Some essays by Peter Watkins caught my eye recently. In particular, the essay about what Watkins refers to as the Monoform is especially well written and worth reading-

“The MONOFORM is the internal language-form (editing, narrative structure, etc.) used by TV and the commercial cinema to present their messages. It is the densely packed and rapidly edited barrage of images and sounds, the ‘seamless’ yet fragmented modular structure which we all know so well. This language-form appeared early on in the cinema, with the work of pioneers such as D.W.Griffith, and others who developed techniques of rapid editing, montage, parallel action, cutting between long shots/close shots, etc. Now it also includes dense layers of music, voice and sound effects, abrupt cutting for shock effect, emotion-arousing music saturating every scene, rhythmic dialogue patterns, and endlessly moving cameras.”

Watkins builds a case for the notion that what people see and hear in the media is the result of a type of editing philosophy that has become common over much of the world. In large part because of the precociousness of American media. What we see and hear is always a type of presentation put on by people who want to emphasize particular aspects of events in a manner that satisfies their need to supply a stimulating stream of imagery.

I think most of us have always understood that the mass audio visual media (MAVM) have always had a show business flair, but that the persuasiveness of editing was always secondary to content. Watkins suggests that editing is what primarily influences viewers in terms of the sequence and stimulus provided by well chosen cuts. It is an interesting viewpoint and one worth considering.

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