Thursday, February 13, 2014

Source of inspirations for TORN

TORN's color pallete and narrative anchor is the Hyalophora cecropia moth, below are examples of the color range of these incredible creatures. Their range is generally east of the Rockies from Texas to Ontario, with outliers near Spokane WA, Salt Lake City UT, Southern California and oddly Cuba and Alberta Canada.  I thought this range would serve as reasonable coverage to describe where the subject of the film took place. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Charlie Foxtrot

Charlie Foxtrot, originally conceived as an animated video installation, compiled for online viewing with audio intended for for surround sound. This film is my BFA thesis film, Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Experience Charlie Foxtrot an animated film that puts viewers into first person point of view of women's experiences in war, with an intimate glimpse into the thoughts of a warrior.

Qathrin Gallaher Hart
Charlie Foxtrot: animated video installation.
Watercolor on paper, digital painting, live action, rotoscope.
Looping video 02:22, looping audio 03:04.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

UN-DO: Tenacious Filmmakers Transcend Materiality with Digital Tools.

In Meticulously Recklessly Worked Up: Direct animation, the Auratic and the Index. (pg 167), Tess Takahashi defends the argument that digital filmmaking has been perceived as a threat, not only to the medium of film, but to the filmic avant-garde. Digital, has been seen as a potential hazard to artist innovation, Takahashi argues "the work produced by digital apparatus is considered too "automatic," the options it provides too "cookie cutter". Stating that digital methodology presents opportunities for timesaving techniques.

Is the threat of digital, that it puts accessible tools into the hands of the tenacious? Is the threat that anyone can do it therefore digital invalidates the institution of filmmaking? I argue that digital filmmaking tools have established themselves and found equilibrium as a method after an explosion of exploration by avant-gardists. What remains is a legacy of theory, methodology, practice, principles and history of filmmaking. Techniques of filmmaking persist through advancements of technology from film, to video, to digital tools. The tools of digital filmmaking does not a filmmaker make, anymore than the early instant cameras of Kodak threatened enculturated photographic artists, or anymore than digital still cameras have threatened institutionalized photography of art, portraits or journalism.

The advancements of digital tools, their programming, and the media they’re presented on and the advancements in the production of solid state transistors have contributed to the availability of professional filmmaking tools packaged for consumers. Now, one may shop an online store to purchase computers powerful enough to produce films, as well as the software suites designed to mimic physical methods of filmmaking on one's screen; virtual stores sell animation tools and materials, quality cameras and grip equipment, all delivered to your door. Digital tools interrupt tradition by changing capture devices, editing suites and presentation and preservation tools. However, the artist still requires some space to draw, paint, to model material in the physical world, this fundamental aspect of animation remains the same; unthreatened by technology.

Workflow processes for digital filmmaking may be a material-less medium to carry captured images to viewers, digital films may possess a great deal of material in the captured images themselves. Still are required talent that must be directed for each frame. The drawings and paintings still pass through the body of the artist to the surface or digital stage of a film. Particularly with digital animation, the digital advantage is not a matter of automation or time saving efficiency with push button results, but permits independent artists to create work without the specific constraints of the medium of film and the material world. The few advantages of digital over film can't be seen as coast our time saving for with the magic of social filmmaking tools a filmmaker may meticulously scrutinize each frame pixel by pixel that is just as direct and intentional as work produced directly on film. The debatable question, is the materiality of the film emulsion on celluloid running through a machine, interrupting a beam of light processes and edited to create consecutive image sequences much different from the image creation and capture methodologies of avant-garde filmmakers of 2013?

