Inscribing and encoding: The point of media-making

Daniel Binns
RMIT University


How does it feel to make media? What goes through the filmmaker’s head right at the moment they hit ‘record’? What are the processes – mechanical, digital, physical, psychological – that occur before, during, and after the recording of sound or vision? Building on the recent embodied turn in screen production research and taking inspiration from core ideas of the new materialists, this experimental piece unfolds in two parts.

Part one takes the form of stream of consciousness writing in retort to quotes or ideas from new materialist thinkers like Andrew Pickering and Kathleen Stewart, and a reflection on one’s own media practice. The result of this is two recipes for a kind of embodied making, which were then put into practice with two pieces of media, The Yarra & I and Pieces of Pound Bend. An extended second part connects reflections on this practice to writing on cinema and time, primarily Gilles Deleuze and Jean Epstein.

This work examines where the maker fits in the nebula of media texts, tools, and technologies. What is the point of making media or – perhaps more aptly – when?


Pieces of Pound Bend

The Yarra & I

Part One


The contours of material agency are never decisively known in advance, scientists continually have to explore them in their work, problems always arise and have to be solved in the development of, say, new machines. And such solutions … take the form, at minimum, of a kind of delicate material positioning or tuning, where I use ‘tuning’ in the sense of tuning a radio set or car engine, with the caveat that the character of the ‘signal’ is not known in advance. (Pickering, 1995, p. 14)

The tripod legs are extended, the lens is screwed on (a satisfying click), the lens cap removed. Power. A static timecode. Potential. One can reasonably assume the type of ‘signal’ one will obtain with this device. Or at least the modes through which the signal will operate: visual and aural. What can be ‘tuned’, then?

The material of film is perhaps not sound and vision. At least, not entirely. The timecode could be the key. Where the shot is static, the soundscape silent, time is still moving in the film-world. The static shot that is interminable; until we see the slightest hint of movement. Werner Herzog finds unexpected bliss in the empty shots – those devoid of the human – in the footage of Timothy Treadwell. These were unintended by the original author, and yet there is to be found something of the sublime in them.

What good is an author when the sublime is possible without their intervention? This non-interventionist perfection, though, is not possible with all media. The unattended pencil will not suddenly stand on end and pen an ode to a lime-tree bower. But a machine that can be switched on, then operate independently, may be able to capture something unintentionally wonderful.

This is machine-vision. The human eye gauges the right angle, the right backdrop; what good are these when the camera is abandoned? Time does not mind whether the camera is level, Dutch-tilted, or upside down. Time does not really care about exposure, or even whether the lens cap has been removed. Astrophysicists and speculative thinkers alike tell us that time cares little for us. Time will always move on.

So, do I propose machine-vision? Do I propose non-interventionist filmmaking? It might be something else. Sharing the load. Accept the agency and power of the machine and share the load of filmmaking with it. Those words: ‘set’, ‘rolling’, ‘action’; arbitrary, pointless. Open yourself to the possibilities of performance without parameters:

Anything can feel like something you are in … Another little world is suddenly there and possible. Everything depends on the dense entanglement of affect, attention, the senses, and matter (Stewart, 2011, p. 449).


Start again. While stuttering is a debilitating condition, it can be fruitful as a concept, or as a practical moment when encountered. Stuttering is one of the ways in writing and editing, and in class, I use to spark flames. Stuttering as a repetition can make strange, fracturing the thin veneers of common sense to let the light get in. Such stuttering is a rhythmic staccato looping that I think of as the shape of thinking–thought and thought–thinking.

Another little world. This is how ‘literature’ functions. Three or four paragraphs are spent building a little world. Usually this gives you an idea of how the protagonist feels. This justifies the actions of the protagonist, because in their world, there is only one possible course. There is only one entanglement of affect, attention, the senses. The matter is the page. Or is it thought? Thought is the matter behind the words.

