“Editing is a collage and requires fragmentation. The art is in “how do you go about arranging it?” So how have you?”
The structure and theme of our K-film is based on our interpretation collage. This interpretation is both literal and figurative. We have taken the literal meaning of collages in how we have arranged the clips using Korsakow and figuratively in how we have created the premise and the thread for our clips. Our focus on collages relies on the ideas of multilinearity, fragmentation and juxtaposition.
There is not a great deal of chronology in our K-film. Aspects of our character’s life (i.e. Home, travel, work, nightlife) are depicted using collages. Each collage is made up of its own images that link to related videos. These are styled similarly to the ‘scraps of presence left behind by our online behaviours’ discussed in We’re Happy and We Know It (Dovey & Rose 2012, p. 5) No video comes before or after another. The viewer can choose to watch these videos in any order and there are no indicators of chronology contained in the videos. Instead, each video focuses on a “tile” in the larger collage. When the viewer watches more and more of these videos, an atmosphere forms within the collage. For the viewer a special meaning becomes tied to each tile of the collage. Therefore in the beginning the collages are simple and purely aesthetic but these non-chronological videos create atmosphere and depth. As David Shields says, “plots are for dead people” (Shields 2011, p. 112). Our project is more focused on character exploration and atmosphere.
Our method of work, where each group member is responsible for an aspect of the character’s life, results in definite collision. However this is more a point of interest than a problem. Having distinct differences between sections such as ‘night-life’ and ‘work’ allows the viewer to examine our character from different angles. It can also act as a representation of the different ways we act in different environments and crowds. As well as these collisions of representation, there is also the issue of each person’s videos and images having a different style. However this only adds variety to the overall work. It is as David Shields describes the challenge of having “interesting material” and then having to work out a way to “go about arranging it” (Shields 2011, p. 115). Careful arrangement has also been important in overcoming “information overload” and “filter failure” (Weinberger 2012, 292). Constructing a collage is a method of visually linking pieces of data in a way that highlights how they are related. The distinct orange soldier is a clear enough thread which links all the images and videos together, despite the various collisions.
The fact that our K-film is a collection of ‘personal fragments’ limits the duration of our video clips to a certain degree. We have placed no strict limit on the length of clips, but if they are too long they distract the viewer away from the collage that they are supposed to be related to. Mason explains that the moments that stick in our memories “are usually the ones in which we have considerable emotional or intellectual commitment” (Mason 2002, p. 37). Using this approach, the clips are kept at a short length and memorable in some way. These details are remembered and related to the larger collage, and as a result successfully form an atmosphere. This approach gives our work a sense of rhythm. Time however, is not as dominant in our work. We decided not to use an end point and as a result time is open ended. Nor is there any urgency throughout the film. Instead it allows for the viewer to explore freely in a timeless environment.
Within this timeless environment, our K-film provides several options for the audience to choose by using a collage. When referring to film the term collage is used to explain editing. Collage is “an assortment of images joined together in a sequence” (Pramaggiore & Wallis 2005, p.162). This sequence then allows for the audience to read and interpret a set of clips. Audiences create their own set of ideas, meanings and messages from this string of action. This reiterates the fact that “the meaning of a sequence of shots is more than the sum of its parts” (Pramaggiore & Wallis 2005, p.162).
We can also think of collage to be similar to completing a puzzle. When completing a puzzle we analyse and digest each fragment individually so we can reach the larger picture (Mendik & Schneider 2002). What makes film though, is that when piecing a puzzle together there are certain parts that physically don’t match up. Collage in film gives filmmakers the freedom to be messy and place fragments that typically don’t make sense to be arranged side by side.
When audiences interpret collage it is what happens in between the material or fragments that is ultimately read. Shields places emphasis on “the gaps between paragraphs, the gaps between people” (Shields 2011, p.7). When two separate fragments are strategically placed side by side a filmmaker or artist is creating a possibility or idea for a reader to digest. Here the artist or filmmaker holds power over what it is they want to construct for their audience to actively engage with.
“The main question collage artists face: you’ve found some interesting material – how do you go about arranging it?” (Shields 2011, p.4). Shields asserts that it is the arrangement of the material that produces meaning. A key example of how crucial the arrangement of a sequence is to the overall understanding of a text is illustrated by the effects of the Kuleshov effect. Kuleshov repeatedly uses a shot of a man’s expression while cutting back and forth between a small child playing and a deceased woman. When audiences watched the two separate scenarios they responded by claiming that it was the males acting that told a story of his: sadness for the deceased women, and his delight at watching the small child play. In reality the male’s facial expression was the same and instead we learn that a meaning of a particular shot is determined by factors such as its association with the previous and future shot. (Betancourt 2004). We can begin to understand how important each fragment is to the overall understanding of collage as a whole, and how suggested possibilities offered by a film-maker are understood by an audience.
“The very nature of collage demands fragmented materials, or at least materials yanked out of context. Collage is, in a way, only an accentuated act of editing: picking through options and presenting a new arrangement. The act of editing may be the key postmodern artistic instrument” (Shields 2011, p.5). Shields emphasises the importance of how the material is arranged and its placement as a collage through editing. Collage in film is based on parataxis, it does not rely on a narrative structure but relies on interpretation by an audience. Collage is not organised into a hierarchy or chain that is predetermined by social or cultural forces. Meanings and ideas are constructed through the build up and/or tension created through momentum, tempo, themes and sequences (Dalle-Vacche 1996).
