January 2nd, 2015
Also commonly known simply as glitch art, datamoshing is the process of using corrupted artifacts in video intentionally for an artistic aesthetic. Datamoshing became popular in recent years after various internet sites featured animated .gif images of creepy and unsettling distortions, usually featuring a normal action such as talking or eating food.
There are two common datamoshing types. The first type is intercutting two separate clips, leaving the first clip to freeze, and allowing the pixels of the second clip to manipulate it. The second type is freezing the clip, and repeating the last frame multiple times, making the pixels move continuously in the direction they were prior to freezing. The second type is featured in the image above. More Info.
Inspired by the strange and unsettling imagery, Adriel Rosenfeldt had expressed interest in creating a short film utilizing corrupt video in the Fall of 2013. This concept was initially to be made after the release of "Microcosm", which was, at the time aimed for release in 2014.
While at NAIT, Rosenfeldt created a poster on his spare time featuring a floating man strung down by a hooded character, initially called the "Balloon Man". Rosenfeldt would call this poster, "Abstruse". The word effectively means "difficult to understand; obscure".
In February of 2015, an assignment in Rosenfeldt's Film Editing class called to experiment with editing any form of video together to either create a new meaning, or a new way of telling stories. The students were allowed to rip videos off the internet, which most did, or shoot their own. Rosenfeldt chose the latter, and created the first iteration of "Abstruse" within a month.
"Abstruse" would leave the entire class speechless. While the short would be constructively criticized for its forced story, it would be considered a new film language, and a work of beautiful art among peers, and the class instructor, Douglas Berquist. Berquist would later refer to Rosenfeldt's film as genius work, and grew increasingly interested in it over time.
Although this film was initially named "Abstruse", Rosenfeldt had called it the "Experimental Version", with intentions of creating a story oriented version.
alternate story Concept
During the summer break before his second year, Rosenfeldt began planning the story version of the film, setting aside "Microcosm" for it. The original concept involved the main character - who was never given a name - facing his inner demons as he searches for a murderer. The ending would have involved the main character making a choice of killing the murderer, or turning him in. A later concept introduced the ghost of the girl the murderer killed who wants to be avenged. Ultimately, the datamoshing effect became a staple to the film's core symbolism; losing sight of yourself.
Mid-way through the first semester of the second year, Rosenfeldt was given the opportunity to create "Abstruse" as a short independent from the class. While Rosenfeldt contributed to the production of the class-wide project; Pieces, he would drop involvement in post production to plan, film, and edit "Abstruse" by himself. This process included filming more than three quarters of the final project in one day, and staying overnight at NAIT to edit. The film's story followed the "Five Stages of Grief" structure, and dropped the murderer pursuit storyline to meet deadlines. Paige Moroziuk, who would star in "Microcosm" as Josephine, played the ghost.
"Abstruse" was graded for multiple classes, including the program's "Sound design" class. The film used original sound effects that were manipulated and distorted on various software platforms. Raw sound effects includes the fan from a projector, keys against a wood surface, and voiceovers. The film was mixed in Adobe Audition in 5.1 surround.
"Abstruse" was the first film by Rosenfeldt to be screened in a theater. Audience reactions to "Abstruse" were exactly the way Rosenfeldt intended, which included simulating anxiety, and confusing the audience in the same way the main character was. Some audiences even had to clarify whether the video file to "Abstruse" was broken.