THE BIONIC EYE ZOOM ESTHETICS Peter Asaro

The Bionic Eye Zoom Esthetics Peter Asaro-PDF Download

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Mamie, Thefollowing articlewasoriginally submitted byJohnBelton tionis suspect . toFilmComment whichaccepteditforpublication butwhat Thesecondary issuehereis one thatlendsitselftoa particu . to, appearedas The BionicEye in theSeptember October 1980 larlyproblematic accusation and thatis thatwhathappened. issueofFilmCommentwas notexactlythearticleJohnBelton John Belton . s articlerepresents a lack ofwillingness on Film, hadwritten Or morespecifically whatappearedwas notthe Comment s parttotakefilmtheory seriously Thearticle that. , originallysubmitted article Indeed it was now co authored appearsbelowbegan inFilmComment withtheline Zoom. and notonlywerenewlywritten partsaddedontoit but also word In spiteofthefactthatthesentence . is a four letter by, someportions werecut and graveryet thearticlenowmiscon itself means nothing John Beltonfeelsthatit indicatesthe.
struedsomeofBelton s thoughts on theesthetics ofthezoom articlewas dressedup becauseFilmCommentfoundittoo. Needlesstosay Film Comment neverconsulted JohnBelton academictoprintas itwas submitted Theauthor however is. abouttheadditionofa co author andthechangesthatweremade alwaysonlyonehalfoftheequation inoureyes theaudienceis. in themanuscript nordidheeverseewhatwasgoingtopress theother In a case likethis it is notonlytheauthorwhohas. TheBionic beenmaligned butalso thereadership , After Eye appeared JohnBeltonsenthis ori . ginal articleto Cineaste withan explanationof whathad Hereinliesthecruxofthematter whatofscholarship andof. happenedtoit Wedecidedtopublishitbecausea widerangeof intellectualpursuitinfilmtheory and filmstudies Can it be. issuesis involved froma magazine scommitment to an au thattheimpoverished stateoffilmcriticism in theUnitedStates. thor sworkto thestateoftheartoffilmcriticism today is notdue to lackofscholars critics historians or a serious. The primarymatter of course is the inviolability of an public butto exactlythekindofthinking thatdarestoallowthe. , author swork No editororpublication has therighttosavage savagingof TheBionicEye forfeartheaudiencetoofickleto. an author swriting to changeor rewriteit cut or add to it readand thinkthrough a theoretical contribution tofilmstud . withoutthatauthor sexpresspermission and afterthefact ies We at Cineaste don thavetheanswers butwe do havea. his herapproval Theonlyrationalization forthiskindofaction hunch and as a servicetoourreaders and tothecommunity. wouldbe thatit wouldimprove theargument or thetheory in offilmmakers filmhistorians filmcritics and filmtheorists . spiteofhavingchangedstyle statement and authorship a. In we are pleasedto presentthefollowing article , worldin whichauthorialintegrity stillexists thisrationaliza The Editors. 20, This content downloaded from 149 31 199 61 on Thu 17 Apr 2014 15 46 05 PM. All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions, If everytrackingshot makes a moral statement prob the content of the composition i e it can only move.
