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"Decasia": The Beauty of Film Decay 149

Posted by michael
from the ad-te-omnis-caro-veniet dept.
tregoweth writes "The New York Times has a story about 'Decasia,' a film created entirely from deteriorating nitrate film footage. Ya can't beat analog for interesting disintegration."
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"Decasia": The Beauty of Film Decay

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    How are they benefiting from the usage of their material!?
  • by purduephotog (218304) <hirsch.inorbit@com> on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @04:57PM (#4990487) Homepage Journal
    Because if it was my digital VCR tapes from 8 years ago, the only thing they are good for is imitating sparklers when tossed in a fire.

    Analog fails gracefully, digital fails catastrophically.
    • Analog fails gracefully, digital fails catastrophically.

      Ummm...

      One or Zero - your choice?

      Soko
      • One or Zero - your choice?

        Interesting thought- now randomize them. Or make them .5 - as in can't tell the level. Leave a bunch out. Skip a few. Now throw in a compression algorithm. Whats this, missing pixels? Whacked Code Values (CV). Or worse yet,corrupt data that can't be read.

        One or Zero indeed.
        • I agree on that, the problem is that most forms of tape in current use are basically rust on plastic, and is almost certain to decay quicker than optical media, regardless of what is recorded on the tape and the domain.

          If the ones and zeros are uncompressed then I would suggest digital storage rather than analogue, but that is incredibly prohibitive given the bandwidth invovled.
    • I still take photos on film. I know how long negatives can last with minimal degradation of image quality.

      I also know how long term untrustworthy digital storage is. In fact, I'm thinking of digitizing my SVHS wedding video and putting in on film stock as a "I'm sure it's okay" backup. I'd also make it into a DVD, but who knows how long that will last.

    • I have 8mm films my Dad took in the Fifties, and while they are grainy, they are viewable (assuming you have something to view them on). I also have videocam footage on magnetic tape from 10 years ago, almost a complete loss. The old stuff seems to have more legs than the new stuff. But analog or digital, the problem of having an appropriate reader will always exist. DVD media (if not the format) may last for 50 years, but will you be able to find a functional DVD player 50 years from now? (Maybe on ebay...)
  • More like Cel -da!
  • I'm not sure I agree, I kinda like watching those biodegradable packing peanuts disintegrate in water.
    • I'm not sure I agree, I kinda like watching those biodegradable packing peanuts disintegrate in water.

      Watching styrofoam packing peanuts degrade in acetone is also fun. You'd be surprised how many styrofoam peanuts can be crammed into a cup of acetone. If you have a large quantity of peanuts, it's a good way to shrink them down to a manageable size, even if the resulting glop smells evil, strips the oil off your fingers, and can't be flushed down the toilet. Actually I wish more people would do this instead of leaving them outside in loose trash bags where the wind can blow them all over the neighborhood.

    • A few years ago I was working as a field service engineer for a major computer company that y'all all like to make fun of because their CPU's don't run at 4 GHz. Manufacturing packed spare parts in those packing pellets that are made from rice.

      One day I was trying to get some paperwork finished so I could leave early, so I skipped lunch. About 2:00, I got kinda hungry. So I pulled a power supply out of a box by my desk and started munching down on the packing pellets. They're good; they taste kinda like rice cakes. Probably not the cleanest things in the world, but neither is that burger you got from McDoonald's for lunch.

      One of the secretaries came into the cubicle farm looking for somebody, and she saw me sitting at my desk, typing away, calmly eating packing pellets. The poor woman was so nice, she thought I was having a nervous breakdown.
  • Digital too (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dolly_Llama (267016) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:00PM (#4990500) Homepage
    Ya can't beat analog for interesting disintegr098Asjoijoasnlks^K^K^K^Kank109Fj

    NO CARRIER

    • First off, that ain't digital. That comes from the entirely analog problem of my mother picking up the @#$# phone when I'm trying to download EGA GIFs from the local BBS on my 2400 baud modem.

      (Our porn had 16 colors and took an hour to download! And we liked it! We'd all sit around and say to each other "At least it's not CGA!" or "At least it wasn't over xterm!" And don't even ask how long it took to find and download a GIF viewer!)

