Investigation Eight

Starting with this investigation, I am trying to move way from the literally programmatic nature of Photoshop actions and more into attempting to make the synthesis of elements happen off of the computer. This investigation also adds in the requirement of a specific deliverable; in this case, a poster used to promote my Spring class Poster In Motion: The Art Of Music Video. I am also attempting to use more of my own source content rather than Google.

Unexpectedly, I found some of what I needed to talk about music video from Investigation One, which were macro photographs of music videos taken off of my laptop screen. While I felt at the time that this investigation was not strictly "successful" in terms of what it generated, I am finding now that it was quite useful in providing me with visual content to remix and reuse. I am reminded of a lesson I learned from Skolos + Wedell: always keep what you make because you can find a use for it later.

I looked at all the images as a group and settled on a few that I felt were the most "music videoish" in that they had some sense of form and expression, as well as had the pixelization from the screen represented in the photograph. I especially liked the images of Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne singing into the camera (top row, second from the left).

I then brought the images into After Effects and created a short movie which flashed a couple of images for half a second each, and then typography with the main information of the poster. I set this all up rotated 90 degrees as I knew I wanted the poster to be in vertical orientation when it was completed. I had to make a number of movies to find the right combination of image and type.

Using a digital projector, I projected the movie onto a large white piece of paper in a dark room, and shot the paper using a 5-second exposure on my camera. Even though some digital cameras will allow for a kind of multiple exposure, it does not react the same way multiple exposure in film does, therefore using this long exposure combined with the movie allows me to synthesize the words and images together. It also allows for a variable: the motion of the paper, which moves in ways that are unpredictable.

After taking a couple of hundred photos I felt that I had gotten at least a few shots that would work. I then began to edit them down looking at what was appropriately legible, and what looked good. This is an example of what I am currently calling a "gestural edit"—not thinking too hard, not looking too closely, but more doing a fast run through my images and seeing what feels the most right.

I narrowed it down to a couple of images that I think worked well. After saving it out with virtually no editing other than adjusting contrast, I then brought my favorite image into InDesign to lay out the proportions and the supplemental typography.

After looking at the near-final piece with my partner Anne, we felt it was a bit too literal, especially in the colors. We adjusted the image by changing the colors in the blues and neutrals, giving the poster a more vibrant hot magenta color palette. I felt this was abstracted enough for the poster to work well.

The poster was then printed and hung in the VCU graphic design department. Since I wanted to keep the poster simpler than the kind of things the last few investigations had generated, I chose to keep only the minimum information on the poster itself. Therefore, I also created some quick tear-sheets that have the URL of the microsite I set up for the class to provide a detailed description.