Between the Frames: The role of the Interval between Frames and Shots and the implications of interpretation of the Interval in Digital Video
“The material – the elements of the art of movement – is composed of the intervals (the transitions from one movement to another) and by no means of the movements themselves. It is they (the intervals) that draw the action to a kinetic resolution." Dziga Vertov, “WE: A version of a manifesto”, 1919
The central question of my thesis is this: can there be continuity between the intellectual and practical/aesthetic traditions of film editing on celluloid and the practice of Digital Video filmmaking using a medium that is fundamentally distinct.
Digital video, a versatile and inexpensive medium, presents a closed and impenetrable mechanism by which to record image and sound. This difference from celluloid is particularly evident in the ‘virtual’ process of computerised digital video editing which is physically detached from the material itself in contrast to film editing.
Montage theory has argued, influentially, that in film meaning is created in the gaps, or intervals, between shots and not in the shots themselves; it is the juxtaposition of two images that generates meaning in the imagination of the viewer. But in celluloid there are two sets of gaps: those between the shots and those between the individual frames. One is explicit and visible, the other is implicit and hidden within the illusion of continuous motion.
By examining the filmic model, deconstructing the illusion of the moving image (24 still frames per second) and considering the role of the interval in creating that illusion, we can then investigate the manifestation of the interval between the fields of analogue video or pixels in digital video.
This research project investigates a possible point of synthesis between editing theory and practice in Digital Video, acknowledging the ghostly disappearance of celluloid and questioning the prolific digital practices that are replacing it.
The project adopts a combined methodology, moving to an understanding of theory through practice. Theoretical work relates shots, frames, and intervals to montage theory and practice, analysis of case studies and practical work that experiments with these findings on digital video. The project will result in a series of short experimental films that adopt filmic strategies tailored to the specifics of digital video and demonstrate the specifically visual nature of the effect of editing in motion.
The project examines three case studies: the work of Dziga Vertov, Stan Brakhage and Rose Lowder who all use the interval in different ways.
My ultimate aim is to propose a self-conscious and experimental approach to Digital Video filmmaking which relies on the nature of the medium in the same way as montage theory and the cinematic avant-garde relied on the nature of celluloid.