      At any rate, this is an example of a different kind of deterioration. When was the last time any of you talked to your modem through a terminal emulator? Heck, when was the last time your modem connections didn't involve PPP?
  • by nakaduct (43954) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:00PM (#4990504)
    ... created entirely from deteriorating nitrate film footage. Ya can't beat analog for interesting disintegration."

    Of course, that's not to say you can't make a film entirely from deteriorating digital footage [imdb.com].

    --
  • Cool and all, but (Score:3, Interesting)

    by prichardson (603676) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:01PM (#4990507) Journal
    This seems really, but would it be enjoyable to watch? A lot of art is just "hey, cool!" and then is put on a shelf. This really cool idea is only really cool because it's so original, it will never be cool again.
    • "This seems really, but would it be enjoyable to watch? A lot of art is just "hey, cool!" and then is put on a shelf. This really cool idea is only really cool because it's so original, it will never be cool again."

      There's hope. Beavis and Butthead's decaying animation style still lives on.
    • Decide for yourself, look at the clip [decasia.com].

      For some reason they didn't include the soundtrack music, a shame because it worked really well.

      It's already been on at least once. I got sucked into it while channel flipping the other night.

      Making something like this interesting is all about editing choices, and they made theirs brilliantly.
  • by Quazi (3460) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:02PM (#4990510) Journal
    I know it would defeat the whole point of the video, but I'd like it in DVD format. You don't want your own copy of this film to end up like all the ones it's portraying, do you?
    • When I try to watch it on my DVD in 10 years, all I'll get is the first couple chapters, and then the DVD will completely freeze (if I even have a DVD player, which is doubtful).
    • Um... wouldn't the deterioration be a benefit? The entire movie is a bunch of messed up clips of film. Does it really hurt the film if some more warping is added to the film?
      • Does it really hurt the film if some more warping is added to the film?

        I'd be inclined to say "yes". This isn't just a random selection of decayed images (rtfa) [nytimes.com]. Bill Morrison went through hundred (thousands?) of hours of film to find stuff that had an evocative combination of image and decay. Adding random decay on top of that is only going to mask some of the beauty of the original collection.

        It's rather like the difference between the mastery of Picasso (who did some very good realist painting in his early days) and the worst of the neo-impressionists who's work could honestly be one-upped by good quality fourth-graders.

    • On DVD the MOVIE deteriorates YOU!!
    • You don't want your own copy of this film to end up like all the ones it's portraying, do you?

      In that case, I'd get a film version. I have far more hope of my analog film archives outlasting me than I do of my CDs and DVDs of beeing readable in 20 years. I may not have an 8mm movie player, but I can at least view my dad's 1950's carnival movies frame by frame.

      • I may not have an 8mm movie player, but I can at least view my dad's 1950's carnival movies frame by frame.

        And if you ever did want to see those films as films, it's not hard to find a player. And even if one day there are none to be found, it would take nothing more than a little mechanical skill and some trial and error to build one yourself. Now, to find or build a device to read digital media that hasn't been used in twenty years is a far more complicated task...

        DennyK
      • I have far more hope of my analog film archives outlasting me than I do of my CDs and DVDs of being readable in 20 years.

        No one really has any idea how long optical media lasts, but how are 20 year old CDs holding up? The format is nearing a little over that old now. I've never really had a CD deteriorate on me, but my oldest ones are about ten years old now.

        LDs hold up pretty well, provided they are well manufactured and aren't stored in a hot, humid place, but I think the same holds true for film.
      • You don't want your own copy of this film to end up like all the ones it's portraying, do you?

        Sure. With experimental stuff, sometimes that's the whole idea.

        Case in point: Turntablist Christian Marclay once released a record with the inside sleeve lined with coarse sandpaper. Every time you pull it out, you get a "new" record.

        The band Caroliner did one better - the outside cover had bits of gravel stuck to it.

