DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt


3D or Not 3D

Still from “Convergence”, 2010, video by Fred Hatt

I love stereoscopic or 3D photography for the way it turns a picture into a window.  I’ve posted some of my 3D photographs on this blog (here and here), converted from side-by-side pairs to the anaglyphic process, which can be viewed with cheap old-fashioned red/cyan 3D glasses (available free from this site).  I noticed that the more abstract shots were quite beautiful as anaglyphs without the 3D glasses.  This led me to imagine ways of making simple and abstract anaglyphic 3D images that could be appreciated either with or without the glasses.  One form of simplified image that has long fascinated me is the shadow, and I’ve done several shadowplay performances, including this one.  I’ve also noticed that two colored lights will produce overlapping colored shadows.  So it occurred to me that if the light source for a shadowplay performance were not a single white light, but side by side lights, one red and one cyan, the shadows would appear as 3D if viewed with red/cyan 3D glasses.

Stereo photography has been around almost as long as regular photography.  The stereoscopic 3D effect occurs because each eye sees from a slightly different angle, and the brain uses the difference between these views to perceive depth or distance.  3D photography or cinema uses various techniques to show separate views to each eye, creating the illusion of depth.  If you see a 3D movie at your local multiplex nowadays, the views are separated through the use of polarizing filters.  The anaglyphic technique is an older way of separating the views using colored filters.  In the shadowplay video I’ve made here, the slight offset between the two adjacent colored lights casting the shadows differs in exactly the same way that the views between your two eyes differ, and when the video is viewed with red/cyan glasses the shadows take on an illusory but very convincing depth.

Still from “Convergence”, 2010, video by Fred Hatt

But of course my intention here was to create something that would be equally, if differently, beautiful when viewed without glasses.  Seen in that way, the shadows are fringed in red and blue, and the lighter areas are in various shades of pink, purple and violet.

The title “Convergence” refers to the coming together of contrasting principles: red and blue, light and shadow, male and female, giving and receiving, and also to the convergence of the eyes that is the basis of the 3D effect. The film portrays the fertile moment, the magical conjunction of opposites.

Still from “Convergence”, 2010, video by Fred Hatt

This film was produced simply and quickly, shot in one day in the studio at CRS, where I had my most recent art exhibit.  The performers are dancers Aya Shibahara and Masanori Asahara.  I was assisted in the production by Ignacio Valero, Yuko Takebe, Lili White and Alex Kahan.  The music is derived from music played at a ritual body painting performance I did at the Didge Dome at Brushwood Folklore Center back in 2002.  Drummer Daveed Korup got a bunch of percussionists, didgeridoo players, and others to play for that performance, and I sampled and remixed sound from a rather low-fidelity video made at that performance.

Stereoscopic or 3D cinema has been a passing fad several times over the past 50 years, and it’s currently enjoying its greatest possibility ever.  It’s a natural for computer-generated animation, which uses 3D graphics anyway, and James Cameron’s Avatar featured the most technically advanced form of 3D ever seen in mainstream commercial cinema.  I also recently had the opportunity to watch one of the FIFA World Cup games on ESPN 3D.  Unfortunately, most live action films now being released in 3D are really in fake 3D, a computer simulation applied after the fact to a movie shot in 2D, and I suspect the current 3D craze will be, once again, a passing fad.

So here I present my own very simple, very low-budget version of 3D cinema, that can be viewed equally well with or without the 3D effect:  “Convergence”.

convergence from Fred Hatt on Vimeo.

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