Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Varying Experiences of Reality through Photography and Film

Well I should have taken note of the problems people have been having with posting and double checked to see that my post made it up two days ago. This is now inexcusably overdue but I suppose it's worth having up anyway. My apologies everyone.

Camera Lucida and “The Kinetoscope of Time” present us with two separate mediums through which time is expressed: photography and film. More specifically, I found each text to draw upon the relationship of the medium to the spectator’s perception of reality. However, though each text touches upon this concept, the perceptions that they each relate are distinctly dissimilar, and therefore speak to the varying experiences of reality as a result of modern technologies.
Photography and film are not the same method of expression. This is a statement so obvious it goes without saying. I only address it for it may then also seem obvious to some that they would clearly yield different understandings of reality. This distinction was not wholly apparent to me and therefore led me to the discussion of this idea. Film is simply a running reel of still photographs. In essence, film is inextricably linked to photography in that is comprised solely of photographs. However in reading Camera Lucida, the characteristics of the photograph that separates it from any other artistic medium became clear. Barthes notes “ the Photograph is indifferent to all intermediaries: it does not invent; it is authentication itself” (Barthes 87). The concept this then led me to is that film, by nature, is capable of producing fiction; photography however is bound by reality and fact. A photograph is an undeniable physical representation of what was before the camera in a specific moment and place. It is in this way the photography succeeds beyond any other medium or capability of the human mind to assure one of reality.
“The Kinetoscope of Time” conveys a separate experience of reality through its narrative. The narrator is presented with the opportunity to view his future through the film of a kinetoscope, an early screening invention. He reaches this proposition after having viewed a series of short films depicting dance and battle. He enjoys these films immensely, but is however adverse to the idea of seeing scenes of his own life and alleged future. Therefore, it must be understood that there is a valued distinction between one’s own reality and the “reality” put forth through film. Film may be a series of photographs, but when viewed in rapid succession, one is drawn from the reality of the moment in which each photograph exists, and rather becomes involved in the story that lies before them. It is in this way that film may serve as a means of time travel, a means by which time is manipulated and one may temporarily escape their own position in time. What may be taken from the narrative then, is that though we enjoy these momentary escapes and the ability to manipulate time through film, we are undeniably bound to the pattern and motion of time as we know it, and therefore our own realities.



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