Jean-Pierre Gagne is a creative soul who works in variety
of mediums, including drawing, painting, still photography,
and digital video. He began working with digital video
in the fall of 2002 and fell in love with the medium.
His recent video work includes The Smell of Who She is,
Fluid Rhythm v1-4, Cherchez La Femme, and Sweet Sue (Just
Remix. Jean-Pierre lives in Hinesburg, Vermont.
Crying Heads - 2004
Crying Heads is a multimedia work
featuring distorted images of a human head in states of sadness
or rage. It is my first truly surreal work. The initial idea for
Crying Heads was to shoot a series of abstract self portraits using
digital black and white photography. The idea came to me suddenly,
without any reason, while out I was out with friends one evening.
I remember leaving my friends as soon as I was able and rushing
home to act upon the idea.
There was virtually no composition of the images in advance. I
held the camera in front of my head, moved my head and body while
I hit the shutter release, and then examined the results. Using
this process, I shot a total of 69 pictures within a time span
of 23 minutes. The distorted images are a result of capturing my
body movements using a very slow shutter speed. The slow shutter
speed also accentuated any camera movement, adding further distortion
to the image. The only alterations to the original photographs
were the contrast adjustments necessary for the multimedia presentation.
Otherwise, the images are straight out of the camera.
The original plan for Crying Heads was a series of framed photographs.
My plans changed, however, as I began my preparations to exhibit
the photographs at the 2004 South End Art Hop in Burlington,
Vermont. The Executive Director of the event told me that when
they looked at the photographs, they wanted to hear sound as
well. I loved the idea and immediately went to work on how sound
would work with the photographs. The solution was a multimedia
The sound needed to be heavy and intense to match the emotions
conveyed by the photographs. For the open mouths in each image,
I created exaggerated “cries” and synced the sound
to the photographs. The “cries” could be intense
sadness or rage. To accentuate the emotional intensity of the “cries,” I
created an ambient track with a very heavy droning noise. Finally,
I added some static toward the end of the piece as the heads
vaporize and disappear.
La Femme - 2007
(Premiering Sat October 13th at the The Vermont International Film Festival,
Burlington, VT at The Waterfront Big Theater, 12pm)
La Femme is
a work exploring digital video
compression as the primary technique
used to manipulate an image. The video compression
used for Cherchez La Femme was extremely
high, resulting in a pixelated low-definition
video. The distorted video obscures the images
of women, requiring the viewer to "look
for the woman" in each shot.
images of the women were taken from short and full length
films of the 1930s and 1940s that I downloaded from the
Internet Archive. I started with approximately an hour
and twenty-two minutes of video. My goal was to select
one minute of the most interesting shots.
creating Sweet Sue (Just You) Remix, I discovered
that pixelated video can be very beautiful. I got the idea
that an image could be manipulated by controlling how much
data was in the video file. I decided to start with a video
with low resolution and low bit rate, so I converted the
original AVI file to a highly compressed MPEG-1file.
Through trial and error, I found the best compression settings.
I reduced the resolution from 720 X 480 to 48 X 36 pixels,
and the bit rate from 3.6 to .19 Mbps. Once the conversion
to MPEG-1 was completed, it was converted back to an AVI
file at the original compression settings. The new AVI
file retained the 48 X 36 grid of pixels from the MPEG-1
file. The images were then composed of gigantic vibrating
blocks of pixels and resembled moving abstract paintings.
Additional adjustments were made to the frame, time, contrast
and color to create the final images.
combination of electronic frequencies and noise created
the choppy pulsating sound. The sound needed to accentuate
the rhythm of the low-definition video, so the timing of
the chops were adjusted to match to the flickering pixels
in the video.
Sue (Just You) Remix is an experimental work featuring
a rhythmic, low definition video remix of
the 1940s “Soundie” Sweet
Sue (Just You). It was my first venture into remixing.
I really love editing video, so the remix process felt
very natural to me. Remixing brings editing to the front
of the video making process, elevating its importance
in the creation of a work.
stumbled across Sweet Sue (Just You) at the Internet Archive
while looking for video clips containing interesting body
movement. The dance routine in Sweet Sue (Just You) gave
me a lot of body movement to work with, so it became my
source video. After downloading the MPEG-2 file
of the video, I converted it to an AVI file.
I started editing the video by isolating shots of the dancers
that I found interesting. I would then go through each
shot, frame-by-frame, to isolate the body movements. Once
the body movements were isolated, I would begin putting
together visual “riffs” composed
of combinations of movements (Without any concern about
the editing process I began experimenting with re-framing
shots to vary the riffs. To re-frame a shot, I had to increase
the scale of a frame anywhere between 100 to 600 percent,
and then adjusted the composition. Increasing the scale
caused the pixels to
enlarge, which is typically undesirable. However, for me
it added a “dirty” texture and flickering rhythm
to the image which I found desirable.
audio remained synced to the video throughout the editing
process. As video was cut and re-arranged, the audio changed
as well. If time was altered (Faster or slower), the pitched
changed or was adjusted to remain the same, depending on
how the change in pitch affected a visual rhythm. The result
was a synthesizer like sound that accentuated the visual
is an experimental short about a surreal journey into
a dark world via the drain of a bathroom sink. The viewer
is taken from the comforts of a typical home to encounter
strange beings and otherworldly environments.
drew inspiration from the vegetable kingdom, animal kingdom,
and human anatomy to
determine what the world of Drain would look like. Once an image
came to mind, I would sketch it out on paper and keep revising the drawing
until I had an image I was satisfied with. Once a final drawing was achieved,
I would then determine what type of material the model would be built
from. With the exception of the sequence in the home; the models and
sets of Drain were constructed by using plaster, clay, latex,
food, and other materials (including a dead fly).
visual style in Drain is influenced by film
noir. Throughout the short, scenes are lit
with spots of light, surrounded by darkness. No fill light
is used to smooth out the transition between light and
the dark areas of a scene and the result is an extreme
contrast of light. Most scenes are dominated by darkness,
contributing to the overall sense of impending doom.
of the sound for Drain is original, and no canned
effects were used. Sounds were created from ordinary household
objects or physically by yours truly. Once the sounds were
captured (digitally), they were manipulated in an audio
editing program until the sound environment fit the visual