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This is a journal I keep to record all things I do within the realm of filmmaking.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

timemachine: Remarks, by Jared Caldwell

In typical commercial films, the viewers place themselves in front of a screen or projector, and watch a film contained within the bounds of a single rectangle. This sort of “windowed” view into the world that these films take place is the oldest and most conventional way of watching films. When the viewer looks into the “window” of the film, the viewer has two choices: watch or do not watch. In this sense, the viewer watches a finished product that filmmakers have made, and the experience of looking into this “window” doesn't change much from screening to screening; the only dimensions that could change would be the size of the projection.

In Timemachine, multiple perspectives are set up to allow the viewer a different kind of experience contrary to commercial film. With multiple perspective movies, the spectator immediately becomes a participant. Not only do multiple perspectives give the partaker a choice of what to look at, a multiple perspective movie forces the participant to choose. Regardless of the outcome, the participant has invested at least a minimal amount into the picture by simply being in the presence of the film. The participatory aspects of multiple perspectives allows the partaker to directly affect the outcome of their film viewing experience. Though these types of films still have a form of authorship that cannot be denied, the participant can take part in that authorship; even though the collaboration between the viewer and the film may only remain between the two, there exists a dialog between the participant and the film, contrary to the passive relationship the typical narrative has to offer.

The notion of tinkering with the participatory and the perception aspects within cinema has been conceived before. Stan Brakhage's more personal films, such as Dog Star Man and Window Water baby Moving, both explore the idea of participation that not only include the spectator with the film, but the director as well to the film and to the participant. Vito Acconci's Centers seems at first to be a “passive” film; however, after a few minutes of watching the film, the viewer becomes a participant. As Acconci struggles to keep his finger pointed at the center of the camera, Centers imparts that conflict to the participant who in turn struggles with him through to the end of the film. Even technologies as hokey as the short lived “3-D” era sought to break away from the traditional “window viewing” of cinema.
The content of Timemachine takes place within a multi-passenger vehicle. The positioning of the screens and the passage of time within the film by means of “temporal cuts” (edits done entirely by speeding up or slowing down the footage) creates the illusion of riding in a car. Similar to how the eye picks up fragments of objects at a time to construct images in the mind, the typical driver stores “clips” of the car travel to create one shorter, continuous memory to pass the time. The effect of being present and aware of everything and nothing simultaneously when in a vehicle allows the traveler to bridge the length of time between “point a” and “point b” in a much more compressed fashion.

The ability of the participant to pick and choose what is seen and what is remembered is an attempt to recreate the natural flow of time and space within the mind. Though more usually means cumbersome, knowing that one cannot look at all four screens really frees the viewer from trying to capture every moment of the film and create in their minds their own edit of the film. This experience makes for a more natural one, and allows the viewer to watch the film multiple times, creating a different movie each time. With the use of multiple perspectives, the viewer is given the opportunity to be more engaged, more creative, and more communicative as this “participant” creates and communes with the film, leaving with a “co-authored” film playing in their mind.

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