Digital, I argue is similar to more traditional avant-garde direct filmmaking techniques, but different mostly in the processing or developing and editing the materials. Rather than emulsion on celluloid infused by light, developed, edited and printed and the myriad applied techniques between each production point. Digital is also physical, rarely do we think of it as such, I long considered digital to be intangible, however the digital is rather tangible indeed, we rely on solid state sensors imprinted with electrodes that contain many fascinatingly tiny transistors, these are imprinted with light or electronic signals to make imaged which are adjusted and edited with another set of electors and sensors by powerful solid stage magnetic hard drives, copied and printed, actual physical film may remain pay off the process, as well as drawing, or scratch animation. The difference is the media that captures the light itself. Digital workflow processes are almost inseparable from modern independent avant-garde filmmaking processes.

As a one to one direct comparison of direct on film animation and direct digital animation methods, direct on film animation styles translate a little differently with digital tools in that one may ‘un-do’ rather than work with the physical consequences of mark making directly to the media in the material world. Craft and craftsmanship have not been cast aside with developments of digital tools and their applications to avant-garde filmmaking. Whether a filmmaker is making a mark with paints, bodily fluids, or fire, how is that process different from making a ‘mark’ with a graphics tablet? The hand of the artist is very much a lingering trace of the process either way. For the hand is still working with a tool to make a mark, on a wax, paper, plaster, film, silk with a scribe, brush, or stylus a mark is made and captured and remembered and stands to represent the humanity of the artist regardless of the storage medium film or digital. While the material is missing from direct digital animation, it’s not for lack of effort and energy.

Clement Valla’s film A Sequence of Lines Traced by Five Hundred Individuals, (2011), is not only digital, but outsourced to five hundred people directed to trace a line presented in the digital drawing software he created for the project in conjunction with’s Mechanical Turk, “a marketplace for work”, each contributor was paid two cents per line. The work alludes to a present-absence of each individual taking part in the creation of the film. Each line wobbles a bit, creating conversation with the lines before it and the lines after it as the sequence progresses, each line provides a trace echo of the lines drawn before.

Screencap from A Sequence of Lines Traced by Five Hundred Individuals, Clement Valla, 2011

                  Screencap from Spin Cycle, Jeff Scher, 2007

Filmmaker Jeff Scher joins traditional watercolor painting techniques and digital tools to create his short digital animated films. By creating his own moving images with a digital camera to use as source, exporting as moving image files, down projected onto his painting surface; once painted the cells are shot with a digital camera and moving image sequence software to produce films that are then composited together to make short animations. While the medium is traditional, the advancements of digital tools have made the filmmaking process time efficient by the immediacy of results when painting, capturing, rendering and editing. With his film Spin Cycle, 2007, Scher created an animated loop of a slice of white bread spinning in space brought to life with ecstatically changing backgrounds. Scher’s work possesses certain aspects of of Wabi-sabi, in that the work celebrates irregularity, simplicity and economy of time and material resources, his techniques for mark making are strongly presented in brush strokes and the flow of the medium used to make the images.

Other artists, such as myself, utilize found digital videos as my source materials, save to my computer, imported into image manipulation software altered, distilled, and deconstructed digitally, then printed to rotoscope, or directly treat the surfaces of the paper cells, then shoot, arrange and edit digitally once again. With multiple digital steps the indexical traces from the source footage is layered together with my own mark making. I’m interested in the intersection of materiality of mark making, and a transference of aura many times digitally removed from the original object without erasing my own presence in the process. I’m attempting this by rotoscoping with varied traditional tools as well as the most innovative ways I can to consider and explore digital capture and release of energy. Fellow artist Micah Weber shoots his own digital video source material, distills image sequences with exactitude, then either prints the image sequences, giving way to incidental mechanical marks incurred in the process; or manipulate physically before digitally shooting his sequences, alternately he may use an image creation software to draw ‘directly’ onto his source videos. He edits his movie files with such precision the montage creates an emotional response with viewers, one of awkward discomfort, his films make audiences fidgety in their seats.

