Cinematography is definitely the most exposed expressionism science in modern history. We wouldn’t be wrong saying it has become “number one” visual arts influencer of the world as we know it. Started as a remarkable scientific discovery at the end of the 19th century, surrounded with controversy and attacked by contemporary artists and society at the time, taking the world in only few decades, filmmaking art of the 20th century set extremely high standards and gradually reshaped the cultural and socio-psychological patterns of the world. What is the thing that we recognize as a piece of art in the filmmaking process? Can we extract only the parts that we can understand as art?
Andrei Tarkovsky, one of the greatest directors in the 20th century cinema, and one of the most influential filmmakers, bequeathed to us the artistic scheme that every individual artist should be able to read and learn from. Regarding my own experience in creating book covers and digital art, working around the single frame and incorporating the importance of the moment in one single image, I learned that filmmaking process must share the same values, facing the same challenges and risks. Its a dangerous territory for any artist, only for a reason of the nakedness of the creating mind behind and unavoidable psychological self-exposure to active audience.This exposure could be selective sometimes and depends on the artist, but an observer is always trying to get the full picture and understand the meaning which might lead to wrong and menacing interpretations. Tarkovsky handled the issue by making the long takes, forcing the audience to catch up with all of the details and atmospheric balance around. His cuts are the most perceptible imageries ever seen in cinematography, hence the duration needed for making the whole picture makes a scene look dreamlike, metaphysical, disturbing.
Tarkovsky’s secret is time. Time we need to observe, feel, and more than enough to eventually understand. And if we go far enough and cut his scenes into individual frames and shots, every single picture would carry the same atmospheric notion and balance, communicating on a quite deep and personal level, something we can relate to. Best thing to prove the theory is taking out a random screenshot from any of Tarkovsky’s films and print it as a photography or wall art. And if you don’t see it right away, that’s ok. You have all the “time” in the world.
Besides the beautiful compositions and the sound that follows each of the second of his films, the candle light effects, natural lighting or polaroids, the time he took to deliver the awe factor could be a crucial element for understanding Tarkovsky and the reason why he is considered the greatest filmmaker ever.
author Ivan Bjørn
Book cover designer and contemporary visual artist. Over 500 publications, prints, book covers and artworks worldwide. www.nadavisual.com