Rules hold sway over us, whether we realize it or not. Safety rules. Traffic rules. Rules of grammar. Laws. Codes of social behavior. Rules for arrangement of objects in your personal space. Rules for dress. Rules for business. The same holds true, oddly enough, when we watch films. We expect certain results. We expect certain placements, settings, orientations–and we even expect that the stories we enfold ourselves in will obey certain habitual patterns, will fall into place with a click. This character will fall in love with that character. Character X will win, and Character Y will lose. When it comes to visual rules, our expectations become a little harder to call out or examine because they are perhaps more engrained in us. The truth is, though, that it is the defiance of rules that makes a lasting work; whatever our expectations might be, the more eccentric works are the ones we remember. What better television show in which to examine the violation and transcendence of visual rules than the USA Network’s ‘Mr. Robot,’ as video editor Semih has done in this close-up, smart piece? Can you imagine a show about computer hackers that actually obeyed compositional rules?
Watch: ‘Mr. Robot’ Dances around the Rules of Composition