Everything is Still Watching You
The projection mapping dedicated to the 'innocent' TV dreams of the 80s. It is like flashback date with our early music video fascinations when technology was promising a better future and we were almost starry-eyed.
produced by: Katarina Popovic / ketworks.com
Whoever lived the days of early music videos remembers the almost childish, crazy and funky playfulness images and early computer graphics had. We were going to create a fantastic, colorful future, right? Now that seems like a synth Arcadia in a juxtaposition with the malicious, surveillance state of the 'digital eyes' of today. With our ever growing tech capabilities, no digital object is ever truly broken - everything is still watching you.
Concept and background research
The project is dedicated to the memory of better, happier and what seems now - more relaxed times of the 80s. Memory and glitch have one important thing in common - they twist reality, oftentimes making it more beautiful or intriguing then it originally was.
The synth imagery and music are now making a comeback in a retro-futuristic manner. There is the vaporwave movement called Yugo - wave celebrating the dreams and ideals of the Yugoslavian era. The 80s were a crucial time when we believed we had everything: culturally and politically, and it all broke as a soap bubble in the 90s. What has never left us is the fact that the society based on the set of strong ideals is possible, and we have lived it. Also there are interesting, kitch-like musical videos that were inspiring this piece - one of them being the Bulgarian tune called Keks. The ridiculous, overstated 'easiness' of living along with the strong escapist approach to life and the overly-sexual connotation is not just 'another Youtube sensation'. It seems to portray well our desires to almost go back and dream a different future since... is this the one we really wanted?
From a technological point of view, the rapid rise of computation left us little time to thing things through. The 80s saw us all wanting a personal computer, there was a surge in computer gaming and computer graphics had almost a cyber-disco glow to them. And when I look at it now, it seems like a synth-dream that evaporated even faster then it had appeared. The piece opens a question of the machine looking back at you, but not in an 'innocent' manner anymore. We have made the computer 'see' but then it started looking at us from every street corner, and now with the state surveilance and evaluation programs in China, we are marching towards the era of technological total control.
Also the medium of image is so open to manipulation. From the coding perspective to the mapping options to the meta-manipulation of the video representing the piece. We are surrounden by volatile imagery whose origins or factual worth we cannot be sure of.
The piece was coded in Open Frameworks. All the image color changes, glitching and manipulation was done in code. This was a big leap - not using any other visual application, the code became the wondrous beast that showed its many heads. Coming up with shapes and movements that were both symbolically tied to the 80s imagery but were also fresh and different was a major challenge in this project. This was not a citation of the 80s, but an anxious look at it from where we are now.
The quick changes and the variety of glitches made the project have a multitude of scenes. Also, the technical approach is closely knitted with the concept - the rotations, the usage of random and noise, motion of images not behaving 'as expected' on screen, the growing and shrinking, the cuts and the pixelized appearance of imagery all allude to the way our memory works. It is twisted and glitched in code to add a layer of confusion as well as disturbance. As an example, the image rotation - named Roto Glitch in code are inspired by the memory twists. With the passing of time glitches are created in the actual events, or feelings and the stories, and things become unclear or they blend, and we cannot be sure what had actually happened or how we precisely felt about something. With the passing of time we are (our ideals are) more open to manipulation and to different 'readings'.
The work can clearly get a more political perspective with the choice of different imagery. I also see it as a set design for a retro-future party.
Interestingly so, since the video is a format representing the projection mapping it can get another layer of glitch and manipulation creating a meta-medium addition to the original piece.
This was one of the biggest challenges and the exit out of the comfort zone - doing it all conceptually and visually in code. The visual impact and the variety of glitches and broken imagery is something I am quite satisfied with in the final look of the project. One challenge that is very open for me to continue working on is a more complex approach to image manipulation.
The coding inspiration came from the homeworks we did in class for the Creative Coding as well as examples during the class. All of that type of code was significantly changed, build upon or used in the different manner. For the better understanding of image properties the book Open Frameworks Essentials was used and for understanding of usage of noise and random the videos of Perlin Noise from the Coding Train were quite helpful.
The photographs used for this project are all from Unsplash.
The audio score in the video is a free-to-use piece named Simha The Man that comes with Wondershare Filmora software which was used for editing the video.
This video is NOT for commercial use or screening in public spaces - it was created for the purposes of this assignment.