Los Angeles Filmforum Program, 7 November 2010, 'What Are You Looking At?'
This channel consists of selections beginning with some of my earliest work in video. The selections represent the cross section of work that I chose to include in the Los Angeles Filmforum presentation, "Michael Scroggins: What are you Looking At?",…
This channel consists of selections beginning with some of my earliest work in video. The selections represent the cross section of work that I chose to include in the Los Angeles Filmforum presentation, "Michael Scroggins: What are you Looking At?", which took place at the Egyptian Theater's Spielberg screening space on November 7, 2010. With the exception of the two newer HD works that end the program, much of the quality of the original video images is lost due in some small part to aging videotape media and in large part due to the loss of image resolution caused by the de-interlacing process used to prepare video for the web. De-interlacing removes every other scan line thus reducing 480 lines to 240 which are then interpolated to yield 480 less detailed lines.
My introduction to working with video began in my first year of art school at CalArts (1970/1971). This was also the inaugural year of classes for the recently formed institute. During this period the availability of relatively inexpensive 1/2" reel-to-reel videotape machines brought video production into the hands of individual artists for the first time in history. CalArts provided dozens of 1/2" Sony Portapak's throughout the various schools of the institute. In addition to this revolution in portable video recording I was introduced to the newly designed and constructed Paik/Abe video synthesizer by two great teachers, Nam June Paik and Shuya Abe.
I had entered film school after years of working with the Single Wing Turquoise Bird multimedia light show ensemble (primarily as a liquid light projectionist) and had determined to learn documentary film techniques as a way of finding right-livelihood while serving as a catalyst for social change through works of didactic power. I quickly discovered that the inexpensive video tape medium allowed for the exploration of long take recordings which resulted in the development of particular ways of seeing, unlike that typical of film documentaries. I also developed a love of the textile-like weave of the electronic NTSC video image. The fluid absolute imagery made possible by the Paik/Abe soon seduced me back into the formalism that I had cherished with the liquid light show work. Manipulating the flow of video feedback with the color encoder and video channel gain controls of the Paik/Abe opened up a new range of possibilities for real-time absolute animation. In 1978 I was asked to return to CalArts as a faculty member to teach video art courses. There I worked within the Videographics Lab and Video Studio where I was able to expand the range of what I could do by utilizing the video processing capabilities of the video switcher. This led to the performance of a series of improvised absolute animation studies which eventually culminated in the pieces, "Power Spot" and "Solaire".
At the end of the first decade of the 21st century I had the opportunity to return to the liquid light projection I had been working with in the late sixties of the 20th. Other than my development as an artist over this lengthy period of time, there was now a major difference. Digital video recording systems meant that I could now record my liquid light projection in a way that was not possible with the film technology I had available in the late sixties (some examples from the sixties do exist in the form of a 3/4 inch U-matic videotape telecine transfer of a 16mm film print edited from 35mm original recordings --see the Single Wing Turquoise Bird movie, "Light Show" ). The digital HD recordings of two unedited segments of solo live liquid improvisations, "Adagio for Jon and Helena", and "Limn", cap this Los Angeles Filmforum program.
Until now my works were only available in the controlled environment of selected public screenings and were not generally available on the internet. The creation of this channel is an effort to correct that omission. I plan to add more channels that include other early video works, my latest work in recorded liquid light projection, and documentation of my ongoing experiments in real-time absolute animation performance in the round as created in immersive VR space.