MVM Lecture Notes – Abstraction


Abstraction gathers videos which move away from mere illustration, preferring to allow graphic elegance to take the place of narrative.

Music With Video

A music video is a form of exploitations of images or themes. These images or themes can be used as a tool for your work.

This video is by M.I.A called ‘Born Free’

The theme in this video is about police control and is putting across quite a strong political message – recreating a video that is relevant to what is happening or has been happening today. Other musicians, such as Madonna, have also used themes in their videos about current affairs.

Most film directors start off by making music video’s. The film director David Fincher made Madonna’s video ‘Vogue’ and other collective music videos and documentaries before producing some of his most renowned movies such as ‘The Social Network’ ‘Se7en’ and ‘Fight Club’. The ‘Vogue’ music video is all about fashion and represents the process of modelling and style. shot in black and white, it has a look that recalls the past of film and photography from the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’ with its Art Deco features and set design.

Renowned fashion and portrait photographer Man Ray has worked in a variety of media including directing film. The 1926 movie short by Man Ray, ‘Emak Bakia’ – subtitled ‘Cinépoéme’ utilises abstractions that turn into something else.

It features many filming techniques including Rayographs (a self referenced term – also known as a photogram), double exposures, soft focus and ambiguous features. Two years before, in 1924, Fernand Leger a painter and film maker, of whom contributed to the cubism and modernism movements, made the ‘Ballet Mecanique’.

Co-directed with Dudley Murphy, it is a Dadaist post-cubist film and was something that was very new for its time. This is a really nice example of a video that has been made with simple ideas and is considered one of the masterpieces of early experimental film making.

This next video was made by Len Lye in 1936 for the Post Office.

This video was made in colour was made even though movies were still in black and white, and it also shows the use of early effects.

As soon as sound became available to be reproduced and stored, film makers wanted to illustrate it.

The Scopitone

It was a kind of visual jukebox, a precursor to today’s music videos.scopitone

This 16 mm film jukebox was made after the war where people wanted something new – a modern take on things – and was based on the Soundies technology that was being developed through the Second World War. The Scopitone was built in France in the 1960’s and became very popular in Europe especially in West Germany and England. It didn’t reach the United States until the about 1964, then by the end of the 1960s they were gone.

Historical Music Store

Scopitone Archive

Then in 1981, the America TV channel, MTV made its debut being the first programme to just show music videos. Today MTV has lost its domain audience – originally targeting young adults, nowadays it has lost this user demand because of sites such as YouTube and Vimeo . Now only really showing reality TV programmes targeted at teenagers. The first video MTV broadcasted was The Buggles ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’. It was also the one-millionth video to be broadcasted as well.

Lady Gaga often has very high productions videos. A bit like Madonna, Gaga’s video to ‘Bad Romance’ also has a relationship with fashion and other reference such as 2001. This video also feature time photography and other filming techniques.

Another artist that makes high production videos is the artist Matthew Barney. His films were made on aesthetics. His ‘Cremaster Cycle’ was a five feature film that included Barney’s drawings, sculptures, photographs and artists books within it.

Head Room Videos

Head room video’s were videos that only showed heads or faces. Because they are so simple, they are really easy to make.

Godley and Creme – ‘Cry’

Radiohead – ‘No Surprises’

The Wilderness Downtown

The Wilderness Downtown is An interactive film by Chris Milk featuring “We Used To Wait” by Arcade Fire. Its video is incorporated with Google so that the location you type in is in the video, making the whole video experience much more personal.

I recommend to check this out!

This is similar to Robyns video for ‘Killing Me’ where the curser interacts with the video and it is also in 3D!

Viral Dependence

Economics. These days videos have to set apart from other videos with new things. Because YouTube is one massive archive of videos, new videos are fighting against old videos. Because we like nostalgia we still tend to watch these old music videos as they are still popular. Things that set stuff apart is viral dependence, and if it goes viral it tends to sell records. For example Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know‘ went viral at the beginning of 2012, even though it was released mid 2011 and was from his third album. The song sold over 10 million copies world wide.

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