Stuttering is a half-formed thought. It is also a thought caught in the throat. Something unarticulated. Or unable to be articulated. Stuttering is one of those conditions that is part-psychological, part-physiological. Or rather, it is the psychological-manifested-as-physiological. We all stutter from time to time, but those that must deal with it, constantly deal with being unable to express themselves in that most ubiquitous of ways: speech. Very often stuttering is cured by finding another outlet: for someone close to me, it was singing. The words by themselves got stuck on their way out; adding musical notes to the words seemed to ease their passage.

The other behavioural treatment is to use getting stuck. When the words stick in the throat, you are advised to shift, to try to use another word, or to move on to another thought entirely. In time, these shifts merely resolve themselves into the ‘normal’ structures of speech: phrases, idiom, sentences.

‘Literature’ could often do with getting stuck. The book I had in my head when I wrote the first paragraph was a prize-winning work of prose; I found it tedious and over-wrought. Get stuck. Change tack. Follow a thought until it breaks, then follow a new one.


The contours of material agency are never decisively known in advance, scientists continually have to explore them in their work, problems always arise and have to be solved in the development of, say, new machines. And such solutions … take the form, at minimum, of a kind of delicate material positioning or tuning, where I use ‘tuning’ in the sense of tuning a radio set or car engine, with the caveat that the character of the ‘signal’ is not known in advance (Pickering, 1995, p. 14).

Morton offers that ‘[w]e orient ourselves according to the backgrounds against which we stand out. There is a word for a state without a foreground-background distinction: madness’ (2012, p. 30). Time sits between the human and the machine. Both have senses of time, though they are very different. I sit at my computer, next to a HDV camera in which a tape is currently striping. The clock of the focus app I use while writing ticks down; the timecode on the camera ticks up. Both are however reaching their endpoint. The focus app cannot count lower than zero; the camera cannot tick beyond about 61 minutes (the length of tape). Both technologies are indifferent to me, though I am making a third use of the time that is external to the minutiae of the app’s code, and to the mechanical rotation of digital tape through a spool.

I am thinking through the time: typing, admittedly, but also thinking about how to activate the thinking. How to materialise it through film? How do humans sense time? Is it markedly different from any other species? It is, in that we can mark and articulate its passing, but it also isn’t. All living things emerge, live their span, and pass. Humans express, they mark, but they cannot grasp time, alter it, or divert it. We have no agency in regard to time.

We fit in time as we fit in space: seamlessly. We don’t matter. The Earth is indifferent to us, yet we still ache to mark our time. A state with no distinction between foreground and background is, according to Morton, otherwise known as madness. Another oft-misattributed definition of madness is doing the same thing again and again, expecting a different result.

This project shifts now from this writing, this ruminating, into a different kind of inscription. Some will inscribe with pen, paintbrush. Others will hold film to light. This activity will be repeated; varying results will be expected. I rest my case.

Part Two

A gap. There is a gap between blades of grass. There is a gap between clumps of soil. There are gaps between particles of water: even the seemingly whole is disparate. There are gaps between things that are apparently touching. The gap is what defines boundaries; what sets parameters.

There is another gap – a space, a chasm – between what is there and what is perceived. Perception is used, is tricked. Colour is not real: a sentence that blows minds. Light is real: it has characteristics. You can measure it. It has a spectrum.

Time does not have gaps. Its flow is inexorable, irreversible, seamless. We break it up. Milliseconds, hours, years, millennia. We give the uncontainable babushka dolls. It helps us sleep.

They mourned the loss of film. Things die: not just animals, plants, but also things. Why did they mourn this thing in particular? Because it was a medium that was perfectly aligned with the way we conquered time. One frame equals one twenty-fourth of a second. That’s a nice sentence. It’s a clean sentence. Thirty-five is an accessible number. No longer necessarily developing; not yet middle-aged. A nice number of millimetres.

The numbers aren’t clean anymore: 29.98, 1500, 4K. These are not accessible. These are messy. In allowing for this technology, we set up a chain of development that led, necessarily, to entropy. To chaos. To the numbers not making sense.

