Friday, October 19, 2012

Using video in a unique way to report about art

Art can be so inspiring. Intangible. Unpredictable. So why do features reporters report on art exhibitions in the same, predictable, linear way?

What if we were to allow the subject to tell itself?
What if we were to let art create art -- storytelling art?

That is how I approached this recent profile about an "abstract landscape photographer."
This is definitely a nontraditional features story. The video has no spoken words. Imagine it as a giant, living and breathing pull-out quote, laid out over the picture it's talking about.

The article itself is also nontraditional.
It begins:

The trees open up.
In the corner of her eye, Kate Zari Roberts hears a wordless story. She likens it to synesthesia, the condition whereby one sensory pathway ignites a second. Some people associate colors with odors, or shapes with sounds.
For Roberts, when she lifts up her camera, the trees start speaking.
The camera is an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the saying goes. Here, there is no thinking. No intention. Just Roberts, a lens and one tree with an energy so urgent it stops her feet on an Indian Peaks Wilderness trail. She turns her head to see a tiny, crooked limb beckoning her: Come here.
"It calls to me."
"When you become really intimate with a place, it starts to unfold to you its secrets," she says. She has hiked hundreds of miles of these trails over the past few years, as a volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service. It feels as if these woods recognize her energy and respond to it, she says.Welcome back. Lean in closer. Let me show you my spirit. And yours.
Roberts, of Boulder, is an abstract landscape photographer. Movement and colors inspire her. Her work is on display at the Integral Center, 2805 Broadway, through the end of the year. Come January through March, her tree series will open at Boulder Digital Arts, 1600 Range St. But, really, the exhibits are not hers, she says.
"That's the beauty of it. There is no authorship here. It is the author," she says. "It's directing me, and it's showing me what I really need to express in the world at this moment."

Read full story here.

How I reported this story:
1. I used Notability on my iPad to record our conversation, adding very short and minimal notes with my Stylus, indicating what time in our recording I could go back to find certain quotes or topics. This allowed me to have a conversation with the subject, instead of an interview. And it also kept my quotes and information 100 percent accurate.

2. I wrote the story at a coffee shop outside under a bunch of trees. (It ties in with the context of her photographs). I started writing without my notes, just using the feelings and memories the interview had left me with, and then I began filling in the holes with information from my notes.

3. I edited the video at a restaurant, using iMovie on my Macbook Pro. The music was from provided audio on iMovie. The photo was a high-resolution photo of her picture that she sent me.

4. I uploaded the movie to Brightcove, where we store our video files to share.

The verdict:
Here is how the source responded in an e-mail the day it came out:

Dearest Aimee:

What a beautiful article!!!!! You captured the essence of what I was TRYING to say----I'm not a good verbal communicator--just a visual communicator--but my goodness, you are a very talented young lady--you really got it:)

I am so overwhelmed with the online video!!!!! I don't even know how to express my deep, deep gratitude..........I could just cry!

Thank you so so much.
A deep bow of gratitude to you,


What do you think about this story and video as a new way to report on art?

1 comment:

  1. Totally love this! Trees began speaking years ago, in Narnia! And I love the way that you explained the process of writing this. And, in fact, you did not 'process it,' but rather, allowed the content of the story to 'process you!' I think that *also* might be an element of a type of futuristic journalism that relies only on feelings of the journalist, with more feelings than facts. Maybe that kinda already happens, but not unless it's an Op Ed thing, right? Simply brilliant and the cool thing is that you are keeping the profession of journalism in pace with technology!