Defence of the doctoral thesis Portable Moving Images by Ricardo Cedeño Montaña
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institute for Cultural History and Theory | Interdisciplinary Laboratory Image Knowledge Gestaltung
Next week 15 September in Chicago, I’ll be presenting a short paper at the Inaugural Communication & Media Studies Conference.
Media Archaeology of the Digital Moving Image: Motion Prediction or the Demise of the Frame
At the coding level, in a video codec such as H.264/AVC the otherwise basic unit of all moving images from film to video, the frame, is only an address where chunks of pixels coming from different moments in time are put together. This paper historically explores two mathematical theories from the 1940s that paved the way for the digital video compression formats during the 1990s. The first is the prediction theory by Norbert Wiener to improve anti-aircraft artillery during WWII. And the second are the crypto-analytic techniques formulated by Claude E. Shannon for the transmission of messages over noisy channels. Both theories resulted in algorithms to statistically predict missile paths and encrypt military communications. Today, they are the backbone of the video compression formats installed in discs, TV receivers, online streaming and video conferencing services, camcorders, and mobile phones. This media archaeology on the digital moving image argues that the consequence of turning each displayed picture into a rigid arrangement of pixels and its construction into the statistical prediction of the pixel’s values is dramatic. This historical analysis shows that prediction has generated an entirely new type of moving images in which the temporal coincidence of all pixels within the frame is unnecessary.
Inaugural Communication & Media Studies Conference.
University Center Chicago, Chicago, USA
15-16 September 2016
In page 563 in paragraph 1 the sentence “In recent years, research in the humanities have started to …” should be: “In recent years, researchers in the humanities have started to …“
In page 563 in paragraph 2 the sentence ” … because there is no way to intervene from outside the way how the program process and render the data.” should be: “… because there is no way to intervene from outside the way how the program processes and renders the data.“
Montaña, Ricardo Cedeño; “Design of a tool for the visualization of historical data”, p. 563-566 . In: Proceedings of the XVIII Conference of the Iberoamerican Society of Digital Graphics: Design in Freedom [=Blucher Design Proceedings, v.1, n.8]. São Paulo: Blucher, 2014.
ISSN 2318-6968, DOI 10.5151/despro-sigradi2014-0116
This exhibition shows some of the results of the research project DIY and portable media for moving image production. A series of cameras and storage units, a historical examination of portable media, and three video productions are exhibited. Three presentations will take place during the exhibition. Two special guests, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schäffner and Prof. Dr. Frieder Nake, will discuss about media and algorithms. I will talk about the historical development of physical containers for moving images. Portable media emerge from the physical reduction of media supports and the compression of the storage formats into small machines and units. Focusing on the formats and storage units of small gauge film, consumer analogue video, and camera phones, this exhibition highlights the expansion of media carried everywhere and used at any moment.
10 Jan 18:00 Opening
10 Jan 18:30 Wolfgang Schäffner. What is a Video? Media Revolutions of the Moving Image
3 Feb 18:30 Frieder Nake. On the Move – Image Algorithm
16. RICARDO CEDEÑO MONTAÑA / Medios portátiles: las reducciones de los formatos fílmicos amateur
Un medio portátil debe cumplir con dos condiciones: primero, debe ser una reducción de un medio más complejo; segundo debe estar siempre preparado para trabajar. La primera es una operación que se aplica físicamente sobre el medio y se compone de dos sub-operaciones: eliminación y compresión. La segunda es una consecuencia de la aplicación de esta operación. La operación de reducción y el desarrollo de cartuchos, unidades de almacenamiento independientes, han sido dos constantes históricas presentes en el diseño de los formatos fílmicos portátiles. Estas constantes son presentadas a través de la historia de tres formatos angostos de película fílmica: Chrono de Poche 15mm, Pathe Baby 9.5mm y Super 8mm.
Lugar: Salas Cumanday 1 C.C.C. Teatro los Fundadores Manizales Colombia.
SALA 1 / MESA A / Interrelación diseño, arte, ciencia y tecnología
2pm a 6pm. Segunda ponencia de la tarde.
La interrupción de la máquina facial solo es posible a través de la fragmentación interna del tiempo y el espacio del cuadro.
