Unreal Nature

September 10, 2015

Learn to Feed Yourself

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:43 am

… people tend to lose the discipline necessary for really seeing things …

This is from the author’s interview with Peter Hutton in Adventures of Perception: Cinema as Exploration by Scott MacDonald (2009):

[ … ]

Hutton: When I make a film, I want it to have a loose sketchbook form, rather than be a finished piece. For me, the raw material is inherently what is interesting about the work, not how it’s fused or shaped or crafted into a specific “finished” piece. The process of collecting images is my primary interest; always when I start a project I find an incredibly validity to the entirety of what I shoot, and I’ve always struggled against the more formal implications of making finished pieces.

When I’ve collected a couple of hours of material, I’ll look at it over and over, eventually boiling two hours down to twenty minutes or so, hoping that the essence of the material will emerge. When I look at images over and over and over, I finally lose interest in some of them; they fall away because they’re not communicating as effectively as other images. At the end of the day, you realize that distilling what you’ve collected benefits the audience, gives them a more concentrated hit.

When I was shooting the material that ended up in Looking at the Sea, I was standing on the cliffs on the west coast of Ireland, looking west into the sun and thinking of the immigrants who wanted to leave Ireland because of the famines and were confronted with that same perspective. They must have seen the sea as this huge complicated obstacle. I was struck by how alluring, how seductive the light on the sea was, and also how, when you’re standing on shore, there’s something utterly incomprehensible about the sea.

[ … ]

Hutton: … Good things can come out of collaboration, but there are also things that negate one another. It’s like poetry and film. A lot of students have a fantasy that putting a poem into a film is interesting, but in fact the words and the imagery often cancel each other out.

[ … ]

Hutton: … Western culture is so much about waving our hands at the viewer and shouting, “Pay attention to me! Look at me!” As a result of this, people tend to lose the discipline necessary for really seeing things; they come to films with the expectation that the filmmaker is going to feed them. This is very different from what I think of as a more classical Eastern orientation to looking, whether it’s at a rock garden in Kyoto or a piece of calligraphy, where you must learn to feed yourself.

My most recent previous post from MacDonald’s book is here.

-Julie

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