Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Video: Light & Silence

I've opened up my own channel on YouTube, apdurkee, and uploaded two short videos by way of experiment. Eventually I plan to make better-quality uploads. There will more experimental short videos like this on my channel soon.

I have been making short video films since 2005, incorporating my still photography and original music, along with the occasional use of my poems as texts either presented as type in the video itself or read aloud as part of the audio track. I want to explore these possibilities in more depth; it's just taken me some time to figure out the technologies involved. (Including YouTube itself.)

Honestly, making the videos is the most time-consuming part; the upload is relatively easy. Creating, editing and mastering video programs brings out my latent perfectionism: you want to get everything just right, and look and sound its best. This means going over the finished product as a viewer two or three times, to find the last tweaks to make. It's the same process, really, as recording and mixing a song in a recording studio: you do the creative work, you finish the mix, then you take a short break, then sit down and listen through the track with fresh ears (and eyes) for final tweaks.

The video for "Light & Silence" was shot a couple of years ago, on an autumn visit to Grand Teton National Park. The dramatic skies made the day I spent making photos and video some of the best images I've made while at these mountains. The Tetons are one of my favorite places on the planet, in any season. The original video footage was in color, but I've been wanting to experiment with B&W video for some time, to bring the B&W photography aesthetic into the video realm. Two of the shots in this video are time-lapsed, to bring out the movement of the clouds over the mountains.

The music for this short film was made using software synths on my iPad. After recording the basic track, I did some sweetening with reverb while mastering the combined audio and video tracks. The music was recorded very plainly, to keep it simple and clean. It's essentially an improvisation within planned parameters—a way I like to compose a lot of my ambient music. You set an arbitrary limit, perhaps on scale, perhaps on instrumentation or tempo, then you improvise freely within those constraints. This is a way of working as a composer learned from Brian Eno, John Cage, and others. It is partly determined, partly free. Limits give you room to work within. My composition professor back in college once said that limits help us focus, using the constraints they place on us to give us freedom to work within; a lesson i've never forgotten.

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Blogger Danish dog said...

Enjoyed this immensely, Art. Very peaceful!

2:16 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...


Also, my online friend and fellow traveler Prairie Mary just wrote some nice things about this video, and about me on her blog:

12:40 PM  

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