I aim to research how images created using lens based media (photography, film, video) are particularly well suited to act as an interface between the physical world and the viewer’s subconscious. To study this question, I will look at how lens based images have been used differently by artists coming from different artistic traditions but sharing the goal/desire to bypass conscious thought in the way they communicate with their audience.
The surrealists thought that lens based images were better suited than images created from scratch (painting) for “capturing a secret reality” (Dali). Because they are based on physical reality, however remote and/or distorted, they force people to look at the world differently, to look at it for what it is where they would be tempted to only see stereotypes.
Andrei Tarkovsky and David Lynch are famous for using obscure imagery in their films, and for distrusting words. How are their images crafted, how do they relate to the words in their films and why do they seem so meaningful to us while they rationally are quite obscure ? Obviously can’t study the question in depth, just take a few striking examples to illustrate.
The Surrealists were adamant that “Surreality” could be found in the most mundane of film/photograph, because it was intrinsic to the medium rather than created on purpose by avant-garde practice. Take examples of practical advices from “how to” cinematography handbook to show how mainstream cinema techniques communicate with the viewer on an intuitive/subconscious level.
The surrealists deduced from the previous point that surreality was created unknowingly and unwillingly by mainstream lens based practitioners. This opens up the question to more contemporary practice, and maybe discreetly challenges the current practice for artists to always have at hand a verbal explanation/commentary on their work. Do artist really know exactly what they are making, or are they merely channelling the Zeitgeist through the work they produce ?
Keywords: reality, lens based, cinematography, subconscious, intuition (???)