Writing with the small, smart screen: Mobile phones, automated editing and holding on to creative agency

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 2016, 9 (1-2), pp. 47 - 66
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© 2016 Intellect Ltd Article. English language. Media practitioners find themselves in contradictory times. Smartphones that are able to capture highresolution sound and image are facilitating a consistent, abiding and thoughtful practice so that media production is more affordable and ready-at-hand than ever before. At the same time, increasingly sophisticated software is being developed to automate what have previously been considered skilled tasks, such as editing, curating and colour grading. While still an emerging field, these incursions have the potential to pose serious threats to the creative agency of individual moving image-makers. From a first-person practitioner perspective, this article considers how the creative agency of a critically engaged moving-image practice is both enabled and threatened by smartphone production environments. Using the lens of cinécriture, I consider how the full range of production choices becomes part of the expressive tool kit and the importance of making these aspects of creative agency conscious. I argue for the value of conceptual engagement through practice so that the act of participation and making is emphasized, and the significance of human creativity is maintained. Through an examination of the Google Photo Assistant application as an example of a basic automated editing tool, and setting my own approach to moving-image practice in this context, I put forward the case that greater digital literacy is required if practitioners are to maintain satisfactory levels of creative agency.
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