Partial thoughts, from a partial read, of Walter Murch’s “In the Blink of an Eye:” (samplings from ~p5-70)
Murch’s point, that cinematic cuts work because we cognitively cut or psychophysiologically cut, is, in some sense older news. His move from a notion of whole or linear models of natural perception to juxtaposition and jumps reminds me of Hemholtz’s or James’ experiments at the turn of the century (with recent interest spurred by the translation of Kitler’s media theory). This is not to dismiss his approachable take or denounce editing in order to make something like Snow’s Wavelenght. But, somehow it bothers me… this ‘film as thought’ metaphor/way of working.
Much of the issue is that, in class, we’re becoming all too starkly aware of the technological limits/obstacles of filming (damn tripods and light setups) and their very clear distance from what we see as ‘naked’ eyes and perambulating bodies. Even the through of getting a stupid simple pan (eyes blinked, turn of the head) translated into a smooth, stable camera shot is sooo frustrating. I think combining that with a lack of real, fully-fleshed vocabulary for cinema (terms like ‘matching action,’ knowing what or why one might use back-projection or push beyond explicit dragnet cuts) means that we’re both trying to coordinate w/ one-hand behind our backs and that we’re grabbing footage without knowing exactly what’s possible within editing… or assuming premier pro is basically after effects. Somehow, reducing human attention to film or saying that constructed narratives work best when replicating thought feels oddly alienating or a bit inadequate. Perhaps I’m craving more technical guidance or film theory.
I keep thinking of Juan Gris’ early work aside Picasso’s (1911-13), as though the difference between their visual manifestation of movement and discontinuity make Murch’s point about attention and editing somehow more palatable or easier to understand. (I want to think film visually?) For me, Picasso’s work is far more conceptual and material, while Gris reads as somehow stable and psychological, anticipating a centered subject-audience. His fragments are framed, orderly, internal constellations where as Picasso’s are sculptural explosions, surfaces that have peeled back from objects and environments (the collages literalize this). As though Gris is the film or TV or media we watch without even noticing discontinuity. Picasso is more like trying to gather lost angles and extra views, stock footage and unanticipated shots before editing. It’s not a finished thought, but that’s how Murch struck me…