Monday, 29 November 2010

'You're My Cup Of Tea'

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Final Cut

Using the extensive notes that I had taken during our digital workshops, I have edited my film using Final Cut to combine video and stop frame film.  I imported the mass of video footage that I had recorded and selected suitable cuts to fit the purpose and limited time frame.  I then increased the speed and sliced the footage together to run as one continuous piece effective within the time limitations in order to retain the quality of time per frame on the following stop frame sequences.  Although I have only used Final Cut for basic editing techniques such as speed and slicing; I feel that the familiarity that i have developed with the software has been and will be continuously beneficial to the enrichment of my work.  The possibilities that have been brought to light through learning this piece of software have allowed me to consider a new use of digital technology in both the production and exhibition of future works.  'You're My Cup Of Tea' explores only the most basic of these possibilities but as a first attempt within the short time frame of this brief, I am pleased with the results that I have achieved expressing concept, ideas and visuals using an unfamiliar media.

Opening Footage:

I wanted to record true to life footage of the everyday ritual of drinking tea.  My concept attempts to explore the personal and ritualized relationship between consumers and the Tea Cup.  To assure that the footage that i was taking would be as pure and true to life as possible, I invited a group of friends to come to my house at lunch time for a brew on the day of filming.  The reason for the last minute invitation was so that nobody could alter their everyday appearance knowing that they would be on film etc, and also because the invitation to join me for a brew is always a spontaneous thing in ordinary circumstances.  I set up a tripod and video camera before my guests arrived, and kindly put them on the spot asking if it was OK for me to film our little break as if in my mind there were no reason why they would say no.  With my ulterior motive out in the open i explained that i just wanted them to forget that the camera was there and enjoy their brew as usual.

Increased Speed:

  Mainly using an improvised strategy for this section of the filming, I have worked with the footage that i had to manipulate the meaning of the final outcome.  I found the fact that my guests had to rush off to get back to their everyday life according to their scheduled break brilliantly relevant :o).  It helped me to identify the context of my object within the rat race of the urban life.  Although the act of drinking tea falls neatly into the category of relaxation and taking a break, we are still rushing.  The day goes on, the tea break ends and the pace of the city never slows.  Is this where the secret life of the object begins?  What is a Tea Cup when it is not in someones hand and full of tea?
  The increased speed of the opening footage is my attempt at describing the rush of life and the short but sweet period of time allocated to relaxation and social interaction within our day.  The altered time lapse shows the conversation sharing stories, laughter and common interests in such a way that i would like the viewer to imagine their own break times with friends/colleagues, fighting to get a word in edge ways and enjoying each others company. 


Knowing that our short films were to be displayed behind a glass window as part of the 'Light Night' exhibition, I was deterred from concerning myself with possibilities of a sound track.  However, listening back to the conversations that took place during filming I became more and more interested in their content in relation to human behavior and interaction.  I knew that if the conversation content was to become a part of the piece i would have to abstract it in some way to protect the people from any repercussions, and applying the increased speed editing to the audio track worked perfectly.  However the squeaky frantic sound was far from easy listening and I didn't feel that it added any kind of complexity or sophistication to the piece and so I decided against it.

Idea:  Le Flaneur-Sophie Calle:
Record the conversations of strangers in coffee shops? 
Projection onto the body?
Printed onto teabags/tea cups?
Stop Frame Animation:


The focus of the object as the subject in my film is dependent upon the objects relationship with the owner as well as its functionality.  The tea consumption sequence aims to describe the time lapse in terms of duration of the act of drinking, and I feel that the qualities of stop frame animation lend the visual to the movement of lifting and sipping until the cup is empty.  I also like the subtle accidental elements of this sequence as you see in part, the water ring of my tea cup that I was drinking from during filming - appear and evaporate. 

Spiraling Tea Leaves:

The words that I have used in this section of the film are all taken from the original collaborative mind mapping process.  I have used a stop frame animation technique because I wanted the effect of motion picture, whilst creating the visual of the words appearing and spiralling up the tea cup letter by letter (frame by frame).  Using the tea leaves as a material I have tried to question the absence and remaining symbolism of the tea cup as an empty vessel.  Toying with the visual of the ancient art of reading tea leaves, I exploit the functionality to reference the onlookers perception.

"The work of art is always based on the two poles of the onlooker and the maker."
(Marcel Duchamp)
Writing in spilled tea leaves:

This sequence has been done in stop frame animation in keeping with the previous scenes as I was trying to capture the flow of object-function-owner-use and meaning.  I spilled the leaves across the coffee table around which the social ritual had just taken place.  The participants wrote their chosen word into the leaves making a physical connection to the material, concept and experience.
David Kindersley 'Letters Are Things' Liverpool Tate
By their own hand the participants visualize their individual perception, then erase it for the next person to project their receipt of the object in its place.

'Duchamp kept the focal point of meaning of his work deliberately vague, and invited the beholder/reader to take part in what are ultimately inconcludable reflections on the meaning of the work.'
End Scenes:

Taking the tea bags used to make the tea that we shared during filming and a few extras from the everyday tea consumption of my household, I dried them out and emptied the leaves.  The aesthetic of the uncontrolled, unique staining as well as the coding of the used and discarded was something that I felt was important to capture as part of the sequence.  I filmed a stop frame scene using the prepared tea bags to capture the repetition of the ritual, and without the duration limitations set to the piece I would have happily continued the final scene infinitely adding more and more bags as used.  The text reading ''You're My Cup Of Tea' by April Suzanne Comer' echoed the naturally occurring colour scheme of the tea, and concluded the piece with the title hopefully leaving room for thought with the viewers.  I placed the title at the end of the piece so as not to influence its initial receipt in any way. 

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