This has been brought home to me recently. I bought a little video camera the size of a Cell Phone – and used it successfully to make the video in The Low-Rent District. I just aimed the camera out the side window of a bus as it went through a slum. And then did some minor editing to get rid of the uninteresting parts.
Yesterday, I thought I would do the same thing by making a video of the crowded sidewalks in the nearest large town. These always fascinate me in person, with all their crowds and jostling and beggars. But I was reacting to much more than the visual scene – the human scene – which the camera could not pick up on. People had no objection to having their picture taken – since the camera was so small – they just went on with their usual business. But the results were disappointing – they lacked any human drama.
It made me realize how artificial movie-making is – or, for that matter, how artificial picture-making is. People automatically behave differently in from of a camera – and are pissed-off when they are not allowed present the proper image. The one they want the camera – and the people who view the photograph later – to see.
The Camera creates another world – one related to the real one – but also one fascinatingly different.
I practically grew up in a Photography Studio – my Father’s in Ft. Madison, Iowa. Dad believed in formal photography – every photograph had to be carefully composed – so that is was just right. Sometime in the Fifties, this approach lost its appeal. And Dad never got the hang of making pictures that appeared to be spontaneous – but were actually not. Which is, after all – a skill I have not mastered either.
Something similar has happened in Painting. It used to be representational – and the more realistic it was, the better. Street vendors still sell these down here. And people take art classes to learn how to make them.
Not realizing that the Art Scene has moved on – and left them behind.