utorak, 14. kolovoza 2012.

Marco Brambilla - Civilization (2009)

Jedna je od najboljih video-simfonija ikada napravljenih. Uspinjanje liftom uz božanstvena komediju bez Dantea, koji negdje dolje pije martini.

Civilization is a video installation produced at Crush with artist and director Marco Brambilla (represented by Ebeling) for the elevators of the Standard Hotel in New York City.
The video mural is “comprised of over 400 video clips and it takes elevator passengers on a trip from hell to heaven as they go up or from heaven to hell as they go down.”
Editor and Research Assistant: Beau Dickson. Assistant: Swapna Tamhane.
The music is Action Rituelle des Ancêtres (Ritual Action of the Ancestors) from Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) by Igor Stravinsky. (thanks Max!)

Title: Civilization (MEGAPLEX), 2008 By: Marco Brambilla
Client: The Standard Hotel, New York
Editor/Research Assistant: Beau Dickson
Assistant: Swapna Tamhane
Production Company: Crush, Toronto
Representation/Images Courtesy of: Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica
Marco Brambilla Directorial Representation:
Ebeling Group U.S.A

Q&A with Marco Brambilla:

Tell me how you got involved with The Standard & this project.

I work as a video artist - the owner of the Standard was familiar with my work from a show in New York. He commissioned a video piece to be featured as a permanent installation at the new Standard hotel in New York.

Was there any type of creative brief given to you?

They were interested in a work which could be installed in the elevators. Other than that there was no brief - the understanding was that I would propose a work and they would either approve it or I would come up with another approach.

How did you come up wit the concept for this art installation?

The idea of doing a “video mural” had interested me for quite some time and the journey from hell to heaven depicted in this way seemed to be a good fit.

How did you approach this project?

The first phase was the longest and most involved because it was all about researching and then sampling the film clips. I then put together both a chronological video sequence of the “journey” from hell to heaven and “photoshoped” collages using still images to create the composition. These elements were then brought to the people at Crush to translate this into motion using the video clips as loops.

There was a great deal of trial and error involved at this stage and I was constantly making adjustments as we proceeded through the final composition to ensure the moving composite would be as seamless as possible.

Were there any challenges?

I don’t thing anything like this had been done before so the technique was being refined as the content was being assembled. This could not have been done without an intimate collaborate with Crush at every stage since there were so many variables to deal with simultaneously.

Tell me how it will be used in The Standard, NY

It will playback on a high-definition monitor which will be seen through a viewing port in each of the elevators at the hotel and move according to the direction of the elevator.

Civilization – Notes from Crush Senior Artist Sean Cochrane.

We at Crush already had a previous relationship with Marco as we helped him create a piece of video art shot in a train station in Berlin and we had done post on a few commercial he’s directed.

We love working with Marco as he is very creative and he likes to work very fast. When new ideas are unearthed during the creative process, you have to be ready to go with him and explore those ideas or you simply don't keep up with him. When he asked us to work with him on Civilization, a vision he had of taking hundreds of stock footage, movie footage and original clips and combining them to create a moving landscape depicting the ascension from hell to heaven, we knew that it was going to be huge challenge but one we were very excited about.

Marco is very gutsy and bold but also has great respect for collaboration and discovery of ideas that blossom during the process. The project had two huge challenges. Firstly we needed to figure out how to create content that could move with the elevator where it would ultimately be viewed. The idea was this, when you go up in the elevator the content goes down and when you go down it goes up. Not unlike a ride film this project was designed to be synced to the moving environment of the hotel elevators in New York. We wanted to synchronize the footage to the movement of the elevator as best as we could.

The second challenge was creative. What are we seeing through this 'elevator window'? We only really knew at the beginning that the canvas or environment would be very tall and skinny due to the physics of elevator travel and we wanted to go from a hellish landscape to a heavenly one.