Stop. Restart.

A gap. There are gaps between frames. This has not changed. The backend of digital video may well be functions, variables, sets of ones and zeroes, but the front-end still works on key frames, on in- and out-points. We can’t yet comprehend film as the machine does. We cannot think in code: we still need timecode.

The cut is a rupture in thought. It is a rupture in film-time. But it is not a rupture in world-time. Even the most experimentally cut film requires someone to stand, (hopefully) rapt, and take it in. Manovich says the price of moving images is the mobility of the viewer. Film makes us stand still.

There is a simple answer: don’t cut. Hello Michael Snow. Hello Harun Farocki. Hello Daniel Crooks. The machine does not stop watching. Does not stop moving. But this does not reflect anything beyond time. Perception is not elevated beyond the everyday experience of the passing of time.

Stop. Restart.

Deleuze knew about the gaps; in Cinema 1 he called them intervals. Gaps are the basis of film theory, as well as the central illusion of cinema. There is something in the gaps. Gaps in the world. Gaps between frames. Gaps between perception and reality. Voids. Spaces.

Recipe 1: Time inscription and multiple perceptions

Part 1:

  1. Find a location.
  2. Walk around it. Take some initial notes (mental or written).
  3. Based on these notes, choose five locations to film.
  4. Choose between a wide shot or a close-up and frame your location.
  5. Roll camera for a minimum of 90 seconds.
  6. While rolling, pay attention to how you feel. Is anything required of you physically or mentally during the shot? Are you bored? Is your mind full or empty?
  7. When you cut, scribble down notes responding to #6. These notes summarise the cinematographer-perception.
  8. Repeat steps 4 through 7 for each of your five locations.
  9. Capture, transfer, or otherwise get your footage off the camera, ready to post-produce.
  10. Leave to prove on your hard drive overnight.

Part 2:

  1. Get your footage ready to edit.
  2. Cut your footage into a sequence that you believe is visually interesting. Play with shot durations, cut-points, repetition, film speed.
  3. Choose a soundtrack that you believe represents the space/place filmed. This could be found music, your own composition, voiceover, or a soundscape of some kind.
  4. Export your video, then watch it. As you watch, pay attention to how you feel. Is anything required of you physically or mentally during the shot? Are you bored? Is your mind full or empty? What grabs your attention?
  5. When the video ends, scribble down notes responding to #4. These notes comprise the viewer-perception.
  6. Compare the cinematographer-perception and viewer-perception. What changes? What is the same? Are there any words that occurred more than once? What does this tell you about how time and the image function together? Where is the human in the act of cinematography? The act of viewing? (Particularly when the machine has so much control.)

Recipe 2: Responsive film practice and the presence of the maker

  1. Attach a sports camera to yourself (in times of lack, a smartphone might suffice).
  2. Use the camera to film yourself experiencing a place (this could be simply walking through an area, climbing something, or immersing yourself in some other way). Capture at least ten minutes of footage.
  3. In the edit process, consider ways that you might reduce the length of footage.
  4. Try to find edit techniques that keep the maker (you) present in the image, but that also respond to the atmosphere of the original place (think elements: air, water, earth, fire).
  5. Note down those techniques that worked best.
  6. Watch your finished video and consider how well it represents you as the maker, and also how well it responds to the place in which you filmed.

Post-Thinking: Time, film, and a responsive cinema practice

Time crisis

Depending on whom you choose to read, film sits somewhere between potential and cognition; between the past and the future; between memory and the nebulous conscious moment.