Este (auto-)retrato es una aglomeración, en un mismo cuadro, de imágenes grabadas con un celular en diferentes momentos y lugares. El objetivo es diluir mi propia imagen a través su fragmentación. Variación 1 y 2 se componen de 100 fragmentos de grabaciones de vídeo. Cada vídeo ha sido grabado por una persona diferente en momentos y lugares diferentes usando una cámara de celular. En cada variación los 100 vídeos son reproducidos simultáneamente y son ubicados en el cuadro de forma aleatoria hasta llenarlo completamente. El resultado es un vídeo compuesto de una serie consecutiva de tiras verticales de vídeo una al lado de la otra. En estas dos variaciones se juntan 100 “”yos” separados en el tiempo y el espacio.”
A complete description of this work in English is here: self-portrait
Two weeks ago I presented my (self-)portrait in the general meeting of DAAD scholarship holders in Lübeck. After the presentation several issues generated a vividly discussion. I’ve grouped those issues under two fragmentations: of the frame and of the author. The first, evident in the visual outcome, is the fragmentation of the space within the frame. The second refers to the crowd-sourcing strategy I use for the production of the portrait.
Video is a medium primarily concerned with time. This medium fixates time into a series of independent recordings that we watch in rectangular frames. Almost always the space of the frame is filled with one image that represents one time and one space. Although video fragments time, the visual frame keeps in each recording a unified time and space. The camera can only record a sequential flow of time; it cannot record several, non-sequential moments of time simultaneously. The simultaneous assemblage of different times within the frame occurs always in the montage. In my work this is not different. I record each time one minute of video of myself but in the final composition, a real-time montage, all these recordings are agglomerated and played simultaneously within the same frame. Each recording is cropped to a few pixels width and placed next to another recording. This procedure produces a moving image that is composed by several other moving images. The frame is thus fragmented into several columns and each of these columns is filled with a different video. The fragmentation of time that video generates is carried to the very frame. The manipulation I propose has a spatial character. Such a procedure, I would claim, it is only possible in digital video because the digital allows the complete programming of the image and each pixel is susceptible to manipulation.
This fragmentation is taken to the production too. Each video recording is made by a different person using a camera phone. I’ve established a general set-up to control the visual aspect of the image and each person should comply with it. In this form of production the final outcome is made by the work of a crowd. In my (self-)portrait there are authors and I act as a catalyst for the making of the video portrait. My role as an artist is to create the conditions for the production, nothing remarkably new since all post-industrial production functions in such a way. But this work is about the production of a portrait, something intimate and full with authorship. Expressed mathematically, each column of one pixel in my portrait is a function of one independent variable: you multiplied by a constant: me (γ).
Everyone who carries a mobile phone in their pockets can produce video. These days, the video camera is fully integrated into the mobile phone, and at the hand of them, this type of camera has become ubiquitous. Although camera phones have made more popular than ever, the production of home movies, the history of amateur film equipment reaches far back and can be traced back to the early years in the film history. At the beginning of the 1920s a French company developed what was the first portable film camera intended for amateur production. Portability, the most remarkable feature of that camera, has since become the driving force behind the amateur production of moving images.
The history of the portable camera begins when the French firm Pathé developed and successfully commercialised the 9.5 mm format in 1922. The system composed of film stock, movie camera, and projector was purposely designed to attend to the amateur market. Other formats were previously developed but none enjoyed the popularity the Pathé had, basically because of its cost and size. The narrow 9.5 mm film stock was reversal-processed which means that it could be directly developed as positive, thus sparing the negative printing process. This feature lowered the costs of production and made possible for the amateur to afford the production of films on a home-based scale. The Pathé-baby format put in the hands of everyone, with no experience, the power to film short sequences on a non-professional scale.
The portability of the camera was the most salient characteristic of Pathé’s system. The camera, known as Pathé-baby, was a simplification of the cumbersome 35 mm movie camera. The Pathé-baby kept the basic elements: a lens, a shutter, an internal sprocket to move the film along the film guides, and an external hand crank to operate the camera. The camera was 10 cm height, 10 cm wide, and 0.4 cm breadth; and it weighted slightly more than 0.6 kg. These dimensions and weight made easier for amateurs to carry the camera in a handbag and to shoot a Sunday picnic or a horse race. The Pathé-baby could be easily brought and used everywhere at any moment.
The Pathé-baby made portable, in a reduced scale, the production of moving images. The firsts movie cameras were mobile but not portable. They could be moved to any location where the filming would occur. But the size and length of the industry standard 35 mm film stock made those cameras big, heavy, and expensive. Filming in 35 mm was not, and still isn’t , an easy matter. The Pathé-baby was, in contrast, light enough to be always ready to go and shoot; it didn’t even need a tripod. Its portability allowed it to be an spontaneous media. In that sense, the camera phone is similar. Both cameras are small and both represent different instances of the portable media; which is to say that the tools for media production live in our pockets.