Vienna-based artist Tina Frank is a veteran of audiovisual design, moonlighting as both visualist and designer for media from the Web to music packaging. Beginning work in the 90s, she demonstrated deftly how spanning traditional design work and visualizing music in clubs could establish a designer on the world scene. (See her bio, in German and English.)
I’ve been struck lately by a few of her works, sometimes restrained and meditative, sometimes intensely aggressive, always expressed in minimal geometries. On their own, some of these projects might be easily forgotten, but they’re paired so perfectly with music that fits the aesthetic that the visuals and sound fuse.
Excerpted at top, “vengeance” plays with spatial perception, a subject I’ve been exploring in some of my own experiments of late.
This 6,5-minute long video of Tina Frank focuses on the threshold of spatial perception. Like a chromographic pendulum yellow-black patterns contract, unfold and overlap. They evoke rapid speed mementos of Brion Gysin’s Dreamachines aswell as Tony Conrad’s The Flicker or of Gestalt Theory from the early 20th century.
After an induction period of some minutes the viewer can no longer tell if what he sees are afterimages from the color space or if these psychedelic visions are part of the videosequence.
This experience is intensified by the four-channel-soundtrack from Florian Hecker. Dynamic pulsating rhythms bring narrative cartesian coordinates from front, back, left and right into a permanent oscillation. Binaural stereophonic and quadrophonic arrangements add up to an acoustic whole which consolidates a timebased déjà vu together with an acoustic déjà entendu.
Minimalism here is not simply an end in itself; by focusing on these raw geometries, Frank is able to maximize the impact of the illusion, manipulating your head from the retina into your neural pathways. I could actually imagine optical illusion becoming a category of visualism all its own. (Anyone interested?)
2005’s “chronomops,” to a score by General Magic, likewise uses raw geometries and colors but in a “frenzy of perception,” an explosion of color and space. The piece bathes the viewer in light, making these elements into sensory immersion. (They also look great on a sphere.)
Geometry is not Frank’s lone medium. She’s able to re-purpose found footage, the bread and butter of a lot of live visuals, in a way that’s creative; there’s actual manipulation and framing of that content. Here’s a description of a piece from 1998, re-issued in 2007 and I think just as fresh today in 2010. The music is Christian Fennesz’ gorgeous soundscapes.
Irritation and layovers are the main technical aspects within »Aus«. Scratches and the graininess of the found footage (Super 8 film) are heavily exposed and emphasised. This can be seen within some kind of plastic ’extensibility’ or ’liquefaction’ of old movies by means of computers. The images are rhythmized along with the music moving forward and backward in single frames like being “scratched”.
It is important that one can see the framing and the projection itself; the possible manipulation und fragility of the chosen movies are central, fitting perfectly to the slightly melancholic music. In this way the video tells of saying goodbye: of memories and untroubled quality of the material, in the end of »old« media and its representation of the world.
¬ about skot
Mathias Gmachl and Tina Frank started collaborating under the name of Skot in 1997. “Playing and working with recorded visual material on the basis of live sampling and live construction of new forms of visual media” was their aim. Skot is no longer active since 2000.
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