Yesterday as I waited to be served at an electronic store I watched a nearby HD television that was looping the DVD menu for Avatar. Readers of my blog will already be familiar with my distaste toward James Cameron’s film and as I watched ridiculous looking blue creatures running across tree trunks and space craft flying over impossible waterfalls I could hardly suppress my smirk.
And then suddenly I had a revelation. I was truly taken aback. There for less than 3 seconds was Sigourney Weavers face in the most extraordinary detail I have ever witnessed. No longer feeling anxious about when I was to be served I instead felt anxious waiting for this brief image to return to the screen. I was able to watch it four more times and each time the effect was just as significant.
I realised that I was experiencing the “irrational power of the photograph to bear away our faith” (Bazin, 14). Although Bazin does not believe that the quality of the image is the important thing, suggesting “No matter how fuzzy, distorted, or discoloured, no matter how lacking in documentary value the image may be, it shares, by virtue of the very process of its becoming, the being of the model of which it is the reproduction; it is the model.” There is something to be said for the sheer sublime quality of the high definition image. For the first time in my lifetime I was confronted with an image with the same visual quality as my own reflection.