CT&D #62. Building a Narrative: Shooting for Video

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Beryl Korot – Dachau, 1974

The Art21 piece I watched explored artist Beryl Korot’s process of putting together footage (that she captured) composed of various shots of a Nazi concentration camp to create a narrative. Her process specifically was taking several minimized videos, each showing a scene within the camp, where she would line up them in a linear sequence in one single video.

What this visual style would do, in Korot’s words, is to “move the viewer through the experience of going through the camp.” To achieve this, each mini-video would show movement of the camp’s visitors (i.e. entering the gates, traversing the outdoor fields, barracks, crematoria) as if we are witnessing a journey in the eyes of not only the tourist but also a historian stepping into that era.

More so, Korot played with depth and perspective, including shots that featured the camp’s buildings from afar and near, on the inside and outside of the premises and even some areas with no one in them. I take from this approach that the intent was to evoke a certain mood or feeling we could get by visually knowing how big, how dull or how harrowing an experience can truly be. What makes this piece really effective is the comprehension a viewer can make given the effort to tie these mini-videos and points-of-view altogether in such a vignette.

If there’s anything else I can take away here for inspiration in my future work, it is to not shy away from Vine or Instagram-like apps that allow for non-continuous video storytelling. Because even though my first impression that doing shooting on those platforms hindered my abilities to edit around raw footage, I have since gotten used to shooting for an individual scene for the purpose of juxtaposing it with another one in a manner not to different from Korot’s work. Just as long as there is a narrative established, the important thing is to convey our sense/someone else’s sense of perception and emotion, even for the same scene.

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