Reading Film Pre-Draft Activity: Observational Documentary Film

Reading Film, College Writing 1

I. Before making your observational documentary film about a work of public art or architecture on the Queens College campus, you should take notes to try to study the work in writing.

Visiting your chosen work, consider the following questions and others that come to mind:

Site: Is it in a building? In a courtyard? Near a roadway? On a removed hillside? In an administrative area or near student life? What does the site tell you about how the art is supposed to relate to other campus activities? How does the site relate to the surrounding topography?

Massing: What shapes does the art have? Are the masses symmetrical or asymmetrical? Densely packed together or open and diffused? Do they have more of a vertical or horizontal orientation, or do they cut across these orientation systems? How would you describe their tops and bottoms, fronts and backs, left and right sides? How does the art’s masses orient you in space—do they put you off balance or reinforce balance?

Style: What other kinds of art does this one remind you of? A Greek statue? A modernist mural? A playground? How does the style suggest a view of the purpose and methods of public art or architecture? How does the style relate to the time period the art was made?

Materials: What materials are used to construct this artwork? Are they common or unusual? Wood and plaster? Concrete? Plastic? Iron? Are the materials colored in a certain way?

II. Looking at your answers, identify the three elements or aspects that seem to be the most unique. Write a three-paragraph description of these elements and submit it next class.

Download: Reading Film Pre-Draft Activity- Observational Documentary Film (PDF)

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