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robertogreco : leviathan   8

Gopro Cinema |
"Because like everyone but the really good people I don’t blog enough anymore, here is an honest-to-god blog post about an idea that’s not really there yet, but I keep thinking about.

Three takes on non-human photography, on a spectrum"

"As wiser people have pointed out, human-animal relationships provide an interesting viewpoint on human-technological relationships. What happens when we free the camera from the eye, and thus from anthropocentrism?"
jamesbridle  gopro  cameras  animals  multispecies  aesthetics  pov  video  film  filmmaking  leviathan  newaesthetic  jacquestati  playtime  streetview  googlestreetview  photography  videography  cinematography  sweetgrass  sensoryethnographylab  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  pets  farms  luciencastaing-taylor  vérénaparavel 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Sonic Ethnographer: An Interview with Ernst Karel | Institute of Contemporary Arts
"Ernst Karel is Lecturer on Anthropology, Assistant Director of the Film Study Center, and Lab Manager for the renowned Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University. In his audio projects, he works with analog electronics and location recordings, sometimes separately, sometimes in combination, to create pieces that move between the abstract and the documentary. Karel collaborates with filmmakers as a sound recordist, mixer, and sound designer. Notably, Karel has worked on key films produced at the Sensory Ethnography Lab including Sweetgrass (2009) and Leviathan (2012), both of which were released in UK cinemas via Dogwoof.

Manakamana, directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez and produced by Leviathan directors Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
, is the latest feature documentary from the Sensory Ethnography Lab to play at the ICA Cinemas. On the eve of the film's release, Dogwoof's Patrick Hurley caught up with Karel for the ICA Blog to talk about his post-production sound work on this film as well as his own sonic artwork made while traveling in cable cars.

Patrick Hurley: As well as doing the mix for Manakamana, you've also created an album of recordings from Swiss mountain transport systems. What do you find sonically interesting about cable cars?

Ernst Karel: That project, which resulted in a CD called Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, an 8-channel sound installation and a 5.1 version for imageless cinema, began in 2008 when my partner, Helen Mirra, was living in Basel, Switzerland, on a year-long artist residency. At that time, walking had become a central part of her art practice, and the work she was making involved day-long hikes in the mountains. I joined her for part of the summer and the fall. Our first walk together involved traveling by train and then gondola (aerial cable car) to reach the hiking trail. I was struck by the sounds of going up the mountain: the whirrs and clangor of the base station’s machinery, the slam of the door as the small pod swings around and, with a series of thuds, is launched into a sudden and subdued near-silence, the austerely beautiful low drone of distant motors transmitted through the heavy cable to resonate in the enclosed space suspended from it, interrupted periodically by rhythmic pummeling when the car passes over rollers, the open windows that allow transient acoustic glimpses of a vast surrounding landscape inhabited by humans and other animals.

It’s an emergent music that at the same time indexes a particular emplacedness. The unprocessed recordings of Swiss Mountain Transport Systems document the various transport systems which are specific to Switzerland’s mountainous terrain—gondolas, funiculars, chairlifts—of different types, of different vintages, and accessing different elevations, recorded from within these mostly-enclosed mobile environments. In this way the project is a sonic investigation into the integration of such technology into the Swiss social-geographical landscape.

Patrick Hurley: ICA Cinema-goers will be familiar with Sweetgrass and Leviathan, and this weekend will have the opportunity to experience Manakamana. As a common denominator among these films—having done the sound mix and compositions for each—could you tell us where you've replicated certain techniques and cases in which you've tried new things?

Ernst Karel: Well, clearly the movies could hardly be more different from each other, and so the sound for each was approached quite differently. But at the same time, one thing that they have in common is simply a commitment to place, to the sounds that emerge from a particular encounter. In each case that starts with the sync sound recorded along with the image, though here Leviathan and Manakamana could not be more different: Manakamana was recorded immaculately in stereo by Stephanie Spray, in sync with but separately from the 16mm image, and the soundtrack for Leviathan started and grows outward from the weird electroacoustic music that emerged from the encounters between the plastic-encased sport camera’s built-in mono microphone and its harsh environment. So each was really an opportunity to try out new things.

