Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

It is mid May in Edmonton, the days are longer, the light is more confident, and that makes it the perfect time to watch hockey on television.  And to think about slow motion.

This evening, I am struck by how quickly technology that is good shows its age. Bam, you're old!

For as long as I can remember, this has been the speed of video dissection. It is from tonight's Memorial Cup game between the Oil Kings and the London Knights: 




It's very good. Instructive. Cool. Dramatic. Until it's not so much any of those. Until it's up against a bigger, stronger, slower opponent. This is from tonight's Stanley Cup semi-final match between the Coyotes and the Kings:



The same game becomes a different game when viewed and shared differently. The nature of the moving image allows this kind of division. He wasn't talking about hockey at the time, but Ong (1982, p. 31) makes the point that unlike sound a moving picture camera can stop (or, in our case, slow considerably), holding one frame, meaningfully intact, on the screen. "Vision," he says, "can register motion, but it can also register immobility. Indeed, it favors immobility, for to examine something closely by vision, we prefer to have it quiet."

Fans of televised hockey know the truth of Ong's observation that to better see and understand motion, we reduce it to a series of still shots.

The challenge for visual storytellers is to not be satisfied with what they consider to be still. Because there is still a stiller to be found.

Lentius, Altius, Fortius.

******

Source: Ong, Walter, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. 1982. New York, NY, Routledge

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