About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Monday, April 4, 2011
Blog post written by Matthew R. Reis, Cinema & Photography major and Art History minor '13, FLEFF Intern, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
MR: So what project do you still wish to tackle and make before you, I hate to say it, retire or pass away?
PMJ: Well I would say the things that I’m working on now are, of course, what I think about the most. It’s called “Brozeville, Etudes and Riffs” and it’s an immersive narrative in the synthetic world “SL.” That project is really a first step in the direction I’m presently looking, which is to use synthetic environments to invent a new form of narrative composition. I’m thinking about how three-dimensional immersive online environments present opportunities for rethinking and reinventing how stories are told. And also how information or content is organized and accessed.
In terms of a particular thing beyond what I just described that I want to do before I die I can’t say I have something [in mind.] You know for me the point is to keep working and to keep that work interesting. That’s a constant challenge.
MR: Just a fun little question. Since you’ve worked in all different media types do you have a preference for digital or film? Do you prefer both? And is the “digital age” destroying film?
PMJ: I don’t think its either or. Film has its own its own nature, character, strengths and purposes. There is a language to cinema and there is a language, which is similar, but not the same, to video. Also, photography has a language and sculpture has a language and so on. So each, to me, is a tool and all these tools are part of my studio environment. I just look at any form or medium to see whether its particular strengths or qualities [suit] some idea or ambition. I don’t discard media that I have previously concentrated on. You know that’s just something I learned and know how to do and know how to use and then, you know, it just becomes part of my toolkit.
MR: Sweet so to go off your point it’s important to note that the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College may start to dump film in favor of High Definition technology in Cinema Production 2 (the second of two exclusively film oriented classes.) Whether this idea is bad or not is debatable. However in our new age technology movement do you think young artists take their tools, like HD, for granted? Also have you seen a shift in how people use and think of technology since you began working with video in ’69?
PMJ: Well I think — yes definitely and that’s because of the drive of commercial aspects to make digital and wireless technologies [non-analog in nature] pervasive. That’s fine, but for me there’s always the drive beyond the frontier and to explore a form, a medium, in terms of looking at its envelope of possibilities and capabilities, I look to push that out and take a step towards some unknown territory with it to see what it can do.
Pushing buttons and using things like the flash that are built into the current kinds of machines we use is only interesting to me momentarily. The source of my thinking and interest isn’t tied to a particular form or medium. So [film and video etc.] are all just things for me to use to get to something that’s of interest to me.
Now I think that my experience with analog forms such as photo, chemical photography, 16mm film, analog video, analog audio is really important. It gives me a certain perspective on using tools that I think are important. Not to say that somebody who does not have experience [with analog forms] cannot use current tools very well and with master level skill. It’s just that where I’ve been and what I’ve done has helped to shape how I see these things. They give me a perspective that is useful and valuable and that also help’s me to convey to others, like students, a kind of perspective on how to think about using media tools. They also give me an appreciation for the common threads that run throughout the spectrum of media tools — the concepts, principals and organizing structures — that a really skilled practitioner recognizes and uses.
There are things that happened in cinema history — going back to the early 20th c. — that are still absolutely relevant and critical today. Regardless of one [form] that someone is using that’s part of the visual language. At the same time there are things that are possible with the tools that we have available today that were not possible in the early 20th c. and actually changed the conversation today. That’s also important to recognize and to make [certain] distinctions between them. All [technology] is worth knowing; I think its kind of sad that young practitioners today are not so exposed to the analog forms, but I’m old and you know [analog technology] looks a certain way to me. But, it won’t stop great work from being produced in the current environment.
MR: I have a super-8 camera and I’ve used 16mm film before. There’s just something about pre-digital technology that’s very malleable and hands on, which is a good thing. You only have once chance to get the right shot for example so there’s some planning that goes with it. With digital a chip captures the image yet you have more flexibility. So I do agree that there are good things to go along with both analog and digital mediums.
End of Interview.
I thank Mr. Jones for talking to me. His insights and great memories of Ithaca prove that this town is a great place to live. I’m glad he will be able to bring his knowledge of new (and old) media formats to FLEFF.
So what aspect of Mr. Jones’ work do you want to learn more about?