[ISEA2014] Paper: Graham Wakefield, Sojung Bahng, Doo Won Yoo, Chung Kon Shi & Patrick Hutchings – Generative spatial montage with multi‑layered screens in “Lost Fragments of the Night”


Cinema is an image of thought, and thought is multi‑layered and multidimensional, just as poetry speaks with many voices simultaneously. Editing reconstructs images in a process akin to the selective reconstruction of memory, expressing the multiplicities of nature through the complexities of montage. The contemporary city is a megalopolis full of asynchronous forces and paradoxical multiplicities of separation and coexistence. To live within it is to be surrounded by multiple, fragmented and simultaneous screens and images, and the process of integrating such disconnected and transitory stimuli in the mind may also be likened to the construction of montage in cinema. ‘Lost Fragments of the Night’ is a poetic documentary that utilizes an algorithmic generative editing system, which preselects shots to be rendered over four screens arranged in layers. The artwork’s subject is the chaotic, fragmented images and paradoxical sensation found by night in the city of Seoul, a capital full of complex phenomena juxtaposing contradictory values and dislocated images created through an extremely compressed and uneven modernization. Often called ‘the city that never sleeps,’ Seoul epitomizes the paradoxical coexistence of heterogeneous and fragmented images in contemporary life. These authorial themes of disconnection and heterogeneity in public spaces resonate with the concepts of the generative editing system and multi‑layered screens. The filmed material includes diverse locations, people, and objects in Seoul. The fragmented images are distributed over layers of screens to emphasize the chaotic yet simultaneous sense of fragility that nevertheless together forms a whole. The generative editing system has an internal logic, but creates unfixed and constantly differing montage, emphasizing the countless possibilities of coexistence and separation in a major urban complex. Designed for large‑scale installation in public spaces such as streets, clubs, or subway stations, our artwork has been prototyped via a physical miniature, projecting by rear diffusion onto four layered screens constructed of grey sheer fabric. We designed the generative editing system based upon a dynamic Bayesian network constructed according to a scene tagging system. The author tags scenes with keywords, and defines a narrative flowchart using the same tags. Between each screening, the generative editing system selects appropriate shots for each of the four screens according to probabilities based on their relevance to the narrative flow, their association with previously displayed scenes, and any pre‑defined system‑wide structural constraints. ‘Lost Fragments of the Night’ gives a role to the audience as a part of the artwork; the audience can appreciate the montage from different angles and positions to produce different layering effects not possible in traditional 2D cinema. Furthermore, audience members can have a role beyond that of a viewer through actively contributing to the direction of the montage. From these contextual variations, the artwork develops different meanings by incorporating the     contribution of the audience in every screening.

  • Graham Wakefield, Faculty of Arts Media Performance & Design, York University, Toronto, CA, is a Visiting Professor in the Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST, South Korea. He holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Warwick UK, a Master in Composition from Goldsmiths College University of London, UK and a Ph.D in Media Arts & Technology from the University of California Santa Barbara, US.
  • Sojung Bahng, Graduate School of Culture Technology, KAIST, KR, is a Masters student at the Culture Technology department in KAIST. She holds a BFA from the School of Film, TV & Multimedia at the Korea National University of Arts (Major in Broadcasting and Minor in Art Theory). Sojung has worked on diverse independent documentary and film projects as a director, producer and editor.
  • Doo Won Yoo, Graduate School of Culture Technology, KAIST, KR
  • Chung Kon Shi, KR, is a Professor at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Graduate School of Culture and Technology.
  • Patrick Hutchings, AU, is a PhD candidate in the IT faculty of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He completed a B.Sci and a B.Mus with first class Honours at the Australian National University. Patrick has worked as a professional musician and composer while engaging in academic research in mathematics and environmental modelling. His current research is focused on generative algorithms for creating music.

Full text (PDF) p. 414-418