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(1989). Ways of Seeing: 5. James Astor. J. Child Psychother., 15(2):41-47.

(1989). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 15(2):41-47

Ways of Seeing: 5. James Astor

Reflecting on the video I had been watching I began to ask myself whether the use of video recording was making available the truth of the experience of infant observation to a wider audience, or whether the use of video recording was changing the nature of the material under consideration. What are we looking at? What influences the way we see what we look at? And in what way do I think about observational material? This is what I want to raise before I go on to describe the preconceptions that influence my way of seeing.

Is a video recording a film or is it an observation of the development of an infant made by a filmmaker? What is its status? Is it entertainment or is it a truthful record of the emotional development of the infant observed? Perhaps it is neither, for instance is it an illustration? In what follows I am basing my remarks solely on the edited excerpts prepared for the conference, although we were sent a video with all the recorded visits of the first three months. Is it a film? I think it is, but what does that mean?

“In a film the way one image follows another, their succession, constructs an argument.”

So says John Berger in his essays on Ways of Seeing (1972), and I agree with him. The argument is built up in part through the relation the filmmaker has with his subject expressed by a) the film techniques of camera angle, choice of shot, camera movement, use of lens and recorded sounds, and b) by editorial selection at the time of filming and afterwards at the time of assembly.

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