or, rather, i'm trying to breath as imperceptibly as possible.

the machine is more important than my breathing and it can feel me breathe.

Later on, they'll be able to tell if i was breathing, you know... so i'm trying to subvert the most natural function on earth so that this machine, this camera can exist peacefully.

we make small talk as i set up.
it's only at the beginning and at the end that i'm really there.
we always talk about the baby.
it's her first. i nod; i smile. i don't have a child. i can't imagine having a child.
but i suppose i will. it's only natural, right?

but i wonder exactly what is natural about this situation.
certainly not my presence here and certainly not this manufactured bit of electronics that will record this moment so that they can watch it, years later (on another bit of manufactured electronics) and recall this baby's first few weeks.
i wonder if they'll recall me as well.

i've been hired to do this by a research project. i've not been told exactly what i'm to videotape, but only that
i'm supposed to videotape a "normal" routine.

i have trouble deciding what, exactly, is normal about this situation.

one of the batteries went into my back pocket as she put away some of the baby's clothes.
i've never actually needed the extra battery, but at this point sticking it into my back pocket is part of the ritual, similar to my mother not being able to leave the house without lipstick. i cleaned the lens as she told me her own mother is coming.

am i in this continuum of women now?
am i participating in the ongoing cycle of life by making these moments immortal?
or is something more required of me?

i press the button and the red light goes on and suddenly i'm no longer there. she no longer sees me, and she is alone with her baby again.

phone calls, naps, bathtime.

their daily routine with or without me (and the camera).

i wonder if the secret service feel this way too: invited into a situation where the people strive very hard to pretend you're not there, that you're just another machine, much like the dishwasher or the air conditioner.

the camera extends from my shoulder.

i sense, not see, the world outside of my viewfinder. as far as i'm concerned the world is bordered by REC and a timer.

is there really any objectivity in this? don't we all change each other by our very presence? me and the camera, she and her baby?

she opens her blouse. lifts the baby up to her nipple.
this is important, i've been told.

i've not been told why it's important, but it is. mother and child. a natural setting. a bedroom. a rocker. a mother. a child. and.... a video camera.

my entire sight (viewfinder) is filled with a breast and a baby suckling. here i am, pretending i'm not here, pretending that i'm the camera, pretending that i'm the machine, watching a woman, watching a baby, watching one of the most intimately female things on this earth. the humming of the tape turning fills my brain.

she is also pretending i'm not there. she is also pretending the machine is not there. she rocks back and forth, gently, to soothe the baby and herself. i have to zoom out, because the tight focus has made me (the camera) dizzy.

will i be doing this someday? am i watching? am i learning?
are these people in front of me or negative space in the camera's frame?
they will see what i (the viewfinder) have chosen to see, what is bordered by the frame.

i, who have no knowledge or understanding of what this situation is, will show them my (the camera's) impressions of it. is what i (the frame) leave out as important as what is included?

she talks to the baby. the heat of the camera fills my ear. i hear my sweat drip down into my earlobe. she's not looking at me, even though i've been staring intently at her for almost an hour now. does she believe she's being natural?

they chose this camera because it was good, not because it was light.

they chose this camera because it can zoom in so tightly you can see the pores on her skin;

you can see the moisture on the baby's lips as it pulls it's head away.
they chose this camera because, in a darkened room,
it (I) can get enough light to follow a baby's r.e.m patterns.
but the camera cannot capture the warmth of this room.
it can't capture the smell of a newborn.
it can't capture what it feels like to be here in this intimate moment.

i can feel the camera in the soles of my feet now.

the baby sleeps and the two (three) of us are alone.
the baby and me (the camera).
does the mother watch her baby sleep? i mean, does she WATCH this baby sleep?
I (the camera) know this baby in a way she will never be able to.
when she watches this much later on, will she see it then? will they see it?

zoom out. establishing shot. he's come home.

everything changes.

he notices the camera (me) and he is very studied in his attempts to not look at me (the camera). perhaps she is so much better at this because for 9 months she's been the center of attention, much like a woman with a camera protruding from her shoulder.

the camera feels much larger now.
it's on top of my shoulder and no longer welded into it.
the stiffness in my hands is apparent as i find my individual fingers are no longer the buttons.

lifting the camera away from my head i feel a cool breeze against my ear and i notice for the first time that it's snowing.