Telling Motions

Bill Seaman
Source: Bill Seaman

Bill Seaman

Telling Motions ,
Co-workers & Funding
Camera/Text/Music: Bill Seaman. Editors: Bill Seaman, Daniel McCabe. Trumpet - Mike Majoras
Description Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix
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Telling Motions
Bill Seaman
1985-86, 20:10 min, color, sound
This dreamlike, hypnotic work is structured in four sections, each of which repeats, in various permutations, key visual and verbal systems. Part One introduces the main theme — a poetic text, music, and a set of images that relate to language play in the text. The sections Key/Code, Translations and Adagio systematically translate and abstract these elements, as in a theme and variations. Images and spoken text are subtly interwoven in an insistent rhythm of sonic and visual codes, a language of "telling motions" and gestures: A gyroscope turns in a shaft of light, hands twist in slow motion, a figure signals with flags on a train track. Seaman writes that he "explores repetition and change based on context and treatment, (and) the relative nature of time."

In Telling Motions, which was my MSVisS Thesis work at MIT, I was exploring the creation of a specific audio/visual alphabet. Part 1 set up a series of images playing off of the history of alphabets and communication systems. I wrote a poetic punning text with word and sound play. I also used image puns and word plays - like “boring book”. Part 2., Key Code, I took 26 sections of equal length derived from the video/sound in part 1 creating a substitutions cypher for the alphabet. This was also a compositional music system. Part 3., Translations took fragments of the poetic text, sound and video from part one, and translated them using the substitution cypher, presented in the Key Code Section. This was a way to nest meaning where things could both be a word with meanin,g and then a substitution cypher which carried it’s own recursive set of associative meanings. Part 4., Adagio, returned back to a very slow, sung rendition of the image/sound/text from part 1.
In terms of a future computational generative video system, the idea was that using the cypher system, any text could be translated by this cypher system into a new work of art.
  • aesthetics
    • visual
  • technology
    • interfaces
      • soundgenerating devices
    • software
Technology & Material
Super 8 film transferred to ¾” Umatic Video Tape by Brodsky and Treadway with precise speed control of film transfer. This tape was them bumped up to 1” video. Precise speed control of 1” editing was facilitated by a unique computer-based video editing controller programmed by Russ Sasnett.
Additional Digital editing and special effects (digital zoom and pan), and automated exacting 1 second edits were later performed at Videocraft in Boston.
Soundtrack created by Seaman on a 4 track Teac, working in conjunction with Deltalab Digital Delay (looping and fragment editing function), Yahama DX7, Performer Audio Software running on Mac SE. Trumpet by Mike Majoras
Exhibitions & Events