Unreal Nature

December 1, 2016

Your Camera Catches Without Knowing What It Is

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:47 am

… What no human eye is capable of catching … your camera catches without knowing what it is, and pins it down with a machine’s scrupulous indifference.

This is from Notes on the Cinematograph by Robert Bresson (1975). Please note that cinematography for Bresson “has the special meaning of creative filmmaking which thoroughly exploits the nature of film as such. It should not be confused with the work of a cameraman.”:

[ … ]

No actors. (No directing actors.)
No parts. (No learning parts.)
No staging.
But the use of working models, taken from life.
BEING (models) instead of SEEMING (actors).

[ … ]

Cinematographer’s film where expression is obtained by relations of images and sounds, and not by a mimicry done with gestures and intonations of voice (whether actors’ or non-actors’). One that does not analyse or explain. That re-composes.

[ … ]

Cinematographer’s film where the images, like the words in a dictionary, have no power and value except through their position and relation.

If an image, looked at by itself, expresses something sharply, if it involves an interpretation, it will not be transformed on contact with other images. The other images will have no power over it, and it will have no power over the other images. Neither action, nor reaction. It is definitive and unusable in the cinematographer’s system. (A system does not regulate everything. It is a bait for something.)

[ … ]

In a mixture of true and false, the true brings out the false, the false hinders belief in the true. An actor simulating fear of shipwreck on the deck of a real ship battered by a real storm — we believe neither in the actor, nor in the ship nor in the storm.

[ … ]

… How hide from oneself the fact that it all ends up on a rectangle of white fabric hung on a wall? (See your film as a surface to cover.)

[ … ]

What no human eye is capable of catching, no pencil, brush, pen of pinning down, your camera catches without knowing what it is, and pins it down with a machine’s scrupulous indifference.

-Julie

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