Domietta Torlasco suggests that perception is key to film: that in the ‘folding of spatial and temporal dimensions’ of conscious perception, there is a ‘writing of the flesh’ that occurs (2013, p. 3). The cinematic device that allows for this inscription, this folding of time and space – at least for Torlasco – is the edit. The cut, she writes, is ‘a bearer of a memory that comes from the future, allowing for the emergence of images (specters) that speak of lost life as much as of life that demands to be lived’ (p. 3). The edit is a fold: ‘a turning inside out rather than an excision of the visible, a reversal rather than an annihilation of perception’ (p. 4). For Torlasco, the key to film is in the viewer’s perception. In Torlasco’s example – Pierre Huyghe’s installation work The Ellipsis – a jump cut invites the viewer to become a participant in the narrative. The argument here is that there is no story without the viewer’s acceptance of the cues laid out by the filmmaker. For Torlasco, the maker is largely absent, it is the viewer that does the heavy lifting, that is the work of perception.

In Daniel Frampton’s pure, post-auteurist cine-utopia, the maker is neither present nor absent. Film, suggests Frampton, is the visualisation of thought, and by removing the filmmaker from the equation one can more easily comprehend the filmic apparatus and immerse oneself in the cinematic experience. In one part of his Filmosophy manifesto, Frampton runs through the historical of theoretical approaches to the author in film. From William Rothman’s ‘camera I’, through the absent author, to a purely narratological or post-narratological figure, Frampton’s point is that previous theory has set human thought and film-thinking in some sort of opposition. At best, for Frampton, film-thinking mirrors the thinking of the viewer.

The notion of a singular author is problematic for Frampton – who cites Susan Sontag in this matter – as film can never match its director’s expectation. Breaking away from the problems of auteurism, Frampton moves to Kawin’s ‘mindscreen’, before dismissing this notion as not going far enough. Frampton suggests that film theory has an over-reliance on narrative and the need to channel analysis through characters. Frampton suggests instead that the filmmaker, the film, and the filmgoer are arbitrary categories, and what is more important is how the film functions as an active participant within this tri-fold network. Character and plot development, rapid shifts in tone, disruptive breaks in an experimental film, the slight variation of a light between scenes, all of these adjustments, according to Frampton, are the result of what he calls the film-mind. All parts of the filmmaking process contribute to and constitute the film-mind where ‘[a]rtists and cameras and technicians and writers and microphones and actors and nature and best boys all play a part’ (Frampton, 2005, p. 71). The maker is neither present nor absent, all that matters is the filmic matter in itself.

What separates cinema from many of the other arts is duration. Without time, film cannot be made, and it cannot be viewed. Gilles Deleuze’s thesis in Cinema 2 is that film-time is not contingent on movement or montage – nor even on character – but is immanent to the film image itself. For Deleuze film sits somewhere between potential and actual; between the subject and the representation. ‘[T]here is no present’, writes Deleuze, ‘which is not haunted by a past and a future, by a past which is not reducible to a former present, by a future which does not consist of a present to come’ (Deleuze, 2005b, p. 36). It could be inferred from this that the film is the present. The filmic frame, when exposed, freezes time, and inscribes that present moment into the celluloid. The great paradox, though, is that the cinematic apparatus must necessarily move on to the next frame: the just-captured present almost immediately becomes the past.

The filmic shot (uninterrupted footage), according to Deleuze, is a ‘matrix or cell of time’ (Deleuze, 2005b, p. 34). He also writes that all cinema must ‘achieve the presentation of time’ (Deleuze, 2005b, pp. 36-7). While largely ignored by Deleuze, I argue that the filmmaker is crucial to this process, it is the maker who acts to inscribe the present, however fleeting. Deleuze instead posits that the cinematic apparatus (be that camera, film, whatever) inscribes time. He calls this direct inscription of time, the crystal-image:

The crystal reveals a direct time-image, and no longer an indirect image of time deriving from movement … What the crystal reveals or makes visible is the hidden ground of time, that is, its differentiation into two flows, that of presents which pass and that of pasts which are preserved … There are … two possible time-images, one grounded in the past, the other in the present (Deleuze, 2005b, p. 95).

