Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Time Code" & "The Weird Global Media Event"

The title of the film “Time Code” initially didn’t make sense to me. My first interpretation of the movie’s structure was that, while the four simultaneous screens made it narratively and visually complex, the continuous nature of the four shots made it pretty easy to understand in terms of “time.” One continuous shot is, in theory, the simplest possible way to make a film that has a coherent timeframe, since the length and scope of the recording is precisely matched by the length and scope of the events of the film. The “codes” of timing usually required in traditional film – like a flashback or a change in outdoor lighting or a reference to the passage of time contained within dialogue – were not necessary at all in the movie.

However, I think the title is much more coherent in light of the Wark article. Wark makes reference to the way that different institutions, such as news media, scholarship and everyday life, have different “times” which, while they may run parallel to one another, generally “follow their own beat” (Wark, 265). Wark claims that major events have the power to interrupt, connect and synchronize these “times,” forcing each to make sense of the event in its own way and at its own unique pace.

Within this context, it becomes clearer how the film “Time Code” truly is playing off the idea of time – less in the sense of the linear progression of seconds and minutes which contain the events of the film, and more in Wark’s terms. It’s possible to view the film as though each individual character and, by extension, each of the four cameras used to make the film, possess their own “time,” and those “times” connect and disconnect across the film as the characters interact. The events of the film have the power to create these connections between the individual “times” represented by each of the cameras and the final event of the film – when Lauren shoots Alex – finally brings all four cameras together to document the same event, but necessarily to impart it with four different senses of meaning. In Wark, the events of September 11th forced the multiple institutions of American event analysis to overlap and intersect, just as the death of Alex in “Time Code” forces the four narrative perspectives of the film to implode.

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