Author Archive

Inconsequential Moments

This story stuck out to me because it was less narrative and more reflective than any of the other DST samples I found in my first exploration through the genre.  Like many other digital stories I’ve seen, this is basically composed of photos and voiceover, but the almost abstract photos and dead-serious voice tone immediately told me that I was seeing something more cerebral than the  other DST clips I had been finding.

Okay, maybe this story is a little pretentious.  The meaning is not immediately apparent, and took me several views to understand.  The narration is essentially a story about thinking you understand something that appears on the wall – a footprint left by someone relaxing against it – but not really understanding its true meaning until later.  At least, that is my interpretation.  I’m not sure how exactly the lessons of Inconsequential Moments extends to my life, because the tale is simultaneously dense and sparse.  In any case, I just enjoy the fact that Burns cared to record a few thoughts – the thoughts that come out of being in a certain place in a certain time and reading and seeing certain things.

Technically, I also really like the way that the film is assembled.  Beginning at the credits, I like the layout of title and author and the chosen font.  The fade-in and fade-out of each photo give the piece a sense of symmetry.  In the last few seconds, the pace of this fading is increased to create a sense of accelerating tension.  But that soon ceases at a quickly arrived-at climax.  The story is over in about 100 seconds – quite economic.  My main technical complaint is that the voiceover volume level dips about 2/3 of the way through.  This makes it especially difficult for the viewer, who is busy making sense of the story without having to turn up the volume or rewind.

Inconsequential Moments

Chris James

Hello! I am a MA student in the Applied History New Media Program. I grew up in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and attended University of Maryland, where I earned a major in both History and American Studies. I was burned out from college, so I took a the next five years or so off to get married, read a lot of books, and play music with friends in my basement. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to work with primary historical records frequently at work (for both the University of Chicago and LexisNexis), so my academic interests had been somewhat satisfied up until grad school. Now I want to practice applied history at the next level.

I didn’t know anything about DST when I registered for this class, but the course is a good fit for me. I have a longtime interest in documentary film, dating to my American Studies days (I think I still own a copy of the Nichols text). I try to attend one screening at the AFI Silver Theater’s SilverDocs festival each year. I’m also always interested in creative ways to tell history, in whatever format – for example, Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife, which I had the pleasure of reading just before this semester started.

My hobbies include watching college basketball, reading contemporary literature (I got to read recent Ha Jin and Richard Powers this month), playing with my daughter, and playing, listening to, and reading about rock music.

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