PhotoCinema Brief pages.
‘Photocinema’ references conventions, or the aesthetics of cinema, incorporating or taking inspiration from mise-en-scene, the narrative theory or genre. Using the study of the relationship between photography and cinema , common aspects or things that set them apart, using photography, film or a combination of both.
CHRISTIAN METZ – French film theorist (1985)
Metz proposed several ideas about the relationship between photography and cinema, including:
- They share technical aspects as they are both bound by light, lens and frame
- Often a photograph is seen as fact as it is often a ‘direct representation’ of what the camera has captured vs. we easily accept film as a construct, as its been set up and designed
- Film is used to communicate the present, whereas a photograph is seen to relay the past, film/cinema has a temporal nature (temporal = ‘relating to time’)
- Film has a ‘duration’ whereas a photograph/exhibition depends upon the length that the viewer spectates
However, although he attempted to outline the fundamental differences between photography and cinema, he realised that they do indeed treat the ideas of ‘time’, ‘framing’ and ‘objecthood’ very differently.
David Campany provided us with a quote in his book ‘Photography and Cinema’ in 2008, that demonstrates the complexity and ongoing attempt to define the relationship between the two:
‘Conceptualizing the relationship between photography
and film remains complex. Should one proceed on the grounds
of a shared technical base? Shared aesthetic concerns? Shared cultural
aims? Or are the differences just as defining?’
He goes on to say:
‘Sooner or later the comparison of photography and film
always comes around to questions of stillness and movement, confronting
what is at stake in the common assumption that ‘films move and photographs
are still’. What is the movement of film and what is the stillness of
photography? Is it that the film image changes over time while the photograph
is fixed? Not exactly. That photographs are about stillness and films
about movement? Possibly, but it still misses something. As we saw earlier,
we soon come up against the limits of thinking about the question
outside of subject matter. The film image certainly has duration and thus
movement at a mental level. Yet, when we think of the film image moving,
it is also because it has tended, conventionally, to select subject matter
that moves and can be seen moving. Similarly, the stillness of photography
is given to us most clearly when it arrests or fails to arrest movement,
or when it confirms the immobility of inert things’.
We are given an opportunity to see an example of this idea in Henri Cartier Bresson’s work, in particular as an example here, his Hyéres, which historian Clément -Chéroux describes as a ‘fixed explosive’, simultaneously in motion and rest.
The cinemagraph, a modern artform in GIF format, involves a minor movement within a still frame; ‘when a movement is composited and looped within a still image‘. It demonstrates a distinction between ‘photography’s fragmented still and film’s perpetual movement‘ allowing it to become much more prominent and observable.
Working within the art form of cinemagraphs still involves a requirement to work with multiple still images, or, in film speak, Frames Per Second (FPS). This prompts the question; even when working with moving image, are you really just working with single still frames, and if so, does all film need to be constant moving image?
We can begin to see answers to this in Christopher Nolan’s Memento, a disjointed use of photographs to involve the past, present, and future, in order to cleverly convey the story in a way that the audience can understand. We can see this being used even more if we give a name to he practise; freeze-frame , when the film explicitly draws attention to fragmented stills of photography. This can help to place emphasis upon characters, to immortalize them as a still striking image that we can walk away from the film and remember (a technique used widely in the 80s for opening credits; an introduction to the characters). But the opposing view is that a freeze-frame can break the audiences immersion of the scene, breaking them away from the movement and presenting them with a still frame drawing them back to reality and ‘snapping’ them out of the suspended disbelief they utilise when sitting down to watch a film.
Another quote from David Campany that seems to relate;
‘LIVE events are the privilege of video, and still photography reads the aftermath’ (2008)
Except somehow, I disagree. To be able to capture good photo, you need a message, something to convey, and the aftermath is not always as striking as the event itself, I don’t think that an action is purely reliant on film or moving image, as a still shot where you put together the scene in your head, almost like the Kuleshov effect, just a ‘360°’ version can sometimes evoke more emotion than a moving image (here’s a link to a contextual study I did at A-level, exploring exactly this).
‘Photocinema encourages you to design an image which communicates a KEY MOMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE in an event’.
– moment of drama, discovery, confrontation
This can be explored within a picture/photostory which can show the ‘process of unfolding’
Here is a couple of examples in which the photographs tell a story, or capture a ‘moment of signifcance’.
Within the project, also explore the aesthetics and conventions of cinema, the design aspects of film, the sets, designs, costumes, makeup,
THE MISE-EN-SCENE = ‘PUT IN THE SCENE’
Here’s a link to a full exploration of MISE-EN-SCENE.
We should also incorporate into our thinking the FRAMING of a film or shot, as this can have a profound effect an experience of a film- it can help to either manipulate and distract, or reinforce the story.
We must also consider GENRE – the type of media or content with conventions/elements that separate it from other media/content. We use the often outwardly unspoken genre of a film to influence our expectations, gaining knowledge from previous films to have in mind a visual or a narrative context of what we’re about to watch.
A FILM POSTER can help us to manage these expectations, as they often present and sell the concept through a still image that follows the tropes, conventions and often colour palettes of a genre, referencing the aesthetic of cinema and films that have been securely placed in a specific genre through the history/years of cinema.
The most asked questions throughout this project should be ‘how does my concept relate to cinema, what aspect of it are you referencing and how can you justify this?’
PHOTOCINEMA BRIEF; Create a moving (90 seconds) or still images (3-5) in which you reference the format, aesthetics or conventions of cinema.
All information has come from Mark Triller’s Powerpoint presentation for Photocinema Launch