Post to Group 1

January 18, 2008

As we talked about in the afternoon session, here’s a post of an observation I had about one of the multimedias that we had to see. The Seinfeld Analog by John Bresland uses video and voice. The nature of the piece is powerful, along with the footage and the dialogs. But what struck me as being extremely effective is what was not said, or rather the pauses in between speech. I felt this was particularly moving in the final scene with the car driving in the night. For me, it allowed the video to sink in, making the piece as a whole much more powerful.

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5 Responses to “Post to Group 1”

  1. Sir or Madam: As the author of the video essay in question, I feel very much in the wrong for intruding on your discussion. But I couldn’t resist — partly because of what you note above, that the pauses, or “what is not said” in The Seinfeld Analog was, for you, an effective means of getting the video “to sink in”. That’s a happy result, and for what its worth, I wanted to share with you my intention.

    As I wrote the text for Seinfeld–using source material from Samantha Power, Philip Gourevitch, and Eula Biss–I set out to create a “readerly” experience for the screen. What I mean is that I wanted to make something similar to a short documentary, something that informed and hopefully revealed what is unseen, but more importantly, I wanted the viewer to be an active participant. I wanted the viewer’s mind to engage with the questions raised, and to not be captive solely to my point of view.

    Those moments of things unsaid, as you note, were intended as imaginative space, or moments for the viewer to engage actively, as a reader might. Not a terribly common technique in popular film, at least not today, but when it happens it’s powerful stuff. Regardless of the medium, whether text or film or music or street drumming–the truly sublime moments are likely to be found in collaboration between the author and the audience. It’s a two way street. Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil is often held up as exemplar of suggestive, poetic filmmaking — but I think Agnes Varda, in her amazing The Gleaners and I, does it better. Have a look if you already haven’t.

    Thanks for letting me get in my two cents.

    — John

  2. abshek said

    John,

    That’s a great point about the “two way street”. I looked up Varda’s The Gleaners and I on the internet but so far have come up unsuccessful in finding the whole version. Going back to The Seinfeld Analog, you read it in a relatively flat tone. The nature of the material is clearly not lacking emotion. I feel that this paradox leaves the emotional component to the viewer, establishing the two way street. This creates the “readerly” experience you mention. Once again, great work The Seinfeld Analog…I’m really a big fan.

    Thanks for the comments!
    Abhishek

  3. The flat voicing probably comes from my limitation as a performer, Abhishek. But if there’s legitimate technique to claim, then I should credit that nineties TV series, the X-Files. I don’t think I ever watched an entire episode, but I do remember reading an interview with David Duchovny, who, when asked why his onscreen performance was so deadpan, so quiet and low-key, he said his quiet approach was a natural response to the show’s many fantastic moments, moments beyond rational belief. His quiet, in face of zombies, vampires, and aliens, kept the show grounded in realism.

    There is another guy, the great Walter Murch — he designed the sound for Apocalypse Now, edited The English Patient, and wrote In the Blink of an Eye — he noted that great sound design is the result of taking sounds away, not just adding them. There’s a famous moment in The English Patient, let’s call it an Abu Ghraib moment, with no sound at all. It chills to the bone.

    My point is, good cinema, like good writing, is as much about stripping away the excess as it is figuring out what to include.

    Take care, and best of luck with your studies.

    John

  4. […] read what you write… Posted on January 21, 2008 by bgexperiments Have you seen the exchange between Abishek and John Bresland (the creator of The Seinfeld Analog)?   This is what blogging about ideas,  observations and […]

  5. […] Post to Group 1 « Abshek’s Weblog via kwout […]

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