A Quantum Of Stillness: Rajath Bail's 'Video Zines' Offer Refuge In A Chaotic World

A Quantum Of Stillness: Rajath Bail's 'Video Zines' Offer Refuge In A Chaotic World
Rajath Bail

The art of filmmaking relies heavily on conveying narratives through visuals. While camera movements can add dynamism and energy to a scene, there's a certain beauty in the power of a stationary shot. Imagine a carefully crafted frame; a tableau capturing a fleeting moment in time. The director trusts the audience to decipher the emotions and story within that frozen image. Legendary directors like Wes Anderson, Wong Kar-Wai, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Hsiao-Hsien Hou both realize and utilize the potential of a still frame to create intimacy.

Yasujirō Ozu, who built an entire cinematic language around static shots, is a great example of the effectiveness of this technique. Ozu's films are masterclasses in using a fixed camera to explore themes of family, isolation, and the passage of time. Each frame is a carefully composed canvas, where the placement of objects and characters carries immense weight. Take, for instance, the scene in Tokyo Story, where the elderly parents sit by the window, their faces reflecting a quiet acceptance of their children's indifference. The stillness of the camera allows the scene to unfold organically, mirroring the stoicism of the characters.

The hanging scene from '12 Years a Slave' by Steve McQueen
The hanging scene from '12 Years a Slave'IU Pressbooks

Similarly, Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave uses a powerful static shot during the excruciatingly long hanging scene. The camera remains fixed on Solomon Northup, capturing the raw emotions of pain, despair, and defiance flickering across his face. The lack of movement forces the viewers to confront the brutality of the scene head-on, making it an unforgettable moment in the film. These directors understood that a static shot isn't simply the absence of movement; it's a deliberate choice that imbues the scene with a specific mood and compels the audience to become active participants in the storytelling process.

Fast forward to the frenetic landscape of social media, where our attention spans are constantly bombarded with fleeting content. Rajath Bail, a visual artist, uses his content to offer us a pause through his 30-second 'video zines'. These short snippets are essentially montages of stationary shots, designed to be an antidote to the infodump online; a pit-stop, if you will, for the general doomscroller. Rajath's videos encapsulate the ambiance of a place or an activity like 'a walk after work' or 'weekend night ramen' or 'having tea outside' or 'a quiet day in the rain'. These videos recreate the quiet moments we throughout our lives digitally; transporting us to a soothing mental space. By stringing together these seemingly mundane moments, Rajath paints a picture of serenity; reminding us of the beauty that lies in the ordinary. In a world obsessed with constant movement and stimulation, Rajath Bail's use of the stationary shot becomes a radical act of resistance; a haven for viewers to escape the noise and reconnect with the simple joys of life.

Follow Rajath here.