How I Film
by Ken Paul Rosenthal © 2015
"Seeing is an act of creation."
- Thomas Walther, Photographer
I neither shoot nor record images. Shooting propels one's intentions towards the subject, while recording wrests an image from its native place. What can the world present to me outside of a climate-controlled sound stage, unfettered by the dictates of a script, and uncluttered by expectations? Where will I harvest that dialogue? How does the sentient earth invite me to cultivate a dynamic exchange?
I seek a more participatory relationship with the animate landscapes and city surfaces within hiking and biking distance of my front door. A quivering tree branch beckons like a finger; a splash of light winks at me from a shimmering puddle; restless shadows on a building side are passageways for my curiosity. These configurations of textures and gestures distinguish themselves by virtue of their fundamentally ephemeral nature; they are borderless, mutable, shapeshifting entities. Engaging them is a process of deep listening with my eyes. I hear them call me from within my field of vision, and I respond by tenderly pointing my attention in their direction.
Even though 'image' is at the root of imagination, I must hold lightly to any conceit that I am producing – or even finding – an image. Leaves and chain link fences rustle in anticipation of an indeterminate score as I raise my camera lens like a conductor's wand. Then I roll the focus ring from side to side, and cast my curiosity back and forth through deep space until an image suddenly manifests quite literally from thin air. The images that enter my camera are offered to me. I often bow to my subject after I've received an image because making film this way is an act of gratitude. And a dance. Not forcing my ideas onto my subject keeps me from stepping on its toes. The world keeps spinning and light slips quickly! Each image is written on the wind and can evaporate as immediately as it appears. I am a kite, shifting and composing my self and my camera in relation to the animate mood of my subject.
The world and I play one another like instruments – a graceful, empathetic, and harmonious orchestration of light and sight. As image after image coalesces like notes in a musical passage, my muscles and bones begin to vibrate like cello strings. The edges of my flesh and the borders of my heart disappear. No longer a vessel for anger or a mechanism of madness, I am humbly suspended in Wonder, Contentment, and Compassion. I feel indefinably large and intimately woven into all matter – into the Divine. There is no self. There is no film. Only the pure, unfiltered, sustained breath of the ineffable.