Editing Time

 

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Montage, or editing, as it is more commonly known, has always been at the centre of creative processes in the cinema. Unfortunately, montage has become the defining metaphor for creativity in nearly all forms of image production. Unfortunate, because the cinema and most time-based image environments like the world wide web (both in terms of flow and experience) are often closer to music than photography, not so much a series of still frames as a jumbled mixture of the seen and the heard. (The intellectual origins of this confusion began with Sergei Eisenstein and continued with greatest force in cultural theory through the work of Christian Metz reinforced to some degree by the early work of Umberto Eco on semiotics.) Interestingly, music and poetry are the creative forms that come the closest to exemplifying both the creative processes of image production and the viewing experience.

The Web is also closer to the theater, vaudeville and opera than hypertext or the book. The Web is a series of images not just pages, staged — located in time but only marginally in space. How are images on the Web edited? This question seems to suggest something about the internal nature of the pages, but not the actual relationship among a series of pages. Texts drive readers from page to page and most pages are now dominated by words in a desperate attempt to “locate” messages within the architecture of a computer screen. This architecture is more about mise-en-scène than information.