Teaching Packet

Jeffrey Moser

Digital Media Artist


I began working on these sculptural pieces in the spring of 2012, but have unable to photograph them correctly for technical reasons. Finally discovery a method to accurately represent the effect of the glowing freestanding disk constructed from 35mm movie film, I here present a video profile of the work in a gallery space. The work consists of a digital projection that falls onto one surface of a hand-wound, 24 inch spiral of film, which seems precariously balanced near the edge of a pedestal. The projection is of a series of colored concentric circles that spontaneously and relentlessly 'broadcast' from the center to the outside edge of the reel. Spilling out over the edge, the colored rings make a brief appearance on the wall behind the work, creating a halo of vibrating flashes of pure color. From the backside of the reel the viewer sees the concentric circles in an amber tinted version of the original, yellowed as the light is funneled across the width of the film medium.

The work examines the current transformation of cinematic presentation and preservation. Our generations are experiencing a Great Transmediation, a time when all analogue information, sound recordings, photographs, and motion pictures are being arrested in their current state of decomposition, ascending from their physical bodies, congregating in the vast cloud of data, and becoming endlessly reproduced in perfect ubiquity. Once transcoded into binary data, a film is released from its sequential structure, allowing frames to be played in any order, forwards, backwards, or all at once.

The top image is constructed from every frame of the Wizard of Oz (144,379 in total). The images are arranged in order, top to bottom and left to right, mimicking the long, narrow strips of physical film. This ultimate film-still transforms the temporal quality of the film into a spatial grid, unveiling the underlying color palette and light rhythm of the film. Inspired by Muybridge's pioneering work with the moving image and the academic research of Dr. Robert Steele, the image above is just one of dozens of films housed at the cinematic fixations website, a visual database of film.

The video is constructed from a short sequence in the film, in which the Munchkins celebrate Dorothy's murder of the Wicked Witch. Here, the transformation is not between time and space, but between brightness and space. The flat image is analyzed for brightness and a topography is created on the surface of the sphere. The two-dimensional becomes three-dimensional—a new world is born—and it spins on its axis presenting the viewer with an alternating image. Focusing on the familiar imagery, the sphere shifts into a sculptural form. As soon as the brain accepts the form, it shifts back to image again. This presentation of image, form, image, form actives two separate ares of the brain and creates an experience of being continuously surprised.