Video Collage

by Arthur Kegerreis

I am a multimedia artist – photographer, videographer, and composer. I have studied video production, photography, graphic and web design, music composition, and theater. I received an Integrated Media MFA from CalArts in 1999, and a Music and Video Production BA from Hampshire College in 1986, and in 1996 a Graphic Design Certificate at Parsons School of Design.

I experimented with photographic panoramas of wilderness locations before digital processes for “autostitching” the images were available, working primarily with cropped photographic prints that were assembled in collage form and mounted.

My poster for Paul Forrer’s Film about Norman Klein, “The Least Remembered City”

As a graphic designer, I created a poster for a film on time and memory that used a collaged sequence of stills from the film to depict the performer over time. I was laying the groundwork for my own video work. The titles of the film included a similar technique, achieved through traditional stop-motion animation.

David Hockney “Pearblossom Highway”

David Hockney, Pearblossom Highway

When I subsequently first encountered Hockney’s Pearblossom Highway photo collage at the Getty, it made a deep impression that printed reproductions had not. The large size of the work (it nearly fills a wall – each rectangular tile is a polaroid photo) captured the character of the desert region, which I had travelled through, and visually offered a nearly animated quality to the still image created by the collage.

I was working with computer-based video display techniques at the time in school, and began to contemplate how a similar approach could inform video works. Because of the size and scale restrictions of a computer monitor, I conceived the works as ultimately being wall-sized installations. The limitations of personal computer and video hardware initially made this too laborious a process for satisfying results, but eventually personal computer tools could accomplish the task. I still find I am pushing the limits of what they can render; keep in mind that each frame tiled within the collage is a full-size video frame.

Runyon Canyon Sunset (the upper row of lights is the continuation of the coast, to the left of the bottom coastline)

On Top of the World, Wright Ranch Spring Equinox, Malibu 2008 

Initial projects were wilderness locations, panoramic in nature. Some of the vistas were stunning, but computer monitors still restricted the panoramic width.

Mt. Pinos Summit and Microwave Tower 
(the distortion of the lens and tripod angle 
required rotating the images to fit the collage together)

I discovered that remote locations, like Mt. Pinos, were so still that photographic collages would have more easily accomplished the task. Video, after all, is about motion.

An urban LA skyline view also proved to be fascinating in a way that a single looped video shot of the city might not. 

LA Downtown Skyline 

Because a single video collage assembles a variety of 10 second to one minute looping video images and displays them at once, the experience of a location is compressed. A story is told in an instant, which can be fascinating to watch. Typically, a film maker uses a shot sequence (establishing shot, medium shot, close up) to tell a story; with the collage, the entire story is told as your attention moves through the images.

Runyon Canyon with Sound

When the actual location sound is included, it can be almost disturbing. Sirens, airplanes, and ambient noise all are layered and superimposed. 

Japanese Garden, Balboa Park 

Hockney had described his collages as being informed by cubism, and I began to wonder how this facet of the technique could be explored more thoroughly. 

Wright Ranch House

Cubist House, Wright Ranch, Malibu

Cubist Arthur

YouTube blocks that video so you can watch the original 35MB flash version here

Cubist Arthur

An initial project included multiple views of myself in my mundane morning bathroom routine, shaving, brushing my hair and teeth. The condensed video resulted in a surreal event, subsequently given a rather somber setting by my initial soundtrack choice, The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life.” 

My current works are exploring locations with more activity; amusement parks, beach locations, and art openings. Because the sequences take a long time to shoot, I have invariably encountered idle security guards with a prejudice against tripods at nearly all public locations.

These projects have used literal depiction of their subject and events. I have recently been inspired by a number of photographers who create surreal juxtaposed scenarios, and am hoping to explore this in future work.

It is difficult to capture complete coverage of a location with this technique; I discovered that even many of Hockney’s photo collages seem to string a sequence of images across a monotone matte, as if they were incomplete, such as this one.

It occurred to me that the works do not need to utilize complete coverage of the region and can be composited with other imagery to explore more unusual artificial settings.

Although I have encountered some other filmmakers who have experimented with this technique, I am not aware of anyone else who is exploring it in depth. Hockney reportedly tried a video commercial for the BBC, but chose not to pursue video or film collage.

The videos are shot with a Canon Powershot S5IS, generally on a tripod. They are imported into Flash, assembled within it, and exported to smaller resolution video files. Although they can be viewed in a web browser, the files are quite large, and it takes a little adjustment of the browser window to get the maximum on-screen viewing effect. The Flash files have been successfully projected with video projectors from a computer laptop screen.

I find that most people seem to be fascinated by the video collages, and it embodies a new way of seeing unlike common video and animation techniques. I shoot with a single camera; people have suggested using multiple cameras, but there is a narrative that evolves when multiple clips are shot in sequence that might be lost by that approach.

The Downtown Skyline Group Show: