Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Multimedia: evolution and transformation

In a square white room, 8 monitors, facing in, are arranged in a circle in front of a wall marked with pencil lines. The video commences on the first monitor with a hand holding a lead pencil drawing a horizontal line on a white surface from right to left and then on to the next monitor and so on, until it starts all over again on the first monitor. The manner is loosely systematic but the result is quite effective. The drawn lines overlap continuously until the dark lead almost fills the screens.

Excerpt from:
RealTimeArts- Multimedia: evolution and transformation
by Jing Garcia

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Multimedia: evolution and transformation

Tad ErmitañoTad Ermitaño
In a square white room, 8 monitors, facing in, are arranged in a circle in front of a wall marked with pencil lines. The video commences on the first monitor with a hand holding a lead pencil drawing a horizontal line on a white surface from right to left and then on to the next monitor and so on, until it starts all over again on the first monitor. The manner is loosely systematic but the result is quite effective. The drawn lines overlap continuously until the dark lead almost fills the screens.

Conceptualised in 1999 by video artist Poklong Anading, Line Drawing is probably one of the best examples of Filipino multimedia art. Poklong started out as a painter in the mid-90s while studying Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines. Before the decade ended, Poklong discovered a medium that could carry his ideas and a new kind of approach through the convergence of what was commonly known as traditional art and the technology already prevailing at that time—video. Poklong explained, “My works based on video started way back in 1997 when one of our art teachers at the university began offering classes on video, and extensively experimented on the medium. We were still using Video-8 back then, and there was no such thing as editing; all we did was cut-to-cut.”

As video components and computer peripherals became more commonly available, Poklong rode with technology’s evolution. Today he knows his computer, shoots video and stills on digital and edits on Adobe Premiere. “The thing about video is that it’s immediate,” says Poklong. “And with digital technology everything seems to be easier to access and manipulate.” Despite the Philippines still being identified as a third world country, technology—particularly in the capital Manila—is almost on par with its more affluent Asian neighbors. Mobile phones are in the hands of almost 30 million Filipinos, IT infrastructure is visible all around and broadband connection is readily available. So, there is no excuse for a Filipino artist to avoid the onslaught of technology and handle modern video and audio electronics.

In Walking Distance (2002), Poklong’s video collaboration with award-winning visual artist Ringo Bunoan, 2 video frames are played side by side with both showing a hip-level shot of a short back and forth walk, one on a narrow art gallery corridor in Manila and the other on a pedestrian overpass in Gwangiou, South Korea. Again, the framing is slightly out of synch but the effect is visually hypnotic just the same. For Poklong, “since the technology is readily available, it has now become an extension of my own ideas that I can easily project to my audience.”

Artist-photographer Wawi Navarroza, who manipulates photographs with the available technology, says, “...multimedia art is just a collective term I use for the different modes of expression I’ve chosen to utilise. I travel across platforms.” She describes herself as a “darkroom baby.” She is in love with the chemicals, the magic, the romance and all the secrets under the red light. Yet, she cannot escape what technology offers her kind of art. “When digital came about, I didn’t abhor it. It was a stranger that I gladly sought out to know. And it was another tool in the bag that opened other possibilities for me in terms of imaging. I stumbled upon this new world of post-production and a strange but familiar world of ‘digital darkroom’ alias Photoshop...I wanted to create an amalgam of analogue and digital. I wanted to bring together the organic beauty of film and the precision and control of digital. I’m still learning the ropes and I guess it will never end. One thing I know is that digital is here to stay and it should be up to something good.”

Tad Ermitaño, Hulikotekan (2002)Tad Ermitaño, Hulikotekan (2002)
The multimedia experience is very obvious in Navarroza’s artworks whose combination of old school photographic style and computer manipulation techniques radiate from a Victorian Gothic backdrop with a wonderfully dark and gloomy inventiveness. “Artists can’t be contained”, she says. “The thirst of the artist for expression often leads to exploration of new ways to articulate meaning, which change with the spirit of the time, and which eventually alters the world-view of an era.”

For established video artist Tad Ermitaño, who has been doing video and sound art for almost 2 decades now, it’s a different and relatively cautious approach. “The term multimedia is a terrible phrase. There is a lot of stuff that would like to call itself multimedia just because the artists use sound and image, even if the channel of interaction is a mouse and a monitor,” says Tad. “I think the word multimedia ought to be tossed out and at least 4 new categories put in its place: audio/sound art, video art, smart art and interactive art. Audio and video art would encompass everything that involves playing looped audio and video, while smart art would involve having the art react to the audience. As in evolution, smart artworks currently aren’t very smart, but I’m sure that could change. Some of the virtual characters in computer games are full-fledged AIs already. Smart art could be the new film: requiring a level of investment and expertise that can only be matched by corporate backed teams of specialists.