        Marclay: http://www.wnur.org/jazz/artists/marclay.christian /discog.html [wnur.org]
        Caroliner - I'm Armed With Quarts of Blood LP: http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Paradise/1366/ cliner_lp02.html [geocities.com]

    • I just wrote to Morrison's address on the contact page asking for a DVD release, and got this reply:

      Thanks, Ray. It is in the works, and your name is being added to a growing list of people with the same request. I will email you when it is available.

      So that's good.

    • You don't want your own copy of this film to end up like all the ones it's portraying, do you?

      But how could you tell?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:02PM (#4990511)

    Ya can't beat analog for interesting disintegration.

    Oh, I don't know. This year's all-digitial Attack of the Clones provided for an interesting example of the distintegration of George Lucas' writing, directing and overall creativity...

    • Troll! I thought AOTC was excellent, and I don't really like the franchise. I mean.. how can you rate down anything with Natalie Portman in it? Grwlll!

      Besides, that bit where they went into the cloning machine was just like the funny bit from Galaxy Quest with the machinery and traps.
    • How do we know that? Maybe the next movie will tie everything together and make it all make sense. Wait, that's how he got me last time.
  • that the NASA moon landings were fake. I mean, afterall, wouldn't the film have decayed already?
    • nope, because by that time nitrate film was no longer used, "saftey film" had been introduced. Thats not to say that color film from the 60s didnt degrade over time(it did), but in a different way than nitrate negative do. THe only color film from that era with any thing like a long lifespan is kodachrome, i have seen k25 slides from the 60s and 70s that look as good now as they did then.
  • The text (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:05PM (#4990529)
    In case it gets slashdotted. Not trying to karma whore here, just being helpful:
    Welcome to The New York Times on the Web! For full access to our site, please complete this simple registration form. As a member, you'll enjoy: In-depth coverage and analysis of news events from The New York Times FREE Up-to-the-minute breaking news and developing stories FREE Exclusive Web-only features, classifieds, tools, multimedia and much, much more FREE Please enter your Member ID: Please enter your password: Remember my Member ID and password on this computer. Forgot your password? Choose a Member ID: Choose a password: (Five character minimum) Re-enter your password for verification: E-Mail Address: Remember my Member ID and password on this computer Today's Headlines The day's top headlines delivered every day in a customized newsletter (see sample). Looking for the perfect escape? Let us help you plan your next trip and save you money. Discover the very best in luxury travel deals from premium nytimes.com advertisers. @Times - Inside NYTimes.com Receive monthly updates about new features and enhancements on NYTimes.com, plus exclusive offers for NYTimes.com premium products and services. Be the first to know about selective sales, in-store promotions, new product launches and style must-haves. Sign up for The Sophisticated Shopper -- a premier advertiser e-mail from NYTimes.com. Special Offers and Announcements Special Offers and Announcements sent by NYTimes.com on behalf of select advertisers. An insider e-mail offering discounted tickets to the hottest shows on Broadway and more -- only available to TicketWatch subscribers. Preferred E-Mail format: HTML Text PROGRAMS FROM OUR PARTNERS Free $47 e-Book on Internet Business: How to generate Net Profits from Active Marketplace + get a special offer from OPEN: The Small Business Network. YesMail Receive offers from merchants brought to you by YesMail. Please select the categories below that interest you: Business Computer Hardware Entertainment Health Shopping Travel & Leisure Internet Music Computer Software
  • Sure, i mean if the point of this whole project is to turn it into a Winamp plugin so that i can get baked, listen to Radiohead and watch guys walking camels across some dunes, fine.

    But isn't this just spliced old film? i mean, don't get me wrong, or anything, i just don't see the art in this.

    If it was just the defects, then i could see it - that would be something, "did i just see a ship, or was that the way the film degenerated?"

    Oh well, back to staring at fractals in the dark.
    • Re:I don't get it... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Related to your point, this Variety review seems appropriate:

      Like Peter Delpeut's Dutch "Lyrical Nitrate" a decade ago, Bill Morrison's U.S. experimental feature "Decasia" finds poetry in the abstract psychedelia created by deteriorating archival film stock. Lacking any obvious thematic or emotional arc, compilation pic succeeds as a pure exercise in visual stimulus, its narcotic effect much amplified by Michael Gordon's thunderous, dissonant orchestral score. Logical destinations are fest avant-garde sidebars and cinematheque schedules.

