Posts tagged visual storytelling
Posts tagged visual storytelling
Essential summer reading.
You can read the full interview on their website, and here are a couple of my favourite questions:
You describe your website as being a quiet part of the internet, this is a good introduction to your work, which expresses ideas in a clear but contemplative way. Do you think that the internet is noisy with content because we haven’t worked out how best to use it for expression, or because we have so much to express and we haven’t learned how best to present it? Is it the internet or the users which lack clarity?
I think about this idea a lot at the moment. Stepping back a little, we can see that right now we are in the middle of what people call The Social Web. What matters at the moment is how popular you are - how many people share your work. So the people and companies that are successful (Buzzfeed is the prime example) have cleverly worked out how to engineer their content to be shared widely. All the major platforms we use, from Facebook to YouTube, reward people who are popular; everyone dreams of ‘going viral’. This inherently changes the dynamic of creation: to be successful on YouTube, for example, you must create a lot, which is why things are so noisy.
The way I see it, this obsession with popularity is a hangover from the 20th century age of mass marketing, which we haven’t quite got over yet. I also don’t think The Social Web will last forever - ten years perhaps, which means we are already half way through.
So I describe delve as being a quiet part of the Internet because I don’t try at all to make my videos popular (and, relatively, they’re not!) Instead I try really hard to make them objectively good. This attitude isn’t encouraged or rewarded by the Internet at the moment. Who knows what will come after The Social Web, but I hope it is an ecosystem that rewards quality not quantity; that is what I am building delve for.
Creative people view the world as a construct and so are able to play about with it, producing work that makes truth more palatable. Can you tell us a bit about your preference for video as a medium to produce palatable truths?
What a great question! I think all motion picture, whether it’s on a cinema screen, a TV screen or an online video is ultimately a medium of emotion. You could call it e-motion pictures. You can convey information of course, but video’s real power is in making people feel. Although my video essays are set up as educational, I am always trying to give people an emotional experience, maybe feeling inspired about their creative journey, surprised that computers are run on such a simple concept, or maybe even guilty that their habits of consumption hurt the poorest people. On the Internet most video makers use the medium in a very literal way: when they talk about a horse, they show a horse etc; but video is so powerful because it can be abstract and suggestive. You can make people feel an emotion by the use of almost invisible techniques in editing and image selection.
All storytelling, in any medium, when it is done well, is about manipulating the audience’s assumptions and ideas. But you do it to help people see a greater truth. And the best truths are emotional ones because they are so complicated and hard to define. I want to tell complicated truths; life isn’t simple and I think we do a disservice when we try and package life into self-contained blocks.
Here are some shots from my latest video essay made in collaboration with Fusion.
The opening shot, showing the bombing of Hiroshima from the point of view of the bomb itself was an attempt to solve the problem of visualising an anecdote when you have no actual footage.
As well as solving this problem, the point of view creates an added layer of suspense, as the audience guesses what is about to happen. It also subtly punctuates the theme of the story, that history is only seen from the point of view of the victors.
Tony Zhou’s ‘Every Frame a Painting’ episode on Orson Welles’ F for Fake.
It’s a great lesson in structuring narrative for moving images. It’s best watched twice - once on YouTube, and secondly with Tony’s own editing annotations.
I’m tempted to try a similar annotation to unpick the editing decisions I make in my own video essays.