ing the physicalityof man s relationshipto the space fromforegroundto backgroundsubjectsand vice versa . around him theneveryzoom makes an epistemological and the range of the zoom i e unlike a track a zoom. statement contemplatingman s relationshipnot with cannot go on indefinitely Thus the psychologyof the. the world itselfbut with his idea or consciousness of it zoom differsfrom that of the track Its movement is. The track and the zoom reflectdifferent conflicting prescribed and viewers unconsciously sense this The. esthetics In a trackingshot the camera moves boldly track crane or dolly shot has an abilityto move in a. through space producing a two dimensional image varietyof ways Each momentin a movingcamera shot. througha three dimensionalfilmingprocess which en reflects a decision making process one direction is. dows thatimage with an illusion of depth via parallax chosen from a number of possible directions This . and changes in perspective A zoom lens produces the perhaps explains Preminger sfascinationwiththemov . illusion of movement optically through continuous ing camera The process of a trackingshot even if its. changes in the focal length of the lens rather than destinationis predetermined presents the viewer with. throughthe actual movementof the camera creatingan an illusion of choice and consequently witha sense of. image whichprogressivelyalterstheoriginalspace being free unrestricted movement The most interesting. photographedand which subvertsthe illusion of depth zooms by thisreasoning are those which are combined. Though thezoom likethetrack preservesthesense of with pans cranes or tracks in thatthe combinationof. space as an unbroken temporalcontinuum it also un pre and post determinedmovementscreatesa powerful. like the track abstractsthat space by flatteningor elon dramatictension . gatingit In effect thezoom produces an ellipsisofspace Strangelyenough mostwritingon theuse ofthezoom. by both traversingand not traversingit views it as a substitutefor ratherthana complementto . Opponents ofthezoom criticizeitsdistortionofspace camera movement Initial advertisementsfor the 1932. JamesWong Howe who as earlyas 1931 in Transatlantic Bell Howell zoom lens emphasize itsuse wherenormal. was experimentingwith wide angle lenses 25mm and camera movementis impossible AC 12 No 10 p 31 IP . 35mm to obtaingreaterdepth of field faultsthe zoom s January1932 Writingin 1957on The Use and Abuse of. flattening of space AC 56 No 1 p 116 The zoom lens the Zoom Lens forAmericanCinematographer JosephV . he argues produces just a flatframecoming toward Mascelli approached the zoom as a substitutefora dolly. shot and discussed ways in which the cameraman can. you In a zoom shotthe perspectiveis static thecamera. doesn t pass anythingand you have no sense of true use the zoom to fake the dolly s movement through. movement It is just a set compositionbeing blown up space 2 Even as recentlyas 1970 Paul Joannides in an. largerby degrees AC 44 No 7 p 416 articleon The AestheticsoftheZoom Lens in Sightand. The differencebetween the spatial esthetics of the Sound notes that the mostfrequentuse ofthezoom lens. zoom and the trackis remarkablycrystallizedin Alfred is as a substituteforforwardor backwardcamera move . Hitchcock smontaged synthesisof a simultaneoustrack ment S S 40 No 1 p 41 . and zoom in the belltowerstairwaysequence of Vertigo. 1958 Here a zoom innegatesboththemovementofthe, track outand the three dimensionalspace itcreates The The zoom is symptomatic of the evolution of. image size of the stairway seen overhead fromScottie s the language of the cinema since the New. point of view remainsconstant while the space within Wave Spatially distorting and inherently self . the shot vertiginouslyexpands and contracts A similar. conscious the zoom reflects the disintegration, qualityofphysicalattractionand psychologicalrevulsion codes developed before the. occurs near the end of Mamie 1964 when its heroine of cinematic. tries hesitates and then fails to take the money from Second World War . Rutland s safe The physicalqualitiesofthetrackand the. non physicalqualities of the zoom visualize Mamie s. paralyticambivalence toward money and what it repre Much of the disrepute surroundingthe zoom derives. sents to her In both cases Hitchcock s combinationof fromits use as pseudo camera movement The notionof. tracksand zooms underscoresthe oppositionalnatureof a zoom tryingto pass fora trackraisesquestionsabout its. theirdepiction of space and movement integrity bothmoraland spatial and itsintentionality . In the contextof traditionalnotionsof cinematicspace which unnecessarily confuse its esthetics As Stuart. i e Bazin the advent of the zoom lens and its wide Kaminsky replyingtoJoannides observes a zoom is not. spread acceptance by the filmindustryin the late Sixties kindoftrack FN. a substitutefora track but is a different, and Seventies1marksa significantchange in filmesthe 12 Oct 1972 pp 20 21 Citingthe opening shotsof The. tics Though the zoom lens has not supplanted other WildChild 1969 Kaminskyargues thatTruffaut s zooms. lenses nor replaced the pan or trackingshot its coexis integratethe boy into the surroundingwoods whereas. tence with themis symptomaticof the way in which the trackswould have made the audience aware ofthe space. conception of space predominant in the Thirties and separating the boy fromhis natural environment The. Fortieshas been redefinedin the Sixtiesand Seventies zoom becomes a kind of trackwhich does what a true. These changes can best be understood by viewing the track cannot Though the track likezoom varies in its. zoom in termsofits relationto camera movementand to significancein accordance with specificcontextsof its. otherlenses usage it is rarely mistaken for a trackbecause of the. Unlike the pan or the trackingshot the zoom posses differencein the perspectiveofthe two kindsofshots In. ses limiteddirectionality it can only move in and out a zoom perspective thatis therelationshipamong fore . Its movement in a sense is entirelypredeterminedby ground middleground and background remainscon . 21, This content downloaded from 149 31 199 61 on Thu 17 Apr 2014 15 46 05 PM. All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions, stant In a track perspectivealters as space is crossed ellipses discussed by Bazin in relationto Paisa 1947 .
