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1: Voice posts 4.3 Cuckoos at Dawn 4: Audience: Kyrgyzstan posts Documentary Narrative

Time-based narratives

Time-based narratives include:

  • slide-shows and narrative screen or audio-visual presentations
  • video, animations and slide-shows.
  • on-line interactive experiences

An on-line audio-visual piece can be a piece of art in itself – with images carefully sequenced and timed as a narrative with complementary sound effects and/or narration and/or music as part of the art. It can also be  part of the promotional  ‘presence’ of the work – to coincide with an exhibition or publication, or to help raise interest in funding for a future project.

Like books, slideshows have a very ‘linear’ narrative, even more so than the photobook. The creator is in control of the order in which viewers see images and therefore has greater control over the meanings generated.

Software enables a substantial numbers of images can be combined – some similar and some contrasting to enhance a narrative. The software I used in this course includes:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Premiere
  • Adobe Animate
  • Adobe After Effects

The boundary between video and still photography is becoming increasingly blurred. As high definition video is becoming a standard feature of both consumer and professional DSLRs, and shooting video is becoming more intuitive to digital photographers, it is likely that clients will start to expect photographers to offer video as well as still images.

A more recent development enabling the viewer to take back some control is interactivity, particularly on-line interactive experiences.

In addition to consideration of the visual dynamics of each image these also involve:

  • which images are chosen and what they stand for
  • where they’re placed in relation to each other to create hierarchy and/or contrast/contradiction

Visual images can be accompanied by text, music, voice and other audio.

Slideshows and audio-visual presentations

An on-line audio-visual piece can be a piece of art in itself – with images carefully sequenced and timed as a narrative with complementary sound effects and/or narration and/or music as part of the art. It can also be  part of the promotional  ‘presence’ of the work – to coincide with an exhibition or publication, or to help raise interest in funding for a future project.

Like books, slideshows have a very ‘linear’ narrative, even more so than the photobook. The creator is in control of the order in which viewers see images and therefore has greater control over the meanings generated.

Victorian ‘magic lantern’ shows –  idea of projecting a photographic image onto a surface for a temporary duration rather than creating a hard copy to be exhibited

1960s, 70s and 80s  slideshow screenings at amateur international competitive events. Specialist equipment was developed, whereby two slide projectors would be automated (in terms of duration and opacity of each slide) whilst also playing a stereo soundtrack, all controlled by a domestic cassette tape.

Automated displays of photographs as for example web galleries are now very common. Slideshow galleries on WordPress and SmugMug, the Slideshow module in Lightroom and iPhoto, as well as Windows consumer software, make it easy to compile this type of automated slideshow quickly and easily. But these are limited – the main control being over the images themselves: which images are show in which order, manipulation of each image to vary the effect of eg colour, viewpoint and crop, sequencing to vary these effects in a meaningful way, and the content and style of any titles and text to reinforce or challenge the meaning in the image. Some software like lightroom Slideshow module allows narration, sound and/or music and mixing of photos with video.

More considered audio-visual presentations can be both works of art in themselves, and/or more effective as a means of promoting still images. Here the creator takes more control of the relative timing of viewing of each image – some take longer and some less time. There are also different types of transition. Effects can be superimposed to change the image – zooming and panning, changing colour and focus as each image is viewed, multiple images shown at the same time.

  • Urbex: Beauty in Decay
  • Chris Leslie: slideshows of ‘Disappearing Glasgow’ with photos, background music and interviews. I find these very evocative as a social documentary portrait. These are in a linked series on vimeo – start with  https://vimeo.com/29799259
  • Xavier Ribas  ‘Concrete Geographies’.  Photos of concrete blocks in Barcelona. See his website: http://www.xavierribas.com. This has inside views and links to vimeos of other books like Sanctuary – no text, one photo per spread. Sometimes a cross-over image. But the onscreen resolution is not good enough to really see the images.
  • Alessandro Rota A Neocolonialist’s diary.  Small paisley pattern cover. Coloured photos of sheets in Lusaka. Dark night streets. Lights. See his website . And vimeo of the book. https://vimeo.com/28099164
  • Foto8 Magazine has many powerful photo-only documentary stories with music.

Less effective I thought were:

Video and Moving Image

The boundary between video and still photography is becoming increasingly blurred. As high definition video is becoming a standard feature of both consumer and professional DSLRs, and shooting video is becoming more intuitive to digital photographers, it is likely that clients will start to expect photographers to offer video as well as still images. For more on Moving Image see my personal development blog for OCA Moving Image 1: Animation module.

Particularly Assignment 3 Documentary

More video-based:

  • Magnum in Motion and the subscription-based Mediastorm have powerful documentaries that mix video (often slow-motion and photo-like) and animated or still photos with narrative voice over.
  • 1 in 8 Million (New York Times) has a video gallery with video/photo mixes linked to videos with personal stories of varied New Yorkers.
  • Duckrabbit does training as well as producing documentaries blending moving as well as still images.

Interactive Experiences

!! More here on interactive experiences. With background and examples relevant to Kyrgyzstan ‘Life and Colour in T’ien Shan’.

Adobe on-line interactive e-book from Illustration 2 Assignment 5 as submitted for assessment.

However the situation in Ethiopia was extremely tense when I took the photographs and the political future was unclear. I was not sure how I could take the project forward at that time without affecting my possibilities of getting a return visa or putting colleagues in a difficult position if I said anything controversial. Particularly if I attempted to disseminate any publication beyond OCA. The resulting e-book is very superficial and clunky.