I first encountered Keith’s Loutit’s video art when this link was sent to me by my friend Chris about six months ago.

I was duly impressed. But Loutit’s stuff really impacted me for the first time when I saw it presented in an installation at Customs House in Sydney some time after that. The show was called Small Worlds and featured several of his works playing continuousy in the building’s splendid lobby. Most video installations are pretty naff — you know, shot and edited almost as an afterthought just to stick in a wooden fixture (spraypainted green) in some gallery. But these small worlds were very different. I was in a hurry to catch a screening at the Sydney Film Festival and it was hard to tear myself away.

Loutit is from Sydney, and he depicts aspects of life there in video altered by time lapse and tilt-shift (a specialized adjustment of the focus) so that the results seem eerily like animated miniatures. Tilt-shift is apparently an old technique, but it has seen new life in the digital age and Loutit is one of the artists taking full advantage of it. Just see if you don’t want to watch these more than once.

I really love these videos as I’ve just migrated to Sydney myself and they really capture something about life there for me. Though the whole point of tilt-shift is the creative use of blurriness, there’s ironically a kind of clarity in this work. Something about the weird quality of the antipodean light and the way it can make things (buildings, trees, rock formations, boats on the Harbour) seem otherworldly is distilled here.

On a simpler level, he seems to share my fascination for water and nautical things. And there’s something very sunny and refreshingly cheerful at work in this art, yet it’s too intricate and fascinating to be merely kitschy. He tends to make good choices with music, too.

Here are links to Loutit’s website and his Vimeo page.

Tilt-shift can also be used to express darker concepts. Thom Yorke’s haunting “Harrowdown Hill” (a choked cry of helpless rage at the suspcious death of UN weapons inspector Dr David Kelly) is matched by this fabulous video from director Chel White.

It’s one of the better pieces of video art I’ve seen recently; it takes the tilt-shift technique and stretches it to its artistic limits, abstractifying the song’s lyrics with very different and contrasting tableaux. The airiness and color of the soaring shots of sky and open wilderness are juxtaposed with the darkness and claustrophobia and violence of the urban protests and riots. The crystalline detachment of the tilt-shift is in this case quite melancholy. It’s a breathtaking and painful little epic.

Meanwhile, I’ve been having my own blurry fun with the TiltShiftGen app I just got for my iPhone, especially with all the excellent subject matter here in UAE. I just published a set of tilt-shifted snapshots on my other page.

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