Sunday, July 13, 2008

Very Small Movies

Yesterday, I communicated via puppets with some friends on ichat way into the night:

But before that I went to a party with my work friends and I had to walk for what seemed like a very long time by myself on a woodsy street. I made this movie because I wanted to remember the feeling of walking by myself on the street:

And then after I made the movie, I started thinking about other very short movies I have randomly made within the last year. Here are a few below:

That one I made when Laura and I were in Ithaca, NY and this nice woman was driving us to the train station. Below is one from the same trip when we were on the bus:

Here are some dogs in NY:

And then here are some water ripples in a pond:

I have some more, but I'll spare you the overload. Still, looking at them has made me consider how much the lack of a regular performative element in them might have something to do with their being tied to the natural world in some way (animals, trees). Anyway, very small movies really interest me lately. Making very small movies seems to be some way to capture the memory moments of a life that are actually important and don't have much to do with performance, except the performance of the everyday. Still, the everyday has a style and very small movies show this style, this joy of living. I don't think there is anything I could say about them that wouldn't seem extremely naive and simplistic to anyone with any expertise in film, but I have noticed that video sites like youtube and vimeo have more than likely bred an explosion of many short movies (under 30 seconds). When visiting the youtube channels of my poetry peers for instance, I have noticed that many of them seem interested in capturing moments in very short movies that have no obvious narrative, are wholly quotidian in their beauty. As well, there are probably millions of very small movies on sites like youtube, such as the millions of movies of cute moments between people and their dogs (I have looked at all of these, I think). Still, why is capturing and archiving these small moments so important to us as a culture? I don't know why, but the possible answers seem fascinating.

This interests me too because I've been working on an ethnography this past Spring of an after-school science program and very often in an attempt to capture unperformative moments of the children's learning, I have taken very short movies of their interactions. In capturing the social aspects of a learning event, it seems that a culmination of very short movies might show more about their learning than weeding through a continuous record. The performance is in the off and on switch, but the players, often unaware of the small moments being captured, are more true to the real life I want to better understand to aid learning in the future within these short movies.

What matters in a human life is not always the very dramatic moments that are infused with high meaning. We know this. What makes life good is being content through an accumulation of very small moments. Gorky knew this always. We have always known this all along. Still, the materials of this, in very short moving pictures, haunt me in a way that my memories haunt me. Because the past goes into a hole in the universe we can never fully capture, even as the past is the very thing that gives any existence at all any meaning.

No, that is not entirely true. I mean the future gives meaning, too.

When I was talking about this with EB this morning, he told me about the Early Edison films and how they captured very small moments as people experimented with the medium of film. Here is a snippet of them:

That kiss is amazing. Still, it is not these moments that I am thinking of now exactly, although they are related and beautiful. I am thinking of the moments up until the limit that make the limit +1. These are the moments that important to the poetry of our time.

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