rather than image is the cinematic element' Giorgio
gestures are a key to the cultural codes and sensibilities
of a community.
is a gesture? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as
"a significant movement of limb and body" or "use of such
movements as expression of feeling or rhetorical device".
2003 I received a fellowship from the Australia Council
to research the use of gesture in different communities.
Audio Visual material for this project was initially gathered
in India, Ireland and Australia.
particularly interested in how gestures are used within
different cultural settings, in urban and rural environments
across the three countries involved.
November December, 2004, I exhibited Gesture - Arriving,
Engaging, Departing, at the Charles Sturt University
Gallery in Wagga Wagga. This was series of short film and
interactive works projected on a number of screens in the
gallery. These installations used multiple screens that
in part echoed and highlighted gestural moments in a new
context. I was able in some cases to repeat, loop, amplify
and highlight gestural pre movement, movement and post movement.
I explored how open - ended narrative readings can be engendered
through moments of gestural placement of un-connected individuals
in a multi screen environment.
Kinetic Micro scope - New
methods for gathering kinetic media.
One - The Kinetic Micro scope - How it Works
a simple screen innovation I developed in 2003 using a large
black cloth behind a subject I have primarily altered how
I work with individuals on film shoots.
an interview with Sue McCauley 2007
It's a whole production process which has developed in the
last five years. Before that I was heavily involved in digital
media, basically animation and stills and I hadn't done
any kind of live action footage for a while. I've got this
whole new production process which has evolved out of Screens
& Screams and Hairy Tales with a black cloth.
was developed because schoolrooms are so ugly to have as
backdrops, they're cluttered, they're kind of like classic
archetypes, which have bad memories for some people. You
can just stick up a huge, black cloth in a classroom and
it gets rid of the background. You have human beings, bodies
in front of the black cloth using gestural mannerisms and
then you can key them in with drawn images and it keys out
the black cloth. It is an incredibly simply production process
which works well.
Kinetic Micro scope (The digital video camera)
has also been a real shift in my production processes and
way of making work, through new technologies that have come
into play with personal computer. I have used digital video
camera's since 1996. However editing of digital video footage
was complicated as you had to have access to high end computers
with graphics cards to edit full screen video's.
2001 Mac computers introduced 'I Movie' into all personal
computers, which made the process of full screen digitizing
of video footage into home computers possible. The other
great technological leap was the introduction of DVD for
out putting films from personal computers. No long is it
the domain of a skilled few in video production using expensive
equipment. Practitioners at home can now make multi layered
complex video productions.
In the past film productions were involved in making a linear
narrative, documentary or drama piece for a target, usually
television. Because I've done a lot of interactive work
and its a new way of constructing screen-based material
which wasn't around 10 years ago. . It changes the whole
process of making the stuff. With digital media coming in
the mid '90s, more specifically it really came in with video
production since about 2001, when Mac's really simplified
using I-movie. The process of getting video footage in and
out of the computer before, say, 2000 was quite difficult
and you had to go to more expensive, computers and labs
to do it. You can do it all at home now, and it's opened
up new production processes. It's changed the production
process and people use a lot more collage, montage, stills,
images, animations, and effects in their visual material
than they used before 2000.
There was some stuff around always before then, but there's
a technical thing that's shifted since the new millennium
that's made the production process different too. The digital
video cameras have been in since '96. I was one of the first
people to use digital video cameras in these community situations,
in low light situations. You didn't need a big production
team. You can get away with murder and still get reasonably
good results. Whereas, pre-video, film would cost thousands
and there was a whole, huge production process. There was
a real need to follow industry processes. This has really
shifted because of technical developments, so there's simpler,
cheaper ways to make stuff now. It's not aimed at television.
There are other ways to now make interesting community-based
work or personal works, with kinetic practitioners developing
new screening spaces for their work.'
Working in a new creative team environment.
has been a change in my working environment through a new
definition of roles that has opened up new ways of developing
and making material for media productions I work on. The
film production process of the 20th century with
a hierarchy of Producer and director etc is no longer that
useful or relevant for the way in which I work. I now tend
to work as a member of a community team where participants
have a hands on involvement and creative input into the
In film production it's basically the director who was the
creative person who had the vision and steered the group
of people who went out and filmed stuff. I always found
it really unsatisfactory when I got Australian Film Commission
grants and I was dealing with producers. They seemed to
be a role that the funding body had to have, to give over
$100,000. They wanted a producer to be the link person that
made sure the production was going ahead and the director
wasn't going off the rails. I never saw them. As a director,
I never felt producers were particularly useful.'