Is it the maker that controls this possibility? Whether it is a quest to represent the real, or to shift more towards virtuality (consider, for a moment, the unlikely juxtaposition of the Dardennes’ Rosetta and the Wachowskis’ The Matrix – coincidentally, both films were released in 1999), it is the maker who starts the process of inscription and chooses where to end it. This is a control that transcends the technology in use, be it celluloid or digital; it is also a control that needn’t concern itself with questions of character or narrative. This is a relationship between maker and tool and between tool and world. This maker-tool-world nexus is explored in the practical works that accompany this writing. Through a combined practice of mindful cinematography and editing, noticing, listing, and content analysis, these experiments attempted to activate some of Deleuze’s ideas around time and the filmed image. In particular, I have sought to explore how time might be encoded into the image, and thus become immanent to the image itself. There is here an exploration of Deleuze’s notion of the crystal-image as the ‘interface–image’ between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’ as it relates to the practice of digital cinema. What results are three conclusions about the practice of responsive production and post-production; this responsive practice is woven into the notion of subjectivity and cinema. This writing sits alongside and converses with the two videos Pieces of Pound Bend and The Yarra & I.

Inscribing time: The maker is absent

Pieces of Pound Bend was cut from a series of static shots taken at Pound Bend Reserve, near Melbourne, Australia. This filming – and the subsequent editing – was based on a ‘recipe’ formulated in response to what I had read on time and cinema, post-humanist theory, and an emerging interest in mindfulness and how it might intersect with media practice. What resulted is a piece where the mark of the maker is less apparent than anticipated. In fact, what emerges most when watching Pieces is a sense of place, rather than of subjective space or a framed environment. This is in direct opposition to what I felt while capturing these shots: an intense connection to the subject and a strong feeling of immersion and oneness with my surroundings. In Pieces of Pound Bend, the mark of the maker is notably absent.

I set out with this first experiment to use place to focus my ideas: place thus being one less variable I had to worry about. I wanted to inscribe time without having to worry too much about the content of the shot. By filming in an aesthetically pleasing but quiet location I was able to hand over the action to the natural world. At various points during the edited sequence there is movement within the otherwise static frame, the ripple of the river, a leaf floating to the ground, a branch twisting in the breeze. These movements are indeed, as per Deleuze, a mark of time, but they are not necessary for time to have passed for time itself moves in an unmoving frame. While waiting for these shots to finish rolling I became easily distracted by my surroundings, the tweeting of birds, breeze through trees, the distant sound of road machinery. The inscription of time, then, is perhaps achieved in part by the immersion of the maker in what surrounds the camera apparatus. ‘Framing’, says Frampton, ‘is a position of thinking’ (Frampton, 2005, p. 125). But when consciously inscribing time, framing is less important. I was privileged to have pleasant surrounds to film, but this recipe would hold for any location because location restricts and focuses the inscription.

It is worth noting, then, that the lens cap could be on, and a similar effect could be achieved. Time would still be inscribed in the film, even while no image would be imprinted. The image introduces a subjectivity: a perhaps unnecessary one. Jean Epstein writes that the cinematic image cannot wholly accurately present the maker’s ideation:

[T]he cinematograph … marks its representation of the universe with its own qualities, with an originality that makes this representation not a reflection or a simple copy with conceptions … but rather a system that is individualized differently (Keller & Paul, 2012, p. 312).

Epstein goes on to differentiate between human and machine in terms of perception of the universe where ‘[i]n human comprehension, there is space and there is time, out of which a synthesis of space-time is hard to construct. In the cinematographic comprehension, there is only space-time’ (Keller & Paul, 2012, p. 312)

The moving image is then a maelstrom of subjectivities. Not just the traditional conundrum of auteur versus collective authorship, but also this differentiation between machine-vision and human-vision as conflicting perceptions that somehow converge and form the cinematic experience. With Pieces of Pound Bend, I sought to feel time and to inscribe that sensation on the digital sensor. It is perhaps ironic, then, that the image does not matter in Pieces of Pound Bend, the image has become just a placeholder for time. The resulting work is cold, unfeeling, like the environment itself. In the opening seconds you can hear me sniffle, but beyond that you wouldn’t know I was next to the camera the entire time. I felt a connection to the surroundings, but not to the work as its product, and that is what was captured, the absence of the maker.

