Video Space: A Site for Choreography Douglas Rosenberg

Leonardo , Vol. 33, No. 4 (2000), pp. 275-280

"All work of art reflect something of the culture out of which they came"

The medium of film/video has always mirrored the time and space in which it was documented, created or archived. The technological advancement, the cultural background, the political environment or the identity of the artists is often the sub-text of a piece of work.

Video has extensively been used as an artistic tool of creation . In this project, video plays the role of an Observer. The medium is used both as an objective tool recording an event without any editing and also a subjective lens through which the artists (the choreographer & film maker) choose the specific site/visual frame that needs to be captured and projected.

Perceived Identities . My investigation has been about the perception of the self in total isolation and also in a socio-political framework. The camera acts as a lens through which I examine these two perspectives within a definite time and space. More specifically it examines my self identity in the UK and my perception of the city of London during my time as a student at the Roehampton university. Just like the cctv camera I am both an inside-outsider and outside-insider.

The Period Eye

The Period Eye -

Painiting and experience in fifteenth century Italy - Michael Baxandall, 1972( Oxford Press , Pg 29 to 103

The process of human visual perception is described as the raw data of light and color that is interpreted by the brain through innate skills and relevant items such as stocks of patterns , categories , habits of inference and analogy. These further lend the fanatstical complex ocular data a s structure and therefore meaning.

The importance of culture , habit and experience in visual perception is emphasised by Baxandall in his writings. He also stresses on gestures and symbols that are used in renaissance paintings and demonstrates with examples how certain nuances and symbolism are particular to a set period and its culture.

This has helped me understand how certain hand gestures are codified in the art form of Bhartanatyam. Many of these gestures are used to depicts elements of nature, objects , mythological or religious elements that existed in a different period in history . For example gestures such as pathaka(flag), kartharimukha( scissor image) , soochi ( needle) , thrishoola ( trident ) are used to denote objects . Gestures such as mayoora( peacock), Ardha chandra( half moon) , Shukhathunda (parrots tail) , shikhara( peak) , sarpasheea( snake head) , mrigasheesha( animal head) , simhamukha ( lion face), alapadma ( lotus in bloom) , Bhramara( bee), hamsasya( swan) etc are used to depict elements of nature . There are a few more gestures like gandaberunda ( two headed phoenix) , shanka( sacred conch) and many others that are used to depict elements of a certain character of mythology. A deeper understanding of the time in which certain puranas ( mythological stories) and fables came into existence is required to understand the meaning of these gestures. Though many Indians would easily understand the meaning behind these gestures because of their cultural acquaintance , many movements are very intricate and elaborate and often a translation or subtext is required to understand it entirely.

Painting & process

Abstraction & Artifice in twentieth century art - Harold Osbourne , 1979, Claredon Press - Oxford

It has been interesting to find parallels of aesthetics in my approach to gestures and the nuances of painting . Upon Tamara's input I looked at 'Abstraction' in paintings. Trying to understand different kinds of abstractions and if abstraction is what defines or supports my process. The following passages are all extracts from the above mentioned book .

Kinds of Information - Semantic Information When work of art depicts or otherwise specififes some segment of the world apart from itself, weather real or imaginary , or some characteristics of the world in general , including social conditions , the values pertaining in a particular culture and so on , this is semantic information.

Syntactical Information- Works of art that transmit information about themselves , their own properties and structures , the relation among their parts , the material from which they are made etc.

Expressive Information - comprises information about emotional characteristics or concomitants of the work or what it depicts.

"To brand or categorize a piece of work it is important to study a piece of work in its historical perspective".

Selective Abstraction- Selection is essential, indeed it is what perception means . It is a selective focus of attention upon some items among the mass of sensory information with which we are bombarded and the imposition of order upon them by applying associations of relevance.

When we are confronted with an artistic representation instead of the reality , practical consideration fall into abeyance and we are able to give our attention more clearly alertly than usual to the pictorial quality of the visual image.

Selective abstraction closely describes what I would want to achieve with the image of gestures in a studio set up. Every frame and every detail is carefully chosen and choreographed. It definitely narrows down the image and gives a microscopic view of the artist's imagination and creativity.