I’m still catching up with last weekend, the last test video has just been edited and I am ready to share it with you now. I ended the day after I had an idea the previous night to combine to the test videos I have been using, the innocent and the perpetrators of violence together. Which meant that I had to re-cut the longer of the two to work together without over running massively or forcing me to repeat the shorter clip which would lose any real effect the piece may have.
I projected it initially, soon realising that I had to reposition the model miniatures either side to fall under the light of each clip. The first few times I ran the piece it was working however the way the footage was falling onto the models it felt uneven. So I went back to tweak it before running it a again. I had to rejig the model, which now sat more comfortably. They had lost the parallel nature of being a street, I had to divide them so they fell on one side or another at the back where the street wraps around.
It was working now, the violence building up for either side – fair enough the timing was a little off, it’s a test so it’s not a big concern. However I felt that the division between both was taking away a big part of the work. By dividing the street I was also losing the relationship between the two, confined to one side or another which is not reflective of the genre or even reality, Violence in those terms knows no boundaries, which I had set-up here. When the violence’s blanketed over the whole town it has more impact, but less sculptural. Having the two channels of action I can potentially show more now. Meaning I need to mix the two up over the two sides of the streets. I also feel that I need to look at violence committed indoors, so another separate piece needs to be built and footage edited together. Also do I still restrict it to white on white violence or do I move to pure violence in the genre, seeing the victims as just victims of violence not race or otherwise. I’m going back to making and sourcing then to see how things progress further. I definitely have a working piece it just making the most of the potential content to have the most impact.
Then comes the question of how far I have come with this piece, the historical roots from Melton Mowbray’s history of what was thought to be violent incident, which, when compared to today’s standards it’s pretty tame really. I’ve abandoned the literal Wild West translation to look solely at the violence of that era through the lens of the genre. If I look at the true roots of the piece; High Plains Drifter (1973) a horror/western that sees a ghost turn a town on its head before letting it be burned to the ground. I seem to have forgotten the other the town pre-violence, not just during and post violence, which could however be illustrative. The purity of the white model miniatures, which is essentially a blank canvas for the town too. I can project onto it whatever I please, I could tell a narrative which is not my style (expect Playing with Plastic (2016)) or leave it blank for audience interpretation which is my style.
After the events today outside the Palaces of Westminster I realised that my current work being discussed today maybe a little out of taste. However if we give into the terrorists, they have won. I want to explore the effects of violence in the Western genre, the human impact, which I feel I am getting closer to with this 2nd test from the weekend. I am sharing with you still as I won’t be scared off either.
Again there is no audio, I feel the images alone are more effective in this test. Below you can find the original test video to make more sense of what I am projecting.
The next test video’s I’ll be sharing was a combination of the two, working together, or even against each other on the same set-up of model miniatures.
I would have liked to share all of my test videos from Sunday, however I’ve met some technical complications that has so far prevented me from editing the test footage. So far I can share the first of the day. Overall I completed four tests, two using the original test videos projected in consecutive order. I found straight away the impact of the 15 model miniatures have greater impact than four. I did however find that I need to stick with exterior violence – that enacted outdoors, not indoors as I have mixed it up for the original test.
Below is the original test video with audio, I decided to not record audio so I could focus on the imagery.
The next test which I’ll be sharing will be the 2nd video projected onto the model miniatures.
It’s been full on of painting today, so out with the paint and brushes and the first coat is now on all of the model miniatures. After priming the remaining pieces that were still having detail added I have finally moved into the next phase before I get the projector out. I finished my day in the studio with a quick layout of the town. I’m really pleased with how they are looking. I am thinking they will need a further 4 or 5 coats before they are a solid white. Putting me on schedule to have another test at the middle of the month or late March.
It was a rather quick day in the studio. I’ve been adding a few more details to the remaining models whilst I finally got the paint out and made a start on priming them all. Just as I was finishing I realised that I missed off the cross on my church piece. It’s a very minor detail which i will consider adding or not as I don’t want it to delayed the next test.
Next time I’ll be going into full painting mode. I’m hoping to undertaking another test later next month or early April.
A day later than planned but without any more delay I’d like to share yesterdays events in the studio. It’s been back to operation “add detail” to most of the model bar two or three which are ready for the paint to be applied. It was all about the matchsticks creating the detail, with them being almost to exact size in some cases I have used them to create simple gestures that are completing these simple model miniatures. I know I say this a lot but I am really please with how things are going.
I might be getting out the paint next time as I make a start on some of the models, whilst a few need more work to them. It wont be much but will make all the difference.
I think I’ve reached a point where too many more maybe too many to work with for the moment. I’ve made a further 5 pieces today in the studio increasing my total to 15. I might have to return to some old sketches or photographs for more including a general store then I think it’s time to stop, add more detail and paint them all white.
So onto today’s model miniatures, first a very simple livery stables, followed by an expanded jail. I then made two smaller models, both very similar apart from their roofs, one flat, the other traditionally raised. I finished off with a more complex hotel/saloon.
I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made in such a short time, It will slow down now as I add detail which is always a slow process before I paint and see what overall effect they have.
My first day back in the studio after the Christmas break and things have taken a strange turn which I need to understand. I started the day preparing for mt first show of the year which took some experimenting, I can’t wait to see how it looks installed.
