Inside Installations: Mapping the Studio II
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Production technology

The footage for Mapping the Studio II with color shift, flip, flop, flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage) was shot on a standard digital camcorder using the night vision setting. Find out more about the camera used in the Notes. The image contains a great deal of digital noise and also a strange time lag effect, especially noticeable when viewing the quick movements of the moths.

Night vision video has no colour information although it is rendered with a slightly green hue. For Mapping the Studio II with color shift, flip, flop, flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage) Nauman manipulated this original material by applying a colour shift filter. The footage was sent to Dennis Diamond at Video D in New York who processed the footage using a computer editing system called Avid, which allows you to apply colour filters which cycle through the spectrum of red, green and blue in a sequence. In the case of Mapping the Studio II, the colour shift sequence is green to red, red to blue and blue to green. The shift is gradual and one cycle takes 30 minutes.

"In terms of the colors, I wanted to run through the rainbow, but it ended up having a kind of quiet color. It changes from a red to a green to a blue and then back to red over fifteen or twenty minutes. But it changes at a very slow rate. You can’t quite see the color changing. In each of the seven images it’s changing at different times so you have a lot of different colors at any given moment. It’s a quiet rainbow. The flips and the flops are fairly arbitrary at about fifteen minutes apart. It’s a way of keeping the eye engaged, to give the whole thing a kind of texture throughout."

- Bruce Nauman, interview with Michael Auping, Please Pay Attention Please: Bruce Nauman’s Words, Janet Kraynak (ed.), 2002, The MIT Press / Cambridge, MA / London, England, 2003,  p. 401

In addition to the colour shift, the original material is also manipulated, by turning it upside down and sideways – the ’flip, flop and flip/flop’ referred to in the title of the work.

Michael Short has defined these as:

Flip – an AVID computer video process that reverses the orientation of the original image on the horizontal axis (left is right, right is left)
Flop – An AVID computer video process that reverses the orientation of the original image on the vertical axis (top is bottom, bottom is top).
Flip/Flop – An AVID computer video process that reverses the orientation of the original image through both horizontal and vertical axes.

The flip, flop and flip/flop changes are done using the original orientation of the images as reference for each change – so the changes are not done in a cumulative fashion.

- VIDEO : Michael Short discussing the production process

Read transcript

This diagram created by Michael Short shows the occurrence of the colour shift and the flips, flops and flip/flops in the work.

A diagram created by Michael Short to show the occurrence of the colour shift and the flips, flops and flip/flops in the work

Find out more about the production route in the Notes.

Bruce Nauman has often allowed the limits of the medium to dictate the duration of his works. Video specialist Dennis Diamond worked out that the maximum duration he could transfer onto the DVD at the time was 5 hours and 45 minutes – so this is the length Nauman chose to make the work.

In Mapping the Studio II with color shift, flip, flop, & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage), Bruce Nauman has made the decision not to edit out the moments when he walks away and leaves the room after he has started the video running, incorporating the process of making the work into the finished piece.