We began with exploring the idea of using a game engine to house the project. Seemed easy, map footage onto planes in space, attach a PC to the elevator and we can move up and down in the game environment all day. Unfortunately, once we started to collage the clips together in the Flame we knew the game engine idea wouldn't fly. We approximated that we would have 250 looped HD clips in the environment and our Flame could barely handle it (in the end it was closer to 500 looping clips). We compromised by locking ourselves into the idea that we would create a huge vertical canvas that we would scan up and down on once the elevator was in motion. The final piece was approximately 1920 x 7500 pixels.
Another technical wrinkle was more human. Would we create motion sickness by subjecting riders on the elevator to the video art? To test this we shot some footage of a rising and falling landscape on a glass enclosed elevator and played back the footage on a 42" plasma in a fully enclosed elevator. Not one person in the 30 we used in the test got sick so we knew our gut check was all right.
In parallel to the technical research, Marco and his studio staff began the process of researching and collecting a vast amount of footage sampled from both mainstream and more obscure film sources. Marco then assembled still grabs from each piece of sampled footage into photomontages, which we would review weekly while Marco’s editor cut together a linear chronology of what the components in journey from hell to heaven may look like.
The logistical task of collecting and cataloguing all the clips involved a great deal of coordination between our producer and Marco’s studio and stretched over a period of almost three months. Once the material was imported into Flame we would invariably make adjustments and receive more photo-collages that would polish to make the “video mural” look as seamless as possible. The clips were used in much the same way the way a painter would use a colour or texture. We felt it was like audio sampling, using the clips as beats and timing them all to work together to create something new and original. Marco and our team experimented in the Flame and played with the clips for about six weeks, arranging and rearranging them on the 2d canvas over and over to find the right compositions. Most of this work was done at night because we couldn't afford to do it during prime time hours.
Not only were we playing with where on this huge canvas the clips should go, we had to consider the looping aspect of this project. We wanted the canvas to loop once it got to the top of heaven and come right back around to hell again. Once the canvas looped, each of the 500 clips had to be looped individually as well. Along with colour correction, each clip required careful vari-speeding and stabilization to allow all the pieces fit together. We ping-ponged most of the clips as to avoid any cutting on the loop points. With all the clips treated and placed into the canvas we color corrected the entire thing as one big piece of wallpaper. We had over a hundred 'power windows' on the piece to isolate sections and make each station gel together. We ended up with six main stations on the canvas. Hell, lower purgatory, middle purgatory, upper purgatory, heaven and upper heave/lower hell which was the loop point.
After all this was done we set out to redo the entire piece in 3d space! We took each station, rendered it out as a static 2.5 minute plates and then projected those onto geometry modeled to match the stations layout. We then had to go in and render the stations with and without most of their elements so we could achieve the proper parallax. Essentially it was like recreating the entire project over again but with most of the guesswork taken away with the 2d final as our road map.
Once the 3d version was done, we slept. - http://glossyinc.com/misc/civilization.html

Brambilla, javi se!
Evo još nekoliko njegovih radova:

Marco Brambilla

RPM, 2011

Duration: 1m 50s continuous loop
Single-Channel video installation, 3D high definition/color, Stereo sound
The line between man and machine is blurred in this 3D video collage. Commissioned by Ferrari S.p.A., RPM presents a compelling psychological portrait of a Formula One driver's point-of-view during a race.
RPM was photographed at the Italian Formula One Grand Prix in Monza, then processed in a signature style; Images from the Scuderia Ferrari archives as well as race broadcasts and film clips were sampled to create an abstract and kaleidoscopic series of images which seamlessly unfold before us in 3D space.
Premiered at Miami Basel 2011 event hosted by Ferrari, Peter M. Brandt and Sotheby's Tobias Meyer.

