Week 3: subject, object and acceptance

This week’s class has been daunting. I’ve had the sudden realisation that I don’t know how to use a camera and have NO idea what I’m doing in regards to the stylistic components of documentary making. In my team’s ‘Nature on Campus’ piece we struggled with aperture, white balance, sound, zooming – pretty much every technical element required for film-making besides turning the camera on. I had fun with the editing, but I think the comical out-weighed the technical. Deep breaths now, Liv.

To ease my curiosity and (hopefully) insecurities, I had a gander at my fellow classmates’ pieces. I realised that, despite our “film’s” flaws, it presented something kind of independent and vaguely interesting in comparison. Sure, none of the films were masterpieces, and they all had a similar subject matter, but they all had a different approach to the task. In this I found how our pieces might relate to Stan Brakhage’s The Wonder Ring and Michael Renov’s essay.

Renov discusses the existence of documentary resting on the relationship between subject and object. He suggests that pieces such as The Wonder Ring potentially reveal “what we ourselves might have seen had we been there”. Yet from the opposing perspective, he presents the idea that the film is in fact centred on the man behind the camera, with a constant awareness of his reaction to what is seen. Essentially, Renov stands in the middle of these, preferring to observe documentary as a collision between “seer and seen”, where the object of the piece is uniquely entwined with the film-maker’s perspective. After viewing all of our similarly differing nature pieces, I’m inclined to agree.wonder-ring-train2

Image source

It fits that Renov champions the aesthetic and expressive functions of documentaries, highlighting the role of these in providing more vivid and hence persuasive communication. As I’ve discussed before, I’m only just now coming to terms with this realm of documentary. With Renov’s explanation in mind, the cinematic function of poetry and expression is becoming more…well…persuasive.

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