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The White Screen In The Making

After talking in the previous article (previous article link) about the context in which I work, I will deal more specifically with my personal way of approaching creation in video (or experimental) art. Once the studio door is closed, how do I go about translating into moving images the universes that inhabit me?

Creative scuffle :

Over the years, I have developed an interdisciplinary artistic practice, and video art has attracted me precisely by the possibility to integrate into the same work several disciplines. This way of creating also permeates the conception stages of a new work.

In concrete terms, how does this manifest itself? Initially, a trigger appears in the form of a fleeting idea or intention that is still unclear. I set up the camera, place the lighting, organize the space, press the "On" button and I test this first idea, I improvise gestures, postures. Then I look at the captured footage, I extract images from them and print them, I examine them. Two tools come to my aid: writing and drawing. I write freely based on what these images suggest to me. Writing allows me a glimpse of possible "narratives", which contribute to enrich the trigger or the developing universe. I also draw on these images, next to them, from them. Drawing has this very special ability to bring out other types of ideas than those generated by writing; it surprisingly departs from familiar logic by bringing out representations of the subconscious. Photoshop also helps me to visualize a composition idea. In the process, I can foresee the need to add some props.

From these creative reviews, I go back to the camera and shoot again, manipulating the arrangement of elements in space as needed or trying a different movement, and the same process is repeated until the final result. However, I do not work in a linear way, but rather in phases, sometimes successive, sometimes parallel. At the same time as this process of elaboration, a draft of editing develops little by little, organically, and in an equally experimental way. This approach to editing is due to my way of considering the videographic material in the same way as any other material tangible: by modeling, associating, superimposing, etc.

I also develop a kind of storyboard based on the images from the current editing draft, in order to give myself a visual overview of the continuity that is developing. Either I paste the extracted images onto a large panel or I use a graphic design platform. I constantly place and move these images to create a poetically coherent whole – according to my personal logic.

From playfulness to poetic

I therefore proceed by constant back and forth, to arrange what is beginning to take shape. An incessant and dynamic dialogue between an idea and its realization. I like to experiment with a variety of materials and creative processes. If I reread my logbook, I see that it is full of ideas to explore. The motto : "Try to see what it can give "! Experiment with different lighting, play with shadows, sketch more appropriate gestures, test an unusual point of view, handle an object differently, overlay images.

It’s all this creative turmoil that led to my video productions. I'm always fascinated to see where this strategy leads me in the end. When writing enriches video, when drawing shed light on images, when photographic work offers creative tracks and when editing reveals unsuspected avenues, anything is possible on the white screen in the making.

About the Author:

For more than thirty years, Johanne Chagnon has adopted a diversified artistic practice that calls on several mediums, in addition to exploring various forms of distribution and various types of presentation venues, often unconventional. More recently, she has turned to experimental video in which she brings together writing, installation and performance to illustrate her symbolic universes. She has been involved for over 15 years in the art magazine ESSE as coordinator and editor. From 2000 to 2017, she also developed the LEVIER and ROUAGE programs of the Engrenage Noir organization, which works to support community action art. She has published a monograph, “Naviguer malgré tout” [Navigating despite everything], retracing her practice from 1986 to 2015.

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