Forced Attention

Attention. Attention. Attention. Probably the one of the most difficult things to pull out of modern hyper-information-consuming people yet one of the most basic, fundamental, core qualities before any sort of understanding, reflection, argument or action.

The several ecology projects with high completeness we’ve covered in class thus far, they all share one similar quality: engaging that forces attention. Such engaging quality I’m talking is not about how interesting the content is or how thought-provoking the topic is. What I’m talking is pure camera work and pure arrangement of the perspective that forces the audience to focus.

In “Fragments of Machines”, there are more than one use of long shot that goes through the interval between endless sets of wires, cords and machines.


Fragments of Machines, Screenshot.

The length of these shots are way longer than the amount of time enough for audience to notice, comprehend and then move on. Instead, they are so long, that the audience have to stay. Their attention is weaved together with the perspective of the camera so they keep focusing as the shot goes on, until we discover a little bit more than we think we already knew, and become a little bit more aware of what we’re seeing.

I have the same feelings when I was watching Food, Inc. At the beginning, the camera is intentionally arranged at the first-person perspective: so you feel like you are the one shopping in the supermarket and looking at those different products. And the length of the camera stopping over on each product is also a little bit longer than usual – so slow that it’s almost like a slow motion. While we won’t usually stare that long into the shelf in real life, the camera forces us to stare longer: pushing us to notice and pay attention.


Food,Inc. Screenshot.

For my project that focuses on the “thing-power” of items selling in Salvation Army thrift shop, it’s also important to draw this type of forced attention. Shots in these documentary film usually stay longer than the shots we use to film other things in our life becuase there better be enough space and time for audiences to pay attention and process the information. So I decided, when I film my video, to give each item enough “time space” or trace their trajectory a little bit deeper or longer than “just enough” so that audience can connect their own perspectives with the perspective of my camera.



~ by abbywu1123 on October 24, 2016.

4 Responses to “Forced Attention”

  1. Abby,
    Your blog post for this week was the most aesthetically aware. You were able to pull out specific visual techniques from the theory makings we studied and not just demonstrate them through your screen caps, but also explain their affect. You also related them back to your introductory thought about the need to draw the audience’s attention. Good work!
    – Theresa

  2. I feel like your blog post had the best topic. I thought that your decision to focus on the way “Fragments on Machines” and “Food Inc” were filmed, particularly emphasizing the camera angles, was really informative, especially with Video Proposals due this week. It’s interesting to think about how considered camera angles are in film, and how it creates perspective that is either personal or impersonal. Depending on our ecology projects, I think it’ll be interesting to see how everyone decides to shoot their video. Do we want it to be a POV or do we want it to be taken from a third-person perspective? When would it be inappropriate to film from a first-person perspective?

  3. Hey there,

    I think this is the most aware (not to copy Theresa) in this blog. Your understanding and observation of the uses of the long shot in “Fragments on Machines” and in “Food Inc” is actually something I didn’t even notice and am now considering, thanks to you bringing it forward. It’s true — when shopping in a supermarket like in Food Inc, we don’t stare too long, for many reasons, but that means we glaze over some facts that we may need to notice in our food. I’m glad you brought this forward and are going to incorporate it in your ecology!

  4. That’s something I never even thought about. Crazy how little things like this can make a huge difference in the kind of attention we give things. Any tips on bringing more attention to blog posts?

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