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Girl chewing gum

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Last month, I featured a film of a streetscape in San Francisco originally shot during the first years of the twentieth century. In that post, I suggested that this film represented one of the first demonstrations of public surveillance, and highlighted how individuals in the film had subverted the process by behaving in exhibitionistic or privacy-protective ways.

"girl chewing gum" is a similar work - a continuous film of a city street, at a point during 1976 in a rather plain part of East London.

This time, however, a soundtrack is overlaid to create the illusion that the pedestrians within the frame are being given stage instructions by the ostensible director, John Smith.

This pretense begins to fall apart as the film progresses, but it serves to remind us that any film is subject to interpretation and misinterpretation. The eye of the beholder is naturally informed by personal experience, rough class distinctions reinforced by clothing and gait, social and economic bias, among many other factors.

Notably, the director's ability to anticipate a pedestrian's behavior is limited by his range of vision, and his false stage directions are influenced by his ability to rewind and review.

In any case, his film reflects bare moments in the life of each pedestrian, ignorant of their thoughts, the impulse that led to their walking down Stamford Road,or their eventual destination.

Thanks to Joe Moran for pointing out the film's appearance online.

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