about        exhibitions          work        contact

Gordon Culshaw

Four Generations.

Digital signals don’t decay. A digitally rendered film will not decay. We might lose the file or lose the ability to play it but there will be no time related deterioration in its quality. It is possible for part of the signal to be absent, but each part of the code is either present or not present. There is no possibility of a gradual breakdown. Movies we watched on VCRs in the 70s have been digitally re-mastered. To re-watch one of the iconic movies of the past now means a different viewing experience, the resolution is higher, as is the frame rate and the sound is surround. But somehow we have lost the authenticity of the original experience.

I have produced a device which will artificially age footage. If the authentic is ‘that which decays’ then this process will give the memories a value which they lack in their digital form. The device takes the form of a series of cameras set up to record sequentially so that the image can be seen to degrade across a series of four generations of recording. As this is designed to be a portrayal of the analogue rather than an actual conversion to analogue, all the cameras will be digital.

In contrast to the transition from analogue to digital: where the ‘excess’ information of the analogue must be destroyed in order to produce the digital; I will be manipulating the digital in order to produce an imitation of the analogue. This manipulation of information in search of the authentic might be seen as mirroring or reflecting the limitations and imperfections of our memory in recalling detail of events from our past.

In film, as we move further away from celluloid and the transition from analogue to digital has reached its completion, it is interesting that we now find it necessary to produce tools which will mimic the analogue. We want to be able to give the impression of age. Photo manipulation software allows us to ‘add dust’, ‘add scratches’; video editing software allows us to mimic the stuttering film footage of the 1920s. Genuine image imperfections from dust on the film or from camera shake are real world phenomena and as such these imperfections are entirely erratic. While computers can process huge calculations at very high speed, they cannot produce genuinely  random events. The computer can only produce something which looks random. To introduce any truly random event into the digital world there needs to be an operator induced reference to the real world. The space between the digital camera and the digital screen upon which it is focused is the real world, any settling of dust or footstep induced vibration will be picked up by the system and become part of the final image.

Striving for a  facsimile of the analogue using digital equipment my aim was to end up with an interesting hybrid, which, whilst containing elements of the genuinely random, also contains features which are unique to the digital world.