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January 30, 2007

Do we know what we hear when we see?

I screened a work the other night at a local Video Slam (excellent venue) and got very good feedback from the audience - many of whom were video/film artists. The work is "Putting By" an improvisatory piece I taped while doing some canning in my kitchen. The late afternoon light through the SW facing window was especially compelling and the sounds and sites of the kitchen became my material. I preserved the chronological order of takes and edited from 60mins to 15 mins of tape. I was particularly interested in the sync sound as there was much to hear including background conversations that ended up providing a kind of subtext to the piece.

I spent a good deal of time working on sweetening the sound while maintaining its original character. There was a prominant 60 cycle hum that proved difficult to mask. While working in my studio I took a break and went in the house to make some tea. While I was busy with the range the refrigerator kicked in and I noticed the familiar 60 cycle hum (which I had thought was the video camera). I realised the hum was as much a part of the video as the steam from the cookers was. I left it in the mix. When I completed the audio mix I was quite satisfied with the resulting balance between video and audio - an opportunity to see and hear on a deeper level.

At the screening I brought the sound up to a comfortable but emphasized level. Afterward, during the question and answer period, there were no mentions of the sounds. Many astute observations regarding the visual but not a single mention of the sound. I was quite surprised. The situation led me to wonder about an audience's ability to hear without hearing. Perhaps, with Hollywood styled sound design, audiences are conditioned to not hear what they are hearing. Just recently Kelley Baker spoke  in Eugene about sound design and repeated the industry maxim that "if the audience notices the soundtrack it is no good, if they don't it has done its job.". I wonder about that statement. Kind of related to the confounding statement "you really can't teach composition" that I got from my composition teachers in academia - "Um, so why are we here?". 

More on this coming... 

 

 

January 15, 2007

3rd Annual OPEN LENS Fest a Success

Just finished up a weekend film festival at DIVA Center: The Open Lens Festival. We feature video and film work from southwestern Oregon artists. We screened a 13 film  juried program and awarded 1 Jury award, 2 honorable mentions and 1 audience choice award. Check the Festival webpage for details:

http://www.divamedia.proscenia.net/openlens/index.htm

Our visiting filmmaker, Kelley Baker, from Portland offered 2 workshops, Making the Extremely Low Budget Film and Sound Design for Independent Filmmaking. Both were well attended. Kelley was very supportive of the filmmakers in attendance and proved to be a wealth of info and stories from his years as sound designer and from his own feature film work. Check out his website: www.angryfilmmaker.com.

The event was successful with good attendance and good press. We look forward to next year's festival. There is a growing sense of Eugene as a center for regional filmmaking and we at the Media Arts Committee of the DIVA Center are committed to fostering that reality.

January 05, 2007

DIVA Center Gallery opening

Had a First Friday opening at the DIVA Center Galleries tonight. Featured tattoo art show with gorgeous male and female models exposing beautiful tattoos on various body parts, some large format photos and paintings of various designs by local tatt artists; a University of Oregon student art exhibit that included some video art; an attractive slightly new-agey exhibit of silk screen work, two installations from opposite ends of the sensual spectrum and a room for airbrush tattoos. Huge number of people filing through all night. Many folks from the body art community. Had opportunity to pass out fliers about the Media Arts Committees programs including the Open Lens Festival and our Sunday film series events. All in all a successful event. Good to be involved with DIVA. Good to see the community embracing our vision. Check out the site www.divanow.org.

January 03, 2007

Wetlands are calling.

I have been feeling a pull to visit the wetlands lately (West Eugene Wetlands). Rain has been plentiful and the temperature mild. This time of year brings dense clouds and a blue-ish gray pallor that feels like an enormous comforter has settled over the landscape. The life in the marsh is surprising and uplifting. Chevrons of geese (Canada and Brandts) appear on the horizon as shivering, morphing DNA strands.

The wetlands stimulate me. When I go there I quickly gain a meditative, intuitive alertness that leads to satisfying taping. They are living proof of the depth of simple moments, the intricacy of plainess. Carpeted in brown grass, flat and windswept, seemingly nothing more than a place to drain and develop. But to stand in one spot and remain alert can be quite overwhelming. I don't know what to tape first; the kiting koestrel, water-landing ducks, bayonetting herons, grazing nutria, oblivious joggers.  I never have an agenda. I simply go and take what is offered to me. I always leave full but wanting more, wishing I could somehow capture the purple, brown and ochre nuances of wintery evening light.

Initial Posting

Welcome. This blog will publish various writings relating to my work as video artist, sound artist, composer, flutist. I welcome comments that are constructive additions to the train of thought. I find that conversations often help congeal amorphous thoughts into communicable ideas. Please visit my webpage as well (www.danielheila.com) for more information and samples of my work. 1

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