Monday, February 23, 2009

To Scale: Slow and Fast 1.1

Let us now return to the discussion of the merging of two vocabularies; drawing and moving image and to note that it is not moving image that is being looked at for inspiration, or that the starting point is architectural drawings but that rather the intent is to create a hybrid, a new kind of document which allows these dualities of the realistic and abstract, picturesque and analytical to coexist. In the discussion of this merging, the measuring system is related to both time and distance. Scale is described through time and duration and it is sinuous to speed. Like on a conventional architectural drawing, zooming in is about looking at details, zooming out is about seeing a larger organizational system. Conversely, with moving image zooming in is achieved by slowing down, zooming out is achieved by speeding up.

In Auggie’s story, slowing down allows one to understand the uniqueness of each moment and the many stories told with the images captured with photography over a long period of time, while looking quickly through these images (speeding up) allows us to see the repetition and sameness of these individual moments. In “this contradiction is embodied the two distinct scales that can be revealed in two different speeds” in moving image. This is evident in NY A/V. “By speeding up the footage of the entire length of Broadway Street, we see and understand the physical and ephemeral patterns of the city. We see the transformations of the configurations of the street, the light, the topography and the movements of people and cars. Slowing down the footage allows us to see the details - the activities, the populations, their clothing, what they say and look at, what they express”. (32) At both speeds, we experience the fleeting moments, the temporal. These moments are as Kracauer states in The Establishment of Physical Existence, “…imperceptible were it not for two cinematic techniques: accelerated-motion, which condenses extremely slow and, hence, unobservable developments…and slow motion, which expands movements too fast to be registered”. (33) Speeds with video, like scales in a drawing, allow for different information to be articulated. In the study of a place, extreme slow motion exposes the subtleties of what may be considered banal everyday interactions, slowing down reveals the gestures that would usually remain unseen at normal speed. Like artist Bill Viola’s video/sound installation, The Greeting, which takes the real-time 45-second encounter of two women and stretches into a slow-motion encounter of 10-minutes, this document is in a zoomed-in state, achieving a kind of possession of time. It is a moment so slow that it is “arrested, rendered, stretched, and compressed, in short articulated, we can state that we have possession of it, that we are approaching a new vocabulary of space-time”, as stated by photographer László Moholy-Nagy in Vision in Motion. (34)

32 Skinner, Martha. South to North: Zoom/Section Seven Day Trajectory on Broadway Street. In South edited by Ronald Rael, 30-39. Clemson School of Architecture, 2005, p. 34
33 Kracauer, Sigfried, Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality. Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 52
34 Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo. Vision in Motion. Chicago: Institute of Design, 1947, p. 247

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