Saturday, March 15, 2008

Defying a moment

SNAPPING snippets of life with a mobile phone’s built-in camera don’t suit me yet, at a loss I’m still at which buttons to press to grab a moment, transfix an image—pixel-pocked picture—and have it for keeps. The hand’s faster than the eye, uh, even for too many a thigh-- sense of touch, tactile turning to tactics can pack more filling. Much more fulfilling feeling than sight, why, luscious eyefuls can be had hands-on, or maybe trigger a hard-on taking delight in holding rather than beholding, most especially lush geography thrumming smack between thighs, hah, feel it…

An entry in the web log mangkokolum.blogspot.com is a full-length drama I’ve adapted from a Japanese folk tale, “The Picture Wife.” My daughter asked me to write it as a Tagalog play for children for showing on a Valentine’s Day. And had it dubbed “Larawang Kapilas-Puso.” Lewd landlord falls for the portrait of a lovely woman who happens to be the missus of a lowly peasant. Landlord grabs the peasant’s missus and after a quaint twirling swirl of events, peasant gets to keep his wife while landlord keeps the picture-- but loses position, power, palace and all. Beauty thus belongs in the heart of either holder or beholder.

Moral of the tale: a ravishing woman’s picture may paint a thousand words but better yet have the woman—she’ll gush and geyser words by zillions plus an earful.

There’s something that feels out of place in snapping photographs with a mobile phone, something about its heft and the less-than-snug fit in one’s palm. A decent single lens reflex camera feels like a machine pistol of sorts, a plunger-fitted bomb detonator. Or something that takes care of business once leveled and ticked with a power drive, say, at a gaggle of trapoliticos from Congress or a feeding frenzy of the top Malacañang transient with her Cabinet errand boys. Say that’s a cheap shot. A potshot. That’s being too critical of ‘em rapine critters but isn’t photography called “art of the critical moment?”

Best to snap at an unguarded moment or when the subject seems to both define and defy the moment… love the apotheosis of the depth of field, coruscating highlight of details, and a just-right shutter speed that sheds ample light to capture momentum of that moment, hah! People can go through that—the moment either defines ‘em or they defy. And thus define the moment that might be a telling moment of truth.

Look back in fecund fondness at shoots past for a cheesecake-fronted tabloid which can be tabbed as peryodiyakol, maybe pornodiko. What I did ply as insistent whisper to shapely stacks of damsels in dishabille, posed betwixt and between coy and coquette: “Haay, hija, ibuka pa ang bukana, let camera lens have a thorough lick… I mean, look at yours…ehek, at you.” Iba talaga ang diskarte ng utographer.

Taking a picture means stepping back, composing the shot, snapping away—and picture-taker’s evident presence is visibly left out of the picture. He’s there but he’s not there.

We don’t see things as they are but as we are, exclaims sensuous writer Anais Nin: the resultant photograph becomes the photographer, warts, zits, leprous scabs, psoriasis flakes, shabby lighting, lousy composition and perspective and all… After soaking a flurry of sights on-site, we expect some tidbits of insight, snapped and frozen in a frame of space-time in a photograph.

So I got to those forbidding parts of sylvan Montalban a few weeks back. There were four of us who trudged through the same unruly terrain, soaked our sights and senses on the same sights. But as a picky eater does, each one of us chose to pick out morsels to chew as cud. Once upon a trail, they’d be seeing a gauntlet of thickets and brier. But I made out the outlines of a snake, a fleeting form of a fleeing skink, seed pods of sesame plants scattered in disordered rows…

Sights can escape plain sight.

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