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Friday, September 23, 2011

Clickety-clack and Dorsky (Barnett)

"A cinema of contemplation, or devotion as Dorsky calls it, requires a contemplative mindset, and a contemplative environment. Though cinema is rarely thought of as a contemplative art, if given the space and accord, its potential is nearly untapped.
But on the other hand, these self-same formal/pictorial considerations that activate and guide us as we move through the precisely simmered intensity of Dorsky's expressions, are also at work in the much more rapidly articulated montages that function successfully out in the clickety-clack of the world, albeit usually at more trivial levels.
Why only usually? You'd think triviality would be endemic in the quick-cut montage.
A montage that's assembled relatively quickly by an editor through straightforward gut instinct and experience with the kinetic flow of moving pictures, is organized and constrained by the same abstract qualities of rhythm, motion, light, color, texture and depth that play across the screen and across the cuts in Dorsky's films. So there is a correlation between the nature of the considerations that were designed to impart. If the considerations happen to be deeply contemplative where vectors of reference radiate softly in all directions and the vector-cadence is extremely finely measured, a thoroughly darkened and intrusion-free situation is necessary. Outside the safe harbor of a contemplative cinema, the vectors need to be shorter, faster, straighter, narrower, and need to resonate on a very different level.
For a montage that's at the beginning or end of a typical film drama or TV show, profundity of resonnance is rarely as big an issue as popcorn and sodas or exit strategies. And for anything on TV, it seems to me that the walls are way too thin for the resonance of formal values to reach very far.
In fact, clicker-driven TV demands its very own approach to editing sequences, scenes or montages. so before we can articulate in any medium, we have to take note of whether the frame around the entire experience is opaque and impervious, or practically transparent. Quick cutting would seem to have the inherent attention grabbing potential for lively TV viewing, and a concomitant lack of intellectual or spiritual depth as well.
Maybe so, maybe not.
What something can communicate is limited by the depth of attention we can accord it. This isn't as pessimistic as it might sound at first. In fact it's at the root of the idea of interactive cinema. Films of Dorsky's ilk are interactive on a spiritual and cerabral level, rather than on the level of the action/response we now more commonly associate with the term.
So, although we can see that rapid cutting has great appeal in a digital world where the frame around the screen is negligible, and the image is designed to interact with life on the loose, it's harder to see that ultra-fast cutting also has the possibility of reaching as deeply into a zone of contemplation as does the apparently relaxed pace of Dorsky's films."


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