Performing Composing

In the novel Watchmen, Laurie Juspeczyk describes a world that contains a different kind of time, slow time. This section of the project asks us to participate in a similar imagination exercise. As a reader, you may need to make decisions about how to invest your time in these materials, which include cast-off elements that failed to make it into the final video, practice performances, and residual pieces created or collected after the composing of Waves. A sampling of the materials is collected here to shed light on the composing of the video and to illuminate the project themes.

A first step might be to watch the scholarly ticker that was incorporated into early iterations of the video
Watching this text will be some slow going. (If you want to save time, you can look over the transcript.) The video ticker contains a mixed audio layer and text copied from Keith Sawyer's book Group Genius. The ticker was originally created to serve as a textual element in an earlier video. It represents the remixable nature of digital materials (Manovich; Murray; Bolter and Grussin; Ridolfo and DeVoss). Conceptually, the ticker argues for the generative capacity of collaborative improvisational performance.

First Saved Rough Performance for Waves The temporal unfolding of Waves is also revealed in the timestamps of the materials accumulated in its composing. Along with the ticker video--copied at 7:48 PM, a video of scrolling text discussing alt-scholarship was repurposed for the piece--copied at 7:49 PM. A series of practice performances were then conducted and a roughout recording was saved at 8:54 PM. The roughout video--aanythinggoesagain--was abandoned after two minutes (and many other early rough takes were discarded.) This is improvisational composing. The mode is exploration and experimentation with materials to imagine ways that the arrangements of sound and imagery might be managed. The remix urge is also present: in addition to the two textual videos, two imagistic pieces--one with vapor trails and another with bubbles--have been repurposed from earlier works. At this point, they retain rough labels. Some thirty minutes after this rough take and in response to more practice performances, the names of these videos are changed because elements like title bars and folder names convey meaning beyond their existence as formal mechanisms in an interface (Kirschenbaum).

At 9:19 PM the first full performance of the movements between these screen materials is saved--mondayeveningfog. The name derives from the day of the week and the weather outside during the composing session. Much of the work during throwaway performances has been spent figuring out how to integrate the Welcome to Pinepoint materials into the clip. At this point, the rough movements through the materials are in place and the next saved take of the practice performances happens sixteen minutes later. (These performance takes are about eight minutes long.) A significant change between the first full capture and the second that emerges shortly thereafter--mondayeveningfog2--is the discarding of the scholarly ticker at the top of this page. The ticker was abandoned mostly due to considerations of overload. Final Saved Base Layer As a visual element, the ticker raised few concerns. As materials for thought, the ideas streaming by in the ticker were hard to work into the performance. (I was also aware of the need to eventually add a much more verbally heavy layer to the piece.) It's possible to see mondayeveningfog as a more printcentric version of the performance, while mondayeveningfog2 places more emphasis on the moving tracks and bubbles. If you watch either of the two initial mondayeveningfog videos, you're going to be in slow time mode, working through arrangements repeatedly in the service of creating base layers where further composing will play out. At some time around 10:00 PM, I captured a third complete performance, mondayeveningf001--the name a glitch of either typist or machine during the save. While the file was saving, I opened a text file--printcentricity is sneaky--where I planed to collect prose from the blog posts that appear in Waves. I played the base layer performance and then began practicing a second performance on top of the base layer. Since we're in slow time mode, we should note that the 240 minutes that passed during the early composing stage had now been distilled into the eight minutes and twenty seconds of the base layer video, over which new composings would be performed.

Adding the second layer took two takes and an unknown amount of preparation time. I had earlier installed the script BBAutoComplete in my text editor and experimented with how it might be used in composing. I had also searched for and queued up in browser tabs many blog posts containing large amounts of prose collected in their responses the Fish. I experimented a bit with moving through these materials and with using a word count display. Second Recorded Performance over the Base LayerI then committed myself to composing some improvisational prose and recorded fishnow--a rough take of the second performance in the video. That performance is cut short toward the end as I realize I want to make adjustments to the timing and retry some of the moves. I saved the recording of the performance at 10:47 PM. Response to Fish is the second attempt at performing the work with the blog postings over the base layer video. It features a large amount of improvisational typing. The typing in particular is linked to affective aspects of the screen through its simultanaity with the audio track and moving images of the base layer. This performance is saved at 11:03 PM, three hours and fifteen minutes after beginning the composition.

In the later stages, I focused on polishing and adding emphasis to the two captured layers. I created a few versions of tickers displaying the sources used in the video. I planned to record the tickers over the end of the video as a way of citing sources. I also decided to experiment with adding spotlight effects while creating those recordings. There were a few throwaway captures as I figured out where I might use the spotlight effect. The first saved recording still had issues with the spotlight and yielded more discarded attempts. The second saved capture (which opens this chapter) was completed at 12:14 on tuesday morning, four hours and twenty-six minutes after beginning to compose.