The concept of the project is based on following thoughts, desires and intuitions.
The importance of the database (and by extension, of the metadata).
On the road of creating an artistic/knowledge object (a movie, a text, photographies etc), there always exists a place filled with material that becomes both the fuel and the horizon of the messages and stories we create. In order to deliver a message, we reduce the complexity of this place by filtering / cleaning it down to a singular and specific object that we can present and share with the public.
Nowadays, this place is called a “database”; a few years ago, we where speaking about the editing bin or the atelier. We still have the working place (that can be called atelier) but we also interact with this virtual place filled with digital content. Basically (I’m not considering creativity yet), the concern is storage, accessibility and usability – but what differentiates the virtual place (our database) from the real place (our atelier) is that the limitations and possibilities of the database are very different from the atelier. Let me give two examples: the database has a priori no time and space limit, the outputs of the database can be multiple and infinite. Even if this seems obvious technically speaking, we still use the database as if we where working in our atelier. What comes out of our atelier is a single object (say, a movie of 90 minutes), and after that, the atelier is not used anymore (the rushes are left in the dust).
In order to make another movie, we build up another atelier, and so on. In other words, we use the digital space as if it was only the extension (or a copy/paste) of our physical space – and we miss the main point. For me, the main point is to consider every asset as a unique form that can live it’s own life, outside of the projects and objects we, as authors, want to place them in.
Why does this picture, this sequence have to be used only in this particular way in that specific movie ? Why do we present only a little percentage of our content, even if a lot more can be of interest to some people? There are many open questions (that will certainly lead to many different answers that will change over time), but one thing is certain: data without metadata will hardly survive. The value does not lie in the created object itself, but in the use (evolution, experience, transmission) of it. And without metadata, there is no use (at least in the digital world).
The project “Walking the Edit” tries to use those metadata with an artistic approach: by linking data together, based on words, concepts and values.
In a way, the project can be seen as metadata driven storytelling.
The author – spectator relation.
This is not something new to the digital age, but every person is sometimes active (creating something) and sometimes passive (being a spectator). For many reasons (derived from the available tools and techniques, from the economic system etc), the world we come from is focused on a strong separation of both attitudes. Copyright, Intellectual Property on one hand and costs on the other helped to make the revenue streams easy and protected for some happy few.
Now that the hardware industry (but software is not so far away either…) made it possible to use a very common gadget like a smartphone to create, edit and share content (and this is only one example), the vertical relationship between the author (on the top) and the spectators (on the bottom) is loosing it’s balance to become more horizontal. But even if the walls disappeared, this will not mean that there will be a tsunami of new creators who will take the resources, ideas and place of the existing ones. Creation is still a painful and long road that not many are willing to go through.
The chance we have today is that it is possible to decide in a very adaptive and evolving way, for each project individually, the relationship between those who give and those who take. Given that those who take might want to give the object / experience further to another person, a chain reaction is created, that is not only virtual, but real (based on exchanged data). In a way, it is like creating a discussion, where somebody is the host, takes care of the ambiance, the scenography, the storyworld, and invites people to discuss, interact, create within this space that does not have to fit the rules of our “first world”. What is basically different here, is that we are not in mass media anymore (like TV or cinema), because the value created is not based on the main story of the “one to many” but on the specific story (stories) of the “one to one”, or even of the “many to one”.
Finally, what counts is not who has the “final cut” (who is the author in the classical sense), but how it is possible to let each individual create his or her own personal relationship to your content (from a very active attitude to a passive position) – and to open up the appetite to come back, to bring others in…
Images are not limited by screens and closed forms (like movies, exhibition rooms etc).
For me, the main issue of bringing images to life (by sharing them with another person) is not the resolution and the technical capacities of the viewing system but how we use the underlying technology (the medium). In fact, it is simple: there are linear and non linear devices. If the content is on a tape or film (linear medium), the use is dictated by time: there, definition and protection from the outside context does matter (cinema has a huge screen and big walls). Of course, there are some variations (DVD’s in installation mode as an example), but basically, the issue is the same. Everything is decided and mastered in advance, the object is given and closed.
Now, if we take the non linear devices (as computers are from the ground up), we could play a linear movie as we could navigate in a open and random way on the web. The fact that we use computers (and more and more mobile computers like smartphones and tablets) to play linear content is a heritage that will not vanish – but questions the quality of immersion in a given story or universe. Watching “Avatar” on an iPhone (or even an iPad) is not the same as seeing it in a movie theater; still, many people do it that way, but they do it often in a multitasking mode. The movie is “embedded” in and interacts with a given context (a train travel, a conversion on a chat), so there are potential new links created between the linear content and the open and non predictable outside world.
One could ask the question if the final result is not an addition of two things, but more a subtraction, where the two scales (the outside complex reality and the linear artificial experience) are not compatible and competing one against the other. Personally, I’m very skeptical about today’s trend to deliver the same content on every device, regardless of the context and the human need to embrace and re-appropriate his living ground (that the digital datasets are part of).
For me, it is important to let each user decide of his own use of the digital world within space (scale, distance and speed) and time (duration, rhythm and dynamic), with the ability to manage the storage (his memory) by turning on or off the record function (read, or read/write).