When I’m at the pearly gates
This’ll be on my videotape
This is my way of saying goodbye
Because I can’t do it face to face
So I’m talking to you before it’s too late
From the song Videotape by the band Radiohead
I have a DVD that contains a digital copy of an old VHS videotape. The video itself was a copy taken from a video camera tape. The footage contains a short film made by three boys at my old school in March 1992. The film was intended to be for my brother, who was at the time in a diabetic coma, a greeting from all of his friends at school. As it so happens, the film became much more than that – During the evening of the day that this was filmed one of the boys (a close friend of mine) was found dead on the railway tracks that ran through our village.
And so, this footage had acquired potency – it had become a relic, a (false) memorial, an impression, and a document to give substance to the memory of a person, both visually and audibly.
I recall that when I first watched the videotape version my inquiring mind sought for something portentious within the footage. There was nothing revealing within the material filmed; it was all just superficial surface – much like what can be found in every day life, it was simply three teenage boys attempting to make an entertaining film for their sick friend. However, time (and perhaps neglect) has left its mark, its own impression, on the videotape which has resulted in big chunks of footage being damaged and in some instances, virtually unwatchable – There are moments when all that can be seen are jagged lines of black and white scattered across the screen, reminiscent of the graphic design used for the early 90’s electronic music. Consequently, on transferring the video to DVD, the digital copy retains these abrasions. It is a strange experience viewing this on the DVD with its expected sharp qualities.
Within these distortions; the lines that cut through the images; the scattered blocks that smudge and decimate the figure, I discover what I had previously been looking for. Time had revealed a truer picture.
To extend the process of what I already consider being an unconscious drawing (of time and human interaction) I decided to take snapshots of the film at specific moments that contained interruption and distortion. These images were then taken into Photoshop, ’traced’ on a separate layer with letters forming a repeated phrase throughout. Once the text was rasterized I then selected the negative spaces between the letters and deleted this from the image.