The tension that is built up through momentum, tempo, themes and sequences can be seen as elements that surround the idea of art. Leo Tolstoy wrote in his essay “What Is Art?” that the true essence of art lay in the importance of the subject treated and “that for art to be art, it is necessary that its content should be something important, necessary to man, good, moral, and instructive” (Tolstoy 1930, p. 48). The videos that we have created are all focused around activities and spaces that are mundanely human but have been altered by our collective approach of making them miniature elements of a larger piece of art being our Korsakow system.
Tolstoy wrote about art as something that has been overtly glorified through the role that studios and education play in heightening its importance (Tolstoy, “What Is Art?” p48), decade’s later society still often defines creativity to a studio space; modernity has simply incorporated technology as essential to it. Through our Korsakow system we have deconstruct these high art values of using technique and a defined space and instead are creating videos that are firstly filmed on a form of low art, mobile phones, and secondly involve capturing the everyday essence of life, especially the monotonous.
It is through the incorporation of our subject, the toy plastic soldier, that we are investigating how four individuals with specific styles can collectively come together and create visual imagery that relates. In order to create association we have each used an orange soldier, whilst in slightly different stances there is still the obvious connection in size and material. The symbolism of a soldier is typically associated with war, suffering, victory and masculinity but we are removing the soldier from these definitions and replacing them with imagery that is associated with either home life, night life, work or travel. Hereby normalising the soldier as well as embodying a sense of humour and nostalgia for play within our clips.
Our “soldier” interacts with environments that society comes into contact with daily, through paying notice to mundane spaces it will hopefully motivate our viewer to resin a sense of familiarity and carry this consciously with them when in the spaces. John Mason suggests, “disciplined noticing is really about making an effort” (Mason 2002, p. 30) for whilst we may be taking the definition of “collage” literally in the format of or system, that being each one of our “experiences” is cut up into a larger layered image, the videos them selves are much more detailed and juxtapose between an intimacy with the solider and a distance when out in society, which in turn reflects how individuals behave on a daily basis.
Society often neglects to notice and consciously pay attention to the experiences that we have on a routine basis, it is through our soldier that we are altering the viewers expectations of the world around them, changing what are often one dimensional spaces and experiences into something that is multi-linear and altering the viewers conscious relationship with the spaces around them.
For the structure of the film, we were inspired by photographers such as Katie Trainer who take their photographs and edit in a way that one picture becomes a collage. We enjoyed that while there were several things happening simultaneously, that the collages could still be seen harmoniously, where all the sections would make sense together regardless of the differences that are apparent.
The ‘Little People Project,’ a set of photographs taken by Slinkachu, also inspired us. Slinkachu’s idea of taking tiny human figurines and placing them in normal sized human environments, doing tasks or activities. Our concept is derivative but not entirely similar to these photographs. The way we have conceptualised our videos is based on the more mundane tasks that we undertake as part of our everyday live. We chose to use the orange soldiers because they represent us, and our ability to ‘soldier on.’
We also looked into the idea of enjoyment out of watching others complete the mundane tasks that we all do. We discovered that there is a social phenomenon known as ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. This phenomenon is described as the pleasurable tingling feeling that a person may feel as a response to viewing and listening to sounds and voices such as a hair dryers and whispering voices. We found that this was similar to the entertainment that we were aiming to provide with our K-film. As our K-film is representative of tasks we undertake in everyday life. It is something that is relatable to everyone, hopefully resulting audiences having positive feelings after watching our K-fim.
The prompt for K-film was to show ‘A list of things that…’ After taking into considering the way we have chosen to shoot our videos and our use of the orange soldiers, our theme is, ‘A list of things that we experience.’ As a result, our video clips feature the soldier doing tasks or are in the point of view of the soldier. This also makes our K-film relatable to the audience. While some aspects are more narrow and can be considered mainly student life, but it does show tasks that are applicable to most age ranges.
Our inclusion of four separate parts of categories allows us to encapsulate everyday life. By navigating our K-film, audiences can choose to see clips in a certain category and experience that one aspect of everyday life. However, through the use of key words and the function of returning to the home screen, users are able to watch clips from each category in any order. This multilinear time frame creates spontaneity. This is a main characteristic of life and is also a characteristic of our K-film, which emphasises our theme.
Overall, our K-film is representative of different aspects of life. Our ‘list of things we experience’ is an amalgamation of fragmented parts of each of our lives. It expresses how we see the tasks that we experience life. We have done this through the way that we have structured the K-film with its different timelines and physical arrangements. We have also constructed our theme to symbolise the tasks that make up the lives that we are showing.
Betancourt, M 2009, ‘Structuring Time,’ Wildside Press, USA
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Daile-Vacche, A 1996 ‘Cinema and Painting: How Art is Used in Film’ The University of Texas Press, USA
Mason, J 2002, ‘Researching Your Own Practice: The Discipline of Noticing’ London: Routledge Print. Extract
Mendick, X & Schneider, S 2002, (eds.) ‘Underground U.S.A.: Filmmaking Beyond Hollywood Canon’ Columbia University Press, New York
Pramaggiore, M & Wallis, T 2005, ‘Film: A Critical Introduction,’ Laurence King Publishing ltd, United Kingdom
Shields, D 2011 ‘L: Collage’ Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, Vintage. Ebook.
Tolstoy, L 1930 ‘What is art? And Essays on Art’ translated by Aylmer Maude
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