KINO, 2011
Duration: 2m 08s
Single-Channel video, high definition/color

KINO is a seamless scroll comprised of more than 200 original elements combined using visual effects techniques enabling viewers to choose from three different points of view, all with a simple tilt of the head.
This film developed for German fashion and lifestyle brand Hugo Boss reveals a highly stylized, and elegant vision of an impeccably dressed man making his way through a surreal and magical night.

Liminal Attractions

The virtual visions of Marco Brambilla
by Tom McCormack  

Jumping off a successful career directing commercials, Marco Brambilla first came onto the cultural radar in 1993 as the director of Demolition Man, a dystopian sci-fi action flick set in an anemic, whitewashed future torn asunder by visitors from a manlier, more vital past doing battle and fomenting class revolt. In this film's world—the U.S. circa 2032—swearing is illegal, sexual intercourse has been replaced by somatic social networking, all restaurants are Taco Bells (they won the infamous "franchise wars"), and music lyrics are nothing but corporate advertising. And Arnold Schwarzenegger is President.
An entertaining action movie, Demolition Man is interesting in hindsight for a number of reasons, not least of which is the way it seems to presage Tea Party resentment of touchy-feely liberalism. The movie is distinguished, too, by its visual design. Sleek, smooth, decked out with bright whites and shiny metals, the movie looks forward to what we might call the functionalist techno-minimalism typified by Apple. Obviously doing work-for-hire (he didn't write the script), Brambilla nonetheless made a provocative film to which we might compare and contrast his subsequent work. 
Plenty of movie directors have started their careers making experimental films and gone on to make features (George Lucas and Gus Van Sant come to mind). A handful of others have moved back and forth (like Curtis Harrington), or moved between experimental fare and industrial films or more technical work to pay the bills (like Stan Brakhage and Pat O'Neill). Few filmmakers have started in Hollywood and moved on to short-form, non-narrative filmmaking, which is what Brambilla—whose first solo museum show is currently at the Santa Monica Museum of Art—did in the late '90s.
Brambilla's 2001 short Sequel drives home the strangeness of his career path. In the film, he rephotographed a shot of Sylvester Stallone from Demolition Man, letting the footage burn in the gate, effacing the star's image and creating glowing, shifting, biomorphic patterns on the screen. It's easy to see Sequel as a kind of exorcism of Brambilla's previous career, a literal attempt to make refuse of the past. Appropriating Hollywood footage is often seen as an impish, defiant gesture. It can represent an attempt to transform kitsch into avant-garde, or to take the market-ready, the pre-packaged, and turn it into something mysterious, personal, humane. The meaning of the gesture is always tied up in economics: to appropriate from Hollywood is to take something that cost a lot of money to create and turn it into something that cost very little money to create. Appropriating footage from your own Hollywood movie tosses many of these categories up in the air. What is usually assumed to be a cultural transgression takes on a very intimate tone, the personal and the political irrevocably knotted.
Brambilla began working out his trademark obsessions before Sequel, in a group of films from the late '90s. The 1999 duology Approach and Getaway establish his abiding interest in the interstitial spaces of contemporary life. Getaway consists of footage shot from the front of an airplane as it's landing set to what sounds like '70s elevator jazz. Brambilla manipulates the speed of the footage, creating a rallentando and distending a transitional moment, from air to ground. The jazz music is a bygone era's idea of the exotic, mocking dreams of transformative travel even as, by calling up an earlier time, it creates a sense of foreignness and translation. Getaway also evinces a concern with durational aesthetics and predictable patterns that is carried throughout Brambilla's work and that aligns some of it with structural filmmakers from the '70s (reviewing a show of his in 2001, Roberta Smith said in The New York Times that his work could be considered "structuralist video").
Approach plays as the aftermath of Getaway. Showing us ultra-slo-mo footage of passengers exiting a plane, Approach is a movie about longing that is cold and analytical, a voyeuristic work about people who are gazing intently. Capturing a different moment of change than Getaway—from inside the plane to outside it, instead of from in the air to on the ground—Approach shifts the focus from the mechanical to the interpersonal; the subjects look something like Warhol's screen-test victims gone fugitive, their gazes somehow unnerving and blank, never calling to mind total presence, never settling into absolute absence.
