Erik Sanner Home Visual Other About

the way forward (nakasendo)

a few weeks ago i was working on a way to make a dynamic video piece with some of the video clips i took during matthew-and-my walk from kyoto to tokyo. we had always intended to make some sort of collaborative new media art out of our experience. i think we're close to being able to make something which will enable both of us to want to work on it, convey something of our journey, and pay homage to hiroshige. matthew and i are talking tomorrow hopefully so i'll know more then how he feels about this latest iteration of something-we-might-want-to-do.

anyway the technical aspect of it is that i want to be able to combine video in a way which has been in my head for a long time, but which i haven't seen people using. and i wanted to figure out how to do that. first i looked at some of the existing built-in ways you can combine layers of video in flash, to make sure i wasn't making it more difficult than it needs to be, just seeing if maybe i could use those built-in settings and achieve the same (or a suitable) effect:

none of those options were really what i had in mind, so i tried to figure it out another way. either i wasn't doing it right or flash is too slow and too processor-intensive to do what i was trying to do. here's a still result from as close as i was able to get to achieving the look i wanted:

basically what i want to do is ask every pixel, at random, to choose whether to show the top layer of video, or the layer below that, or the bottom layer (combining three layers). in the above image, every third clump of pixels (not at random, and not single-pixel granularity) is showing the corresponding video layer, shifting over during the next frame, and so on. this is something which took me many hours spread over a few weeks to do, but it still wasn't what i had it mind, just as close as i could get it with the time and know-how i had. so i was very excited when on the second day of the processing workshop, will figured out how to do it in processing (exactly what i had wanted to do), and walked me through it. here's a still from that result:

this is something i have wanted to see (and create) for a long, long time. however, for the piece, conceptually, i wanted something more than just random-moments-in-the-walk. what i want to do, and need to talk to matthew about, is include something of the longing and the now-that-we've-been-and-it's-over distant almost dreamlike-wistful quality of the memories of the walk. the training was as time-consuming and as intensive, in its own way, as the walk itself. so i want to do some of the training walks again, and i know matthew is still walking - i want both of us to start shooting little video clips, and integrate those into the piece, which would combine footage of my walks (probably all in and/or around new york city) and his walks (probably all in and around christchurch, new zealand). with luck we'll clarify between us tomorrow night if we're interested in pushing forward in this direction or if we want to do something else. either way i'm excited to feel like progress is being made and something wil come out of the nakasendo project this coming year.