Thursday, March 27, 2008

POV in Rear Window

Every Agle:

Rear Window is a masterful work by Alfred Hitchcock. This film is all about Point of View, you are stuck with whatever L.B. Jeffries can see from his room and that is where all the action plays out. Hitchcock uses many techniques that use all kinds of POV tricks. The introduction of the camera lense for close-ups is very clever and realistic, you never see more than what Jeff can see. At the same time, there is an overlapping POV which is more of a narator, used in the opening shot to give us a perspective, and then zoom into Jefferies where we are actually seeing him; but most events we see through the Jeff's eyes. The camera is almost as free as can be, but the movements as very controlled and precise.

Another theme that incorporates POV is the fact that this movie is almost a film within a film. Jeff is stuck in his bedroom and he becomes a voyeur of his neighborhood. This is what a filmgoer does, he integrates himself in another environment. Jefferies became to know the lives of all his neighbors and discovered Lars Thorwald's plan. At first Stella sees Jeff's voyeurism as almost sick, and thought it would only bring him trouble; but as they discovered more about Thorwald, Stella and Lisa where both voyeurs again and highly intrigued.

Men Act, Women Appear:

This quote defines Lisa's introduction in the film, and partly her relationship issues with Jefferies. Lisa changes during the film in a way and tries to challenge it by taking action; mostly out of curiosity and her desire to make their relationship work. She was trying to convince Jeff that she can act as well as appear, and although women and men have certain roles in society; these can intertwine.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Can't stop looking out the Rear Window

”Rear Window” – Can’t Help But Look

It is all too familiar to us, trying to catch a glance without being seen. Although we’ve all done it, it is nearly impossible for us to understand why we want to. People are fascinated by the lives of others. Having so many secrets of our own, the thought of getting in on someone else’s just seems awfully tempting. Could it be that we are looking for something we wish we had? Could it be that we are looking for someone who shares in some common emotion or problem? Could it be that we seek validation with ourselves through the trials and tribulations of another? Whatever the reason, it is an unexplainable cultural phenomenon that existed long before Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, and that still exists today.The film draws directly on this idea of spying and how it can draw us in beyond our control. It shows how a hidden curiosity within us can be disrupted and not go away.

I feel that the theme of the movie and the film itself are more relevant than ever in today’s culture. Just turn on the television and you will find an endless number of reality shows, some stations devoted entirely to reality shows themselves. These are programs developed with use of cameras that get us into peoples personal lives (most of the time) with the consent of those being “watched” purely for the viewer’s pleasure at home. What the viewer receives from these programs no one really knows. It is some kind of hidden phenomenon that has erupted in the last decade.

Another example of this idea and its relevance today is certain content on the Internet. There are websites and companies dedicated solely to collecting information about celebrities and more important people’s lives. They give us their finding’s and their personal feelings on that individual, most of the time in a blog format, much like the one we use in this Visual Culture class.

Bottom line, it is a cultural phenomenon that was obviously shared by many at the time of Hitchcock’s film “Rear Window, and one that is still very prevalent today. It is something that fascinates us, entertains us, reassures us, and moves us all with just a simple glance through the rear window into someone else’s life…

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The View from the Rear Window

The sheet we were handed in class last week has a short blurb on P.O.V. that asks the question "are there techniques of expressionism or subjective distortions [in the film]?" I haven't seen too many films where there are obvious examples of this type of distortion, but
Rear Window sure does have it in droves.

Through the use of lenses (from Jefferies' camera and binoculars), Hitchcock distorts the "naturalistic" P.O.V. tendencies of most films, at least in the technical sense. I use the word "naturalistic" lightly of course, but for the most part, I've only seen films where the P.O.V. is normal, with no framing like those lens-framed shots in
Rear Window were. It's irregular, though not incredibly interesting visually. But what it affords Jefferies and the movie's audience is remarkable. A closer view, greater detail, new possibilities for the plot. We discussed this in class, so maybe I shouldn't get too redundant. But even the small amount of visual freedom the distorted P.O.V.s create can translate to a ton of payoff in a film.