Jumping and folding: The maker is present

‘Anything can feel like something you are in’ (Stewart, 2011, p. 449). Admittedly, I may have taken Kathleen Stewart’s words a little too seriously when I strapped a small portable waterproof sports camera to my wrist and jumped into the Yarra River.

The filming done for Pieces of Pound Bend was hands-off. Set up the tripod, attach the camera, quickly frame a shot, and begin recording. Most of the shots lasted over 90 seconds so for much of the shooting my mind was free to wander and the notes or lists I made reflect occasional thoughts drifting to the camera set-up, or the look of the shot, but for the most part, my mind was a jumble of thoughts. My body was part of the landscape, not part of the film itself and, as noted, this is reflected in the coldness of the resulting video.

Figure 1: Screenshot from Pieces of Pound Bend.

Compare this to The Yarra & I, where, essentially, my body was the camera. With Pieces my mind wandered, and the machine did the work of inscribing time. With The Yarra & I thoughts of time and other distractions were nowhere near me. I was wholly absorbed in the experience of keeping my body afloat, dodging rocks and shallow areas, trying to keep my toes from tangling in the weeds. The camera was loosely held in my hand, secured to my wrist with a strap, and the footage manages to capture every bump and stumble. You can hear me trying to keep my breathing even. I was attempting to relax, and be present, mindful while recording, but the strength of the current and my constant bumping and scraping along the riverbed never let me feel too comfortable. Here I was not connected to my wider surroundings, nor to the filmed images but the results are very different to the earlier experiment of Pieces of Pound Bend. What results in the footage here is a hugely subjective product where my experience is the camera’s where my subjectivity is inscribed in image and sound.

With The Yarra & I, I experimented in post-production, attempting to activate some of Torlasco’s ideas about the cut as the folding or crystallisation of time. Torlasco co-opts Pasolini in suggesting that a shot must end for it to have meaning as ‘both cinema and life need death or montage to acquire a certain internal differentiation, which Pasolini calls here ‘sense’ and identifies with a shift from the confusion and contradictions of the present to the clarity and coherence of the past’ (Torlasco, 2013, p. 22).

The shots that constitute The Yarra & I are arranged in chronological order. The footage filmed during my forty-minute journey ran to around fifteen minutes, and the final film was cut down to just over five minutes in length. The cuts are either standard temporal jumps, where the image is completely different, or are masked cuts designed to ‘fold’ time, hiding, rather than revealing, the moment of transition. These edits are jumps or folds that weave the journey down the river into a more condensed remembrance of my experience. The intention here was not so much to inscribe time, but to play with my perceived time of the forty-minute journey down the river and remembered time. While the video can certainly stand in for my own experience, it is, as always, a representation.

In The Yarra & I what must be considered is the lack of control I had over the image. The sports camera I used does not have a viewfinder (many do not), and it was impractical to connect it wirelessly to a smartphone to check the image. It was also connected to my wrist so the view of the camera is from one of my extremities, not my eye or, necessarily, my mind. My extremities were constantly moving, both forward and backward, as well as in and out of the water.

Figure 2: Screenshot from The Yarra & I.

The resulting footage is perhaps a more accurate representation of place than was achieved in Pieces of Pound Bend. The embodied experience recorded, of being at the mercy of the river, is certainly a valid representational response to the river itself. In the manner suggested by Stewart the camera and, to an extent, I, attuned ourselves to the environment, and the footage is the outcome of those attunements. The footage was at the mercy of the current, of trying to stay afloat, trying to capture moments that were meaningful, and failing. Those moments that stuck for me were only seen in the editing process and were therefore impossible to conceive at the time of recording. One underwater shot contains, to the left, a plant swaying in the current, with a rock perfectly composed on the right. Another shot captures the sun through a sheen of water: particles of dust floating past the light. Yet another frame catches a glimpse of myself, shot from below the surface, as I look around for the safest path.