Patrick Hurley: When Leviathan came out, it was often compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Stephanie Spray has commented that when you worked on the sound for Manakamana, you helped them to 'emphasise particular frequencies over others for a subtle sci-fi effect'. Regarding both films, I’m interested to know if you were deliberately trying to create or invoke something otherworldly? It’s a curious objective in non-fiction film…

Ernst Karel: I think this might be an instance of the notion that a goal of anthropology is to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. I wasn’t intending an otherworldliness per se, but rather an in-depth investigation into the nature of the place, and for example in Manakamana in sections where there is less speaking, when we therefore have occasion for close listening to the rich acoustic environment of the cable car’s mechanism and the passing landscape, that meant paying attention to the resonant frequencies of the cable car’s drone, and sometimes tweaking the sound to subtly emphasize those tones.

Patrick Hurley: Sound takes extra prominence during the end credits of both Leviathan and Manakamana for which you have done original compositions. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process here?

Ernst Karel: The sequence following the credits in Leviathan featured an extended composition for the multichannel space of the cinema that made the most of the odd electroacoustic sonorities I mentioned before, loosened somewhat from reference to immediately present images. At the end of Manakamana, during the credits this time rather than after them, we similarly are freed from being tied to an immediate audiovisual experience, and the composition opens outward somewhat."
ethnography  2014  interviews  patrickhurley  ernstkarel  leviathan  anthropology  manakamana  film  sound  fieldrecordings  music  stephaniespray  sensoryethnographylab 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Entrevista a Lucien Castaing-Taylor y Véréna Paravel (SEL) on Vimeo
[interview is in English]

"Entrevistamos a los cineastas Lucien Castaing-Taylor y Véréna Paravel del Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL) de la Universidad de Harvard. Los directores de LEVIATHAN, FOREIGN PARTS O SWEET GRASS, entre otras, comparten con nosotros su particular visión del arte en este encuentro."

[Other interviews:

Leviathan. Coloquio con Lucien Castaing-Taylor y Véréna Paravel.

Lucien Castaing-Taylor "Sweetgrass" (Q&A)

Leviathan Audience Q&A with Lucien Castaing-Taylor at EIFF 2013

Véréna Paravel

Lucien Castaing-Taylor ]
luciencastaing-taylor  vérénaparavel  sensoryethnography  sensoryethnographylab  2014  filmmaking  ethnography  anthropology  video  leviathan  foreignparts  sweetgrass  documentary 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Public Books — Humans and Other Animals
"Manakamana is the latest feature film to emerge out of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab (“SEL”), which has produced a remarkable run of documentaries since its founding in 2006.  The SEL’s integration of aesthetic experimentation and academic rigor landed comprehensive surveys at the Whitney Biennial and The Film Society of Lincoln Center this spring. The exhibitions included widely acclaimed feature films Leviathan (2012), Foreign Parts (2010), and Sweetgrass (2009), alongside many shorter works by faculty and students.

The films are far from homogeneous. Yet many shared characteristics link the projects, including the extended duration of images; an attention to nonhuman environments, animals, and machines; and a recurring tension between realism and abstraction.

Aryo Danusiri, a SEL PhD student whose films explore Islamic ritual and crowds, demonstrates some of these shared interests. “We are always talking about the long take,” he says. Danusiri’s film On Broadway (2011), included in the Whitney program, documents Friday prayers at a Mosque renting space from a Chinese cultural center in Lower Manhattan. The film is 62 minutes and only four shots, all from a single fixed position. Danusiri describes these long takes as the core of observational cinema, a visual building block that is also an essential research method: “I’m very curious if I have this kind of infrastructure in the film, what will happen—what kind of encounter will it produce, and what kind of knowledge can my film produce as a result.”"
sensoryethnographylab  2014  film  documentary  realism  abstraction  longtakes  filmmaking  sweetgrass  manakamana  leviathan 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Leviathan: the film that lays bare the apocalyptic world of fishing | Film | The Guardian
"And just as you can smell the diesel, the salt water, and the fish guts in Leviathan, so the film's astoundingly kinetic, utterly physical aesthetic reflects this inheritance, one that turned an "academic" exercise into a physical one. "We started off intending to make a film about the sea and fishing, in which one would never see the sea, or any fishing," Castaing-Taylor and Paravel told me. "But once we started going out to the Grand Banks, landlubbing life, even in New Bedford, seemed too familiar, too pat, too predictable. Finally, we decided to jettison land altogether."

That was easier said than done. Although both directors had spent time at sea before, "we hadn't expected Lucien to get so violently sea-sick, more or less knocked out for the first 24 to 48 hours of every voyage". Even then, the anti-emetics caused Castaing-Taylor to see double – which might account for the nightmarish quality of the film. Paravel also damaged her back, necessitating an emergency visit to the hospital.

