Description (in English): 

"Winterscape" is an Ambient Video meditation on the changing faces of the Canadian Rockies in winter. The piece is a visual essay that takes the viewer deep into the mountain environment, and in the process expands the limits of cinematic time and space in the context of the recombinant moving image. 

Ambient Video artworks are "video paintings" that hang on the walls of our homes and offices. They present a considerable aesthetic challenge for the artist. They must give visual pleasure in any given moment, but can not require our attention at any time. Since they live in our homes, they must also support repeated viewing, yet still offer fresh insights each time. Winterscape exemplifies the three techniques I rely on to meet these aesthetic challenges: striking visual composition, manipulation of cinematic time, and the use of visual layers and transitions. 

Because ambient video works must be slow-paced, the pressure on the original composition is considerable. This piece is based on strong subject imagery with an emphasis on visual impact, simplicity of composition, and the subtle play of light, color and motion. 

The cinematic time base has been manipulated extensively in these shots. Clouds are sped up to maximize visual interest but still retain an innate sense of grace. Water is slowed down to reveal the complex relationships of motion, time, momentum, and resistance as it plays within the constraints of landscape and gravity. 

Even more striking is the manipulation of visual layers and transitions. This piece is a radical departure from the more than one hundred years of cinematic tradition—there are no hard cuts in "Winterscape." Instead, it uses a series of multiple layers and complex transitions to support constant but subtle change from image to image. This is a major shift in the fundamentals of film and video construction, which almost exclusively relies on the use of the discrete shot as the basic building block of visual sequencing. In this work, each shot has been fragmented into visual zones, and the transition from one image to the next unfolds in stages determined by the graphic and motion components of each composition. The result is a constant state of transition, as pictorial components layer, wipe, and fade in an unending series of changes. At any given time, the image on the screen is a seamless shifting collage, consisting of parts of two or more camera shots. The effect is one of visual flow, metamorphosis, and an overall sense of recombinant "magic realism". 


Contributors note: 

In a technologically-based art, collaboration and support are critical conditions for creative success. This work is the result of a deep collaboration between myself and my two production colleagues: Director of Photography Glen Crawford, and Post-production and Visual Effects specialist Christopher Bizzocchi. The piece has also benefited from the support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University.

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Scott Rettberg