Copyright John Gerstner. All Rights Reserved.

Dance Echoes

Ballet Reconstructed. From the Dance Echoes series.

I began this series by taping an Advance Ballet class at the University of Iowa. When I brought my source tape back to the video art studio and began editing it, two things happened. First, I became rather bored by the footage I had shot; and second, I became excited by the transformations possible in the studio.

I began to take short sequences of the dance footage and construct scenes with several or more layers. I then used this tape and inserted other scenes. I used the quantizer to add color, sometimes pushing the colors to garish extremes. At other times, I used the quantizer to remove color. I played back this footage slow and fast, forward and reverse and captured this. I re-scanned the monitor with another video camera to further zero in on details, or abstract the further. I even used the vertical hold knob to roll the already warped image.

In this series, the source tape became like a glob of clay, ready to be bent, shaped, distorted, contorted and deconstructed. One revelation of this work is that no matter how much I distorted the original tape, it still resonated with the original’s documentary essence.
Although I didn’t recognize it in the beginning, I had set sail toward video breakdown. I was taking the broadcast documentary esthetic and turning it upside down. I began to see the beauty of scan lines, slow-motion roll, static, globs of color and shapes, everything that ruptured each frame to produce static, ghost images and image fragments. I realized I was embarking on “anti-documentary.”

  • Client
    University of Iowa M.A. Art Thesis
  • Date
    May 10, 1988