Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Sculpture and Video and Fake Third Dimension

Video shares three dimensions with sculpture. In sculpture we perceive three dimensions as we walk around a piece. In video we perceive three dimensions as the camera moves around its subject.

This rather obvious thought occurred to me recently as I walked around the Giacometti exhibition at Tate Modern. Many of the pieces were exhibited in a way that made it impossible to see all sides. If I had been making a video I would naturally have taken views from all sides.

Sculptures deserve to be seen from all sides.

I have previously seen Giacometti figures where they have been installed in the centre of the room so that the visitor could walk around them. Important. To see a sculpture as the artist intended you need to be able to be able to be close up, you need to be able to be far away, and you need to be able to see all sides.

There is a reason the artist made them three dimensional.

So it is with video. When the camera moves (as opposed to the subject) we get the additional dimension that a stationary subject excludes.

You can fail-to-experience this third dimension when video makers use the Ken Burns technique to create a movement from a still image. This technique, supported by many video editors, creates a pan-zoom from a still image. This movement does not exhibit the three dimensional illusion that I am discussing. You need parts to move against parts to see that.

I think this is why I feel the need to walk around sculptures, as well as moving in and out. It makes the three dimensions obvious, or in the case of video, it creates a the third dimension illusion. It fakes it.