Video Vortex 6

Florian Cramer

Florian Cramer reflects on the new online movie genre of bokeh porn referring to the shallow depth of field cinema aesthetic now seen in “amateur” movies created with DSLR cameras. It comes from “the Japanese word boke (暈け or ボケ), which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji (ボケ味), the “blur quality”.” (Wikipedia)

The bokeh is no longer an aesthetic quality of the image but in this new genre the bokeh becomes the central aspect of the whole film. The camera often appears in the film as its own image, a real Narcissus and can be interpreted as the perfect example of the medium is the message. In that sense it is even more radical than Vertov’s Kino Eye where the human eye and the video eye melt because in the bokeh it is purely the medium, the video eye is melted with the video’s medium eye.

The title of Cramer’s talk comes from a provocative blogpost titled ‘bokeh porn’ in which the author critically adresses the new owner of a DSLR camera with video function shooting nothing but shallow depth of test movies:

Let me ask you something. When was the last freakin’ time you watched a film at the cinema when every shot, and I mean EVERY SHOT had extremely shallow depth of field? Never, that’s when. In fact many 35mm filmmakers aim for DEEP depth of field.

In bokeh videos, the shots are the narrative. The bokeh film makers do not aim to be experimental filmmakers like Michael Snow, but instead they aim to create the new Departed. Bokeh is a form of visual fetishism, it is not avant-garde but porn.

Video Vortex 6Looking back at Andy Warhol’s screen-test we see that now the camera has become the superstar and gets its 15 minutes of fame. If the filmmaking becomes a demo, the process of production becomes central, with a focus on the sociality of technicality in the exchange of tips and trucs in online fora. In this sociality the main topic of discussion is the camera gear being used. The camera is the main actor of the film and is often visible in several frames. In the example shown by Cramer (see below) the name of the camera is mirrored back and by doing so putting even more focus on the camera as author. We could then argue that bokeh does have a narrative as it tells the process of the filmmaking in its most abstract form. The process is depicting itself.

The classic hollywood narrative style is continuity editing. Bokeh porn follows the same style but it is pure continuity, it does not connect things, it connects continuity with continuity with nothing in-between.

Bokeh is part of a revival of analog aesthetics which can also be seen in iPhone photo applications such as Hipstamatic. It is a living image that has an organic quality to it.

 

by pilpop… the bathroom / GH2 & Nokton f0.95 from pilpop on Vimeo.