I suppose this is all hypothetical, because it's not like Jefferies wasn't going to get this change of P.O.V.... it was written into the screenplay after all.
But I'm trying to approach this from within the movie's logic. Notice how the binoculars are the highlight of this poster advertisement for the movie:

And as discussed in class, there is the infamous shot of Jefferies with the camera lens sitting atop his knee, pointed outside and reflecting. Pretty cool how a couple of seemingly minor props can make a movie what it is in the public's consciousness.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Not sure exactly what this blog entry is supposed to be about because Point of View is a broad subject. I'm just gonna wing it and discuss film and POV.

Most viewers will never even think about POV when watching a movie. It's just a thing that has been trained into our brains from growing up with television and movies that we don't notice it. Walter Benjamin says in "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" that film is a more exacting form of visual media, as opposed to the stage. The director can chose the POV he wants us to gaze from; whether it's the inside of a train car, the bottom of a toilet bowl, an ultra-wide birds-eye shot of the city, or a close up of a person eating their breakfast, it is completely up to the director and editor. On the opposite end we have theater. The audience is only allowed one POV, their own. If they have bad seats they aren't able to see the show as it was intended. This gives a more personal experience with the art, but is extremely limited in its POV options.

I find this utterly mind blowing. I never thought about it like this, but it is true. There is no way anyone would ever be able to see the Earth from space, but that shot might be perfect to tell the story of an alien invasion. It's all about telling the story effectively. Use any POV you can to get that message across and, if you can, have it connect emotionally with the viewer. We all love movies that tug at our emotions, and the right POV can make or break a scene. That is why editing and directing are true artforms.

Next time you're watching your favorite flick take a moment to analyze the POV in a specific scene. Most movies follow only a handful of POVs (the main characters), but we don't see the film through their literal "Point of View." There isn't a successful movie out told from the "eye" of one character. I know this can be done for special effect in a particular scene, but it is not used exclusively (at least that I am aware of).

Point of View is a powerful tool! Behold the power of P.O.V.!

Old Media Blog

I chose the amazing work of Gauguin, an artist that has truly inspired me with his work. The piece is called "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where are we Going?" This title presents three very important questions, but it's the mistery of the painting that drew my eyes to it and gives meaning to the unanswerable questions.  

Visually; there are many factors that play into analyzing a work of art. There are clearly three focal points in this piece, and they basically devide the work into the three questions posed in the title. We know from history that Guaguin talked about his work, and he explained that the image has to be read from right to left; the three sections represent the answers to the three questions. At the right we see a newborn, towards the middle a working young adult, and at the left an old woman. This sequential aspect is very effective in this piece. There are many angles in this image, some curves but mostly angles and triangles. The color gives a life to this piece, because it is very unique; the color sets the mood. Nature and life are the background, and they evolve with the sequential story of the image.

If we try to place Gaugun's piece into McCloud's picture plane it would be close to realism but starting to move towards abstraction becuase of the meaning in this piece. But it covers a broad part of the picture plane because it includes icons, and symbolic meanings. This is a profound piece and I love that we have access to these kinds of paintings at the MFA.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Traveling Scholars

I think it's so awesome that the MFA chooses artists to give scholarships to so that they can delve deeper into their creative mind and bring us new and exciting art.
I thoroughly enjoyed Elizabeth H Wallace's Maps of the future. They showed hope and dispair. 

In the work Tension you can see how it is an actual map but perhaps of something imaginary. This one seems political.
 In the work Compassion it seems like two land masses are being brought together. IT almost looks like theres a human face on this map as well. I really appreciated the futuristic hopefulness in Elizabeth Wallace's work. It was simple but at the same time complex with all of the small lines and minimal use of color.