Spontaneity, improvisation and intuition
working in a new kind of team environment with groups such
as stART on collective community based projects, I have
been able to for ground my interests in gesture and its
importance to screen based work. This new working environment
has loosened up approaches to issues of narrative and content
It's a spontaneous sort of process that's intuitive. I use
that word because I know roughly what we've going to get
with the mechanics of videoing because I've done so much
of it. We can work on the fly very quickly and adapt to
situations. It involves not using lip-sync or as little
lip-sync as possible. It's the more playful, gestural mannerisms
that are not mimicking, that I go for. Children use their
bodies and their faces to develop spontaneous, delightful
short video sequences. . I'm interested in the filming process
that evolves out of simple narrative constructs, rather
than complex ones. It's a deconstruction of narrative, of
core elements that you can play with later on. I'm interested
to try and be as spontaneous as possible with the talent
in front of us, so that material's not overworked. I have
to respond in a spontaneous, intuitive way to deal with
it. I try to invent an editing construct later on. When
I am filming there's constantly a dialogue in my head about,
what am I doing with this material, what am I doing with
this person in front of me? How can I present them in a
positive manner and develop rich material with them. It's
not out of them, but with them.
a dual thing where they have to feel comfortable with me
holding a camera. Usually there's been a warming up process
with kids, that gets them enthused, and there's a natural
energy and flow. I like to use those terms, energy and flow,
because it involves spontaneity and creative sparks that
results in really great performances from children. We've
been successful with this because it's not belabored and
tied into kind of complex narrative, and in pre-production
processes that lock you down in stuff and lacks spontaneity.
You need to have a an overview of what you want to get in
filming situations, but you don't want to totally plan and
construct everything beforehand. It's good to have this
looseness with dealing in the immediate situation and we
can actually pump out lots of material with two or three
filming sessions now, with children in the various projects
we've done because we have a team process that we have developed.
It's partly knowledge from the tasks we know. We know that
we potentially can pull it off and make a successful project
because of long experience together but there's spontaneity
Spontaneity and improvisation are fundamental to my current
filmmaking practice. I've made works with adults now, people
with intellectual disabilities, where I had no script or
content to start with and made this great little film that
evolved out of people's experiences of being incarcerated.
There's something about being in the space in the present
where the filmmaker and the person being filmed has an interaction.
I knew these people for a long time, so I was able to get
it. It's about trust, first, and there's an empathy between
the camera operator and the performer that is fundamental.
That's improvisation and spontaneity.
is seeing the space, the situation, the historical development
of why we're all there, what the purpose is, which sits
underneath intuition. Actually, what intuition is related
to is the historical reading of the situation that you know
is going to work but the reason is not really clear. You
don't kind of construct it formally. In your mind you don't
tick little boxes off to make an intuitive decision but,
as a filmmaking practitioner, intuition is an important
element in sizing up the moment, and the situation to get
material. You constantly use intuition in filmmaking practices
because you know before filming, and then editing, that
these things will work. It's not a psychic thing, definitely
not psychic. Intuition is an unconscious thing that you
develop over a long time. It's gone into your unconscious
and you just feel this is the right moment.
love the anarchy of the filming situation that produces
surprising results which you couldn't get if you tried to
sit kids down carefully and, you know, spend a few weeks
massaging something. It's improvisation at its most spectacular.
. There's this process going on where I'm filming and analyzing
and going, wow, it's astonishing. I'm looking for astonishing
moments as the rich material to edit and put into the film.
It definitely was an art workshop production. It really
opened up my filmmaking eyes to tired old habits and standards
of filmmaking I'd developed over 25 or 30 years. It was
a refreshing way to be in the continual present, in the
filmmaking process rather than pre-planning overtly all
Community Art Practitioner
is the relationship between my personal creative practice
as a filmmaker (experimental?) and my community based practice.
