Videoing The Day-to-day

This article on Retro Thing makes a point about not documenting the mundane in our lives. I think we document more than ever, but not always the regular stuff – just crazy or unusual stuff, or images which don’t document rather than say, “ooh look how that ivy grows on that wall”, or “ooh, look at the mist“. The article goes on to link to this fascinating video by photographer Hans Sipma – a time-lapse tour of Vancouver in the mid-1970’s.

I’ve been playing around with our video camera and the camcorder on my new phone recently. For a lack of better ideas, I videoed some journeys. It was just a case of switching on the camera and seeing what came out of it. First was this bus journey from Regents Street to Camden Town in January 2012.

Wobbly, handheld, and through a scratched and steamy upstairs front window. Plus the route doesn’t have much in the way of sights or landmarks, especially at night. But again, this isn’t about tour videos – it’s about just recording a mundane journey.

This next one was less linear, based on a engineering boat tour around and under the Bay Bridge – both the old and the as yet-unfinished new.

Just the other day, I was playing with my new phone, and decided to capture my daily bus commute over the Bay Bridge (yes, the Bay Bridge is a bit of a feature around here) from the toll plaza to the Transbay terminal. This was taken by holding the phone up against the window, and letting it roll. This meant that it was looking out at 90° from the bus, so you don’t get to see what’s up ahead, only what is directly to the side. You don’t get to see the great views of San Francisco, or the height of the new bridge tower. However, it’s an interesting snapshot – I think the limitation of field of view makes a window through which you just see snippets.

Finally, here’s a video taken from a car driving through the town centre of my birthplace of Bedford, UK. I don’t think I’m in it – frankly I’d rather not know if I was. Some landmarks:

  • Green 172 bus?
  • C&A
  • Eastern Electricity
  • The H Samuel where my parents bought me the watch I have on at this moment.
  • The Woolworths where I worked on and off for many years.
  • Some dodgy moustaches
  • Beales
  • Folks hanging around opposite the library
  • Austin Princess with the boot open – aww yissssss
  • Round past the church to the High Street, then left along the river and into the leafy streets south of Goldington Road.
  • At 11:15, a couple of those Jaws/Hitchcock dolly zoom shots.
Also enjoy the improvised synth workout by the videographers themselves, recorded the same day when they got back from filming!

That last video is pretty powerful stuff actually. There’s a big separation between me and the place of my birth, and between 1985 and now. Luckily technology can allow our senses to reach across time and space and make connections – although I’m glad I can’t smell Bedford’s streets clogged with leaded-petrol cars and diesel buses. Or dodgy 80’s aftershave.