Singin’ Will Wall

These experiments are inspired by Hollis Frampton’s 1971 film Critical Mass and were made possible using the software HF Critical Mass created by Barbara Lattanzi

I think I only watched Critical Mass because it auto-played on YT after I’d finished (nostalgia), another Hollis Frampton film, also from 1971. When I tried to find out more about Frampton’s process making Critical Mass I came across Barbara Lattanzi’s site, and the HF Critical Mass software she created “…as an interface for improvising digital video playback.” These 3 videos were made with Version 2 of the software.

I originally thought I might pick one of the musical numbers from Singin’ in the Rain’ (the film seemed like an obvious choice given it’s centrality to deformative videographic practice!) for this first experiment, but as I scrubbed through the film I hit on this scene, which not only has it’s own ‘built in’ loopability, but also appeals to my sonic self. The HF Critical Mass software gives you control over the length of the loop it will make, and the speed with which the loop with advance through the video (amongst many other controls) and I set these specifically for each video. In this case the loop length was defined by the door slam and the clapperboard, essentially bookending the loop. I’m not sure if this is the first time I noticed the sound engineer’s exaggerated movements, but the looping did highlight the synchronicity between Lina’s head turns, and his sympathetic manipulation of the recording controls.

I wanted to see how this would work on some quick fire dialogue, and I always share this scene with my research students, so it was an easy pick. Finding the loop length here was harder, and I’m a little surprised how consistent some of the rhythms in the delivery are, and how many lines actually get a complete delivery ‘in loop’ (Should I be surprised? Or is a rhythmic line delivery, with consistent pauses, inherent to this kind of monologue). The looping again highlights the movement within the scene, and the camera moves also get ‘revealed’ in the looping. Favourite moment is definitely the (total accident) at the end where ‘unoriginal’ becomes ‘original’.

This is a scene which I’ve always loved listening to but I think I’m listening to it differently with this video. The looping, in combination with the staggered progress of the video, seems to hold the sounds in my memory just long enough that I feel I can grasp them a little more clearly. Each loop seems to exist as its own short sonic motif, almost self-contained, even as it contributes to the whole.

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