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Suture Self - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Suture Self

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bitterlawngnome From: bitterlawngnome Date: December 14th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
splain, Lucy.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 15th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
In film theory, at least of the sort I am most interested, the term "suture" refers -- I'm going to oversimplify recklessly here -- to the fundamental illusion of cinema, whereby viewers feel unconstrained access to what appears on screen because and thereby identify with the film's perspective, precisely because they never see the camera. The shot reverse-shot sequence in the filming of dialogue is a classic example. You see one character, then the other, but never the camera that would have to have been located between them for those shots to be possible in the real world.

What I was trying to achieve with this shot, which took some trial and error to pull off, was to create an image of the camera that took the photo without the use of a mirror. But the only way I could pull this off was to use myself as a reflective backdrop -- the streak is from my rapid motion through the frame -- so that the camera wouldn't just look like a shadow.

The title references one of my favorite Zippie the Pinhead comics and also invokes psychoanalytical speculation about suture as a concept, in which the erasing of the camera from the film functions as an analogy to the process whereby we identify ourselves as selves by hiding the mechanism that makes us present-able.
bitterlawngnome From: bitterlawngnome Date: December 16th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Oooh yes.

This is along the same line of enquiry as the buddhist deconstruction of identity. Is the body the self? no. Is it the perceptions? no. Is it the mental structures? no. Is it all of these together? no. When you look at it methodically, the idea of self breaks down.


celebrian_3 From: celebrian_3 Date: December 14th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes, please 'splain. This one is haunting, and I can't figure out where the self is in the portrait.

It's a great photo. This is the kind of thing you do that makes me feel a little ashamed of my Photoshopped efforts :-).
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 15th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well, I often think of myself as an extension of the camera, rather than vice versa, especially in family or parenting situations. It's easier to take photos than to interact directly.

But the "real" me in this long exposure is the whitish streak.
celebrian_3 From: celebrian_3 Date: December 15th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That white streak is maddening to me, because I can't figure out what made it, or how. It looks like motion blur, but everything else is perfectly still. It looks like flash, but it's coming from behind the camera on the tripod--and oh, wait . . . if the camera is on the tripod and present in the photo, then what are you taking the picture with? It doesn't look like a photo of a reflection. And I can't tell where you are standing in relation to the camera. I expect to see your shadow somewhere, but don't (unless I'm missing it somehow).

I'm going in circles batty with this one, you see. The mind is boggling! That, along with your usual impeccable composition, is what makes me really dig this photo.

Edited at 2009-12-15 06:03 pm (UTC)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 15th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It tickles me greatly to drive you batty!


I explained some of this in other replies to the comments on this entry. That's not the camera, but the shadow of the camera, made to look solid by the brightness of the reflective surface -- the blur -- behind it.

I made that blur, streaking through the frame during the multi-second exposure. It was trial and error. This one came out best, from the standpoint of being intriguing. And it's the shot in which the camera looks least like a shadow.
celebrian_3 From: celebrian_3 Date: December 15th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's really shocking to me--that the camera, which looks solid enough to me that it even appears to have detail, is only a shadow. I still can't wrap my mind around it. Now that I look, the tripod legs are obviously shadows, and they have the long spindly distortion that comes from such oblique lighting; but the camera shadow seems substantive to the point of reflecting light from its (phantom) surface, and doesn't seem to be subject to the same distortion. It now looks to me as though the camera is magically hovering in space.

It's impressive that you know what effect you were going for, and that you were able to achieve it--particularly in that lighting condition. My hat's off to you.

Sorry. I've probably induced more blushing :-).
quuf From: quuf Date: December 14th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I love it, even as I don't understand it. But I'll take a stab at the risk of seeming cloddish, and venture that the blurred flash resembles the suture holding a life together - only visible in certain kinds of darkness.

(If my interpretation is off-base, it's at least good for a laugh!)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 15th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Ooh, I like that! I wish I'd thought it out better, because then I could say that I had planned for that effect. See my explanation to Bill above for what I was really thinking of. I'm the streak, literally, as well as the camera, figuratively.
(Deleted comment)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 15th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm there, having lingered a bit longer than I did in the rest of my transit through the frame. The light was from floods across the street. The camera you see is actually not the camera, but a shadow somewhat miraculously given illusory substance by the reflective bright screen that coursed behind it. That screen, a portion of the streak, is from the reflective stripes on my the orange safety vest I wear when bicycling at night, which I realized would make a good source of reflected light within the frame.
siyeh From: siyeh Date: December 15th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 15th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The desert misses you!
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