Friday, 25 May 2007

Singular Intensity and High Definition

A long complained of act of scientific method is to strip whatever is being looked at of its original and singular intensity. This peculiar reductionism has as a specific by-product, a denial of wholeness, that then particularises the parts of an object, a concept, a mechanism, but in effect renders it bereft of whatever the singular gaze of the individual applies to that concept or thing as complete. When complete there is a specificity that is 'intense'.

High definition photography, or imaging, is a potential conveyor of what could be called singular intensity.

Landscape photography has particular problems when trying to evoke the experience whilst present in that landscape. There are questions of optics, pathways where data, be it photon to silver halide, or photon to sensor, has then to pass through various mechanisms which enact the 'capturing' of that data. But, it is pretty well understood by the practitioners of high level photography and cinematography that you'd better pull out all the tricks when re-presenting what originally lay before the camera - because photography 'flattens' depth.

But, with HD, the definition comes in to play in a way that re-evokes the sensations of the original in some way.

If you stand on a bluff overlooking the scene that lay before Ansel Adams in his famous Yosemite Valley, Winter, 1940, (above) the view itself, the light, the wind, the height and vertiginous feeling, the taste in your mouth, the sounds of the excitement of others surrounding you, your accompanying friends wonder and a whole other set of factors come into play to persuade you that you read the moment as 'intense'.

When photographing this moment only a few of these factors pass on and then these are modified by the way the moment/image is displayed.

A primary factor in relaying (in this case ) photographic intensity, is definition. If the image is not pristine then other accompanying factors do not come into play (even as echoes of similar experiences). Adams printed to an extremely high level and even though his pictures were 'small', the definition and contrast are at the top end of reproduction in the glass plate-to-paper medium. It's not that you can imagine you were there - it's that Adams found a way to say that he experienced 'this'. So wind, light, sound do not really come into play in that he has chosen one element to heighten - and in so doing other ghosts of the memories of those other elements are also evoked.

With HD as opposed to high resolution photography we have the additional and helpful factor of luminance - the image itself glows and emits light, whether from a display or reflected light froma projector. This in itself is reminiscent of the scene when experienced.

In HD, though there are many formats, resolutions, data pathways for the transmission of the image from light to display, there is a base line of 'reproduction' that one can apply.

I'm not going to outline these details as they are mostly technical and that's why we have directors of photography. The bottom line though, is understand what is HD and what is not amongst the nonsense being perpetrated everywhere at this early-adoption moment when propaganda is at a higher volume level than fact.

I aim to generate a series of works opver 2008 that examine the issue of intensity - the series I am making is called: The Actual, the Virtual and the Hyper Real in which I hope to begin to work with singular intensity.

Watch this space.