The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality, and the Moving Image Matthew Buckingham: a Man in the Crowd

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A Mirrored Image of Reality
Realism is a realm of art that focuses on an individual’s perspective of the real world through the use of varying mediums. In historical times artist have always and everywhere sought to expand the subject matter of their work as well as the media in which they work. It would be accurate to say that the history of political suppression of the arts from Egyptian times to Byzantium to Nazism and Zhdanovism is a manifestation of attempts to limit or abolish expansion of artistic subject matter or new forms or styles. The drive to break out of the boundaries of conventional representation arises from the need to express new experiences and perspectives. And as innovations in artistic media reflect parallel technical discoveries and inventions, so also does the drive to expand the horizons of subject matter reflecting fundamental changes in social relations, social needs, and social values and objectives.

In the “Cinema Effect Illusions, Reality, and the Moving Image” exhibition the various artists seek to create works that integrate cinema into our perceived notion of reality. Amongst the artists featured in the exhibition is Matthew Buckingham. Matthew Buckingham does a twenty minute film based off of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Man in the crowd” also the same name of his film. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The man in the crowd” is a narrative and not an actual film. Buckingham after reading the narrative was struck with how the story could be a metaphor and paradigm for the question of nonfiction filmmaking itself, Buckingham’s film is a silent film produced in black and white. There are many parallels with Poe’s narrative and Buckingham’s film. Buckingham’s film provides the visual aspect of Poe’s narrative. But, Buckingham’s film is more contemporary, he changes the setting of the film from nineteenth century Paris to that of modern day Vienna. Poe didn’t know London and details are borrowed from Dickens, Poe’s London sounds more like New York versus nineteenth century London. The details that Poe uses come from a review that Poe did of a story by Dickens. Poe fictionalizes the story by saying, “they covered and crossed the edges of the city” which would have been impossible to do at that time, his description sounds more like modern day Vienna . With Poe’s “The man in the crowd” one man is following a complete stranger but it is unclear whether or not the follower is ever aware that he is being followed or if he ever acknowledges the man that follows him; the difference with Buckingham is that he adds another character, he introduces the camera as a character in the film.

Edgar Allan Poe’s story is from one mans point of view, a man sits at a coffee shop and watches people walk by and describes them, of the people he sees walk by him he is intrigued by an elderly gentleman who walks by him, and then the man in the coffee shop begins to follow him. A man simply becomes interested in another mans manner and then he commits himself to following him secretly for a twenty-four hour period in hopes to learn something about the man . In this time frame, the elderly gentleman goes through out London in a distorted fashion going from one place to another in no particular path or reason.

Matthew Buckingham’s version begins with a young man dressed in a black t-shirt and dark colored pants in a café. In is the only portion of the film where there is some dialogue, which is heard. The young man sits at a table with a large window that pears into the downtown area of Vienna, there are many people that walk by him and catch his eye. While he sits an older man dressed in a suit walks by and catches his attention. From this point on the young man begins to follow the older gentleman in the suit. Throughout the duration of the film the younger man secretly follows the older gentleman. The older gentleman does not appear to sense that he is being followed, the man go to various places,...
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