The Slow Aesthetic: A manifesto for camera-phone art

The portability of the mobile camera-phone is arguably
driving a new style of image capture whereby the user of
the camera can access places where a conventional camera
would be less welcome or recognizable by others in the space.
The camera-phone is often available at times when there is
not a conventional camera and it is this availability that enables
users to capture content and contribute to the sense of
immediacy that is so often associated with the camera-phone.

Just as Dziga Vertov, equipped with his movie camera, had traversed
the deep and breathe of the city, mobile camera-phone users
are also exploring the opportunities that portable media makes
available to its users. Whether its still images or video footage
collected, camera-phone users are taking their devices into places
where perhaps cameras have never been before,  capturing
footage from within the environment rather than being an
outsider with a more conventional and recognizable camera.

In the spirit of Vertov, my colleague <a href=”Marousiahttp://marousia.wordpress.com/”>Marousia</a> and I have
set out to exploit the image capturing capabilities of the camera-phone.
We explore new ways to collect and present the visual artefacts
that are captured on our camera-phones. We also look for new
vantage points and techniques that may push this emergent
visual medium in new directions.  Below are some ideas we have
been exploring

Mobile Video Skimming

The process of ‘mobile video skimming’ is based around selecting
a still image from the mobile video footage. When a suitable
composition is found, a screen capture is taken and the image is
then resized to emphasis the distortion and excessive pixelation
that can occur during the process.

So why I am doing this? I think the answer to that question
is based on my desire to strip the image back to its raw state,
to deconstruct and then from the debris build something
more abstract.

Trans Dolly

Trans-dolly’ is a technique whereby the operator of the
camera-phone positions the camera upon the glass of a
train, bus or car window then proceeds to capture video footage
for a period of time. There is little effort to frame the composition,
infact it is more of a case of information falling into the frame
rather than a conscious effort to select and compose subject
matter as may be the case with someone using a dedicated
video camera.

The resulting video becomes a document of the journey, the
camera-phone a net to capture the visual artefacts that often
go unnoticed when travelling from one location to another.

Andy Warhol experimented with the grammar of cinema in
many of his experimental films made during the 1960’s.
Multiple screens, unnecessary zooms on irrelevant objects
within the frame and single takes which extended into hours.
Warhol’s films were intended to challenge the established
conventions surrounding filmmaking and it’s with Warhol
in mind that my colleague and I set out to challenge ours
and other perceptions of images captured on a camera-phone.

The resulting video is not edited to remove unwanted footage,
for there is no unwanted footage as the video is played in
its entirety. Notions of low and high quality are not used to
form hierarchies, rather they are both viewed as simply types
of quality which both have their own character.

Multiple frames within a frame


The use of multiple frames within the one screen is used as
a device to add further complexity to the montage through
the adding of visual elements that may often share little or
no similarities with subject matter presented in other frames
within the screen. For it is not the intention of the authors to
construct a clear narrative direction, rather it is our intention
to inject uncertainty into the mix of imagery.

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~ by Dean on November 23, 2010.

One Response to “The Slow Aesthetic: A manifesto for camera-phone art”

  1. […] conceptualised our practice, for our work is conceptual as well as thematic. In a post called the Slow Aesthetic he unpacks some of the techniques we have used for after all, the camera is a tool for us. What […]

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