Capture Exposure Erasure
practices in reciprocity and the building of queer intimacy
Andrew Martinez + Joel Mejia Smith
The following supporting materials and information elaborate on the practices and collaboration that we discuss in our paper presentation. They are merely a snapshot and do not intend to represent the whole.
A Typical Day
Each day we go to the studio there’s a number of things that happen. From the morning text Joel sends Andy letting him know he’s on his way, to the coffees and breakfast bagels we pick up from Zinc Cafe downtown, our rituals become as predictable as the street vendors we anticipate showering us with flyers and hand gestures to purchase subwoofers, tinted windows and souped-up rims at their shops, lined directly across the street from the three story walk up studio we’re desperate to get to…“No, sorry, no not today” we say with our shades on and heads straight forward. Two queers, sinking into our seats, as we’re approached by macho men selling us a more masculine ride…’we just want to get to the studio to do some gay stuff.”
From parking the car, to unloading our equipment while juggling 700 keys and too many locks, we’re keen not to spill our coffees. We endure the three-floor hike as a fog of 420 from the screen shop bros blazes our eyes, only to arrive in a gorgeous, sun-soaked studio with light ricocheting through a wall of crystallized glass windows.
Dropping our gear, we begin to clean the floor…From broom, to swiffer to wet mop, our bitchiness emerges just the same. Cutting comments about the landlord’s neglect of the building and nicely dented concrete floor that Joel's about to roll his face on (sometimes bare ass and front parts). It’s cathartic to watch. Andy balances his observations of Joel’s perseverance with setting up the cameras we will be using. Once spotless, and as Joel dives deeply into his regimented warm up, Andy takes candid clips of vérité to document our process, the room, the light, the pulsing, vibrational beats of disco, salsa and rap music from the busy street below - brief clips to use later, for a documentary, installation or use on a web platform,
Once Joel has worked himself up into a sweaty and ready state, we come together to plan the day’s work
“Any thoughts on what we should work on today?”
“Last time we focused on building a score…want to start there or maybe with just some camera techniques”
“I’m feeling a little shaky with my in-and-outs, and I’m intimidated by the camera choreography of ‘the swipe.’”
“Why don’t we do a series of samples where we focus on just one technique?”
Joel's Solo Improvisation and Digital Capture Practice
Below is the first and last minute of a 30-minute danced improvisation that considers ways of being captured in the round. The score includes building a movement phrase through repetition and accumulation for long enough until it knows what it is. My objectives are to continually remove all of my garments until I am completely nude while simultaneously relocating the camera to different marks on the floor, patterned on the perimeter of a circle. My video editing directives are to erase all of the camera setups and all of the genitalia. This is reflected on the left side of the screen in what Joel calls the "Film." The right side of the screen is the document of the improvisation and is not edited.
A solo practice turned into a duet practice - Joel introduces Andy to his process
When we first started working together, we continued Joel's side by side Film and Document camera/framing practice to see how it would translate as a duet, and also to make sure we were documenting our process even if (let's say we were to present out work somewhere) the improvisations didn't call for a side by side comparison. The side by side frame allows viewers to see what is cut from the Film and what the danced improvisation actually looked like before mediation.
Note: When the Film on the left ends, it means the material from the improvisation has ended. It will play again and sync up with the document at the very end.
Each day in the studio we review our camera-to-editing techniques. We define these in the conventional filmmaking sense; the choreography of the camera that allows for editing opportunities. Thus far we've practiced swiping, in and out, long panning, pulling out to reveal action or subject, and multi-camera effects (using holds or repetition of action to set up shots from different angles). The below samples demonstrate our swiping technique.
Sample One: Edited
Sample Two: Document Camera, Unedited
While the conventions of film making would have us storyboard, capture, edit and distribute for the purpose of presenting/naming a final product for consumption, we’re intervening and resisting the linearity of such an approach by slowing down that process and embracing improvisational scoring as a way to create a container of possibilities. This approach infuses and maintains a liveliness that is more often aligned with live performance and/or studio practice rather than the digital. We see a score (the map) as a set of directives, possibilities, permissions, landmarks, and/or tools inside of a structure (the house). Before we begin to capture we discuss a possible score and structure that help us connect and engage in the same or similar objectives. Because Joel is both the improvising subject and choreographer, and will also be editing the "Film," having an agreed upon score and structure that Andy and Joel follow allows for a more streamlined reflection practice post capture/improvisation.
The below score is what we call From Here to There. We agree on where I will begin in the room with the objective that by the end I will be on the opposite side of the room. The structure of the score has three chapters: Slow Opening; Middle Accumulation and Energetic Acceleration; Resolve and Contemplation. In each chapter there are a set of movement and camera goals, whether related to pacing, duration, rhythm, quality, spatial orientation, transition, etc.
Andrew Martínez, a scholar and artist, received his PhD in Culture and Performance from UCLA and his BS in journalism from San José State University. Additionally, he teaches humanities-based writing courses in both the Writing Programs department and the Academic Advancement Program at UCLA. Click HERE for More Information
Joel Mejia Smith is a queer, Latinx US dance artist, visual designer, writer, photographer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. His work critically engages representations of gender and sexuality in performance and media, as well as how structures and strategies for dance-making are concealed/revealed or de/mystified as modes of production. A large part of his research agenda has been dedicated to his duet dance theater company casebolt and smith. With artistic partner Liz Casebolt, casebolt and smith is a platform for collaborative research and plays with the gender binary and sexuality politics embedded in man/woman partnerships. Joel is an Associate Professor and former chair of Dance at University of California, Riverside. Click HERE for More Information