Video Locomotion (man performing forward hand leap)

Peer Bode

1978 | 00:05:10 | United States | English | B&W | Silent | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Early Video Art, Single Titles

Tags: Film or Videomaking, Photography, Video History

"Homage to Eadweard Muybridge. A historical Muybridge photo grid is put into an electronic video signal space. Working with collected postcards, in this case, the durational photo series by the 19th century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, this video re-enacts the proto-cinema moment using two varyingly synchronized b+w video cameras and a video keyer. The movement effect is created by detuning the horizontal and vertical video sychronization of one of the video cameras. One of the video camera’s image remains still while the other drifts horizontally and vertically at varying speeds. Drift and doubling takes place. When the video camera’s horizontal frequency doubles the man appears to double up, on top of himself. A basic video signal structure, sync, along with a basic video process, keying, together create a cinema like shutter, creating a crude persistence of vision machine. The physical structures of the time-detuned and keyed video signals bring to Muybridge's photogrid a new electronic animation of false movements. Keying the second moving camera image over the first, the real-time composite ironically creates the shutter like film (cinema) effect.

The Muybridge photo grid sent through significant video architectures creates a new real-time moving image event, moments to see the persistence of vision. With the keying and the drifting we simultaneously see within the image the transitioning back and forth between the single drifting image elements and the illusion of continuous movement. The constructs of video and still photography cross within this evocation of cinematic magic. The thresholds revealed are those of the apparatuses of photography, video and that of our perceptual cognitive systems. If Muybridges’s photogrids are the proto-cinema moment, what might the electronic animations of Video Locomotions (man performing forward hand leap) be the precursor to? Possibly, it is that of an electronic art, which we are now only beginning to know and live in with confidence. The overall structure of the five-minute video piece is that of periodic pause and movement. The screen-duration of the frozen photogrids increases as the screen-duration of the photogrids in movement decreases. The apparatus for magic; one postcard, two b&w cameras, one screwdriver for camera time-base detuning, fingers and video keying. This piece was made at the moment when we also began to use digital frame buffers. The flowing movements of the original recording were made with real-time analog electronics. The frozen frames were the result of another recording using a new digital frame-grabbing device. The two, the analog and the digital, were then edited together. The analog signal/culture crossing into the digital, it turned out, marked another historical threshold moment captured in Video Locomotion (man performing forward hand leap)." 

– Peer Bode


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