A Window, A Frame

I like to look out bus windows.


Well, it used to be car windows,  but now that I live in the city, the most I ever get to experience passive viewings of a passerby is through the window of a city bus. For even a brief moment, the window of the city bus frames a scene, a home, dare I say… an ecology.

But for this mere moment, the bus’s only intention is the frame what it passes by. It doesn’t really choose what you’re going to see, but since it’s following a route, you’re going to see what’s along the route. Arguably, that’s how they made the choice to frame what any one person looking out the window, but I digress.

Following transportation inequality via buses in New York City will be hard, at least capturing it will be. It’ll be difficult, not in task, but because I don’t want to put a bias into the perspective I capture. Gasland is made with a lot of …. intentionality (not a word). Josh Fox is a filmmaker, so he knows what he’s doing. He knows exactly what stance he takes on the matter, he knows what he wants others to take away from his documentary. He’s portraying his opinion through this camera lens. What he shows and what he doesn’t show is done purposely and meticulously to further his stance and his agenda on fracking. The media he chose was personal to make watchers feel like they could easily place themselves in his shoes. The style he chose to film in was gritty and raw but sticks to the notion of exposure and hypocrisy. Even holistically, just looking at the trailer, we are able to see Fox’s approach. Cutting between interviews and personal narrative, Gasland is really made to make viewers form an opinion, done both with words and actions/edits.

Giving movement purpose, Emma Charles also uses motion edits in Fragments on Machines, like Fox, but does so in a way that uses the nature of her comparison. Charles rides the train over the Williamsburg Bridge until she goes underground to the Essex St. Station. Once the light from above ground disappears, she uses the direction the train was moving in and continues this movement as she walks through aisles upon aisles of cables and wires.

It is both Fox’s personal narrative and Charles’s purposeful movements that I want to incorporate into documenting my ecology. Now, I don’t want to inject bias into how I frame the boroughs I visit because I don’t want viewers to experience a distorted perception of the reality I’m trying to highlight. I could very easily focus my attention on the parts of the Bronx that make it the poorest or the parts of Staten Island that make it seem the most affluent. The real question is: do I? Do I want to do that? What are the implications if I do so? What does this perspective lend to viewers? Does remaining unbiased content come with any greater knowledge or insight? Does it grab people’s attention? Is that the affectiveness I want to portray?

I’ll mull this over as I ride the bus.

– Yangsin

~ by ylauvazquez on October 25, 2016.

3 Responses to “A Window, A Frame”

  1. I love that you talked about the bus window that you use as a lens, that was immediately captivating to me and so relatable. I used to always memorize license plates when I was younger and since moving to NYC my eyes get lost and dulled in the shadowed windows of the underground subway cars. It will be interesting to see the artistic decisions you make in trying to represent something as elusive as transportation inequality. Awarding you most interesting perspective!

  2. most ethical: it is clear to readers how mindful you are about prescribing your inquiry with your own answers, that is, your bias.

  3. i absolutely think it’s a fresh aspect by examining things through a window. The windows are also like cameras that seperate us, the audiences, with the objects we see. However, what the narrator chooses to put in that window is somewhat decided by him. Maybe if we turn around to another window, we will find another truth.

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