      Project began as the film component to a multimedia stage extravaganza that premiered in Switzerland two years ago (for which the score, played by 55-piece Basel Sinfonietta, was commissioned). While it demands a suspension of normal narrative/human-interest expectations, "Decasia" can stand alone as a hallucinatory canvas of images -- most from the presound era, and all streaked, misted, darkened, speckled or tornado-disrupted by chemical decay. Much footage (Sufi dancers, far-flung landscapes, WW1 parachutists) has an ancient-ethnographic feel; midsection's silent slapstick and melodrama clips feel like they're from another planet. Pulsing din of Gordon's Glenn Branca-style soundtrack adds a curiously ominous dimension to parade of time-imperiled moving pictures. Biggest minus is outrageously overlong final credit scroll, which kills much good will at nearly seven slug-slow minutes.

    • i was reading the paper and found that one of the guitarists of sonic youth was playing locally (the international house in philly) and then i found what he was doing: live backup for a 3 hour film of light refractions in a pure crystal ashtray. i guess they zoom in real close and use the ashtray as a kaleidascope. i couldnt find myself to part with a 10 spot for that fine performance. i do love art, but you can love art and think works of art are trash.
    • Heh... Sounds like you'd hate most modern art. ;)
  • You don't have permission to access / on this server.

    +1 Redundant

  • eeewwww (Score:2, Funny)

    The clip has footage of a cessarian delivery. And I WAS going to eat my eggs...
    • > The clip has footage of a cessarian delivery. And I WAS going to eat my eggs...

      Well, if someone had eaten their eggs a few decades ago, the resulting film couldn't have been taken, right?

      So what are you waiting for, go eat your eggs already!

  • It appears that their site is powered by deteriorating web servers. Either that, or Decasia figured I would say not nice things about deterioration and sent my browser a "Forbidden". Who still reads "The Times" anymore for art? Passe.
  • Hey cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:18PM (#4990589)
    The latest NIN video is out!
  • by Zerbey (15536) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:19PM (#4990591) Homepage Journal
    This Morrison guy is clearly bonkers. Who would make a film out of disintegrating film stock? It's like filming a compost heap.

    On the other hand, in the same way everyone (go on, admit it) slows down to take a look at a major road accident you just can't resist seeing how bad it really is.

    I, for one will be tuning into Sundance when it airs - just for the pure morbid curiousity.
    • Who would make a film out of disintegrating film stock?
      Why would someone write the most obfuscated or smallest C code? Because they can. On top of that, it might turn out to be interesting or a learning experience.

      People attempt to do something interesting and experimental and observe the results. Most of the time the results aren't great, but sometimes they are. You don't know until you try.

      Most art is just visual hacking. Once you realize this it's easy to judge something on its merits and see through any pretense or bullshit that the artist has of himself. You'll also become less patient of prima donnas and have more respect for a modest, yet talented, artist.

    • by vena (318873)
      radiohead, moby, portishead, tricky, etc.

      lots of music today not only samples from old tracks and leaves the imperfections and degenerations intact (hissing, popping), but goes one step further and purposefully gives a track this sound.

      it's no more or less valid, it's just an aesthetic. it has nothing to do with the actual disintegration of the clip (re your accident remark), but rather with the feelings that the aesthetic can evoke: nostalgia, amoung others. of course the danger is in it becoming cliche (which, imho, it has), and you end up with a track or film trying so damn hard to be meaningful that it comes off phony. ie, peter jackson's desperate attempts to prove LOTR's epic nature with prolonged scenery shots in the face of a story that's epic and meaningful enough.
    • This Morrison guy is clearly bonkers. Who would make a film out of disintegrating film stock? It's like filming a compost heap.

      In the 60's you just took LSD instead to see such. His supply must have run out.
  • My younger brother(13) has 6 or so DVDs. Not one of them can be watched do to a few scratches. The only benifit of this is that "The Fast and the Furious" is now only 20 minutes long.