What are the linkages or leakages between the two, and how
dose one influences the other?
get real sparks of inspirational things and my media skills
get enhanced continually by working in a community, collaborative
environment. And I feel I participate and I get a lot of
satisfaction out of it. I actually think it's really hard
to be a practicing artist, the older you get. You've got
to have a lot of faith in yourself, which I haven't got.
But I have it in a community artist sense. You know, if
I want to call myself a community artist, I definitely work
really well in that environment.
art influences my own practice. My practice has kind of
devolved a bit over the last seven years, since the new
millennium. Maybe it needs to be reignited. I still learn
new skills. I learnt heaps of stuff from my community art
practice over the last few years. It's also because of the
new technology changes, how you make and construct things
and the speed of things. For instance, I've left interactive
media, I've moved back into linear, time-based media, rather
than interactive media. It constantly evolves and changes.
Two - Attempting to define Gesture?
and unconscious gestures are the main focus of this short
seminal work and how they can be read by a viewer. As individuals
have been filmed out of context to each other, a connecting
factor is the choreographic selection process I employ to
link this work together. Strange 'narrative interpretations'
develop for some patient viewers in watching this work.
really like looking for gestural moments, what's unique
coming out of this human being that's not wooden and stilted,
that's alive. There's kind of animation of spirit. I use
these terms in a child or an adult that gives it realness,
the authenticity of the moment. So, there's this process
going on where I'm filming and analyzing and going, wow,
it's astonishing. I'm looking for astonishing moments as
the rich material to edit and put into the film.
done lots of editing I know what's happening in front of
the camera, whether it's going to work or not and I have
these boundaries now, where I try to do as little lip-sync
work as possible. Sync sound is a death knell of a lot of
filmmaking practice for me, because it becomes wooden. Kids
have television that they refer to mentally in performative
aspects, and with speech and that destroys the spirit, or
the sense of who they are as a person. So, I tend to use
as little sync sound as possible when working on children's
continuing to analyze this space, of what erupts from a
human being in terms of gestural moments, it's not premeditated.
There's something that comes out of humans that is really
interesting to watch visually in a square box of a screen
that's good to try and capture.
community media productions have traditionally relied upon
storytelling and linear narrative structures to present
an argument or to inform viewers about an issue through
the documentary media form. However, new multi media practices
can offer alternative structures and conceptual frameworks
for richer information and knowledge transfer.
modern video/movie camera is a kind of kinetic microscope
that highlights conscious and unconscious gestures in human
beings in a unique way. However when tied to narrative conventions
gesture seems to be sublimated into a screen narrative.
Gesture is often an unrecognised part of screen communication,
the underside of the relationship, 'the poor cousin' whose
presence is 'felt' but not recognized. Why is this?
our interest in human gestural screen images through both
television and cinema, influenced how we react to situations
with our own body language? How much is gesture 'taught'
and how much is gesture 'innate'?
kinetic visual work try's to highlight the vitality of gesture,
which adds identity and idiosyncratic expressions of the
'moment' to an individual's screen presence. It has a major
role to play in my screen communication. I try too investigate
the relationship between gestural mannerisms/ movements
and emotional states in a screen environment.
screen-based works gesture is often the 'glue' or the 'cement'
that defines the state of communication between subject
and viewer. Since 2003 my 'kinetic essays' look at how gestures
are revealed both consciously and unconsciously by an individual
in a screen environment. I constantly battle with this key
idea in my work : How does gesture mediate communication
between the perceived and the perceiver?
in 2008 I try to no longer use the 20th century
term, 'Filmmaker' but instead lean towards the term 'Media
Manipulator' to define my work. The sinister undertone of
'manipulator' highlights the varied problems inherent in
filmmaking for me. I think I no longer make films, I think
I make visual essays (a middle aged man re-birthing, he
been published in three issues of 'The Falling Upart Journal'
(available upon request)
3, 'What I Ate' 2000. Book and CD Rom 'The Good Cook',
is a record of all the food I ate on a trip to the Consciousness
Reframed Conference in Wale's in 1998.
4, 'Feeble Fables and Fairy Tales' 2006. Book and DVD
extract) is a collection of films an fairy
tales from various trips overseas.
'Owl' 2007. Book and DVD. A record of a trip to India in
2006/7 (with my son), in a hunt for elusive owls.
for information about current books I have published with
stART. stART is an independent organisation for artists
and artsworkers committed to promoting and supporting the
development of both participatory community arts and community