Jacques Perconte
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  25 avril 2016  
Sarmiento Hinojosa, José, Desistfilm.
Binary structures: annotations on contemporary avant garde film and the digital enviroment
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It was Malcolm Le Griece who talked about the binary universe as a realm of possibilities for experimental cinema. In his 1999 book Digital Cinema and experimental film – Continuities and Discontinuities, Le Griece pinpointed the difficulty of defining digital media as a medium; in fact, the possibilities that the binary system offered for the experimental practices was endless and offered its own characteristics.

In fact, while avant garde cinema used film (celluloid) as a medium for different interventions (Brakhage painted and scratched it, Jacobs performed with it, Gatten used optical printing processes on it), the digital medium offered a different group of “binary artisans” to play with the format in different forms: with image manipulation (glitch), computer intervention, live cinema, software manipulation, etc. The old and new techniques were combined and recreated to form new binary structures, buildings of zeroes and ones that depicted a new branch for exploring cinema: the data1.


The influence of structural film (predetermined art) was crucial to the development of the format. The Structural Digital Video solely represents the continuation of such practice (Kubelka, Snow, Frampton) towards digital media.2  In Lossless #5 (2008), Rebecca Baron and Douglas Goodwin’s worked on the idea of digital video compression to transform the original image into a different living organism. While doing so, Lossless #5 explores the materiality of digital cinema, which manages to recode the binary in different ways to recreate a new animal. The idea of reconfiguring binary as media, which is at its most simple significance, a set of positive and negative electrical impulses which translate into an ethereal materiality, implies working in a new scenario where the “material” no longer exists; it is replaced by “information”. We decode information into materiality and vice-versa, declaring this universe of electrical immanence.

The execution of Lossless#5 is impeccable: a water-ballet created by choreographer and filmmaker Busby Berkley is compressed into an “organic mitosis”, a multicellular organism with a life of its own, transforming itself over and over again within a self-evolutionary process. While compressing the image (which signifies a loss of information from the original data), Baron and Goodwin give birth to a new material, a new media in which the information has been re-encoded to produce a new aesthetic, in something that Buskirk would call “The contingent object of contemporary art”3.

The “Lossless” series, also reassembled images from Maya Deren films, The Searchers, and Ernie Gehr’s Serene Velocity, always recontextualizes its sources into new creatures, new forms of representation, such as Jaqcues Perconte would do with digital images in his “post-impressionist digital art” (although much more reminiscent of practices on the plastic arts).


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