    I seriously doubt that a lasting disc will be adopted so long as the MPAA controls the standard, and they do "0\/\/N$ j0."
  • ... Robert Downey Jr.?
  • by tezzery (549213) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:28PM (#4990635)
    Will someone be looking at crappy bad quality divx cam rips in 100 years appreciating them artistically?
  • Does it irritate anyone else when anything with a digital counterpart is called 'analog'? In this case, shouldn't the film be called 'chemical', after all, it was created by a chemical process, and undergoing chemical degradation. Not some form of analog interference.

    To me, analog means something like a non-discrete signal, like in a VCR or radio or electric guitar. Not anything non-computerized
    • Nope:

      Main Entry: an*a*log
      Pronunciation: 'a-n&l-"og, -"äg
      Function: adjective
      Date: 1948
      1 : of, relating to, or being an analogue
      2 a : of, relating to, or being a mechanism in which data is represented by continuously variable physical quantities
      b : of or relating to an analog computer
      c : being a timepiece having hour and minute hands
    • Well, yes, in one strict sense you can say that light is a quantum, and hence is discreet. But really, its also a wave (is a wave discreet? nah...) as well. And, for example, the image in the emulsion of the film is indeed made of discrete silver halide crystals, but those cystals however aren't created in exact sizes to zero tolerance in variation. So strictly its non-conclusive.

      I think that non-analog can be defined as a logic-based state, and in that sense then projecting images from film created by the traditional chemical processes would be defined analog.

      -X
    • actually, when dealing with film, anolog/digital refers to the signal given off. Namely, analog means that the colors are stored and represented with a curve, as does actual light (giving a near infinite amount of colors). Digital, on the other hand, stores color as a more defined and jagged movement (giving each color a very specific frequency). So, the old film is indeed analog (as far as cinematography is concerned).
  • by van der Rohe (460708) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:32PM (#4990658)
    Glad to see this film get some props on Slashdot.

    The composer of the score, Michael Gordon, is one of my favorite living American composers, and this film is the perfect vehicle for his fascinating, gritty music.

    For more info on him and his new music organization Bang On A Can, see their site here [bangonacan.com].

    The soundtrack to the film is available from Cantaloupe [cantaloupemusic.com], a very interesting label for contemporary music.
  • ..in some art class I took. Don't know if it was this film, but the lecture was about how nitrate films autocombust after some time in storage and the reason why celluloid is so much better. I don't remember much of the class, but the professor showed us a video of deteriorating nitrate film similar to what's on that site. Could it be the same, or has it actually been done before and Slashdot just never picked up on it?
  • by psyconaut (228947) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:18PM (#4990935)
    Gives a whole new meaning to "the premiere went off with a real bang!" ;)

    -psy
  • Beautiful decay
    One of analog's biggest
    advantages: No!
  • by qat (637648)
    I fail to see what this movie is trying to prove. Many of the younger age people around don't really care about older movies, especially ones that are in black and white, or even worse, silent films. I'm sure there are plenty of men and women in their 40's or later who wish to preserve this, but they make up such a small amount of our countries population and I myself don't think people feal like spending their hard earned money on preserving these films. Sure, they are an important part of our countries history. They helped us through the wars, they informed us, and most importantly they comforted us. Not only that, but unless this movie gets some main-stream attention (such as a commercial on Fox or HBO), I doubt this movie will impact anybody. However, it could possibly have been cheap to produce, and they're hoping to make a large profit off it. Who knows? It's a lost cause if you ask me...
  • Circa 1935-1940. Hand rolled 35mm loads have taken the warmest, least grainy photos I've been able to produce with my 2 OM2s and a Leica M3.

    I think I have about 100 feet of it left. It's safely (?) stored in my Michigan basement (no, not a dirt floor) which is ~68 deg.F. 24/7/365.

    My father was a professional photographer; it's left over from his days of filming Generals and Celebrities in the LA area in the 40s. I was in a band when I found it - it provided the best promo shots we ever got when used with proper flash and a remote shutter switch with a winder.

