From [John Cage] I learned that chance is one of the great editors. You shoot something one day, forget it, shoot something the next day and forget the details of that…. When you finally string it all together, you discover all sorts of connections. I thought at first that I should do more editing and not rely on chance. But I came to realize that, of course, there is no chance: whatever you film you make certain decisions, even when you don’t know what you do. The most essential, the most important editing takes place during the shooting as a result of these decisions.Jonas Mekas, 1988
I imagine that people who come here after googling “video” and “haiku” are often confused or frustrated to find so many words – especially in the last two years, there have been more essays than anything else.
This website was originally a place where I posted short videos that I made with a pocket-sized digital camera on a weekly basis. In 2012, I tried a variation on this theme and carried around a heavy, bulky 16mm Bolex everywhere, shooting one roll of film, roughly three minutes of footage, per week for the entire year.
Then I hand-processed all of that footage in a darkroom (48 rolls total, nearly one per week), which took about a year.
Then I edited the negative by hand, selecting only shots and scenes that were both visually interesting and had some sort of compelling hint of narrative or character. This also took about a year. I left the chronology intact, not messing around with the order of events, just carefully excerpting the best stuff.
…and then it turned out to be harder than I expected to get a digital transfer made, for technical reasons that aren’t particularly interesting.
So in the end, almost exactly three years later, I have that footage to share. The full year, after editing, amounted to about 23 minutes total. Some weeks none of the footage turned out to be useable or interesting, sometimes only a glimpse, a few frames remain, and sometimes whole scenes, minutes long, are more or less intact.
I think it works best (at this point) as a single, looping film installation for a gallery, all 23 minutes together. BUT I’m interested in sharing excerpts here over the course of the year, just to see how that feels.
It was a fascinating process for me, to create a document that contains so many elements of chance over such a long period of time, in some ways mimicking the capriciousness and fallibility of human memory. When I was processing the footage I discovered scenes and faces that I couldn’t identify at first. Conversely, there were plenty of moments that I remember shooting and was excited to include that didn’t work out at all. In the end, over these three years, the footage has taken on a life and personality of its own, which to me is the most exciting thing about it.