In House of Leaves, technology is utilized most prominently in the use of Navidson’s numerous cameras he sets up for recording at first just the move to the new house.
“Navidson, we learn, began his project by mounting a number of Hi 8s around the house and equipping them with motion detectors to turn them on and off whenever someone enter or leaves the room…Navidson also keeps on hand two 16mm Arriflexes and his usual battery of 35mm cameras” (pg 10)
What starts out as an attempt to utilize technology to capture and document the ordinary days in the lives of the Navidson family eventually morphs to an attempt to document the extraordinary of the impossible house that seems to contain an entire world’s worth of extra space within it.
This need to document is nothing new for humanity. Ever since we could first fashion crude dyes we’ve painted on cave stories of great hunts that occurred or simply good stories or religious symbols. This tendency has continued throughout human history with writing, portraits, until finally we come to the day and age of photography and video, our current pinnacle of recording technology, the most advanced yet. But despite, or perhaps because of how advanced such methods of recording are, people still remain skeptical of the Navidson Record. Most people say “its fake,” or “total bogus” (this book does take place in the 90’s) or “Navidson trying to do some really trippy commentary with special effects.” Which is a valid point, technology in this day and age can do far more than record, it can alter, create whole illusions and worlds, creatures and even people who don’t really exist. Because the camera has such a great ability to create whole fantasies like that, its ability to document truth can be called into question no matter what you’re filming.
It’s an almost cliché irony that that the camera’s ability to tell lies has likely surpassed its ability to tell truths. Or at the very least, that’s what a lot of people would think if someone ever recorded any actual instance of something that was completely impossible.
I’m not sure if I’d call this a really good or bad thing it simply is what it is. Though I suppose a certain amount of skepticism is healthy really otherwise the line between fantasy and reality might become dangerously blurred for some people.
Yet the ability to show such wondrous possibilities, even if they’re not real, always offers a glimpse into what might be or what could happen. Such glimpses I’d say are arguably worth more than glimpses of something real because they give us something fantastic to aspire towards, to believe in. An essential part of what the whole human experience is about. Not to say that real life events can’t inspire as well, but as a species we’ve always been drawn to stories and characters, symbols and heroic journeys. These are things that always manage to speak to us no matter what culture we’re from. And that is a beautiful, powerful, admittedly slightly clichéd thing. But that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.