Monday, April 14, 2014

Toward Techniques of Flippant Precision

My last set of instructions from The Cinematic is a bit more difficult to condense into a single idea because they are more technical in nature. I suppose my best attempt at a single instruction would be: have an attitude of flippant precision in capturing images of the particular event, technique, felt, or object you are focusing on. Hopefully this instruction will become less vague as the post continues.
In his essay “Images a la sauvette,” Henri Cartier-Bresson navigates the border between genuine “picture stories” and contrived compositions, citing the former as that collection of images which “can strike sparks from a subject” (43). For Cartier-Bresson, the role of movement is vital to the creation of a picture-story because “you cannot be stationary in your attitude toward something that is moving.” Unlike the static, analytical method of literacy, electracy flows according to the logic of its object. Similar to shi, you have to position yourself in accordance with the dynamics of the situation as it presents itself to you. Be flippant about your control over the representation, just be precise in maintaining this element of flippancy.
Similarly, Cartier-Bresson mentions that in the creation of a picture-story (the “spark” for the subject, the punctum, objet a, etc.) one must resist the urge to overshoot as this will “clutter your memory and spoil the exactness of the reportage as a whole” (44). This is an especially important point to keep in mind in our era of practically unlimited image taking and archiving capacity. Don’t leave all of your editing until later; discriminate during the creation process itself. Also, Bresson invites us to integrate text into our images as well, since captioning can “illuminate whatever relevant thing it may have been beyond the power of camera to reach” (46).
Gaensheimer writes about a six-minute film called Gellert that might serve as a good model for our experiment. The film is simply a montage of photographs all taken within the same hour combined with a continuous stream of audio from the event. The effect of the still images and streaming audio collapses the temporal barrier between past of the image and the present of the audio to the point that “what was, what is, and what will be merge smoothly with one another” (76).
This experiment could even be accomplished with images and audio found online. This experiment would be mostly flippant in selecting the materials; the precision comes into play in the final product, or that reified moment of hitting the play button and watching the object organically unfold. Blake Stimson refers to this (post)process in his essay “The Pivot of the World” as “entering into a dynamic relationship that gives its truth only in the process of its unfolding” (94).
As a final note from the Stimson essay (and the collection as a whole), I would like to drive home the point that you should intersperse moving and still images in your experiment since each genre conveys a unique relationship to time. Stimson astutely points out that film is actually much more limited in its representation of time because it homogenizes time into a “false synaesthetic naturalism” which sacrifices the atemporal abstraction offered by photography. The question to propel my next series of posts on my electrate poetics would then be: how can I capitalize on this unique perceptual experience offered by the combination of still and moving images in the creation of my felts?

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