied to music? It is possible to synthesize a “real” guitar using physical modelling... Sample PDF
3D Sound Simulation over Headphones
Chapter 8
Raphael DiLuzio
This is a guide for working with a visual art form using a digital time-based medium. This chapter will provide an overview of the necessary... Sample PDF
Broken Cinema: The Eye and Hand in a Time-Based Art
Chapter 9
Ambivalent Interplay  (pages 146-161)
Heejoo Kim
The human vision, the most ubiquitous receptor of the human senses, has been the prevailing sensory organ for a noticeable manifestation of visual... Sample PDF
Ambivalent Interplay
Chapter 10
Yueh Hsiu Giffen Cheng
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The Aesthetics of Net dot Art
Chapter 11
Nicola Quinn, Annette Aboulafia
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A Graphics Tablet as a Fine Art Tool
Chapter 12
Greg J. Smith
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Information Visualization and Interface Culture
Chapter 13
Benjamin David Robert Bogart
“Memory Association Machine” (also known as “Self-Other Organizing Structure #1”) is the first prototype in a series of site-specific responsive... Sample PDF
Memory Association Machine
Chapter 14
Stefano De Luca, Eugenia Benelli, Francesco Altarocca, Dario Dussoni
Designing good and sound architectural projects is a hard job. Generally these kinds of projects involve many stakeholders, everyone with his/her... Sample PDF
EVO-PARK: Designing Better Architecture Projects Using Participated and Interactive Genetic Algorithms
Chapter 15
Sergiy Rakov, Viktor Gorokh, Kirill Osenkov
The chapter discusses the possibilities modern IT opens for Mathematics and its applications to real life, in particular to Art – by an example of... Sample PDF
Mathematics, Computer Mathematical Systems, Creativity, Art
Chapter 16
Jim Barta, Ron Eglash
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Chapter 17
Mia Kalish
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Visual Analytics and Conceptual Blending Theory
Chapter 18
Lindsay Grace
Enculturation is the act of passing cultural ideologies from one person to the other. It is what breeds innovation instead of new creation. It is... Sample PDF
The Challenge of Enculturation on Art
Chapter 19
Lindsay Grace
Software is philosophical. Software is designed by people who have been influenced by a specific understanding of the way objects, people and... Sample PDF
The Philosophies of Software
Chapter 20
Technological Social-ism  (pages 343-374)
Judson Wright
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Technological Social-ism
Chapter 21
Stephen A. Schrum
As creative people inhabit virtual worlds, they bring their ideas for art and performance with them into these brave new worlds. While at first... Sample PDF
Theatre in Second Life® Holds the VR Mirror up to Nature
Chapter 22
Machinima in Second Life  (pages 396-416)
Stephany Filimon
This chapter provides a brief history of machinima, films created by computer users within virtual worlds, and focuses on machinima produced within... Sample PDF
Machinima in Second Life
Chapter 23
Andrew Jinman
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Player Motivation and Understanding Game Dynamics
About the Contributors