Monday, December 29, 2008

Micro adventures new video series by Hal McGee

by Hal McGee

I have created a series of short videos on YouTube called Hal McGee micro adventures. As of this moment I have published 99 of these video shorts, with many more to come.

Go tou and search for
Hal McGee micro adventures

I created these short vidoes (usually one minute in length) with a small palm-sized pocket-sized video camera the look and feel of which are strongly suggestive of a microcassette audio recorder. The content of the videos themselves is what might be considered field recordings of quotidian, prosaic, mundane and banal sights and sounds from my daily life in southwest Gainesville, Florida. What is it about the mundane, the banal, the quotidian that attracts me so? Could it be that in the everyday details that we usually ignore and filter out, lies the true essence of noise? The series serves not only these purposes but also to provide a living archaeological (an archaeology of the present moment) personal historical record of the time period and geographical area in which I live.

The micro adventures series shares an obvious kinship with my 2-hour video movie The Secret Life Of Hal McGee (2005), but also with the numerous audio works I have created which use as raw material building-blocks recordings from my daily life and environment. Many of these audio works consist of multi-layered collage structures of these field recordings from many different times, semmingly-randomly overlapped and overlayed, creating an almost sedimental (or glacial) effect. The viewer of the micro adventure series can create a similar effect by watching the videos in various sequential orders and through memory create new relationships of time perception.

In many ways I consider these micro adventures to be musical compositions in that they involve choice. I have not recorded every moment of every day, but when the array of objects and events in front of me as I live through each day suggest to me certain possibilities, I turn on the camera for a short time and capture what I can within the limitations of the video tool I am employing.

The series is definitely about chosen limits.

The camera I am using, a Sony GC-1 Net-Sharing Cam takes charmingly lo fi low resolution mpeg4-level video. Typically, the files I upload to YouTube are around 5 MB. Add to this that YouTube further compresses the file and there is therefore an additional level of abstraction added to the videos.

Often, as I have said, the objects and events that I encounter in my daily life suggest forms and streams of ideas and thoughts and free-associational patterns. For example, recently, while strolling along Southwest 20th Avenue (where many/most of the videos are taken) here in Gainesville, my friend Lenny Pearlman and I came upon a group of abandoned grocery store shopping carts along the sidewalk. The obviously-haphazard arrangement of the carts seemed to us like it had been planned and Lenny exclaimed that it seemed like an art installation.

The micro adventures series contains numerous moments which make me wonder if music/noise-making is necessary, and whether such music activity isn't false and actually nothing more than mere contrived entertainment or distraction... a distraction from the music of the moment and the revolutionary adventure which lies in daily living, in simple things, if only we will look and see and hear and listen.

Some key words and phrases which might be useful as ports of entry to the series include:
field recordings
video ethnography
public transportation
urban pollution
noise pollution
moment form
no-input mixer
feedback loop
found sounds and sights
improvised collage
free association
Kurt Schwitters
Jean Dubuffet (especially his Texturologies)
Art Brut
lo fi
lo tech

Above all, have fun
homemade experimental electronic music since 1981

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