During shooting, the film-makers kept the same punishing shifts as the boat crew, working 20 out of 24 hours. "One of us often had to tie themselves to the boat, then hold on to to the other, to stabilise the camera and/or stop them falling overboard." They had to avoid being submerged by nets full of fish, crustacean, mud and rocks. "As greenhorns, we also had to take more care than the fishermen not to be hit on the head by flying winches and chains.""
leviathan  sensoryethnographylab  luciencastaing-taylor  vérénaparavel  2013  film  documentary  ethnography  flimmaking  gopro  anthropology  fishing  commercialfishing 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Lives of Images Peter Galison in conversation with Trevor Paglen [.pdf]
"What is observation? What is seeing? What counts as “right depiction”? Are images today now doing more than showing? What is objectivity? What does the future of imaging hold?

Peter Galison, one of the world’s leading historians of science, has written widely on how visual representation shapes our understanding of the world. Trevor Paglen is an artist whose work with photography has explored governmental secrecy and the limits of seeing. For his most recent project, The Last Pictures, Paglen worked with a group of scientists to create a disc of images marking our historical moment; the project culminated in last year’s launch of a satellite, carrying those images, that will remain in Earth’s orbit perpetually. The following conversation took place at Aperture’s office earlier this year."

"Well, what is it that the digital really does? There are many ways in which the digital is shaped by the legacy of analog photography and film. Both for political reasons and aesthetic reasons, what’s really important is the fact that digital is small, cheap, and searchable. The combination of these three features is dramatic. It means that your smartphone does facial recognition—no longer is that an inaccessible and futuristic piece of the state-security apparatus. It’s ubiquitous.

Aesthetically, this can mean a kind of decentering, a vision of the world that is not directly human. It also means that cameras are everywhere, and you’re not even aware of them. There’s an interesting film by a colleague and friend, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, working with Véréna Paravel, called Leviathan (2012), filmed on fishing boats in the North Atlantic. A lot of the film would have been completely unimaginable just a generation ago. They use little high-resolution digital cameras to achieve points of view in places that would previously have been impossible: amidst the pile of dead fish, or underwater as the tank is being filled, or looking back at the front of the boat. These are not impossible camera angles, but they’re nonhuman points of view."

"It seems that we’re moving away from thinking about images interms of representation and toward thinking about their creation as part of a networked process, guided by political or economic “scripts” embedded in the algorithms controlling these image-making networks. If we look at Facebook’s facial-recognition and search technologies, or at Instagram, we see similar things going on, but in a commercial context."

"If images become tools, it’s easier to see them as stepping-stones to other things. For me, the fundamental separation between art and science is not an eternal characteristic of science. The split happened in a historical moment. If you said to Leonardo da Vinci—pardon me, historians—“Are your studies of turbulent water art or science?” he would reply (so I imagine): “You’re crazy! What are you talking about? I don’t even recognize this choice.” But in the nineteenth century, you begin to have the idea of an objective image and of a scientist who is defined by being self-restrained, followed by the idea of maximal detachment from the image. At that moment, Charles Baudelaire criticized photography, saying (approximately): “You know, this isn’t really part of art because it’s insufficiently modulated by the person who says he’s an artist.” In that sense, what Baudelaire is saying and what late-nineteenth-century scientists are saying is the same thing, except they come to opposite conclusions. What they agree on is that art is defined by intervention and science is defined by lack of intervention.

I believe the trunk split, at that point, into two branches. But in many ways the branches are coming back together again in our moment. People in the art world aren’t frightened, in the way they once were, of having a scientific dimension to what they do. It’s not destabilizing for Matthew Ritchie to collaborate with scientists, nor is it a professional disqualification for scientists to work with artists."
trevorpaglen  petergalison  aperture  images  photography  perception  interpretation  history  science  art  seeing  sight  leviathan  recording  video  film  processing  photoshop  digital  luciencastaing-taylor  vérénaparavel  presentation  manipulation  capture  distortion  depiction  universalism  language  communication  symbols  semiotics  aesthetics  interdisciplinary  glvo  instagram  networkedfictions  canon  matthewritchie  leonardodavinci  facebook  uniquity  gopro  charlesbaudelaire  newaesthetic  convergence 
june 2013 by robertogreco

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