Unreal Nature

April 21, 2016

Expanding Our Seeing

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:34 am

… each pair of images has the long-range goal of expanding our seeing so that we are challenged to become aware of every dimension of every image.

This is from The Garden n the Machine: A Field Guide to Independent Films about Place by Scott MacDonald (2001):

… once viewers [of Horizons] have become accustomed to scanning juxtaposed images for visual correlatives, Gottheim provides a new challenge: to recognize the rhymes in any particular four-shot fall stanza, we must remember the first image in each stanza through the pair of rhymed images that follow and be ready to recognize the rhyming elements of the fourth shot.

… While the commercial film industry continues to assume that, except for a few film buffs and scholars, moviegoers will rarely pay to see a film more than once in a theater … , Gottheim made a very different assumption in Horizons, an assumption more characteristic of painters: he assumed an ideal viewer not only with sufficient patience to investigate the film’s particulars but also with access to the leisure and the technology necessary for a sustained investigation of a work of film art.

… For viewers who have committed themselves to the identification of Gottheim’s complex rhyme scheme, the result is a new form of cinema seeing: while most shots in a commercial film have a particular “point,” a single, obvious part to play in the progress of the developing narrative, Horizons challenges viewers to scan each image thoroughly in order to be conversant with all dimensions of the image. Indeed, to understand the elements of any given pair of shots that do rhyme, viewers must be fully conscious of all those elements in both shots that do not rhyme.

[line break added] There is no foreground/background in Horizons, at least not in the conventional filmic sense: any generality or detail anywhere within the frame might be part of a rhyme about to declare itself, and if it is not, it provides the context within which the rhyming can be identified. Or, to put this another way, Gottheim’s aesthetic tactic of asking us to distinguish particular rhyming details within each pair of images has the long-range goal of expanding our seeing so that we are challenged to become aware of every dimension of every image.

My previous post from MacDonald’s book is here.

-Julie

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