Framing the research question was a big obstacle for me and I had to really think about why I was actually doing this research. I still become easily obsessed over finding the perfect concept or words to communicate my research. I had to create space so as not to get stuck in my head by trying to force myself to find the perfect/right answer. How can I create a frame that will allow the imagination to roam freely?
Many times, I still found myself playing word games in order to find the perfect sentence or word combinations that would fit all aspects of my research. I was judging every possible outcome. Could I find a frame or rule to help me in this process?
1. The audiovisual poem
My research question started with a formalistic approach. How could I make an audio-visual poem? While almost all films are audio-visual, the idea of an audio-visual poem seemed actually abstract. I began searching for a dialogue between music and image. I thought perhaps the best system was to make films with a music dramaturgy so the image can speak for itself. The workshops brought me towards a real question of subject and subjectivity.
2. How to Jazz a System
Coming from a background in opera, the aspect of improvisation in jazz felt like an interesting starting point. In the beginning, the question of “how to jazz a system?” helped me to open up and be playful with the material I was generating. At a certain moment, I noticed that I had to clarify a lot of times what jazz and systems mean for me as separate concepts. Again, I felt trapped within trying to find the right words and formulation of the question. Furthermore, I also began to question if I was able to not “jazz-up” everything which felt that my research could become quite random.
3. The tension between the fear and the desire to lose control.
For a long time, the above sentence became my focal topic. The back and forth tension between desire and fear helped me to formulate my research project alongside some other thoughts I had on systems and control. It is important to note that the projects and experiments were not all about losing control and/or the fear related to that. If my main goal was to lose control, then I could have given my film concept to another director or let the film be edited by an A.I. to see what would come out. I like to work in structures and be able to control the outcome. That being said, I also want to create breathing space for myself and the team so new options and ideas can arise. Therefore, while there is tension on how much control I take or don’t take, the topic is not about a constant fear of losing control or the desire to lose it completely but rather having control over a free structure and choosing when and when not to exercise this control.
Another problem which sometimes occurred was related to the fact that this research involved multiple layers of process. Many times the theme and method were questioning the same such as content and form and therefore the work had the danger of becoming explanatory. The method of the balance of control was also applied to my own working methods including how I work with my team and how my creation communicates with my audience. Therefore, in all aspects of the production from the pre-production to the post-production and even the viewing, it was often difficult to put into the right words.
4. The call beyond the frame
For some time, I was holding on the sentence ‘the call beyond the frame’. This sentence refers to the call of the void, a desire to jump. Going beyond the frame simply implicates that there is more than the given frame. A desire to go further than what the initial concept might tell.
I also began to question what the word ‘frame' means for me. A frame can be many different things. It represents a system but of course, also refers to the frame of a film. It is the score or chord progression in music. The frame is the set of rules I set for my audio-visual works. It is both a boundary and a creative tool at the same time.
5. Endless combinations of words
Frame to reharmonize
The resonating frame
The interval of a frame
Space to reframe
Play to reframe
Playing the frame
The intuitive frame
The freedom within the frame
Frames for the imagination
The breathing frame
The flow to (re)frame
6. Jazzing Frames
I introduced “jazzing frames” to be more playful and give myself, my team and audience space for the interpretation of the frame. To allow new connections to arise naturally from the given frame instead of actively searching for these connections. This involved taking the time to let the frame speak for itself instead of deciding what the frame should mean. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with losing complete control. It’s about being open for the possibilities the frame has to offer and not prejudging all the possible outcomes. It means not getting stuck in word games but staying open for the possible reframing of questions, outcomes and the frame itself.
I had to find out what worked for me and how could I best communicate my research. The metaphor of Jazz still felt very interesting for me, predominantly because the word jazz already implies a set of rules and the concept of improvisation. It reminds me of musicians who are in a flow while improvising; they don’t follow a conscious thought but let their body and music speak for itself and decide its path. To ‘jazz, the frame’ means creating space for improvisation within the frame or even open the possibility to reframe. With my background as an opera director, this metaphor felt like the right counterpoint.