These images are random, a recontextualised remembrance of events. Time is jumped through and folded in on itself. The maker is certainly present, but the ‘making’ happens almost independently of them.

Crisis unresolved, reframed

Deleuze and Torlasco struggle somewhat with a conception of film-time. Frampton offers us a new perspective that, in a sense, eschews temporality where the film experiences time in its own way, as do we. Epstein meanwhile offers the idea that in cinema’s perception there is no differentiation between time and space – space-time is the singular perceptual continuum of film. What I sought to do with these videos and with this writing was to consider film-time and film-perception through a practice of mindful media-making. The results were mixed and unexpected. I am left with three provisional conclusions.

The first is that the conscious inscription of time on film is a practice that can lead to cold, somewhat tedious footage. This is because to inscribe time you have to allow time. The feeling of a fair stretch of time passing, in the case of Pieces of Pound Bend, is apparent in the resulting footage. There is in the image a strong representation of place, but not of space as it relates to human subjectivity and the image seems secondary to the inscription of time.

The second conclusion is that the felt or actual presence of the maker does not necessarily result in a subjectivity that is oriented around the perception of the maker. In The Yarra & I, while I occasionally appear in the frame (indeed, in certain shots I consciously film myself), the overall feeling of the montage is that the environment is in charge. This is in part due to the context of the filming with the strength of the river current, the danger of rocks beneath the surface, and so on. But even if the experiment were repeated, I doubt a viewer would ascribe a film-maker’s subjectivity to the image. The randomness of the filmed footage, in part due to the lack of viewfinder, removes the restriction of compositional considerations, and instead imparts a more embodied aesthetic, one that is less composed and more responsive.

The third conclusion reached is that the condensation of felt time does not necessarily diminish the potential for felt remembrance or felt experience while viewing. This is perhaps one of the primary concerns of editing practice – time must necessarily be condensed in order to relay compelling narratives. In the case of The Yarra & I the conscious use of jump cuts and ‘fold’ cuts resulted in a shortened version of the journey down the river that is not more or less intense, nor does it consciously seek to present ‘highlights’ or interesting moments. It is instead a manifestation of an editing practice that reflects the rhythm of an aesthetic that is responsive to the flow of the river. Where my hand was forced to plunge beneath the surface to find a handhold, the image does so too. I often made use of the moments where the water must clear from the lens to shift the film forward, to fold chronology like the back cover of a MAD Magazine.

In the age of digital cameras and smartphones we can inscribe and fold time at will. The cost of this convenience is perhaps that we no longer as keenly feel the time we are capturing. Our subjectivity and that of our lens are enmeshed, and a sense of the maker being present while making has been lost. A mindful, responsive film practice is something that could be at the heart of the craft of digital cinema. With technologies that rely less on feet of film remaining, less on strong camera supports, and that can be encased in waterproof canisters and tossed into a river, or attached to drones and flown into voids, a responsive production and post-production process is almost necessary.


Deleuze, G. (2005). Cinema I: The Movement-Image, London: Continuum.

________ (2005). Cinema II: The Time-Image. London: Continuum.

Frampton, D. (2005). Filmosophy, London: Wallflower Press.

Herzog, W. (2005). Grizzly Man, [DVD] Santa Monica: Lionsgate Films.

Keller, S, & Paul, J. N. (Eds.) (2012). Jean Epstein: Critical Essays and New Translations. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Manovich, L. (2002). The language of new media. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Morton, T. (2012),. The ecological thought, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Pickering, A. (1995). The mangle of practice: Time, agency, and science, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Stewart, K. (2011). Atmospheric attunements. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 29, 445-53.

Torlasco, D. (2013). The heretical archive: Digital memory at the end of film. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

About the author

Dr Daniel Binns is a screenwriter, producer, and teacher of film and media. He is a Senior Lecturer at RMIT University, Melbourne where he teaches and researches media concepts and cross-media production, and has published on war cinema, graphic novel film/TV adaptations, and new media tools and technologies.


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