D - Rolls


Cinematic at first glance, ‘D’ Rolls are transferred images acquired from various forms of print media onto rolls of 2” clear packing tape, ¾”, and or ½” cellophane tape. Immediately suggestive of looking like a handmade film, the varied dimensions of tape used to make a ‘D’ Roll vaguely correlate to different film stocks, whether it be, 70 mm / IMAX stock, Super 16, and or the nearly extinct, 8 mm.

‘D’- Rolls are an abstraction of the film industry’s ‘B’-roll’. ‘D’- Rolls take the concept of ‘pick-up shots’ and the use of minimal resources to capture images on film or tape to a new level. ‘B-roll’ photography, ‘pick-up’ and ‘wild’ shots tend to be exteriors, landscapes and beauty shots that are used to augment a film during the editing process. ‘B-roll’ crews typically work with a smaller camera than that used for principal photography, and their work is usually obtained without sound. The garnering of images and shots as a second unit does reminds me of the resolute nature intrinsic in all artists.

Another abstraction of the vernacular use in film and video production that is evident in ‘D’- Rolls is the creating of a ‘stock footage’ roll. Very careful attention is paid to the ‘framing’ of an image before it is, ‘picked-up’ transferred, or lifted from a print media source. Since only a small portion of any given image is transferred, the discernment and ‘framing’ process about exactly what will stand on its own to invoke a mental transference of narrative is the most important and time-consuming process when making a ‘stock footage’ ‘D’ Roll. Similarly, both a Director and the Cinematographer deliberate almost endlessly at times on a set about just how best to ‘frame’ or ‘block’ an action or a shot.

Numerous ‘editing’ procedures are engaged in to make a ‘D’- Roll. Initially there is the constant search and gathering of discarded print media, newspapers, magazines and what have you. Next, the scavenged material is scrutinized to determine just which images to transfer and how to ‘frame’ that image on to the tape. This step can be done as easily on my couch as it can be, ‘on location’ in offices, at cafés, and even in an incinerator station of fancy apartment buildings.

I constantly review the vast array of ‘stock footage’ material I have collected before beginning work on an, ‘edited’ roll. Again this is similar to how a Director and his crew view ‘Rushes’ or ‘Dailies’ each morning of the work they shot the day before. I have to also note the use of the word ‘Dailies’ - I derive 90% of my material for daily newspapers. Rather than having a scene to piece together I study and pore over the dozens of strips of disconnected images around me and come up with a theme or a title for a roll. With this in mind I assemble a ‘rough edit’ by cutting and taping images from various stock footage rolls together. Again, this is faithfully comparable to the splicing and editing of yesterdays dailies into a ‘rough cut’ of a scene.

Another melding and abstraction of film and video ’tape’ production occurs with the presenting of the ‘D’ Rolls. The entire length of edited images is taped and wound onto a 3 inch,35-millimeter plastic film core affixed to a 3 inch, 16-millimeter film core. A dowel, fitted with a handmade crank, fits snuggly through the film core and can be used to rewind the piece after viewing. As the viewer gently pulls the tape from the rolls an inkling of voyeurism is sparked when viewing a ‘D-Roll’. I’m also able to produce ‘shorts’ of the ‘D-Rolls’ by shooting them on to digital video in extreme close-up.

A number of people have expressed that ‘D’ Rolls remind them of a contemporary flipbook of a sorts. Others declare that they revert to a curious yet fun filled childhood state when pulling at the seemingly endless tape roll of (disconnected) images. One friend said, while viewing a piece, it’s as though he’d gone on a little vacation.

An aesthetic element I hope to convey with ‘D’ Rolls is the impact mosaic composition has on creating interval for the viewer, hence plunging one into a fourth dimension of time and space to invent a personal narrative. These handmade films of non-linear images prove that images speak louder than words to many. Time spent viewing a ‘D’ Roll can be extremely blissful and liberating.

15th November ‘02

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