Streaming Now...
Judy K Suh

August 2018

Public Viewing Hours:
Fridays 6–8pm
Saturdays 1–5pm
Sundays 1–5pm

Dancing Human is a part of the artist Judy K Suh’s ongoing exploration of the construction and deconstruction of the moving image. Drawing inspiration from Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic studies of motion, the piece breaks down a dancer’s movement into a series of still images created from shooting on Super 8 and 35mm. It was conceived specifically for the unique structure of 150 Media Stream, utilizing the vertical screens to present the film strips in their entirety. Alluding to film editing, the strips were cut and organized for a visual rhythm rather than temporal rhythm. The advanced digital technology powering this video wall exhibits analog technology in all its imperfections—dusts, scratches, light leaks—and is now obsolete.

Interview with Judy K Suh

How did the idea of Dancing Human come about and what is the process for creating this project?

I feel strongly about form and content being reflective of each other. So when I looked at 150 Media Stream, I wanted to make sure the content I create utilizes the verticality of the structure. I've long been interested in using celluloid film in my practice for a long time so it didn't take long for me to associate those tall video wall with the shape of film strips. I have also been fascinated with early motion picture and created works that references Eadweard Muybridge's "Horse in Motion" images, so I decided to do a dancing human version of it.

My dancer Tao Kerr came up with a choreography based on the concept. We discussed having a mix of slow and fast movements so that it registers on film at different rates. I used a variety of frame rates, all 18fps or under. I shot on both Super 8 and 35mm still camera. The shoot was a very collaborative process, as I got to work with practicums at the Banff Centre: Liisa Pitkaranta created the costume from scratch and Nicolas Filteau designed the lights. Everything we did, we designed being aware that the end product is not video, but a series of still images. Once the shoot was done, the film rolls were mailed to a lab in Toronto to get developed. The returned film was then scanned strip by strip, all 150ft+ of it. It was extremely labor-intensive. Once I had everything scanned, I animated them to drift up and down.

The fact that the work is shot on film, then processed and digitally edited to be showcased on the large scale of the media wall is interesting. How do you think the convergence of analog and digital technology in this work is reflected in the actual installation and how does this influence the audience’s perception of the piece?

The video wall itself is a sleek showcase of advanced technology. But my video uses this to show all the nitty gritty details of imperfection in analog film. All the dust and scratches from development and scanning of the film are left there. The film grains are also highly visible, especially because Super 8 is so tiny, and it's been blown up to fit this scale. At the same time, I think it's interesting that when you get up close to the video wall, you don't see much detail because the pixels are so large so everything becomes abstract anyway.

I enjoy using high technology to shed light on old analog technology that was once so striking and magical to viewers then. Dancing Human, though on a video wall, doesn't actually show video. It is just stills that drift up and down. From the series of stills, the viewer is able to create the movement in their minds and complete the choreography. Once in a while, when the film strip moves fast enough—like it would in a film projector, —the motion is suggested through the very mechanism that moving image is created.

Can you tell us more about your background in filmmaking, theater, and design? How do these interests inform your art practice in general and making this work? What’s next for you?

My long practice in filmmaking, which began at a young age, merged with the other areas of my practice in fine art, theatre and design over the years. I am constantly exploring ways to apply video or concepts in filmmaking to other disciplines. Sometimes that is the origins and mechanisms of motion picture itself, like in Dancing Human, or other times the narrative aspect. I'm interested in finding ways to take video out of its flat screen and place it in different environments and contexts. To this end, projection mapping has been the technique I've been exploring in recent years. It allows video content to exist in a real, tactile world, and it becomes cinematic and theatrical at the same time. I've been focused more on installations so far, but now I am expanding my purview into creating video for live entertainment, such as theatre, dance and concerts.

Currently I am in development for a couple of new video installations for light festivals, and finishing a projection mapping technology training in Canada. I plan to continue taking installation commissions, and hopefully work more in dance/theatre context as a projection designer.

Learn more about Judy K Suh here

Dancing Human is produced at The Banff Centre
Choreography/Dance: Tao Kerr
Costume design: Liisa Pitkäranta
Lighting design: Nicolas Filteau
Lighting assistants: Aidan Ware, Xigna Low, Cullen Mcgrail
Special Thanks to: Elijah Lindenberger, Basim Magdy

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