The Rear Window

My blog entry is going to be incredibly bias due to the fact that I am a sucker for Alfred Hitchcock movies. Although I must say my all time favorite Hitchcock film is "To Catch a Thief", which also stars Grace Kelly, I really enjoyed "Rear Window". I noticed how the director always uses an element of lighting in his films to make some sort of statement. As he does in "To Catch A Thief" when Grace Kelly is taunting Cary Grant's character John Robey aka "The Cat" by wearing an enormous diamond necklace, Hitchcock dims all lights and focuses a luminating light on her chest where the diamons lay sparkling. Similarly in "Rear Window" our main character L.B. Jefferies played by James Stewart was constantly wheeling himself in and out of the moonlight from his window while he spied on his neighboors, so they could not see him looking. Hitchcock also plays with light in the various apartments L.B. is looking into. Also very interesting was the use of symbolism with the main character being a photographer and using his camera lens to look into the lives of his neighboors. The window he looks out of is the eye and each window is a portal to which we see the outside world, and how we are seen ourselves. Secrets would never be let out the "front window", because it is where information is protected, screened, and filtered. But the back or "rear" window is where people let their guard down and secrets are divulged, because they may think no one is watching. Hitchcock packs his movies full of symbolism, motif, and irony. He plays heavily off of perspective and point of view, making for a very interesting and suspenseful picture.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Travelling Scholars..and my comments..

As a member of group B.. the division of students that occurred at the MFA in Boston left me to deliver a comment on the responses/reactions of members in Group A, to posters for the "Traveling Scholars" exhibit...

I liked what "Yi Chou" had to say about the comparison of art and invention, and how it applied to what the traveling scholars stand for..
Art definitely deserves a lot more credit than most people who don't care give it. It definitely does inspire the greatest minds in history, even the scientific ones. Art is a physical representation of the time period, the current culture, and the feelings and emotions of the artists creating it, and of humankind. It has no rules or boundaries. It provokes the eyes into seeing the thoughts of another's imagination. This challenges the great minds driving them to scientifically, literally, and factually explain the reasons and powers behind these works. With this comes the will to create and invent... and from these inventions are culture and our world is fueled through the process of change...

Artists are almost the eyes for those who cannot see past their own boundaries, the sight for those that cant see past themselves, it is the imagination for those who fear to dream, and it is the physical representation of history and culture for those who just let it pass them by without taking time to have a second glance and appreciate it... So artists keep pushing boundaries and keep provoking the minds of those who can only see things one way.. it will feed the intelligence of the scholars around us pushing and driving them to create and advance culture as we know it..

"Art inspires invention with creativity and also documents it..." - Yi Chou

Traveling Scholars Exhibition

My favorite traveling scholar at the MFA was a toss up between Leslie Hall and Will Peppenheimer both for very different reasons. I appreciated Leslie Hall for her over-the-top, loud statements and the creative and humorous ways she expressed her ideas. I feel as though I can more easily analyze the work of Will Peppenheimer, as his work seems to speak in a less obvious way. His work immediately caught my eye as I was drawn to the thousands of tiny "pom poms", each individually hand dyed and stragetically placed to form a larger image. This is a clear use of pointalism, as thousands of tiny dots form the picture. The pom poms reminded me of being in first grade and working on a class art project where we used pom poms, pipe cleaners and colored construction paper. It is such a simple grade school craft object, these pom poms, but the artist uses them as his medium as very effective way to portray a much larger vision. I saw some irony in the relationship between the medium and the origin of one of the artists images. The computer looking image (a modernized machine) comprised of pom poms (traditional, simple, nothing to do with science or technology). They seem like opposites to me, especially because the pom poms remind me of being six years old which was at a time when computers were first being used in classrooms and in homes. I also think of socialism when looking at Peppenheimer's pieces. There are thousands of tiny particles that make up the existance of the larger whole. These particles are not seen as individual, but rather the collective.