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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Digital temporal magnitude (Williams)

Go read Long Shots by Blake Williams (June 19, 2010) at R and G and B.
"As cinema continues to finalize its transition from a medium composed of celluloid grain into one composed of digital pixels, it is important to take a closer look at some differences between these two means of producing a moving image. [..] ‘Films’ are being shot on hour-long digital tapes or with cameras rigged up to hard drives rather than 11-minute-capacity reels housing a thousand feet of celluloid. [..] Of all that is unique to this new medium of cinema, I cannot see a more significant trait than its drastically extended allowance in shot length.

[..] Given that he has taken on digital recording methods with some of his recent moving image work, there is not a more appropriate artist than Michael Snow to look at the shifts in perception that have been born from digital filmmaking’s extended long takes. [..]

If the lingering shot is the present of a particular, subjective observer, it remains a reproduction of the present until it is finished, whereby it becomes the past, allowing for interpretation. Pasolini’s theory develops to posit that a shot’s meaning can only be given value once it is finished; like with human life, the possibilities of relations and meanings and developments is endless, “chaotic,” until it is over. [..]

A sample of some of the structural filmmakers who have taken the plunge into digital capturing methods, other than Michael Snow, includes Ernie Gehr, Jonas Mekas, and, most recently, James Benning with his 2009 film Ruhr. Benning makes for an interesting model at this point, because a majority of his films are founded on durational concerns that he explores in long, static shots. Ruhr is Benning’s first ‘film’ not captured or exhibited on celluloid in thirty-two years of filmmaking, and contains the longest shot of his career, coming in at 60 minutes. [..]

When a shot is captured on celluloid, the potentiality of missed moments – via reel changes – comes into play. Therefore, because there are moments in the entire duration of the captured event that are ineligible for inclusion in the final presentation, the viewer cannot be confident that the filmmaker was allowed to curate the duration down to his most desired selection."

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