As part of my MA in Digital Arts and Humanities in UCC I was asked to submit some ‘art’ I had created. I submitted three pieces – either I am very indecisive or very creative!
This was significant for me because I had never believed that producing and editing a film was something I could do. This was a skill other people had, not me! So it was a huge step for me to decide to try to make a film, and particularly challenging, and perhaps foolhardy, to make my first film about a talented and skilled filmmaker, who would see all the mistakes I was making!
I faced huge challenges in terms of access to equipment, eventually managing to borrow a camera and tripod but having to make do without proper lighting equipment (we spent several hours trying to get adequate lighting with a combination of different bulbs and lamps hanging from various poles).
Editing the footage was challenging. I wanted to have a coherent narrative so I had to cut and link lots of different shots to get the story I wanted. It no doubt took me a lot longer to edit than a skilled and experienced editor but going through the process helped me to overcome some of my fear of editing and the final cut pro software. I managed to produce a sufficient, if not perfect, edit. I don’t see myself as the next award winning Cork filmmaker, but I have made the first steps towards believing that I can use the tools of camera and editing software to make films that can be used to share information and get a message across in an interesting and engaging medium.
The second piece I submitted was a photograph of the sunset over Cork Harbor, near Little Island. This was a good example of the use of the ‘camera in your pocket’ that most of us have as we carry a mobile phone with us, thereby giving us the ability to capture and share images with just a few clicks. I was driving to the city when I saw the fantastic sunset. I parked at the side of the road, climbed over the ditch and captured the picture with the camera on my mobile phone.
The third piece I submitted was a blog post about the new Cork lesbian play, Ordinary Love. This play was written collectively by the drama group in which I am involved and my blog post outlined the process and its meaning for the members of the group.
I decided to build on these pieces, in particular my growing interest in film and the play my drama group had written, for my digital art project.
Collaboration is a central theme in Digital Arts and Humanities, so I asked my classmate Annmarie McIntyre to collaborate with me. My drama group was performing out play, Ordinary Love, on two nights (March 19th and 20th) in the Cork Arts Theatre. Annmarie McIntyre and I decided to film the performances, thus combining two different forms of artistic mediums.
Once again access to camera equipment was challenging but we eventually managed to get access to a digital camera, a Sony HVR-A1E. The performance was recorded in HDV 1080i format to a DV cassette.
The play was filmed over three nights; at the dress rehearsals and on both nights of the performance. The evening of the dress rehearsals allowed time to assess possibilities for recording on the subsequent nights and to deal with any potential technical difficulties. It also afforded the opportunity for more close up shots that would not be possible when an audience were present.
On the first night of the show Annmarie McIntyre filmed from the left of the audience, and then from the right hand side on the second night. She was positioned to the side in as unobtrusive manner as possible, so as to have the least impact on the audience and the performers. The was consistent with the method of non-intrusive filming typical of Cinéma Vérité.
Filming from different locations made it possible to get shots of the performance from varied angles, with some long distance and some close ups, which could then be cut together to give a more interesting perspective on the performance. However, there were some challenges as it was a live performance that was being recorded and there were inevitably some differences between each of the three nights.
Using the medium of film to capture a theatrical performance raises interesting questions in relation to reproducing art. The process of attempting to capture a live theatrical performance on film leads to the production of a different and altered artistic artifact. Does the process of re-production alter the ‘aura’ of the art piece? As Latour and Lowe point out, there is a belief that “Only the original possesses an aura, this mysterious and mystical quality that no secondhand version can hope to attain.”
Latour and Lowe discussed how Factum Arte used “complex digital processes” to “de- then re-materialise” Veronese’s Nozze di Cana. The process of filming the play and then editing the footage is also a complex digital process that is essentially de-materializing and then re-materializing the play in another format. This leads to questions about the altered aura and the authenticity of the re-production.
The situation we engaged with, however, raises interesting possibilities in relation to the authenticity of re-production. The plan is to use the edited film as a tool to assist the drama group to get funding to tour and perform the play in different venues. Therefore, it is possible that the capture and re-production of the performance, using digital tools and processes, could lead to its authentic re-production if it is performed again as a result of funding obtained using the film as a tool. So while filming the theatrical performance can be seen as fundamentally altering it, it could also lead to its authentic re-production.
My involvement with this play and drama group provided me with an opportunity to explore how social media could be used to promote theatrical performances and also to give people some back story on how the play was written, information about the cast and crew and updates on audience response to the play. I used my blog orlaegan.wordpress.com to promote the play and to provide information to interested audiences. I then promoted the blog posts through my facebook and twitter accounts. They were re-posted by a number of people.
It would seem that this process was in someway successful; the play was sold out both nights and I had a significant increase in visitors to my blog. In February there were 326 views of my blog, up from 17 in the previous November. The highest number was 129 on 13 February, the day after I posted my blog in relation to the play.
An article that I wrote about the play was published in GCN (Gay Community News) and also on their online forum:
An article about the play was also published in Cork’s Evening Echo:
Annmarie McIntyre edited a clip from the footage of the performances and this was shown to the MA in Digital Arts and Humanities class in UCC:
I am now beginning the process of editing the footage with the aim of producing two pieces: one a full-length version of the play, using footage from various nights; the second a kind of trailer which may be used to promote the play and the drama group. Annmarie McIntyre will continue to collaborate with me on this project.
This whole process and the discussions in the MA module, History and Theory of Digital Art, has raised interesting issues that I have sought to explore in my digital arts project and in this blog. In particular it has raised the potential interplay between various forms of performance and creativity with digital tools and how these tools can be used to promote, capture and re-produce creative artifacts. It also reminds us that we need to be reflective on how and why we are using these tools and on the impact they may have on our authentic experience of and interaction with creativity.
Bruno Latour & Adam Lowe, “The migration of the aura or how to explore the original through its facsimiles” FACTUM arte, 2014