I am using watermarks as the vehicle to comment on the overregulation of intellectual property law and how imposed artificial scarcity in the digital space can be damaging to creativity and accessibility to resources/tools.

In the same way that decrypting a watermarked video can be extremely time consuming for a pirate, I wanted a message to be revealed from the video over a prolonged period of time. My video utilises an image averaging technique to reveal the hidden watermark message.

[imposed artificial scarcity]
analogy of water    ︎︎︎   watermarking

[parallel processes]
image averaging techniques    ︎︎︎    papermaking process

[historical relevance]
digital watermarks    ︎︎︎   physical watermarks


Every video clip is made up of frames that are then averaged on top of each other like layers.

There are parallels between the image averaging technique and actual paper watermarking. Each frame of the video is like the individual fibres that eventually become paper.

By breaking down different materials into fibres and mixing with water, the paper pulp is made. Once it settles it is a single sheet. When the frames average they become a single image.

“By dipping a mold into the pulp it drains away the fibres… leaving a sheet of paper behind. Watermarks are essentially thin areas in the sheet that are more transparent. These are arrived at by sewing fine wire on the surface of the mold. There’s less fibre where the wire is, so it’s thinner and more transparent.” (Papermaking by hand at Hayle Mill, England in 1976, 06:06)

I wanted to emulate this effect using image averaging. As the frames layer on each other and average, the text is slowly revealed. The text has a slower image averaging mask over it emulating the fact that it has less frames/fibres, thus stands out. It is meant to be subtle, but also legible in the same way that a physical watermark is.