Mobile Video: the aesthetic of immediacy.

Images and video captured on the mobile phone have an aesthetic
that differs greatly from traditional image capturing devices.
The mobile phone’s poor memory capability and cheap plastic
lens may be seen as restrictive, but I view these technological
shortfalls as an opportunity to promote a dialogue with the
viewer that challenges conventional modes of imaging
and storytelling.

Visual mediums such as painting, photography and cinema are all
capable of presenting narratives, yet these three mediums invite
different levels of engagement and interpretation.
A painting may depict a concept, yet it is difficult for the reader to
ignore the brush strokes on the surface, or not be influenced by
paintings “high art” status within the visual art hierarchy.
Preconceived notions and associations of media forms arguably
contribute to the reading of a particular work, and this has
proven to be an interesting area of investigation when producing
mobile phone narratives.

As noted by Hodge & Tripp (1986, p.17) “fundamental to all semiotic
analysis is the fact that any system of signs (semiotic code) is carried
by a material medium which has its own principles of structure”. Therefore,
it is highly possible that a readers’ interpretation of a sign may be influenced
by the associations, or preconceived notions that the reader may attach to a
particular medium that is being used to convey a concept or idea.

Although mobile narratives may borrow conventions such as frame composition
and sequential montage from cinema and photography, the mobile phone is not
restricted by the conventions associated with either of these two media formats.
Images and video captured on the mobile phone are generally not afforded the
same status attributed to visual mediums such as photography and cinema,
but this may also be viewed as an advantage, as it frees both the artist and the
viewer from the intellectual baggage associated with more traditional visual
media forms.

An unforseen use of for the mobile phone came about when I decided to
document the recovery period after my heart operation. I made a decision
to use the mobile phone take a self-portrait each day to document the
changes in my appearance as my health improved over a one-year period.
The mobile phone does not share the same association with conventional
cameras and is therefore less confronting when capturing personal images.
The small screen was like a portable mirror reflecting my image and providing
positive reinforcement along the road to wellbeing. The mobile phone was ever
close to hand and was a convenient and simple method of capturing the
collection of over 300 self-portraits.

Due to the personal nature of the communications and images that live
within the digital heart of the mobile phone, it is difficult to not imbue the
device with a degree of intimacy. The “get well” text messages I received in
hospital also contributed to my sense of feeling connected to a bigger world
that lay outside of my solitary room in the hospital. Mobile media had played
a role in my recovery process through the act of positive self-imaging, and
assisted in the reduction of isolation by providing a means of maintaining a
healthy connection to friends, family and colleagues.

Personal communications may still be the highest priority of the mobile phone
user, but it is no longer the sole purpose of the device. Mobile phone narratives
may take the form of user generated content created by using the mobile as a
production tool, or content produced specifically for publication on screen of
the mobile phone and/or other mobile media devices such as
PDA’s, iPod’s, Mp3 Players, PSP (Play Station Portable).

The term “mobile phone” now appears to be an outmoded description for a
portable media device that shares commonalities with the camera and personal
computer. A convergence of digital technologies has instigated a radical
transformation of the mobile phone, and this can be witnessed in the mobile
phone’s evolution from a simple communication tool to that of a sophisticated
multimedia device. Advancements in mobile phone technology provide
opportunities to create, view and share a wide variety of digital media content.

If you are more interested in compressing other video sources for the mobile
screen, then I suggest you check out on
Mobile Muse

Hodge, R & Tripp, D 1986, Children and Television: A Semiotic Approach,
Cambridge: Polity Press.


~ by Dean on November 8, 2008.

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