The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Real-time file access and organization -

Here is the problem, as anyone following my work can attest - there's too
much of it. I'll be at the Openport festival in Chicago the end of the
month, doing a symposium, talk, two performances. So I'm attempting to
organize files for the last, and it's difficult. I narrowed the video/
audio work to 900 files - and these are edited from the mass of my video/
audio work in general, running I think around 2500. I've placed the files
in two folders, Performance 1 / 2. The names (titles) of the files convey
nothing. I'm still naming from the film years when one produced "pieces"
with such. So there are 900 names, and I forget what most of these things
are. It's not even easy to tell by extension - there are sound files for
example ending as .mp4, and some of the .mov are set for no framework and
loop; these are most often converted .mp4 in disguise. The problem with
.mp4 in performance - the compression uses a lot of CPU cycles; the result
is that it's actually more difficult to run a number of parallel .mp4
files (which are quite small) than to run the same from the original very
large .mov or .avi files.

Thumbnails won't do - they would be too difficult to manage, would clutter
up the screen, wouldn't handle audio. I think of code - G for Geneva, D
for dance, GG for Gruyere, GA for Aletsch glacier work - but then the
individual pieces are still left behind. I've tried brief 2-3 word
descriptions in the titles, but that doesn't seem to help; there are
variations, some of the work is indescribable in terms of a few words, and
so forth. In any case, the directories have to be on the screen when I'm
performing - that's the whole point of it - the ability to choose video/
audio on the fly. I'm not sure where to take this - memorizing indices,
mnemonics ... The total number of still images that I work with (i.e. not
family) is about 10000. The total of everything is probably around 14000.

I swim in these. I need a directory structure for everything, coupled with
a search engine; I need keywords and a way to delimit and present files
during performance; I need a system which is easily understandable on the
fly. I'm speaking of approximately 200 gigabytes of material here. I've
been sitting going through file after file; it's a real impossibility! If
the equipment holds up (I've been having difficulties with Quicktime
retaining its preferences which are critical), things should run smoothly
- they'll be more out of control than ever, the semantics of the perform-
ance trying to keep up. But the presentation will, internally, be somewhat
scattershot. I work with laser scan, motion capture, dancers, mappings and
remappings of the human body, landscape, very low frequency and shortwave
radio, filtered and unfiltered recordings of various musical instruments,
images from the problematic of 'wilderness,' video and audio bounced and
transformed across the country, material from Second Life performance,
materials from programs like Netstumbler (tracking wireless), modified
travel footage, local histories and architectures of early mass transit,
sexuality, the 'edges' of languages, choreographies, interactivities,
codework and codework software, Mathematica, and video/audio noise across
the Net, offline as well. All of these areas are subsetted; they spread
like tentacles across my workspace, (in)(co)herent, lost and found; now
when I perform, I'm part audience, seeing the (re)presentation for the
first time, trying more desperately than ever to hold everything together.
This is a world of the forgotten, unorganized in relation to 'the clean
and proper body,' inert to deconstruction (which is collapsed by error,
circles of confusion, exhaustion, loss), open to Levinas' existence and
existents. Never do I know where this has gone, will go. But I still need
something of a system, something of a path through the dark woods. (And of
course any suggestions greatly appreciated.)

- Alan

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