Moving onto playing with my found footage which I wanted to project onto the model miniatures, I’m treating all of these still as tests until I get a strong way forward. I felt that I could project different content onto specific models. Starting with an attempted rape on a girl in Pale Rider (1985), for some reason I thought the church, not sure why still. I wasn’t happy with what I was seeing which was an outdoor cinema, that I don’t want and anyone with a projector can do that.
The next test and footage was from The Hateful Eight (2015) which I wanted to see projected, the coffee poisoning scene. Again my thoughts were confirmed it was a miniature cinema, which isn’t what I want.
Lastly I decided to return to colour and the figures I used last year to see what would happen if they were combined. Sadly it had little effect really.
So I have left the studio early, needing to rework the found footage into something else which I can project, something has to be changed. I’m thinking a number of channels being projected onto a model miniature, creating a relationship between them, breaking them away from the film they come from. I’m also thinking of a montage of flashes of violence, a combination of the acts and the results of them. If can do something like that before returning to the projector I’ll be able to see if any more potential is left in this work.
I think I’ve carried out my initial tests now before I refine from the results from the two days in the studio. I know I’m getting somewhere, at the moment it looks like a possible installation – something I’ve not done before, having gone more sculptural that is easily transportable. This is a whole different piece. I’ll tell how I got there below, coming back into the studio today, wanting to get at least one more series of tests out of my system. This time involving my cowboy figures from my animation. I decided also to shoot in black and white this time, wanting to focus on the shadows that are created by the light onto the figures.
It didn’t take me long to want to add more figures, populating this test to create more shadows, in turn a bigger gun-fight on the street. I again became frustrated, as I was struggling to create long shadows that I thought would come rather easily to the test.
I knew this was down to the height of the lights which I use. Leading me to lay them flat on the floor, not making use of the legs that stabilise them. immediately I had better shadows.
I made good use of a new tripod I bought during the week that gave me a lower angle, lifting it off the ground by under and inch. I feel that I captured some classical images. Reminding me of the gunfight in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) which lead me to use the projector for the remainder of the tests. Leaving the figures in place I decided to see what happens.
Ultimately I found this test produced mixed results, as much as I had a fantastic scene which told me I was doing the right thing in terms of gunfight’s projected onto the model miniatures, the figures were lost, the light and image was lost to them, Leading me to remove them completely for the next test which also saw me reorganise the models which has far more impact.
From the final test I can see that its about the models capturing the violence which is found on the models, they are part of the models history, the filmic history of violence. So where do I go from here you might ask? I’m thinking that I should make more models, and build-up a collection of gunfights to work with. Maybe I’ll build up a montage that can be projected across a town – so is that a video piece or an installation? I’m not sure yet, all will come clear in the new year.
I can’t remember the last time I spent some real time with this work which I’ve been working loosely with since the summer. Today I’ve spent some good time in the studio playing with my lights and projector, directing them onto the white models I made in the summer. I’ve finally been able to do what I set out to all those months ago. It was rather satisfying to see these ideas take form, if they worked or didn’t was another thing, to actually follow through on a thought that had been there for a long time means I’m happier for it.
So it was all about colour to begin win, wanting to shine block colour, taking the phrase almost literally – painting the town red – with light. I found that the red was coming out more pink, turning to less obvious colours such as green and blue, before finishing with orange. Photographically the results aren’t the best. I found myself returning to earlier work, which is not where I want to be heading, I need to move away from the literal yet atmospheric.
Moving onto another idea I had was to project video onto these essentially blank canvases which meant getting the projector out and finding clips of Westerns I have, seeing what work. Not really choosing anything in particular I went for the rollerskating scene from Heaven’s Gate (1980) which pushed me to consider how to really use the projector and the model, which with every consecutive scene grew ans grew. With this scene it was more about how can I cove the whole or the majority of the model.
It was nice to see how the image consumed the model, becoming an outdoor cinema, projecting its image against a saloon. The image come up well on the model, it will ultimately vary depending on the model being projected onto. I moved onto a scene from The Searchers (1956) which was more of the same. I went to another scene from the film, this time bringing another model, meaning that the projector had to move back to accommodate them both.
What happened here was that the images took on a status of being bigger, yet still very much part of the same world. When I saw the landscape against the more urban models, this is something I wanted to explore, the background being part of these models in the foreground. Pushing it further with the final gunfight in True Grit (1969) which had wide open spaces to take advantage of.
This particular scene worked more so because of the action, the cinematic presentation of the scene, these gigantic god-like being behind the models. I also moved all four of the models in front of the projector, experimenting with layout, creating shadows, which ultimately don’t really matter as the image is still caught on the models in front, the light becomes sculptural. I carried the god-like status through to the next scene – the family massacre in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) which I was very pleased with, partly down to the close-ups.
For the last set-up I positioned the models into a more conventional street set-up, with a gunfight from A Few Dollars More (1965) which drew me to my final thoughts of the day, linking nicely to the original inspiration of the Marquis in Melton – Street violence, or that of gunfights in the genre. I’d like to see how more models and more gunfight scenes work with this set-up. I still want to see how the cowboy figures work in terms of shadows they produce.
So as you can see I have been very busy and had lots of fun, immersed in the Western. To me this piece is about the violence that is created/depicted in the genre, this is where I maybe leading this piece going forward.