Let the tech tell the story? ‘Framed’, a 3-minute film shot on an iPhone 4S: https://t.co/aE4imbUydc #mscedc

‘Framed is a short film which I think sums up for me a number of vibrant threads stretching through the ‘Cybercultures’ block. Here it is:

First, I like the feedback loop of it being a film about a camera – both in terms of how it was made and, differently, in its content. The protagonist is, well, a camera. In front and behind the camera merge into one here, but aren’t the same thing. Its surreal qualities mix around for me, and will play through in my visual artifact, later in this Lifestream.

Second, unusually it’s a rural film. Many in this block have been urban, or the natural world has been a distant ‘other’ of desire (thinking ‘Memorize’), or else a disturbing other (see ‘Plurality’, elsewhere on this Lifestream). Here, in ways which verge, for me at least on the twee – and I don’t quite know what that says about my consumption of it – this is a rural rendering of Cyberculture.

Third, man and machine merge. And he is a man. This is a highly gendered film. It’s the masculinist gaze, it’s his hand which can move, via the camera, between the ‘worlds’. He can touch the woman’s hair (she’s that ‘real’ to him, through the technology), and she doesn’t seem to be aware of him. Hum, some less-than-equal gender and sexual politics playing through there. But not in a steady way: it seems she evades his gaze; she is named, he is not. But the point of view of the film remains his, more than hers.

Fourth, as people and technologies merge, in a Haraway-reminding way, there is a clever play on the word ‘property‘. Does it mean possession (the first and most likely meaning, in the context of the story), or does it verge over into a quality of the person involved?

These questions multiply and don’t easily resolve over the duration of the film. What makes the camera ‘active’ for the man in the way it is? Is it his desire, her investment in the camera, or the camera itself? And what is happening between her and the book? We as viewers can’t tell. The view-finder of the camera is limited, and frustrates certain answers. The woman remains a projection, or does she? What if her ‘side’ of the camera is (more) real?

Fifth, does the camera have memory, sentience? We’re used to digital cameras having ‘memory’, but technically the old-style camera in the film would not. It’s hardware – the software would be the film roll inside it. This film blurs hardware, software and agency: both in its storyline and its production.

A lot of themes from the ‘Cyberculture’ block reworked here. I’m looking to frame by visual artefact

 

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