Regardless of digital processes, human intervention with traditional indexical capture methods create media that bears the marks of it’s makers, with indicators of an auratic presence of both the artist’s source reference materials and the filmmaker-animator by her choices in tools. What is avant-garde if an artist isn’t embracing advancing digital technology. We can look forward to technological advancements that will provide hands off filmmaking experiences for the filmmaker, and screenless presentation devices like virtual retinal displays completely removing the indexicality and aura of the filmmaker, but she will still be participating in the discourse of avant-garde filmmaking.

What will transcend between material methodologies and digital methodologies is what lies between the digital, the material of the medium and back again to digital. While a filmmaking process could very well be fully ‘automated’ through digital tools, the mind of the maker is always present. Is it reasonable to suggest that digital filmmaking will be completely devoid of human interaction in the filmmaking process? Of course not.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Poppy Show

POPPY SHOW from Q Hart on Vimeo.

Poppy Show, once upon a time little girls would pick flowers, pressing the petals between pieces of glass in kaleidoscopic patterns, they'd get together to display them to each other, charging a penny entry fee; later the Poppy Show morphed to refer to a diorama that little dudes would carry around the neighborhood, still charging a penny for a look inside.

Today we recognize the poppy as a symbol of remembrance; in many communities around the world, school children make paper or felt poppy boutonnieres to give to their communities as an act of mnemonic labor (doing the work to preserve collective memory), remembering our veterans.

This Poppy Show was displayed on a electronic tablet set inside a diorama.

Made for Boundary Crossings 2013, a two week summer intensive animated arts institute, at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland OR.

The poppy carries deep metaphor from ancient times to the present, the poppy and opium have been linked to earliest known humanoids for a number of reasons, pain management being the first, then sleep, resurrection and remembrance of fallen warriors. Opium trade has fueled colonialism, imperialism and war. While colonialism and imperialism are diligently being eradicated, wars are still funded by opium trade; wars are still fought over opium control in ways that look a lot like colonialism. People still medicate with opium derivatives, either by prescription or self-medicating.

The bed is related in that it's where we are born, spend a goodly portion of our lives and we well may die in our beds. We may spend a bit of our youth and well into our adulthood hanging on to the rails of a spinning bed wishing for sleep to take over. I've read, and really, I mean that I've read (trip reports) that opium usage is blissful and floaty, personally I associate that feeling with beds as well. In this context, this bed is where one might be spending a lot of time spinning.

This work is a derivative of my proposed thesis work which addresses the internal wars fought by women serving in armed forces protecting or destroying poppies.

Too much? Maybe, but it's what I was thinking when I made this, I don't expect all y'all to take all of that way =) It's more than pretty, it's deeply conceptually theoretical and politically motivated. I'll unpack where I'm coming from with my next work in the series.


bedbed from Q Hart on Vimeo.
Watercolor on paper; looping animation.

Made for Boundary Crossings 2013, a two week summer intensive animated arts institute, at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland OR.

I encourage you to download this loop, it plays best in Quicktime 7 (loop is seamless)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tithes for the First Church of the Jerk, Black Rock City

Do you love Jerk Church? Have we showed up at your party and livened the vibe? Have you come to a Sunday meeting and fallen in love with all of the amazingly awesome people you met there? Were you at a regional event and heard rousing joyous voices and saw a lot of glass lifting? Perhaps stumbled across a few Jerks in some dark hole on the playa and fell into singing when you weren't expecting it? Yeah, me too. 

This year the First Church of the Jerk would like to build a meetin' house, the First Church of the Jerk  Cathedral of Black Rock City. To do this the Jerk Church is requests contributions from converts like you to make it happen. Please donate today so that we may lift our voices and our glasses in thanks.

Please see our campaign on indigogo and make a contribution at any level, or whatever you feel you can give. Thank you very much. 

All the best, 

Imam Qat-hi, 
Clergy, Jerk Church

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ghost Town Gospel

Good friends, and Jerks, Ghost Town Gospel playing at the Conor Byrne in old town Ballard, Seattle WA, (the land of my people).