Triptych: Genesis, Kavana, Sabbath

“Genesis” (5:46). Illuminated video essay by Nazlıhan Eda Erçin, Caroline Gatt, Agnieszka Mendel and Ben Spatz. Montage and videography by Ben Spatz. Hebrew alphabet by Bruce Steinberg.

“Kavana” (11:32). Illuminated video essay by Nazlıhan Eda Erçin, Agnieszka Mendel and Ben Spatz, with Garry Cook (external videographer). Videography by Agnieszka Mendel. Montage and annotations by Ben Spatz. 

“Sabbath” (7:20). Illuminated video by Ben Spatz with Agnieszka Mendel. Videography by Nazlıhan Eda Erçin.

In July 2017, I edited three new video essays using materials coming out of the Judaica lab. Each of the essays illustrates a traditional Jewish concept — Genesis, Kavana (intentionality), and Sabbath — through the medium of ‘illuminated’ video. Yet in no case was the documented practice organized intentionally around these concepts. Rather, the video clips were selected from amongst many hours of footage and then layered with ‘illuminations’. This conceptual framing is a second phase of creation.

Each video tests a different approach to the videographic form. ‘Genesis’ uses minimal textual illuminations and veers towards visuality. ‘Kavana’ begins with several dense quotations and then allows the embodied songwork to prevail. ‘Sabbath’ uses a recorded voiceover and makes the clearest discursive argument. Both ‘Genesis’ and ‘Kavana’ make use of textual titles or printed on the video itself. Both are also uncut video clips documenting continuous moments of practice, whereas ‘Sabbath’ incorporates multiple clips from two different days.

These are still early prototypes of the new medium of ‘illuminated video’, which takes audiovisual documents of improvised studio practice and layers textual and other ‘illuminations’ onto them in order to produce a new kind of work that incorporates textuality within the video way of thinking.

— Ben Spatz