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Barbara Lattanzi's HF Critical Mass software demo

by Steve Anderson

Artist Barbara Lattanzi has created a series of image processing systems called "idiomorphic software," which function as handlers for online media. These include EG Serene, which is named after Ernie Gehr's Serene Velocity and which takes any piece of Quicktime video and provides controllers that allow users to approximate the editing patterns found in Serene Velocity (1970); and HF Critical Mass (seen here), which operates on the same principle in order to mimic the editing of Hollis Frampton's Critical Mass (1971). Lattanzi's tongue-in-cheek homage to Gehr and Frampton, whose obsession with film's materiality represents the apotheosis of cinematic medium specificity, highlights a key distinction between film and digital media. Structural filmmakers' fetishistic relationship to their apparatus of production is largely denied to makers of digital media, whose creative interactions largely take place within the domain of software and therefore rarely reference the role of the computer as object-machine. Lattanzi's work instead places its emphasis on interface over physicality and on constructing systems that handle and reconfigure pre-existing media into new patterns. Idiomorphic software offers users a form of empowerment and control that is of an entirely different order than conventional interactive narratives. It also suggests ways to talk about the specificity of digital media that do not simply replicate the formalist impulses of Structural film.

Software Demo of HF Critical Mass

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A moonwalk video shot by NASA played through a Critical Mass named after a movie by Hollis Frampton in 1970.

from For All Mankind (2005)
Creator: Barbara Lattanzi
Posted by Ala' Diab
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