“Definitely we should go back to using the word interactive the way the coiners used it...mean(ing) that the audience would be free to create permanent and maybe fertile changes in the work. In this original sense, a folk song or a recipe with a 100 variants is interactive, while a CD-ROM game, however entertaining, is not. This, I think, is a very radical and exciting option, striking hard and deep into and against our ideas of what art is, what artists do, who artists are.”

One of Tad’s independently produced video artworks, Hulikotekan (2002), a 9-layer video feedback of found instruments gradually synchronising was exhibited at the Hong Kong Film Festival in 2002 and was also shown at The Library in Singapore during the 2004 Singapore International Film Festival. His work with experimental sound art group Children of Cathode Ray was also included at the MAAP Festival at the National Institute of Education last October of 2004, also in Singapore.

Poklong and Wawi are a small sample of characteristic multimedia artists in the Philippines, Tad expresses the need for more focus on the genre. “Well, there are a lot of people playing with sound and video, because there are a lot of computers and a lot of pirated software. But there have been almost no shows focusing on it. Nor is anyone writing on it, giving feedback that leads anywhere. Feedback on sound/audio art (like feedback on all art here) is mostly on the “Okey yan pare” (that’s pretty much okay, man) level. The possibilities that a work opens up, the questions it raises etc remain completely unraised/unpursued.” Reasons for this include a lack of a recognised multimedia movement and of an acknowledged venue for the genre. “Aside from places like Big Sky Mind in Cubao and a handful of other art houses, there is really no place to exhibit multimedia arts here in the Philippines,” says Poklong. Wawi has had to rely on pocket exhibitions at alternative spaces, producing them herself or even showing at one night-engagements, right before a band performance, notably her own, The Late Isabel. “So many ideas on the shelf,” she quips.

Nonetheless, the constraints don’t prevent these artists from continuing to find ways to make multimedia central to the structure and evolution of their work. Multimedia art has become a part of a new energy of expression. In the Philippines, as in many parts of the world, it is a crossroads where artists and techies meet, or, as Wawi describes it: “the left and the right hemisphere of the brain collaborating.”
Jing Garcia is an IT Columnist for the Manila Standard, PULP, a music lifestyle magazine, and a regular contributor to Speed Magazine and’s gaming website. Jing is also a member of Children of Cathode Ray, a soundart group which has worked for 15 years in experimental music and the underground video scene.


Anonymous said...

19 March 2006



I am Ma. Lynda C. Corpuz, staff writer of monthly business-lifestyle magazine, Enterprise, and presently, M.A. Media Studies Major in Journalism student of the College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

To date, I am working on a special report on Information and Communication Technology as a Prime, On the Rise, Philippine Print Media Beat, as my Media Research class finals’ output.

In this regard, hope you take time to answer several questions and mini-survey posted here.

Ma’am, Sir, is it possible to have your reply not later than Tuesday night, March 21? Our deadline is on Wednesday, March 22. Thank you.

= = = = =

Full name please, undergraduate/graduate degree, present position and publication/s affiliated, and year/s as a media practitioner (specifically as an ICT journalist [reporter/editor], or if on leave, or "semi-retired," please also specify). Thank you.

As ICT Journalist:
Kindly provide us background how did you become an ICT journalist.
Who or what influenced you to be an ICT journalist?
What was/were the condition/s then when you joined the industry (was it the start of ICT as a beat, for example).

To Mass Communication and related course/s graduate, how beneficial or not beneficial your educational background is as regard your present work as an ICT journalist? (Because, to date, major universities and colleges which offer Mass Communication courses, specifically, Journalism courses, do not have a specific subject on ICT writing, as opposed to Feature Writing, Lifestyle, Entertainment, and Culture Writing, Sports Writing, to cite a few.)

To non-Mass Communication graduate, what pushed you to be a journalist, specifically to be an ICT journalist?
What was/were the particular adjustment/s you have to make to prepare yourself as a journalist, specifically as an ICT journalist?

If you were assigned to a previous beat, please describe how difficult or easy to work on the ICT beat versus other beats?

What do you consider is/are the attitude/s, skill/s required (and which you think you have) to be an ICT journalist?

On ICT reporting:
In your view (as ICT reporter/editor), how extensive or how balanced is your coverage and publication of local versus regional and global ICT and related events?