    With the dangers involved, it's not stored near anything flammable, and I will put some back into service soon (new darkroom in the next six months) - it beats the crap outta the Kodak offerings for B/W, IMHO.

    Caveat: I'd guess it's fastest (pushed) speed is ASA 20 :(

  • Maybe this is what they found in that politicians garbage! [slashdot.org]
    -Jason
  • I killed The Digital Man, and now they are praising my victory with this.
  • by captaineo (87164) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @07:47PM (#4991430)
    I was shocked that the New York Times Mangzine article about this film neglected to mention any of the copyright issues. Very few (no?) motion pictures have yet entered the public domain. Therefore, Mr. Morrison is likely in blatant violation of the copyrights on various pieces of his film.

    I find it offensive how casual industry "insiders" tend to be about copyright violations, while they simultaneously condemn audience members for time- or space-shifting their own works.

    Hopefully reality will catch up to them soon enough - the only available subject for the next "Decasia" will be the white noise of encrypted video streams, their keys long lost in obsolete trusted playback hardware...
    • Speaking of ignorance...

      Many films are no longer copywrited. Even more are totally lost. There are great film archives, several stories high, with rows upon rows of film canisters, mostly unmarked. If you open one up you can find a reel of flim, or you can find half a reel of film, the rest eaten away by insects living in the canister. Sometimes you open a film canister and find nothing but dust, the film deteriorated into a powdery and flammable substance.

      Many of these old films are on silver nitrate film. Silver Nitrate isn't used anymore because of it's tendancy to burn down theaters when it catches fire when run through a hot projector.

      Most of these films have no owners claiming them, no identifying pieces of information. The bits of film the bill morrison restored and edited into "decasia" are not sequences from old hollywood films. They are from documentaries, they are from personal films. And some of them look like nothing more than weird splotchy flashing covers.

      I know this is slashdot, but not everything equates to copyrights.
      • Silver Nitrate isn't used anymore because of it's [sic] tendancy to burn down theaters when it catches fire when run through a hot projector.

        BZZZZZZZZZZZZT!

        The Stanford Theatre [swixo.com] still shows nitrate films. Of course, they had to get a specially designed projection booth and a fire permit.

      • Thanks for the info. Of course there is very little chance Morrison would actually get in trouble for collecting old film, but it's still no less an infringement than, say, distributing MP3s made from a newly-discovered tape of some music group you've never heard of. And here he's charging money for it!

        (I dislike strong copyright as much as anyone else, I just think so much of the conduct the RIAA/MPAA/FCC are pounding on is just as harmless as gathering these old film clips...)

        I'm sure if movie studios had thought of selling rights to post-decay film prints, they would all have gone to the highest bidder already :)...
        • You don't understand the nature of morrison's film, he was not restoring films entirely, only small clips of them. It's more like he's distributing MP3's containing several hundred 5 second long clips of music no one has heard in about 70 years.
    • by p4 (632233)

      I was shocked that the New York Times Mangzine article about this film neglected to mention any of the copyright issues. Very few (no?) motion pictures have yet entered the public domain.

      Prior to 1978, copyrights didn't last nearly as long as they do now. Without renewals, copyright protection only lasted 28 years [copyright.gov]. Surely, there's plenty of films in the public domain from the 1910's and 1920's.

      • The copyright extensions were retroactive - that's why "Steamboat Willie" still hasn't become public domain... Only films released before 1923 are public domain; there aren't too many of those left...
    • I think things generally no longer enter public domain. The term is always death + 1xx years, where the 1xx years is adjusted to equal now()+25yrs just before the term is up.
  • Bill Morrison showed decasia in one of my classes at calarts (http://www.calarts.edu)

    For what it's worth, here's what I wrote about it:

