I’ve been shooting video of my rides using a mountable wide-angle video camera that sits right behind the windshield: it is my view of the ride. I’ve been wondering how could I convey an experience of the ride beyond this-is-what-I-look-at. To simply post raw footage of where I ride is fine but it does not capture enough of what I want to show for the same reason a snapshot of what I see on a ride does not capture what I want to show. I want to express something more. When it comes to pictures, this can be done by making photographs. What a snapshot cannot capture, a photograph often can.
A photograph distinguishes itself from a snapshot by expressing the photographer’s artistic intention. It can approach a painting in its consideration of detail and composition while, unlike a painting, still showing you “what was simply in front of the camera.” It is a real scene but in a special way. All photographs are surreal. At it’s best, a photograph leaves you feeling that it is neither a subjective or objective representation, but something that transcends these categories. It shows you a moment in time as well as something eternal. It is the presence of these contrasting qualities — immanence and transcendence — that makes a photograph what it is: the expression of a human being that draws attention to his “being-in-the-world” as Heidegger would have said (while there is no need to get sidetracked by Heidegger’s philosophy, his insights are absolutely central to photography. Martin Heidegger, the 20th century German philosopher who is recognized as one of most significant philosophers of his time, called into question our understanding of what Being is. He argued that Being is always situated in the world and that all experience is in reference to a being for whom such a description matters: there is no such thing as objectivity in the most profound sense imaginable — a body blow to the last 2500 years of Western Philosophy and our whole way of thinking. It is this insight which is hidden in the heart of photography: no thing, photographic or otherwise, can exist without human intention).
If a photograph distinguishes itself from a snapshot, then an Ambient Movie distinguishes itself from a video in the same way. An ambient movie is neither objective or subjective. It is real but in a special way that ultimately brings attention to the fact that nothing can exist without human intention. Ambient refers to the immediate surroundings that make up its content, in our case the scenery that passes by during the ride. By simply showing the scenery without any particular action taking place in it, room is created for human intension to express itself in a more transparent manner. Think of ambient music where, at first blush, it appears nothing is happening, that it is only background music. An ambient movie starts there: nothing but simple footage of what the rider goes by. To show the objective and subjective qualities present, however, more must be done.
Today the tools of choice for making a photograph are a RAW file and the software to manipulate it. While photography software is used, it should be stressed that software is not necessary to create photographs: it is only a tool that works well in combination with a digital camera. Similarly, video editing software is a tool that works well in combination with a digital video of a ride. There would certainly be other ways to make an ambient movie of a motorcycle ride as defined here.
Every ride is surreal because it requires a rider’s intention to exist in the first place. Ambient movies bring attention to this intention always being there, animating every ride. Just as a good photograph changes the way you come to experience the world, a good ambient movie changes the way you come to experience motorcycle riding. The goal is to artistically capture this.
With all this in mind, video effects and music will be used to convey the intention animating every ride. How all of this will come together and if even successful remains to be seen. For now, this is where it will start.
May You Always Enjoy The Ride