Experimental Narrative – John Smith

I have looked into and really like many pieces of work produced by the Avant-garde filmmaker John Smith. Running themes throughout his work from what I have seen is reality and the past and present specifically the reality of the camera being there in his work (such as Girl Chewing Gum and The Kiss) or use of the same location but at different times (such as Man Phoning Mum and Horizon). These themes really interest me because they could both be seen as conflicting due to the ‘reality’ of past and present he presents to the viewer in a way that makes them very aware there is a camera there which changes the reality into a representation of reality.

I think Smith’s work can be seen as very important because it opens up the fourth wall in film. It makes the viewers aware that there is a camera filming and ‘Girl Chewing Gum’ is a massive example of this. John Smith uses running commentary in a street telling people what to do throughout the scene. This makes the viewer question reality because without the commentary we would probably see it as just an average day that has been filmed. It is so simple yet so clever.

Another factor of his work that I think could be quite important is the affect in his videos. Watching ‘The Kiss’ made me feel very calm from the slow movements of what seemed like the lily growing and moving. The soundtrack emphasized this on screen with what sounded like breathing, personifying the growth of the lily. At the end of the video there is a crack on top of the flower. From the calming feeling of the lily ‘growing’ comes the disappointment of what the viewer thought of being reality wasn’t actually true. This crack represents the camera lens breaking bringing back to what was previously said, making the viewer aware of the camera.





I think I could take these ideas into my own work by showing that reality is just a concept. I want to reveal the representation of reality that is presented on screen and show that everything on screen is not real. Although this might become disappointing to the viewer it really does open the fourth wall up. I also want to look further into affect when it comes to my own work because if a viewer can feel it as well as see it then it becomes more effective.