Unreal Nature

November 26, 2015

Sensation, Perception, Emotion

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 4:42 am

… It’s not about text; it’s about texture.

This is from the author’s interview with Godfrey Reggio in Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary and Avant-Garde Cinema by Scott MacDonald (2015):

[ … ]

MacDonald: In Visitors there seem to be at least two different kinds of facial close-ups … At the beginning the faces seem to be looking at us; they seem to be conscious of the project they’re part of.

Reggio: Those portraits are what I call “from the inside-out”; the people were consciously sitting for portraits. All my effort involves getting organized in the hope that spontaneity is going to take over. And it does, usually. As a crew we discovered the virtue of an inhumanly slow move into the face so that the face you see at the beginning of the shot is not the face you see at the end.

… [elsewhere in the film] All these young people knew they were being filmed, but they weren’t sitting for portraits. As soon as that [video game’s] digital screen came on, it was like a tractor beam; each person went out of a self-conscious state and became entranced by the virulent presence and demands of the game. … I call these portraits “from the outside-in.”


[ … ]

Reggio: … The meaning, in this case, the subject of this film, is the person watching the film. I wanted to avoid a didactic piece, but I came to realize that what I was making was an autodidactic film. Visitors has no intrinsic meaning, all meaning is in the eye of the beholder. Each member of the audience must become the storyteller, must become the character and plot of the film.

[ … ]

Reggio: … A lot of words go into creating the shooting script of a film like this, deciding on the point of view, getting everybody on the same page and into one breath, one heartbeat — but at the end of the day we’re making a pictorial composition, a syntax for the eye. It’s not about text; it’s about texture. Until the film is shot, it’s just words on paper; once the film is shot, the paper goes out the window and we’re left with the material qua material of the medium — the image-in-time — and that’s what we have to work with.

Essentially, the people in Visitors, be they humans looking “at you” or people playing games, are the proverbial doubles of who we are. In daily life we see ourselves as doubles through shadows, reflections, through spirits, but we can also see ourselves through other people. Their gaze brings us into a dialogue with ourselves, but the specific nature of the dialogue is up to the viewer. My films may not offer the kind of clarity text can provide, but they do offer the aesthetic triplets of sensation, perception, and emotion. The film becomes a meta-language that is not dependent on textual metaphor.

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




Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: