Working within the film department and with primarily film students at SFAI, I would think it safe to say that there is a common visual language used in each class. Listening in on the conversations and critiques of the moving image you’ll find an inherent set of tools and words used to describe what it is they are seeing.
First, we have to be aware that moving images and the mediums of film and video are within the common place of many people. Television and Cinema are already part of millions of peoples’ daily lives and a visual language is being created very rapidly based on an “industry.” The difference though, is the approach of what has been known as the types of moving images. Such as: narrative, documentary, experimental, or artistic (which is what we primarily are working with here at SFAI.) Therefore, there is a different visual language happening to discuss the content of the Art Film or Video.
From time to time there are dialogues happening that discuss more “shop” or technical issues within the work, but considering the source, film and video are technical heavy mediums. Understanding the use of exposure, shutter speed, film grain, stock, solarizing, hand processing, for example work their way into the conversation because they are being used in various ways for artistic expression. So, it becomes easier for the students to grasp the meaning within a body of work while expanding their technical knowledge of the medium. But this “shop” talk is very limiting.
In it’s very close relation to photography, it becomes apparent that using the visual language of that medium is appropriate. Composition, lighting, formal arrangement, all to say the least are part of this lingual debate of the work. It also becomes refreshing when a student outside the film department, from say sculpting or painting brings in their visual language from their department and training. But it becomes difficult at some point to develop a comparison to the moving image with other genres, in that the ephemeral qualities of film and video can make it more difficult to discuss without seeing it many times over. Considering that some time-based pieces are anywhere from three seconds to several hours.
How does it compare to the dialogue of a painting, photograph, sculpture that is mainly static, or still in it’s presentation? My answer would be that it allows a more detailed look into the work. Interdisciplinary critique can be refreshing and allow the conversation to carry-on through from concept, process, execution or presentation. I would suggest everyone to take part or attend a critique seminar or tutorial outside of one’s department. This is also where would start to make the distinction between artist and student. I fully believe that we are artists of our own chosen discipline, but are students among others where we are still learning. Learning the techniques of course, but also learning the history foremost and visual language of another discipline.
Art without boundaries
In this brief conclusion, I have found that we are artists and students throughout our lives and it is important to bring in a diverse perception to the arts and find that using a cross-disciplinary conversation sparks further debate and inquiry. I see no differentiation between the many forms of art and expression, and therefore no need to create a set of rules or boundaries for it.