Permutation (1999) made in collaboration with Anne-Marie Cornu, is a multi-screen installation and occasional performance in which custom software 'intelligently' navigates a large database of film shots in real-time. Inherent to the project was a desire to explore the possibility of cinematic language, literally, and to create a machine that would permutate through endless montage variations automatically while still generating meaningful, structured and nevertheless unexpected combinations and associations.
The collection, consisting of hundreds of films, was amassed by asking a number of artists to produce single shots by using short rule-based instructions that served as improvisational templates. Once filmed, naming and identifying attributes played an important role. Each shot was simultaneously classified into many different linguistic categories, using what would today be called tags, creating multiple points of textual access to any one shot.
The algorithmic video sequencer was designed to function paradigmatically, wherein each shot position in a sequence was a placeholder for possible variants. Hundreds of scores or empty montage structures describe shot sequences as a succession of different tags, general categories that when called play one of the many elements referenced by a tag. Each loop through a score creates a similar feeling, is close in meaning, but shots have been exchanged. One level up, these sequence scores were also categorized in a similar manner, by meta-scores overseeing both the transitions from one sequence to another and the way the sequences were spatialized and articulated from one screen to another.
Laying the groundwork for the later language-based work, Disambiguation, the underlying database logic is used to create an elaborate system of substitutions, shifting semantic contexts in which elements open up to different aspects of their potential to create meaning and new perceptual possibilities.
Custom software (Director), 3 Full HD video projectors, dimensions variable