Cyclorama, another Brambilla piece from 1999, also creates a sense of being in between, placing side-by-side nine shots from the windows of rotating restaurants, syncing the sunrise in each to create a synthetic patchwork of a virtual morning. A meditation on commercial architecture and its use of land- and cityscape, the film could also be said to reflect on "time-space compression," a term used by David Harvey and other theorists of postmodernity to talk about the way distances are collapsed within our mental life, the very continuity we assign to disparate locations itself responsible for a certain degree of disorientation. Cyclorama is in a way about the map of the world carried in the heads of the characters that inhabit Getaway and Approach.
Half Life (2002) inaugurated another Brambilla obsession. The installation juxtaposed surveillance footage of people engaged in a multi-player first-person shooter with footage from the game itself. Even more disquietingly voyeuristic than Approach, and once again concerned with an experience of potential liminality, Half Life brought to the fore Brambilla's abiding interest in new technologies. Much of his subsequent work, including Civilization (2008), Cathedral (2008), Power (2010), and Evolution (Megaplex) (2010), incorporates and explores digital imaging tools.
Within the art world, Brambilla's use of these new technologies is distinctive. Many artists engaged with new media use technology in angled, even purposefully obtuse ways. The recurrence of artwork using outmoded 8-bit hardware provides a salient example. Another good example is Cindy Sherman's recent photographs, which use Photoshop in obvious ways to exaggerate the very postures and facial features the software is usually used to conceal. Brambilla's use of computer-enhanced imagery takes a more straightforward approach to craft. He seems to embrace techniques that in the work of many others are self-referential subjects of skepticism or critique. His recent work is marked by a desire to create real beauty out of the glossy surfaces and bright, shining colors of the digital universe.
Nowhere is Brambilla's unique relationship to CGI imagery more apparent than in Power, his recent collaboration with Kanye West. No other video, not even the epic West-Hype Williams collaboration Runaway (2010), has found such a spot-on visual analog to West's outsized persona. Brambilla creates a tableau with West at the center, shamelessly appropriating a wide array of art-historical tropes. According to an accompanying text, the visuals were "inspired by Michelangelo's frescos in the Sistine Chapel," although he said in an interview that the opening is "kind of a reinvention of a neoclassical painting." I take Brambilla's blunted use of allusion to be a commentary on the emptying out of cultural signifiers in contemporary life. He suggests as much himself, writing that the video is a portrait of "an empire on the brink of collapse from its own excess, decadence and corruption."
This apocalyptic view of the contemporary world is reiterated in Civilization, which portrays Dantean layers of the universe stacked one on top of the other. Each world is a tableau and a digital smorgasbord, with a congestion that recalls nothing so much as the more pageant-like sequences in Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002).        
A similar work, Cathedral, is on display now at the Museum of the Moving Image as part of its Real Virtuality exhibit. For Cathedral, Brambilla captured over 150 hours of footage from the Toronto Eaton Centre megamall and complexly layered and processed it to create a continually shifting tour of consumerism. The movie, as the title suggests, draws on an idiom of Christian iconography, and particularly, in terms of color, texture, and shape, traditional stained-glass windows. Cathedral knits together many of Brambilla's concerns. The mall is reminiscent of the airport, revolving restaurant, and video game café; it collapses boundaries, proposing to synthesize various forms of consumption and leisure; it has the tendency to create both elation and extreme ennui. The mall's escalators and elevators lend a natural shape to the digital patterns Brambilla weaves throughout, and they also give the viewer durational cues; each character's ascent or descent plays as a miniature structural game. And Brambilla's use of computer graphics is some of his most virtuosic: he stacks and colors the images to turn the wide open spaces of the mall into a labyrinthine inferno, the shoppers forever lost, stuck, going in circles.

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