what is going on in my head these days...

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Any technique capable of recording three-dimensional visual information or creating the illusion of depth in an image. The illusion of depth in a photograph, movie, or other two-dimensional image is created by presenting a slightly different image to each eye. Traditional stereoscopic photography consists of creating a 3-D illusion starting from a pair of 2-D images. The easiest way to create depth perception in the brain is to provide the eyes of the viewer with two different images, representing two perspectives of the same object, with a minor deviation similar to the perspectives that both eyes naturally receive in binocular vision. If eyestrain and distortion are to be avoided, each of the two 2-D images preferably should be presented to each eye of the viewer so that any object at infinite distance seen by the viewer should be perceived by that eye while it is oriented straight ahead, the viewer's eyes being neither crossed nor diverging. When the picture contains no object at infinite distance, such as a horizon or a cloud, the pictures should be spaced correspondingly closer together.

This idea is very intriguing since I may use the method of film stills for analysis of luxury. In this way, the focus is on the built environment instead of the flow of space (an encapsulated temporal condition).


"Style is the new content"
Film still taken from the move Nine (2009), based on Fellini's 8 1/2.
Based in the early 1960s, this is exactly the time period of when luxury shifted from a space of manners to a system of possessions.


Veblen vs. Post

The observations and conclusions of Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) is roughly the following:

1. “Conspicuous consumption” – when social institutions exploit the consumption of unessential goods for the sake a personal profit and not for productivity or pride of workmanship.
2. “Pecuniary emulation” – including male’s “ownership” of women to affirm prerogatives
3. To be seen doing work is to be lowered in social esteem
4. Ceremonial labour is executed only for show, in concert with the busy idleness of conspicuous leisure
5. The superficial display of good manners/form is a waste of time, yet continued as an enhancement of one’s social prestige
6. Modern day gentlemen still display gluttony, just more discreetly (caviar instead of beef-bones)
7. The lavish display by a host is to demonstrate that he/she has such an excess they must share
8. The obsessive decoration of homes is usually the outcome of housewives defined by wasteful expenditures of time and money
9. The poor cling to cheap imitations that emulate the upper-class habits accepted as the sign of social respectability
10. When taught to believe that saving their earnings is not that beneficial, people waste it on useless products
11. The age-old craving for gold and diamonds (breeders of war and misery, lacking all social use) is supplemented by modern hunger for brand-names that give objects a value they do not actually possess.

Now I need to pit this against Emily Post and her rationale as to why we must uphold etiquette and manners in her book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (1922). It is interesting to note that she was the daughter of a wealthy architect. This comic is not part of the argument, but sheds some light on Post's thinking none the less:

Jay Gatsby

I just read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby over the holidays, and it is completely apparent now the Gatsby that lies in all the protagonists of the three chosen films: Holly Golightly, John Robie, and Marcello Mastroianni. It is always an outsider, with a past that he/she has struggled with and tries to forget, and the contrast of wanting into a world of opulence and luxury. The tragedy is not as apparent in some than in others. But it is also interesting to see the many other iterations of this novel's covers. Often they are over romanticized, pastel-dominated renditions of the Jazz Age, but this photograph, reminiscent of a film still, of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan looking out over Long Island Sound from West Egg is calm and tense all at once.

On Film Stills

Photographs seem to take possession of spaces that are insecure, either due to temporal or physical limitations. And this feeling of possession feeds directly into the aesthetic consumerist mentality that has made us all into image-junkies. As flat and direct as this condition has become, ultimately, having an experience has been equated to taking a photograph of it. Despite all the other effects of a photograph -- a relation to the world, a record of presence, a token of absence -- it is first and foremost an article of consumption. It is an object that is ready to be criticized, appraised, collected, or displayed.

As photographs that are transcribed onto film cease to be tangible objects, a film still taken out of a film gains a new status as an object. Originally, the images of a film are meant to be seen for only as long as the editing allows. There is no time for lingering or back tracking (at least, in a cinema setting). A still allows for the viewer to mull over a single moment for as long as he or she desires. And intrinsically, a film still is much more memorable than the collective moving images themselves since they are "a neat slice of time, not a flow." (Sontag, 17). The iconic image becomes ingrained in the collective public consciousness since it is a neat, easily-processed product to be quickly consumed.

With this, process in time becomes a fixed circumstance. Since there is no film reel rolling on with each new image cancelling out its predecessor, the focus is on the built environment instead of the flow of space – a privileged moment that encapsulates the temporal condition. It is for precisely this reason that by pulling out certain frames of the three chosen films (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, To Catch a Thief, and La Dolce Vita), the narrative of the story takes a secondary seat, and the details and composition can be cited for its intentions and meanings.

Sontag, Susan. “On Photography.”