A Conversation

Indecisive Moment: A Conversation Among Photographers Using Video

IM: How has as the role of photography changed in relation to video?

YC: I think about Walter Benjamin’s technological determinism, just like painting was in its crisis upon the invention of photography, photography now is also facing two menaces of technological progressions. One within itself – the ubiquitous digital image-making (digital cameras with no cost of film and the ability to generate infinitely endless images by the masses, so more people than ever are taking pictures). The other – the highly accessible production of moving images (digital video-making with its low cost, ease of use, and increasingly easy and friendly editing process).

TC: Video has assumed the role of still images. It is taking on the status of a new democratic media, available to everyone, everywhere, all the time. It is an immediate means of communication.

IM: Why do you think video is a relevant medium for contemporary artists?

AJW: I think that photographers are turning to video not so much for the convenience of technology, but more so for the language. The amalgamation of cheap video technology and the Internet has shown us that the discourse of editing, camera work, and narrative are no longer confined to art school kids and their professors. The bourgeoisie youth who spent years in front of the television are finally realizing the potential of the unknown skill set they were gaining.

SP: With the advent of web portals like YouTube, blogging sites, and Facebook, user-generated moving images have become mainstream in our culture.

YC: Although “the truth” can still be captured by a digital camera, Apple’s newest I-Phone 3G shows us that we can just make video with our cellphone and that these should be a standard form to capture our precious memories. So the notion of decisive moment has been turned into the decisive ongoing moment. Why make photos when you can “simply” capture reality in its earnest form? The utopian dream of Kodak’s Brownie, that everyone can afford to own and use, is getting replaced by digital video cameras.

TC: Video is our generation’s snapshot.

IM: What does video offer that photography can’t?

CH: It allows for a different set of options than photography. Creating art using moving images, sound, and time simply gives me more parameters to work under.

TC: Video automatically lends itself to the implication of a narrative in a way that still images must work harder to do. The viewing of a video is an extended looking experience – something that is difficult to ask of an audience through a photograph.

TL: I use a camera to record incident and adventure, and the editing process only to demonstrate and highlight my thoughts and feelings about what I am sharing. Video, more so than photography, offers me the opportunity to be fully involved in a story or idea, whether abstract or obvious. I try to maintain a revealing approach to video, not hiding myself, my experience, or my reactions.

MM: Photography is ideal for capturing a single, thought-provoking moment in time. Video blends photography with motion, light, and cinematic gestures to evoke an experience that is more contextual. Video provides us with a better perception of time and movement.

IM: How does video make sense for your own practice?

JS: I’ve found that even my most successful photographic work never seemed to deliver the same emotive tensions and satisfactions I was able to achieve through documentary-style video. The advantage I feel I’ve gained through using video is the ability to dictate the flow of information, sustaining a more directed experience for the viewer.

SP: Video allows me to create works that are phenomenological, where the visual experience of the medium can come very close to someone’s actual experience of nature in real time.

HS: I used to take in everything with my camera. Endlessly, obsessively. I saw pictures everywhere. Then I was forced to empty the house in which I grew up, crammed with precious things. I no longer believe in objects the way I once did. I stopped making photographs. They take up too much space. I have been dreaming every night for months. I wake up trying to piece them back together. Sometimes I write my dreams down as quickly as I can and sometimes I let them slip away forever. Something stays with me anyway, that which I don’t let myself keep. Making videos is my way to neither hold on too tight nor let go completely.

BBN: My work is a basically a series of time based still photographs, where the stillness of the camera allows one to enter a space and see time unfolding as a continuos process. It also allows me to use tools in post-production, techniques such as slight manipulation of time and image repetitions, and shooting techniques, such as the long shot views or the close-ups. These tools become forces capable of modeling matter and create meaning.

KO: I used to wait for something to happen in front of my camera. When nothing seemed to happen, I went hunting for images. I used to believe that photography had to be that way. I traveled to the very north and the south of Japan to capture miracle moments. But in between waiting and hunting, I got bored and created events in front of camera. I cut papers in my small apartment, set them on my small bed, and played with shadows that they cast with a desk lamp. Soon, the shadow characters started to move, so I needed to get a video camera.

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