4 comments for “Porte Saint-Denis

  1. mvd
    February 12, 2007 at 10:07 AM

    As the movie unrolls, i slowly understand that the many stories told (the story of the man who stops, the story of the knee-lengh skirt passerby, the story of the changing posters on the kiosk) recall the same continue emotion.

    Then i start to think that this emotion may not need movement. That the equilibrium of the frame, and the landscape looks like a moving photography. And i think that, with a wider angle, you could have reached the exact same emotion, the exact same feeling, mixing up some stories and the pigeons.

    So here is my question : would the perfect video haiku be still and wide ? What about the space is used instead of time, and my look, jumping from one story to another one, would have the same effect that a more blurry attention, stretched on 2 minutes ?

  2. February 12, 2007 at 10:16 AM

    Interesting question –

    I think film is about perspective, and perspective entails choice – the simplest of these choices being wide shot vs. closeup.

    Each one involves a sacrifice – in a wide shot you get a sense of perspective and scale, in a closeup you get a greater level of detail and specificity.

    I think i’m as interested in the mysteries you create when you make a film – what you don’t see, what you can’t know – as I am in what appears clearly on the screen.

  3. mvd
    February 14, 2007 at 5:44 AM

    That i do agree. Something else, though, caught my attention yesterday. I found a sentence in Borges’ Inquiries. Ending a text about the emperor who both built the Chinese mural and burnt the memorious books, he ponders that statement : “la musique, les états de félicité, la mythologie, les visages travaillés par le temps, certains crépuscules et certains lieux veulent nous dire quelque chose, ou nous l’ont dit, et nous n’aurions pas dû le laisser perdre, ou sont sur le point de le dire ; cette imminence d’une révélation, qui ne se produit pas, est peut-être le fait esthétique”.
    This precise point, this thin red line that makes a difference between plain, clear explanation and a mystery yet unrevealed, is what we both may be looking for.
    For that matter, i’ve always found “La ligne rouge” to be a bad translation of “The thin red line”. In “The thin red line”, the stress is on the space, the not so inexistant space, the “thin” space, that draw the separation. In “La ligne rouge”, we’re made to feel that what is important is the two separated parts of the same piece.
    Well photography and video are using this idea, the idea of an unrevealed mystery that is about to be told, as a trigger for emotion. I believe we both shiver when we feel this line. The strength of course of what you shoot (the Kevin O way to shoot) is obviously in the hushed, in the unsaid. The secret behind the mystery is that there is no secret.
    Have you noticed ? You oft shoot patterns : a web of vegetables, many many snowflakes that cover the world, interlacing passerbys. So that the video haiku overflows the quicktime frame and stretches here, in my forest, or in another invisible lane. Thus my snow is your snow and the snow itself ; the continued snow.
    I am quite excited by this discussion. It would be a non sense to shoot a less than 2 mn movie, of course. But i still can’t find a reason not to take pictures instead of video haikuing. My feelings are unclear as you’ve noticed, but i’m sure you’ll find something out of this.

  4. February 18, 2007 at 2:26 PM

    It’s funny; I’ve never questioned the rightness of your photography, I think it suits you better than video ever could – just as the inverse is true for me.

    If I had to sum it up in a few words, I’d say that your interest lies in the timeless and eternal, and my interest lies in the transitory, fleeting, and above all mortal.

    They are diametrically opposed and of course complementary… all of your decisions, to use an old leica, shoot film, and shoot black and white point for me to the idea of capturing something on a mythic, symbolic scale – the eternal detail, or whatever – I’m sure there are a pile of quotes on the subject from Benjamin.

    Whereas my interest is in the intensely specific, and local – melting snow, a fading sunset, a momentary intersection of strangers.

    Video is perfect for this because it is intrinsically limited and disposable, in a way – and the fact that it reveals change and transformation, from frame to frame imbues it with that sense of the ephemeral, the mortal.

    Whereas photography is about catching a moment and making it timeless and endless.

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