Motion Landscapes: a video-essay on panoramic perception

Motion Landscapes: a video-essay on panoramic perception, 35 min colour video, 1999: Festival Internaticional de Video, Buenos Aires; Beijing Broadcasting Institute Television Arts Festival, 1999.

Motion Landscapes is an attempt to edit and compose video recordings of travel experiences into a continuing series of interrelated “passages” that reflect upon the spirallng abstraction and circulation of images. Each section is a few minutes long, and emulates a short “ride” in a vehicle. Layered videographic images of the passing landscape or outstretched ribbons of road, train-tracks or canals are woven into a first-person commentary on the relation between memory, motion and the specificity of place.

camera, editing, and sound design
ross rudesch harley

shot on location in
amritsar, india
banff, canada
chandigarh, india
disneyland, california
eurodisney, france
gold coast, australia
helsinki, finland
knotts berry farm, california
ljubljana, slovenia
manhattan, new york
new delhi, india
st petersburg, russia
segaworld, australia
sydney, australia
venice, italy

developed with the assistance of
the australian film commission

the australia council for the arts

tu y yo productions

copyright 1999

A Note about the Video

Motion Landscapes is an attempt to edit and compose video recordings of travel experiences into a discontinuous “video-passage” Sometimes the “motion landscape” is abstracted, while at other times they strike a more biographical note (and are hence personal in tone). Occasionally I draw upon archival material (for instance, I include footage of urban trams in Sydney made available by the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia, and I use samples taken from 1950s demonstration records as part of the soundtrack) in order to address the project’s historical dimension.

My aim has been to link personal memories, stories, images and sounds into an electronically extended video-journey. In this sense, it gives expression to the idea of everyday life experienced as a series of long travelling shots. Each passage presents moving scenes that reveal something of contemporary “machine-mediated experience” in the culture of late-20th century travel.

Although these “motion landscapes” stem from my own experience and personal history, each section says something of the shared environment we all journey in. My aim has been to merge public space and history with personal memories and images. From the perspective of moving vehicles and other perceptual machines, the viewer is asked to reflect upon some of the key characteristics of today’s so-called “experience industry”.

This project is part of my ongoing concern to make explicit connections between disparate aspects of contemporary culture. How does the road organise our experience and perception of travel? What kind of “kinetic architecture” do we encounter from our mechanical “vision machines”? Why is the rollercoaster such a significant icon in contemporary culture? And how might these ideas relate to other histories “” of say, cinema, urbanism, or new media formations? What are the differences between, for instance, “ride films”, arcade games, and virtual reality simulations that aim to blur the distinction between history and reality? I want to suggest here that the “mobilised body” of cinema and electronic media is activated whenever we travel through contemporary landscapes of consumption. The video aims to address these concerns in an electronic audio-visual form.

Finally, it is worth describing something of the technical details pertaining to the piece, as this has had a significant influence on the work methods I have chosen, and the final form of the video-work. The visual material has been shot on a variety of PAL and NTSC formats “” Video 8, Hi8, mini DV, SP Beta and SVHS “” and then “composed” in a number of different video studios equipped with a variety of multi-channel video effects boxes (both analog and digital). The soundtrack was composed using multi-channel digital audio software (such as Pro Tools, Sound Edit 16 and QuickTime). The audio sources comprise manipulated sound captured on location, original music (produced using synthesisers, sequencers and drum machines), and manipulated samples taken from 1950s stereo recordings. The final version presented here was edited on Media 100 and Premiere software on a Mac G3, and mastered to PAL mini-DV via Firewire.