This abstract film was inspired by the occasion of filmmaker Norman McLaren’s 100th anniversary. Insects in their final moments chatter noisily, displaying extravagant colors and patterns. It is their great feast of love. The film was made by scratching and painting directly on 8mm film. Powder and layers of transparent lacquer were also applied, with more layers of paint, lending depth to the various colors. The audio stream was created optically with an original system, ‘The Octopus’. Light sensors on the projection screen respond to the changing patterns in the film to control an analogue synthesizer. The film itself acts as a visual score.
This work is motivated by our interest in two technologies which some may, at first glance, consider to be obsolete: 8mm film and analogue modular synthesis. While most moving image production has shifted to an entirely digital workflow, some artists continue to be interested in film. The reasons for the appeal of film are not straightforward and not completely understood by the artists themselves, but it is certain that film entails a distinct working process that affords tactile intimacy differing from a digital workflow. Direct film techniques include painting and scratching patterns onto an exposed film by hand and this allows lyrical, painterly expression. Likewise, patching an analogue synth with wires and tweaking the sound with knobs offers a tactile process that strongly differs from the experience of programming a computer, even using visual languages. Moreover, film offers visual qualities difficult to simulate digitally and analogue synthesis offers a rich physically-based indeterminacy not directly attainable with digital synthesis.
With this project we are exploring aesthetic issues surrounding the continued use of non-digital audio and visual media. While the artists are deeply involved with digital practices, we celebrate the beauty of non-digital technology: the sounds of projector and richly varying sounds of an analogue synth, the tangle of wires on a modular patching bay, the deeply complex textures and tactile feel of film.