Thoughts on “In Praise of Blur”

Creator's Statement

I found this comprehensive and beautiful video essay by Richard Misek & Martine Beugnet fascinating. Watching all of these blurred images out of their original context made me experience them in an abstract form. Instead of worrying about narrative justification, or the protagonist's state of mind, I was simply noticing the textures, the shapes, the colors, and the emotional impact each image had over me.

It made me think that the power of blur lies in its ability to make us connect with the image intuitively, rather than intellectually; to embrace a form of chaos instead of trying to force our common sense on it.

With these thoughts on my mind, and also for the sake of the cheesy (yet obligatory!) word play, I turned to Blur's "Theme From Retro." I believe that this is the main difference in my videographic response (which I basically re-cut from the original video essay). I intended for the music, together with the rough and faster edit, to support this line of thought, to, in a way, “attack” the viewers; to encourage them to appreciate the blurred image, but then to replace it with another, before they could have the chance to, inevitably, interpret it.



Ron Shetrit is a musician and an undergraduate student at the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, Tel Aviv University, studying in the school’s honors track.

If there is a “rule” of creative reuse, it is that there are no rules: transformed works of media have no inherent requirement to exist in dialogue with, or be in any way respectful to, their source material. Images’ freedom of movement erases any such obligation. With this in mind, I approached “Thoughts on ‘In Praise of Blur’” ready for anything. 

What most surprised me, then, on watching Ron Shetrit’s video was just how in tune it is with our own “original” video. Though we never wrote a creators’ statement, our implicit goal was to free our chosen images from having to do any of the narrative, emotional, or symbolic work that they were filmed to do. To paraphrase Shetrit’s own creator’s statement (which could almost have been our own creators’ statement) – we wanted to override the uses of blur in order to look at the qualities of blur, and so allow our chosen images to be experienced as light, colour, and texture. The apotheosis of this, for me, was the close up of an anus that I nervously included in the video, but which ultimately nobody ever mentioned, and perhaps even noticed.

Shetrit’s video extends our premise of removing contextual information in order to view the image anew, a premise that runs deep throughout the history of video essays and of experimental film. He adds his own evocative words to it, as well as an inspired new backing track. What I find especially productive is that it’s a creative reuse of a creative reuse: usually the pattern for creative reuse in video essays is one-to-many, for example a new Wes Anderson film spawning multiple video essays that all point back towards their revered source while ignoring each other. The dialogic approach Ariel Avissar encourages in his students points to the far more interesting alternative of video essays themselves existing in an on-going conversation that ultimately leaves the authorial intentions of the source media far behind.

It’s about time that video essays should feel free to cite (and creatively transform) each other, rather than just citing revered theoretical texts in order to shore up their academic legitimacy. I hope that Ariel’s inspired dialogic method can help bring this more open and intellectually inclusive approach to audiovisual criticism closer to reality.