Friday, October 17, 2008

Teaching Poetry to frogs.



Yesterday in what I suppose must be a moment of madness, I submitted my DVD “Whichever way” to an assessment clinic at a local Institute of Videographers exhibition.

I was there to check out all the new equipment which I cannot afford, though fortunately I will be getting some editing equipment out of my Disabled Students Allowance as it is essential for my studies.

Anyway I told them from the beginning that it would be “different”

“Doesn’t matter, we have seen all sorts” the guy said.

However it was apparent right from the outset that it was to them jaw droppingly different, being as they are used to wedding videos, narrative stuff and that sort of thing.

Firstly they criticised it for being too wordy …. Well it is a lecture after all, but when I got to the end, the part where it is pure visual, they said they said it could benefit from a voice over, you can’t win, I took the voice over out on the advice of an artist who said I did not need it, the pictures said it all.

Then they criticised me for holding the same shots too long. Now hold on a minute, I have seen Tony Atwood’s videos, there is one camera angle throughout, not uncommon in a lot of straight to camera material that still exists in the genre. If I had stuck to the conventions of the action movie and never held a shot for more than 5 seconds the whole piece would look crazy. It is a lecture for goodness sakes, aimed at a reasonably literate audience, not action junkies with the attention span of a goldfish.

Then they did not understand some of the cut away shots that were there. Well I said, you are not supposed to understand them, it is a video about autism, some of the cutaways are meant to invoke a state of cognitive dissonance.

They criticised my delivery, reading from a sheet, well that was a deliberate Trope, that is to say, I deliberately made no attempt to engage the potential audience in vicarious eye contact, this is about autism after all.

Worse than that they suggested I ought to have got in a professional voice over artist.

Well again I said, what would be the point of that, I am autistic, there would be no authenticity you would lose all the voice inflections, and prosody of an autistic presenter, it might as well be someone else’s documentary if I did that.

They said that I could have cut out a lot of what I said, dumbed down.

Well again the point is to deliver a complex idea, a mini thesis as it were.

They obviously have not seen a great many educational videos, which would make mine look considerably more sophisticated by comparison.

I give up, NT’s want to see what NT’s want to see, they don’t care about the lyrics of a song so long as they can whistle the tune, they are not looking for depth and sincerity.

Maybe it achieved something, as I took the autism out to somewhere it was not expected.

It is interesting by contrast that many autistic people, whose opinions I have sought are seeing something else in the video, they are picking up the message of the graphics, and cut-aways and not remembering the text.

I can’t win but this in a way was a useful experiment, an adjunct to my research in fact, so far as it demonstrates anecdotally at least that there are differences in the way in which autistic people decode and understand video, what they are attending too.

Well I know that the video deals with a very difficult subject and one that is not popular, a subject I have been dealing with since before Stuart Murray wrote his book I might add, he will have seen the video first. “Outside In” which deals with a more conventional perspective easily outsells it. I can’t force NT’s to listen to the message I want to give them, and so often it has to be sugar coated and wrapped up in what they want to hear before you tell them it ain’t necessarily so.

You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, and I think sometimes trying to explain the rich beauty that can be seen in autism and that comes from autism, is the equivalent of trying to teach poetry to frogs.

If you are interested in a more general overview of the kind of videos I make you can visit my YouTube channel, it seems that the most popular is me playing the flute, maybe I really should pick it up and play it during my presentations after all.

3 comments:

Socrates said...

Was your critic of the MTV generation I wonder?

r.b. said...

I like your voice. No other would do it justice.

Anne said...

Veering off course, I just saw the Something About Us video, and really enjoyed your contribution.