Notes: Pockets in the Screen-scrape; movies on the move

August 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

Pockets in the Screen-scrape; movies on the move

Paper presented at MIT 6,

Stone and Papyrus, Storage and Transmission

MIT April 24 -26, 2009

Jan Simmons

University of Amsterdam

This is all about moving images produced for and by the mobile phone. A couple of genre names: the micromovie, portable film, cell phone movie, mobile movie, cine pocket. The key theme that emerges out of this analysis of the then fresh concept of the mobile movie in my mind is the idea that the small screen demands a small attention span and ‘quick fix’ nature at the level of audience reception. This is an interesting paradox in that the question becomes what type of communication can take place at lightning speed? The article argues that in the contemporary, networked world of screen culture communication has taken precedence over representation (something found in classic Hollywood for instance). If this is communication (at the level of the media made for mobile dissemination) then it is fragmentary, bite sized communication.

Representation – imagine the production of a Hollywood film. It is so resource heavy that the depiction of the world it creates is one imagined by the filmmakers – it is a representation – purely subjective to the filmmakers gaze. Everything is under control. 

Communication – so fast and un-doctored that it is a more pure slice of the world as it is. Still at a fundamental level subjective and lacking in objective clarity (an impossibility anyway) yet more an impression of the everyday experience of the world. 

Here I return to another key theme that constantly turns up when I encounter fragmentary and non-linear texts – memory and memory’s interaction with consciousness. The article quite rightly cites Eisenstein as the grandfather of this style of practice. Eisenstein’s theories of montage focus on collision, juxtaposition and the micro and the micro’s relationship with the macro – all the considerations necessary for the mobile platform.

“The practitioners of the pocket cinema seem to be more aware of the gap that separates the cinema-as-we-knew-it from contemporary digital visual culture […]”

This is a pertinent comment – one thing does not necessarily replace another but sets up a new barracks. Cinema-as-we-knew-it still exists (thank god) but we also now have the montage/collage/real/amateur/observational/ridiculous/fragmented and non-linear. Now comes the creative question – what to do with it? Like any art form, a good start is to identify its uniqueness, its potential, its affordance. For me, it is the closeness of the networked media landscape to the epistemological – the knowledge structures of the modern mind. Just as the bicycle or the car is an extension of our need to walk or run, or the hammer an extension of an arm or a will-to-power the network and the phone is an extension of knowledge structures and the communication of them.

See Willard Quine, Daniel Dennett, William Burroughs.


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