Celebrated Cinematographer Christopher Doyle Launches iPad App
Cinematographer Christopher Doyle, a cult-like figure among Asian cinephiles, has launched an interactive iPhone and iPad app to showcase his daily street photography and fleeting ruminations.
Titled “Away With Words” – a reference to Doyle’s directorial debut of the same name, which premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 1999 – the app is comprised of an alphabetically indexed collection of his photography, paired with playful titles and wry descriptions. Users can flip through the photos or jump around by letter. As its description in the Apple App Store puts it, the new Doyle app is a “celebration of how words and images collide to form new, often ironic associations.”
Asked what attracted him to the touch screen medium, Doyle tells The Hollywood Reporter: “Books take longer to get out there and don't have the vitality of the street and visceral ideas and the eclectic nature of how the mind and the eye work. "Away with Words" is what it is all about, just like filmmaking: a way of going from word to idea -- a way of getting away from and with words.”
Best known for his visionary work behind the camera on Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai’s arthouse landmarks Days of Being Wild (1991), Chungking Express (1994), and In the Mood for Love (2000), Doyle has won the Grand Prix Technique award at Cannes and best cinematography at the Venice Film Festival, along with numerous accolades in Asia.
The organizers behind the app, Hong Kong-based publishers Art Asia Pacific, say the project also took inspiration from Gustave Flaubert's, “Dictionary of Received Ideas” – the classic French novelist’s unpublished satirical collection of cliché sentiments, expressions and platitudes, arranged alphabetically as a mock dictionary.
One advantage Doyle’s "dictionary" holds over Flaubert’s compendium is interactivity. Users are able to post short textual responses to his words and images, or can upload their own images as visual ripostes, of a sort.
“This way it can also grow immediately and organically without the formalities of print and the tedium of the web," says Elaine Ng, founder of AAP. “One's involvement, whether contributing a new image, a new word, a new definition, can be done from anywhere: while walking, on the bus, waiting for a friend on the corner who is 20 minutes late, waiting in an airport for a delayed flight -- just as Chris has been doing.”
So far Doyle has made a just over 100 entries on the platform and says he’ll be updating on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Entries range from “Yolo,” showing an illustrated subway warning sign of a commuter stepping in front of a train, to “Foreign Film Phobia,” a snapshot of a figure wearing a red hoodie and a giant horse head mask – with all kinds of curios in between.
The app has also attracted a few notable active users, such as cinematographer Glenn Kaplan, who collaborated with Doyle on the Michael Cera druggie road movie Magic Magic (2013).
Ng says AAP aims to expand the project by working with other Asia-based artists and film figures who are known for their distinctive eye.
When asked what he hopes to achieve with the project, Doyle, ever mercurial, adds: “It is what it is. But then again, as most honest filmmakers respond when asked why they do films: ‘I do it because I want to be loved.’"
"Christopher Doyle: Away With Words" is available for $0.99 in the Apple App Store.