The Power Of Artistic Choices

Her media project was due in just a few days, and the high school senior couldn’t focus. “I originally started with a completely different subject,” says Nicole, an AYV alum, “and while planning out that script, my aunt passed away.” It became clear to her that she needed to do the media project on her aunt – in her memory.

“I wasn’t quite sure how to do it,” Nicole reflects, “until I read a poem that my cousin had written in honor of my aunt. I wanted to have something just as inspiring.” So she set to work, intending to produce inspiring footage to pair with the poem she wrote. At the same time, she didn’t want the imagery to overwhelm her words.

Like all media makers, she was faced with a number of artistic choices. The ways that she negotiated them could detract from or lend even more power to her finished work. Nicole decided to minimize movement and sound, refrain from elaborate transitions, and use images directly related to the text of her poem. She shot the video to reflect her point of view, focusing in on her actions. All of these choices were very deliberate. By these means, she got the viewer to connect with her as the subject of the media work. She compels the audience to take her perspective in All I’m Left With.

“I started off showing myself getting ready to write, then writing out the first line of the poem,” and, she explains, “from there I switched back and forth between what I was doing and what I was thinking.” Some images, like the sunset and garden, directly illustrate her poem. Other shots capture what she says is her typical behavior, such as “holding my cross while I think, looking at photos.” These unguarded moments invite the audience in, perhaps even more so than if she talked directly to the camera.

Many other choices had to be made in the course of production. Nicole reports that she took simple shots first, without sound, then “added in any opacity changes, transitions, and sound effects later.” Still, she endeavored to retain a kind of simplicity in the film. “I used to think that more effects made the video more interesting,” she says, “but I guess ‘less is more’ was more the case in this situation.”

Having “less” ornamentation dignifies her subject, and brings the audience closer. These artistic choices not only shaped her piece, but also were part of a creative process that helped Nicole “sort things out for myself.” In the end, both media maker and consumer share the power of the experience.