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At 1:19 PM -0500 12/6/04, ArsOcarina@aol.com wrote:

As long as semi-hi-quality dependable video projection units
costs about as much as a second-hand Eventide I won't be
able to afford one of those either.

This and other posts stress the economic restrictions on doing video projection, and this is a very real problem for most of us.

I've never worked with video projection but I have used multiple slide projectors and theatrical lighting instruments on a number of pieces. I've also seen a lot of high-impact, low-budget media performance.

In my pieces (a half-dozen fairly large works over a half-dozen years during the 1980s) I used what I liked to call the "Egyptian method." That is, in the absence of a lot of unaffordable multi-image automation gear I used a bunch of borrowed slide projectors and a bunch of human operators. The maximum setup, for a professional (but still low-budget) theatrical run used a dozen projectors run by six people. I also used multiple projection surfaces (one static wall screen and three mobile screens in one piece, even more movable surfaces such as chunks of fabric in another). I used hundreds of slides, and I played around with movement and variable focus of the projectors. I used a combination of front, rear, and side projection, and I combined projected images with shadow play. I also used costumed performers, simple props, and staging elements.

None of this was at all high-tech nor was any of it particularly expensive. It could also be fairly compact and efficient to produce. For instance, I did a couple of pieces with just a small number of projectors (2 or 3) and a small company of technician/performers (4 or 5) to produce some very effective work.

I think the key element in the success of this was the "cleverness factor." It's always possible to make a big impression by throwing lots of fast-moving images at an audience, but much can be done with simpler means if one is very judicious in the selection and preparation of the images and if one is "crafty" in the presentation. That's why Laurie Anderson has always been so effective, even in her earliest period when she had almost no budget and was working with the simplest of technologies.

Making a connection to another thread in a current discussion: When a minimalist performance element (repeating rhythm patterns were considered) becomes a primary determinant of the art experience the mind begins to cast about for other details to focus on. An invariant or slow-evolving performative focal point can serve as a mandala or mantra for the observing (meditating) mind while  other subtle and more "punctual" elements can produce stronger effects than they might if they were in competition with denser and more energetic elements.

This can work in a variety of ways. Something need not be static to seem invariant (think of the way we tune out very active crowd noise are tune in on simpler messages that are "swimming" in the chaos). The main thing is to play on the mind's adaptiveness to those things that change and those that do not, and to explore our perceptual pattern-making  behaviors.

Richard Zvonar, PhD      
(818) 788-2202