( ( ( vvvvvvvv ) ) ) (2005)
medium: DVD video projection (loop)
( ( ( vvvvvvvv ) ) ) (2005) is a projected DVD loop of an aerial view of a printed cartoon city. As the video plays, animated "camera" movements pan over the complex geometries of an urban grid in rotating patterns, continually transforming the sense of balance in the scene. There is something very specifically cinematic about this familiar aerial viewpoint, which, if presented in a more linear formation, would recall the "establishing shot" found at the beginning of many city-framed narrative films. In cinema, this fly-over scenario acts as a preface in that it occurs during the opening credits before the introduction of either characters or plot – the audience is simply presented with a set of positional brackets by being shown an aerial overview of the glass and steel metropolis in which the forthcoming narrative is to unfold. It is a scripted reminder of the ubiquitous "eight million stories in the Naked City..."that all urban centres imply.
In ( ( ( vvvvvvvv ) ) ) we are presented with an extended circular moment. This is not a preface scenario, it is a site of occurrence. The patterns that make up the cityscape become a formalist backdrop for a scene whose content literally hangs in the air. The viewer is first positioned as floating high above, looking distantly down at this massive, stylized technological nervous system. The video seems to offer a first-person point-of-view from a solitary vantage point; the view implied is that of an onlooker with their head in the clouds. As the video progresses, it instills a sense of expansive separation from the actions occurring below, where the specifics of narrative seem held at a distance.
Introduced into the regularity of the pattern, an intermittent flash of a hand pulls the viewer out of their free-floating spectral position, immediately grounding the scene back in the physical, narrative world. This flash of skin and the implied body it signifies injects a foreign, secondary presence into the viewer's visual field, and acts as a reminder of gravity – a dominant force that has until now been missing from this elevated scenario. In one disruptive moment, what was originally positioned to be read from the detached position of a singularity becomes a multi-character mid-air event. The threat of falling through the cold sky is implied, a shiver of raw experience. Once this moment stings itself into existence, it immediately recedes and the loop returns to its state of ethereal wandering.
The title of this artwork is meant to allude to the vocal sound of shivering, a way of grounding it within the physical – while simultaneously recalling the tonal hum of an engine, the base mechanism that has allowed man to synthesize the act of flight. The sound for ( ( ( vvvvvvvv ) ) ) is comprised of a mass of droning, layered voices that compositionally interact throughout the entire duration of the loop, along with a modulating underlayer of low-end rumbling that attempts to turn the presence of air into a tangible thing. The vocal parts were created by extending the consonant 'v' into a series of sustained tones, a technique that recalls the work of Gyorgy Ligeti (b.1923) and his atmospheric explorations into micropolyphony (music without pulse and harmony). In contrast to more traditional musical textures, this kind of 'sound mass' composition "minimizes the importance of individual pitches in preference for texture, timbre, and dynamics as primary shapers of gesture and impact."
- - - - - - - -
Naked City (1958-63) was an innovative police drama. More character anthology than police procedural, the series blended car chases and character studies, shoot-outs and sociology, all filmed with arresting starkness on the streets of New York. The show's signature was its narrator, who introduced each episode with the assurance that the series was not filmed in a studio, and returned thirty minutes later to intone the series' famous tag-line,"There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them." The series was inspired by the 1948 'semi-documentary' feature, The Naked City (which borrowed its title from the photographic collection by urban documentarist/crime photographer Weegee).