Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The Coded Picture
In film, the "problem" picture is a fully developed trope; i.e. the whodunit. How many thrillers and mysteries have opened with a clue-laden, but unhinted scenario, only later to be fully explicated at the climax of the movie? A shorter, and now widely-seen version of the same idea is the basketball passing clip, which viewed naievely, is a snooze, but on second view surprises (prepared) viewers (spoiler alert) with a perfectly clear walk-through of a man in a gorilla mask. What's impressive is that almost nobody catches the anomalous walker-by on first look, and the lesson is that we see, not necessarily what is there, but what we expect to see there.
This is structurally similar to "Where's Waldo" and those embedded word drawings that used ot be a standby of the old color comics page in the Sunday paper. Looking for hidden clues in a still, as above, or a motion sequence,
From a constructivist perspective, "problem pictures" could be a valuable tool, perhaps in unexplored ways. How much more could be done with short clips, set up with an invitation to "decode" them? What about applying a previously-learned scheme to a real-world scene, then discussing it in small group for a while? Reversing it could also work: where a scene is viewed prior to the presentation of the scheme or theory.