Sunday, September 23, 2012

On Recording

For whatever reason, I started fixating on this term/this action while out for a run yesterday (as often happens, my mind nicely wanders around and back toward thinking about my artwork during these instances – which shouldn’t be surprising, as it seems these mind-saunters are precisely what I’m always trying to get at or activate with my imagery).  Recording, or to record.  A matter of record, as in an archive or – document.  But why then in my mind do I separate a recording from a document?  Am I recording or am I documenting?  Is there a difference in terms of end product or manner/mode of capture?  Perhaps. 

I’ve recently begun to think about my process as recording my response(s).  I like thinking this word in my head – recording.  And I like thinking about the apparatus of the camera as the device I use to accomplish this – it may or may not be of relevance that I now use the same camera to record both still and moving images (as opposed to previously using a separate still camera and video camera – although, I am beginning to use an additional still camera as well, and this might mix things up, we’ll see…).  To record your response to the world through language is one mode, through sound another and visual imagery the last – I think, unless I’m missing something – maybe something about touch or taste, but that could be sense memory as recorded in the brain, but I digress.  At any rate, what I’m liking to think about is the camera as recording device that imitates/mimics the real, with an ability to capture/retain/reproduce imagery with an oftentimes uncanny verisimilitude that at times provokes the viewer of these images to believe in them truly.  And I actually don’t really care all that much about this sort of response – of course we see something we recognize and say, yes, this is so.  We also intuitively know that the image differs vastly from what it represents – and can only tell us so much.

So back to recording.  Why do I feel that what I’m doing is recording, and differs from documenting?  I could quickly say because of subjectivity, but that could apply to either.  I’m thinking it has to do with time.  I tend to equate documenting with stop/start or beginning/middle/end as separate from one another or discrete parcels of time.  Whereas when I conjure the idea of recording I think of an endless flow, pushing “record” and letting time roll – similar to using those little tape recorders as a kid (the long rectangular ones with the little handle that pulled out, and you could plug a microphone into) – pushing down play and record and knowing that you were capturing that moment and onward until it plunked shut at the end of the tape or you jammed your finger down hard to stop it.  So, when I’m recording both video and still images simultaneously (or at least very near to simultaneously) I’m thinking of it as an ongoing process of recording.  And then, it becomes about playing it back.

I plunked a little video clip in this week’s post – it plays a few things back.  It’s a start that contains some of the visuals I’m going to be working with.  Going back to ephemeral things like wind/air/water – condensation, birds, bugs and glass.  It’s interesting to see how I quickly strung together these clips (with no audio as of yet).  I have a tendency toward montage – to bring coherence to (somewhat) disparate imagery through rhythm/pace/flow.  But that’s part of what I’ve been fighting myself on – I need to allow myself to stretch and prolong and pick apart almost to death an instance (which in mind differs from a moment – is it the quick plural of an instant?) rather than hurriedly rushing us on to the next glimpse – and/or at the very least I need to start being much more cognizant of how I combine these two types of visual experiences.  In short, I don’t want to create imagery that simply evokes memory via expected cinematic or photographic tropes (which is difficult, as my aesthetic tends toward these avenues especially through my use of light and focus) but want to further an understanding or at least a questioning of how still/moving images work on us at all – I don’t want to (only) show you/me these things (time/memory/perception) so that they can be seen, I want them to be thought.  Yeah.  We’ll see…

Next week I’ll think further on this with the help of old pal Henri Bergson.  Obviously much of what I’m flailing around with has to do with duration.  When it comes down to it, isn’t it all really about what we can/have/will endure?

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