A skateboarder in an underpass

Above: A skateboarder shot with a fisheye lens. Credit: Mycatkins, 2010.

Urban and Fisheye

Shooting photos and videos with a fisheye ultra-wide-angle camera lens has become entrenched in hip-hop/urban, and skateboard photo-video representations. Why so? One interpretation of the popularity of the fisheye in such depictions, is to consider the basic value to be communicated: outside--outsider, outside-the-law, outlaw, outside the mainstream, outside conventionality. The fisheye's super-lensy distorted space is integrally--or inherently, if you will--a savage distortion of the basic rectangle that by convention is the designated-and-agreed basic photorepresentational 2D space of human eyesight. In this way, the fisheye view is not normal, ordinary or conventional. No action or behavior (no matter how mundane) filmed or shot with a fisheye will appear as dull, but rather only as savagely distorted ("twisted awry or out of shape" OED). A basic parameter of outsider-outlaw culture is that those involved have a different perception to the ordinary person--they are definitely separated off from wearisome workaday monotony. Jean Genet, a God-like figure of outsider culture, said something apposite: "repudiating the virtues of your world, criminals hopelessly agree to organize a forbidden universe. They agree to live in it. The air there is nauseating: but they can breathe it."

(2 February 2018)