Cinematic Structures and Representation

The work addresses the idealist, metaphysical view that there is a transparent cinematic vision (from “Camera Eye” to viewer eye), and the epistemological truth claims of that view: that cinematic representation presents an unmediated world-view. This is done through a ‘deconstruction’¹ of film’s elemental structures of representation: duration and motion. Duration, the basic cinematic structure, can be experienced in either illusionistic time or non-illusionistic, material time. Illusionistic duration makes time seem what it is not, as in conventional narrative editing where time is synthetically compressed or expanded (Every edit is a lie. J-L Godard). Material duration does not synthetically compress or expand time, such as in real-time (1:1), or relativistically through such techniques as time-lapse and time-stretching, or sequence repetition, or jump cuts. Motion, cinema's space of action, can be perceived as having either illusionistic or material spacial relations. Cutting, i.e. editing, from one object to another object creates an artificial spacial relationship between the objects, while moving the camera (tracking, panning, ect.) from one object to another maintains the spacial relationships of the objects within the shot; although, the moving shot has its own intrinsic illusionism, which will be addressed below.

The motion-camera-shots series consists of three types of camera movement, tracking, panning, and zooming, corresponding respectively, to the x, y, and z axes of the two dimensional planar representation of three dimensional space. The construction of the shots is that of a single plane of focus, and unlike the multi-plane construction (composition-in-depth) of conventional cinema, a single-plane construction constrains the viewer's "eye" to survey, to examine, the shot, it resists being elaborated or expanded upon. The shots also consist of a constant camera motion, thereby neither is the camera affected by “the filmed” nor is “the filmed” affected by the camera’s motion. The shots are tracked in the computer using match-moving software, and the geometry, the x, y, and z coordinates, of the camera’s movement is calculated, and then rendered and composited. This revealing of the camera’s geometry helps bring into focus the process of the shot, and along with the single plane construction, allows for a more critical perspective.

The consumer products series take their construction from technical and scientific documentation, with references to the glossy look of advertising images. These series concern themselves structurally with a non-illusionistic, continuous time-frame or movement, and contentually with product packaging and the æstheticization of the commodity. The “burned” timecodes and degrees require of the viewer some awareness of the structure of the shot, whether duration or motion. These ‘measuring devices’ then function as a distancing devise, an interference to the idealist conceptualization of ‘meaning’, questioning the epistemology of evidentiary truth — that knowledge of the world is transparently revealed by the filmed event.

The work, while examining a material, realist film practice, also tries to reveal that the underlying operations of an illusionistic film practice is not only to efface its own discontinuity, but also to efface the very tools and techniques which produce the cinematic structures. The work attempts to decipher and reveal these structures produced by the cinematic apparatus by rendering them visible, measurable; a demystification of the filmic event by means of exposing the instrumentality of that event.

1.  I use the word here in its original Derridian meaning — to analyze in order to expose the hidden internal assumptions and contradictions, and subvert the apparent significance or unity of ‘the text’ — and not the more fashionable and depoliticized usage meaning “a dismantling.”