hand-processed 16mm color negative film, digital reversal
by Katja Rivera
Live in the Moment. How can we describe, yet alone visually illustrate such a notion? If a moment is fleeting, does it become a mere memory on film? The concept of time is a simple idea, yet simultaneously befuddling and perhaps a little disconcerting. In his films, Joseph Winchester manages to give us a glimpse into those moments we cannot capture with words.
A double projection of two side by side films draws attention to the materiality of the piece by alternating from 16mm film to a Super 8 projection to a projected Xerox or inkjet print transfer. The Super 8 film shows cloth waving in a lit window or a city street at night and evokes nostalgia—not only for that moment, but for these fading technologies that have largely been replaced by digital film. In fact, digital film is what led Winchester to this method of projection. Wanting to get away from the computer and back to the materiality of film he began experimenting with shooting on Super 8. Winchester ordered each individual frame consecutively onto Xerox and later, inkjet paper. Then using acrylic medium he transferred the frames onto clear 16mm film. The film is then put through a projector. "It's like projected printmaking," the artist stated when explaining his fairly tedious and innovative process. It is precisely this projected printmaking that is still enigmatic for some. However, through filming his subject, removing the frames from film onto paper, and then re-projecting it, his method serves as a fantastic loop that calls attention to the process. Winchester simultaneously questions and reaffirms this process, highlighting the mechanistic and manipulated aspects of his art.
Not only does the very medium Winchester uses call attention to issues of temporality — his subject matter does as well. In one shot the camera looks out through a window onto a deserted street — dead trees blocking or even enhancing the view. The window contains three metal bars that split our viewing field into sections. Ambient noise accompanies certain sections of the film, while at other moments Winchester allows the sound of clicks and beats, which he created by encoding signals directly onto the film as a pair of lines running parallel to the frames, to serve as the soundtrack. In another scene, a cloth hangs from the corner of the frame and flaps in the wind. At one point, we see the same scenes of the waving cloth next to one another — one in color positive, the other in black and white. Two different shots record the same subject, and we assume this is the same moment in time. In this instant, both nothing and everything is happening. This is the moment we try to explain with words, but frequently we find it hard to communicate. In addition, the two frames next to one another emphasize a duality, a context. While both represent a singular moment, two visual images of a moment in time create a new context, and perhaps in a viewer's mind, a short narrative. Through his process, Winchester takes the viewer to a visceral place and allows them to live in the moment — for now.