Monday, 5 May 2008
Film and Photography
Films about photography often fail to acknowledge the difference between the still and the moving image. Despite the fact that film and photography are both visual, it is difficult to represent one in the other. Manufactured Landscapes, Jennifer Baichwal's film about Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, shows what movies can do when the main subject is the process a photographer need to go through in order to create a specific body of work.
The film communicate the scale of Burtynsky's images, which features vast assembly lines, huge factories and mountains of waste, by following him as he photograph the effects of industrialisation on the landscape. The tactic of the film is to show the human figures dwarfed by the environment within a wider context.
The images are aesthetically seductive and the message is ambiguous. They could hang in the hall of a corporate office and on the wall of an environmentalist organisation at the same time. And that is where the power comes from, because the images guides you into the subject but doesn't give you opinions.
I am still convinced of the power of photography because it lodges itself in our consciousness in a very different way to film. If you think about the Vietnam War for instance, the still image endures.