The differentkinds of perspective as ArthurGraham and reviewed by BrianHenderson in termsof La prisedu. observes in AmericanCinematographer produce different pouvoirparLouisXIV 1966 The opening of TheAgeofthe. psychological reactions in the viewer who feels dis Mediciprovides a good example At the funeralof Cosi . tanced fromor outside of the action shown througha mo s father Rossellinislowlyzooms out fromthe faceof. zoom and feelsinvolved withor inside of an action shot the corpse pans tracks to a new composition and. with a moving camera AC 44 No 1 p 29 zooms in on Cosimo s face The camera in effect be . This quality of distance is presentin reverse tracking comes a consciousness rovingover the action the zoom. zooms as disparate as those in Nichols s Wexler sWho s reflectsan intelligencewhich structuresthe event with . AfraidofVirginiaWoolf 1966 thereis a zoom as Sandy out violating the essential integrityof the space within. Dennis about to throwup rushes down a hallway to the scene Rossellin s zooms preservethe wholeness of. ward the camera or Rossellin s Cosimo de Medici an event yet at the same time are separate fromthat. sequence ofTheAgeofMedici 1973 he zooms as charac event becoming a consciousness viewing that event . terswalk toward the camera throughthe streetsof Flor Bazin s In Defense of Rossellini essay says of neoreal . ence Rossellin s use of the zoom deserves particular ism thatit is an attitudeof the mind it is always reality. mention especiallysince ithas generatedthebest critical as it is visible throughan artist as refractedby his con . discussions on the estheticsof the zoom Andrew Sarris sciousness as a whole and not by his reason alone or his. notes thatRossellinibegan using the zoom in 1957 with emotionsor his beliefs and reassembledfromitsdistin . India and uses it to establish a moral relationshipbe guishable elements WC II p 98 Though the zoom. tween one character and another without drawing failsto reproduce normal space it indexicallypreserves. attentionto the interveningscenery In a FilmCulture that space through a temporal rather than spatial . piece entitled RediscoveringRossellini Sarrisexplains dimension which refractsand reassembles it Thus . that Bazin who repeatedly embraced technologicalinnova . tion would have welcomed the zoom adding it to the. the zoom not onlysupplementsthe devicesby which arsenal of cinematictechnique which enabled the film . Rosselliniestablishesa unifiedand circularvisionofthe maker to write in film . world it enableshim to endow his workwitha Much as the historical Bazin would have celebrated. doublevisionofhistory as a remoteand immediateex the zoom the ontological Bazin would have con . perience It is as ifa paintercould establisha dynamic demned it cf Henderson s The Structureof Bazin s. relationshipbetweenhispaintingand one ofitsinternal Thought FQ 25 No 4 The foundationof Bazinian. details In VivaItalia Garibaldi smen fighton a hill esthetics lies on the objective nature of the lens For. Longshotsequals then Zoom shotequals now The two Bazin the lens as objectif produces an image of an. shotsina tandemareno longerlimitedtoan imitation of. an event Whatwe arewatching is ourownaestheticand object ontologicallylinked to that object The objective. nature of the lens in turn affectsthe psychologyof the. ideologicaldistancefromtheevent Wearealsowatching. thecapacityofmantoactas ifhe werewatching hisacts image because of the impersonal automatic way in. froma greatdistanceaway in time history s through which it is produced a photographicimage achieves a. space cinema s FCU 32 Spring1964 pp 62 63 credibilitywhich other picture makingprocesses e g . painting sculpture lack WC I pp 13 14 Photographs. For Sarris the abstractionofthe zoom enables Rossellini don t lie or do they . to deal with ideas and conceptswhich the physical sen Lenses are classifiedas eitherwide angle normal or. sualityof the trackingshot would overlyconcretize telephoto Normal lenses are defined as approximating. Whatwould Bazin have said about Rossellin s zooms the vision of the human eye But as Stan Brakhage. Since they tend to flattenor stretchspace they would argues in Met. strued some of Belton s thoughts on the esthetics of the zoom Needless to say Film Comment never consulted John Belton about the addition of a co author and the changes that were made in the manuscript nor did he ever see what was going to press After The Bionic Eye appeared John Belton sent his ori

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