    Film Today
    Decasia

    Decay to many people is a sad thing. Bill Morrison's film shows it as more of a thing of beauty. It is kind of an odd viewpoint, mixing the horror of films lost with the beauty of the method that destroys them. In the past I've heard stories of people opening film canisters to find nothing but dust, or of films being harvested for the silver. It's almost painful to think of. But Morrison was on a hunt to find these decayed films. It must be an odd conflict to feel the loss of the old imagery but to be happier because of that that destroyed it. There is certainly a beauty in decay, similar to that which is demonstrated in fractals and other "chaos theory" art. Decasia simply more related to film itself.
    Some of the images carried strange moods. The near introductory footage of the machines processing the film was very much like someone telling the story of film. And it was followed closely by the most decayed footage in Decasia, as previously mentioned in class; the scene with the nuns was most unsettling. Aside from the mood created by the music, the rotation of the contrast and the flashing of the light made the whole scene look like nuns chasing children through an apocalyptic war zone. I think also that anytime you have a nun moving in slow motion that you can scare people.
    I think Decasia was an unusual film in that Morrison intended to create a hypnotic state. A state that isn't entirely uncommon in experimental films, but often unwanted. I did like the way he made the "story" rather ambiguous, as many artistic films use rather vague methods to convey a more specific storyline, and then usually fail to do so. Decasia is able to succeed without doing anything specific.
  • You might also like Koyaanisqatsi [imdb.com], which is pretty damn cool.

    Don't go for the sequels or the DVD interview w/ the director, though -- you've been warned.

  • what was the purpose of this? Couldn't they have just used digital imaging to make it look like it was deteriorating? I know that they were just trying to test the laws of nature, trying to see if decaying film actually decays!
    • by Qender (318699)
      It's not a science experement, It's an art film, I've seen it.

      To translate it to a level of geek understanding, know anything about chaos theory? fractals? the art of a natural process? There is beauty in the way a chemically built image dies. The film is quite hypnotic. And anyone who says it can be done digitally has never seen truly decayed film.

      It's like saying, Film a waterfall? can't they just use special effects to make fake water? I know they just want to test nature, and see if water actually falls.
  • Seven days after you watch this, you die.
  • I recorded this off the Sundance Channel last night and watched it today. If anyone is interested in seeing it, they are showing it again several times in the coming months.

    One of the main responses from the /. crowd is to question the point of the effort. I think that may say as much about the crowd as anything, but it is important to remember that your own response to the art is often as important as the intended "meaning". You'll also note in the credits, however, that the film version was made to accompany the pre-existing music, not the other way around.

    My own response was that this was a love affair with a medium. It was perhaps a little self-indulgent and a larger effort than the kernel of inspiration afforded, but one worth experiencing nonetheless. I found the soundtrack to only complement the images about half the time; otherwise, it was a little oppressive and took attention away from the images. This is most likely a result of film following music.

    While the execution of the vision may have been a little repetitive, the breadth of the source material saves the concept. Many of the images are of what we would consider mundane activities from our highly-stimulated postmodern sensibilities, but I think that was in part, "the point".

    When film was new, people took record of everyday things because the whole process was fascinating and those everyday images were all people knew at the time. They hadn't had their perspectives bombarded with excessive post-processing yet; they hadn't lost the specialness of the moment. Amidst the quotidian scenes, we have birth, illness, death and other bigger events. Life can be comprised by the occasional exciting events, but there is a lot of mundanity in-between.

    So, with "images as life" as a possible theme, the decay of image is a useful visual metaphor for the inevitable decay of life. You can almost see the people in the scenes as trying to reach out from the past, from the midst of their loss with a message. Call it "Carpe Diem", call it "Appreciate the Now". Implicit in the choice of medium (and I believe the marketing decision to provide only VHS copies backs this up) is the final reminder that how you view things (read life) has consequences.
  • by tobyvoss (584427) on Wednesday January 01, 2003 @02:32PM (#4994234)
    I happen to have worked for "Decasia" as one of three projectionists at the event here in Basel, Switzerland.
    • It's a piece of Art, folks! Painstakingly selected sequences pitting decay and the fight against each other.
    • As best I know, the film was made exclusively with rights-free material.
    • The three identical films we simultaneously projected were of course all brand-new 16-mm copies of the old decaying material. No celluloid, no nitrate, no fire - although we did have one projector lock up at the end and melt exactly one frame out...
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