Hours of the Night

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Description (in English): 

Hours of the Night, a collaboration between M.D. Coverley and Stephanie Strickland, is the most recent of their joint explorations. It arose from a concern for the portability of software in the current platform-rich e-lit environment, particularly because many of the tools they used in the past (Director, Flash) are no longer supported or have limited reach. Wishing to make use of a widely available and easily managed tool, they chose PowerPoint, believing it to be a popular, standard, authoring system, the products of which could be read on any desktop computer, tablet, or smart phone. Making and porting PowerPoint work turned out to be more difficult than anticipated. Fortunately the latest version of PowerPoint allows one to export MP4s from the PowerPoint file. Thus available in this exhibit is the truly portable MP4 and as well the PowerPoint file itself (as a slideshow). The latter is viewable only on a Windows machine equipped with PowerPoint for Windows and with the requisite fonts downloaded on it. The aesthetics of the piece are of course not those of a bit of a film but of a series of slides. Hours of the Night, an experimental poem, addresses subjects often avoided—age and aging, sleep and the night. (Source: ELO 2016, Artist's statement)

Technical notes: 

The latter is viewable only on a Windows machine equipped with PowerPoint for Windows and with the requisite fonts downloaded on it.

Contributors note: 

 

Hours of the Night has several sources. We had planned a work provisionally called Ana in 2001. At that time we found and manipulated the background tree image, the image of the boy, and many of the bell sounds. Other ideas took over in 2015. We often room together at conferences and are acutely aware of things becoming physically harder as we age and of interruptions to our sleep. Coincidentally Stephanie had read about the interrupted pattern of sleep as one that used to be common. Our piece came together slowly as we sought for aspects that reminded us of our childhoods (for Stephanie, foghorn sounds on Lake St. Clair) and of our present life as grandmothers and elder women. Between us we have 9 sons and grandsons; Stephanie also has a daughter and 2 granddaughters. Finding a picture of an older woman that would work for us was, as it turned out, the hardest task. Margie remembered the Eliot quote and Stephanie the Yeats epitaph. We worked very hard to find the right palette, the right (freely available) images, the sounds and their timing, all in service of a quiet, dark, still, nighttime meditation – the very opposite of usual Web fare.

Since many tools we used in the past (Director, Flash, Anfy Java applets) are no longer supported or have limited reach, we wanted to make use of a widely available and easily managed platform. Though neither of us had used it in the past, we believed PowerPoint to be a popular, standard authoring system that produced work readable on any desktop, tablet, or phone. Not so, as it turns out; thus, our multitude of forms. The MP4 version will work on any computer that plays video. The PowerPoint plays on Windows machines with proper fonts installed and a recent version of the program. Its standalone form is subtly different from the slideshow, permitting a reader-chosen reading pace. Though the video is Hours’ most portable form, the aesthetics of the piece are not those of a bit of a film but of a series of slides.

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Julianne Chatelain