February 16, 2009
5 min read

Unleashing the Power of Metaphor

Video/Sound Artist Kasumi (collaborator with Margaret Brouwer on BREAKDOWN!) talks about her artistic process.

For the past eight or nine years my work has consisted of creating time-based image and sound montage-like compositions – and - in addition to my own hand-painted and original film - almost entirely generated from fragments of found footage materials. The material is gleaned from public domain movies, 50's TV commercials, archival government propaganda, instructional, industrial, old sales films and so on.

Every image and sound I chose is deliberate: for formal artistic reasons as well as for unleashing the power of metaphor, central to human thought and communication – an upraised arm as the essence of evil, a defiant shout of protest, thumbs up, thumbs down. These significant moments - the key to image-making and central to our perception of certain crucial realities, become the building blocks – the vocabulary - of my work.

The syntax – which I call Video Recursion is an attempt at thematically composing these brief, fragmentary gestures and utterances into a multi-dimensional narrative and musical structure.

By juxtaposing, layering, cutting apart, ordering and re-ordering sounds and images already abundant with meaning, I can find and create further connections and analogies outside of their original context, causing the firing of neural networks for a deeper subconscious understanding. By doing this, I try to answer questions in my own mind - from "what does a gesture mean" to "how does a nation evolve into a military empire?"

The cultural and historical context, symbolic and emotional meaning, and the latent transgressive energy of the samples are set off against their purely formal qualities: movement, gesture, color, texture, pitch, timbre, cadence, tempo, rhythm, shape, dynamics, and so on.

These opposing qualities are continually in play with each other creating a tension that is central to the work, and as much as it could be said that the works are narrative constructions using found footage, it is equally true to say that it is the clips themselves, in their musical tone, that drives this work.

1 and 2. VJ Kasumi in performance with DJ Spooky.

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