In her seminal essay “In Defense of the Poor Image” Hito Steyerl sings the praises of low quality images. She discusses their (political and aesthetic) potential and lauds their reach. Although that text is now over a decade old, it is more topical than ever: visual phenomena such as memes, tiktok videos and cellphone footage have increased the reach and visibility of such “poor” imagery.
This epigraphic video essay by film student Maddy Smeets focuses on (horror) movies that extensively rely on such “poor” imagery to create a sense of verisimilitude… and dread. The found footage horror subgenre has effectively drafted poor images into its professional production streams, trying to harness the power of these substandard images for above average financial gains.