Apart from the elements of news (oddity, prominence, timeliness, to cite a few) which are often considered in publishing a story, what is/are the other story element/s that are "particularly" used as basis in ICT story writing and publishing?

How “objective” is your and your publication’s stories or reviews on (gadgets and technology)?
Please cite example, if any, as to when your “objectivity” was compromised or questioned, say, by your very sources or your publication’s readers?
How did you and your publication deal with such?

What is/are the issue/s or topic/s in ICT in the Philippines that you think as journalist/editor require more thorough reportage, or that, as based on feedback, your publication has still to address to?
In particular, how did you, as journalist/editor address such issue/s?
In particular, how is your publication or your publisher for that matter address such issue/s?

For ICT Publication Editors/Publishers:
What do you think, is/are the “special” skill/s necessary, if any, for one to report and to write effectively about ICT?
What do you think is/are the attitude/s, skill/s that lack among ICT journalists today?

As editor/publisher, are you, in a way, “satisfied” with your journalists’ output, or for that matter, other ICT journalists’ works?
Why not?

How do you see ICT as a Philippine Print Media beat in five years’ time?

On Ethics:
In the course of your work on the beat, how often do you deal with the official spokesperson of the event/s, agency/ies you cover?
How often do you deal with the head/responsible representative of the event/s, agency/ies you cover?
How often do you deal with the PR representative or the event/s, agency/ies you cover?

Who do you consider is/are your main source of information and why?
How easy/difficult is it to get data/information from your source/s? Please explain.

Have you (and to your knowledge, your colleague/s) ever been offered money in the course of your coverage?
Who made the offer of money?
Did you take the money?
Why did you refuse the money?
Why did you, if ever, turn the money over to your editor/publisher?
Why did you, if ever, keep the money for yourself?

If you took the money, did it affect the way you wrote/edited the story?
Yes, how?
No, why not?

Do you think the coverage of your beat is influenced by the fact that “some” reporters/editors receive money from their sources?
How is this influence manifested? (Positive stories on the giver are highlighted, for example.)

Do you think that reporters/editors should take money from the people/events they cover? (Why never, sometimes, yes?)

Does your publication, or your publisher for that matter, have a policy about accepting money or gifts from sources? Please describe the policy in brief. (As a written rule, or as a verbal agreement only, for example.)

Do you think that it is right for reporters/editors to have free lunches or dinners with their sources? Please explain why it depends.

Do you think that it is right for reporters/editors to be given meal money or meal stubs in the beat? Please explain why it depends.

Do you think reporters/editors should accept “expensive gifts” from the people/events they cover? Please explain why it depends.

Do you think it is right for reporters/editors to take trips paid by a source if that trip is connected with the coverage of a legitimate event? Please explain why it depends.
Do you think that it is right for reporters/editors to accept a free trip from a source, even if the trip is not connected to the coverage of a legitimate event? Please explain why it depends.

Do you think you are receiving enough logistical support for coverage from your editors/publishers?

Do you think editors/publishers should give more logistical support for coverage?
If you answered yes, what support should that be? (Living allowance, clothing, fares, equipment, to cite a few.)

= = = = =
Sir, hoping for your favorable response. Your assistance is truly appreciated.

Thank you and kindest regards,

Yours sincerely,

(0918) 907-1248


Professor, M240 Media Research
Chairperson, Department of Journalism
College of Mass Communication
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Fatima Lasay said...

Hi Jing! Where are you and Tad? Did you get the info below? I really wish you'd both be able to present your works for the Ogaki Biennale selection committee - sa Friday na ito 10AM!

Dear Artists,

In line with the visit of the selection committee for the Ogaki Biennale
2006 organized by the Center for Media Culture, IAMAS and Gifu
Prefecture, Japan, the Ateneo Art Gallery, which is hosting the visit to
the Philippines, would like to invite you to consider making a 10-minute
presentation of your work at the forum/presentation to take place on
Friday, April 7 at 10:00 AM.

The Ogaki Biennale has been held since 1995, transforming Ogaki City into
a "World Forum for Media Art and Culture."

Please let us know at the soonest possible time whether you are
interested in making a presentation, and what equipment you will be
needing for the presentation. The Ateneo Art Gallery will provide a
computer, LCD projector, VHS player, and sound system.

May we also request that you pass on this invitation to colleagues who may
be interested in participating.

Should you have any questions about the forum/presentation, please
contact Joel de Leon at 426-6001, extension 4160.


Ramon E.S. Lerma
Ateneo Art Gallery
Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights, Quezon City 1108
Tel (+632) 426-6001 ext. 4160
DL (+632) 426-6488
Fax (+632) 426-6088