Translating Sobchack on the zoom

I try as hard as I can to write in plain, straightforward English. If it’s good practice for banks and supermarkets, it’s surely good practice for academics.

This is Vivian Sobchack, on the zoom, in “The Active Eye: A Phenomenology of Cinematic Vision” (Quarterly Review of Film and Video 12.3: 21-36):

“As we all know (whether consciously or pre-consciously), there is a radical difference between the movement of a ‘zoom-in’ on an object and a ‘forward track’ toward it. In the former, the film’s ‘viewing view’ is compelled by the object; in the latter, the film’s material ‘body’ and its ‘viewing view’ literally move toward the object. The one is an intrasubjective visual gesture, experienced only introceptively as im-pressive. The other, while also experienced intrasubjectively and introceptively, is intersubjectively availabe as visible gesture, as ex-pressive.” (25)

Clear?

Or, in other words:

“A zoom-in is like concentrating on an image. A track-in is like taking a step towards that image. The former is only experienced by the person doing the concentrating, in their own mind. The latter is experienced in the mind of that person, but also by anyone else around them, who can see their movement in relation to the image.”

In reducing this to what I fondly imagine to be Plain English, have I missed some essential nuance of Sobchack’s interpretation? Yes, it elides the concept of the ‘viewing view’. But since Sobchack’s definition of that is fairly well synonymous with ‘vision’, I’m not sure it matters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *