Sunday, May 10, 2009
SEEING THE CONVERSE HOME MOVIES
The Converse Family home movies were found recently at a yard sale. Little is known about the imagery, who is pictured and when. What is known can be discerned from our knowledge of historical documents, the site of the ranch, and clues in the landscape and clothing.
The seemingly unbiased technical process of transferring five original rolls of film onto digital formats, both DVD and digi-beta occurred with in the last year. This digital form was then the first way that I viewed the home movies.
This site work is an investigation into the transferring process that occurred after the original film rolls were found and how that seemingly unbiased technical process has left us with a specific narrative film. Because of arbitrary and pragmatic decisions made by the telecine technicians at Fotochem and the Santa Paula Historical Society, we are left with an exact series of moving pictures that evokes not only a story but an emotional content as well.
There was no indication of sequence inherent in the original rolls of film, yet the Fotochem technicians who complied them onto a dvd and digi-beta tape assembled the five rolls into a chronological order. Perhaps this decision was made randomly, a kind of luck of the draw as the technician pulled the rolls of film from a box one by one. There were no explicit directions given as per chronology on the order sheet. Next, this constructed series of images was taken by the Santa Paula Historical society and parts were further manipulated. Some frames of the original film were damaged due to the age of the film. The Santa Paula historical society choose to slow down specific images in order for the viewer to "see" them better. Thus, whole sequences are portrayed in slow motion. In Film theory: critical concepts in media and cultural studies it is stated that; "Slow-motion can be brought to the most natural activities to reveal them in a texture of emotional and psychological complexes." This again is a "technical" or pragmatic response to the material of the historical object, the film, that dramatically alters its content. Casually and by accident, the film which started out as found footage is being given the elements of a piece of work which can be considered both through the annals of film theory as well as through private interpretation.