Boxing Gym (2010), documentarian Frederick Wiseman procures a singularly powerful metaphor for his non-interventionist, invisible strategy of human observation: with the eponymous gym's fighters consistently engaging in exercises before the space's numerous mirrors, Wiseman and cinematographer John Davey's 16mm camera never once becomes visible in any of the interior's reflective surfaces. Indeed, Wiseman and Davey's camera remains unseen in Boxing Gym, much as the filmmakers' refuse to interact with their on-camera subjects (to remain invisible to, namely). Wiseman not only presumes an invisibility in his filmmaking strategy; he and Davey uniformly position their camera to remain out of view, despite the ease and verity with which the camera would appear to spectators (and presumably did on the cutting room floor). In other words, Wiseman's filmmaking technique presumes and indeed registers an illusion, invisibility, which further extends to the film's on-camera human subjects. That is, Boxing Gym postulates an invisible observer, who of course, though not intervening within the film, is nonetheless present to the film's athletes. Thus, while the boxers do not acknowledge the cameras or the filmmakers, their training, conversations and anecdotes are impacted by that which Wiseman insists on effacing. Boxing Gym's invisibility therefore is a matter of the filmmaker's unacknowledged, exceedingly careful craft.
Likewise, Boxing Gym's absence of avowed manipulation extends to the film's non-narrative organization. Rather than imposing a story-arc onto his film, Wiseman again records the training regimens and interactions of his boxers, with the former's rhythms emerging as a pivotal organizing principle. Wiseman presents a series of fighters - in no immediately discernible sequence - at various stages of development, and culled from nearly every age group, social class, race and both genders. (As many of these seem to train in the ever-present Richard Lord's Austin, Texas gym in order to get or stay in shape as they do to practice the sport.) What they share is an induction into the sport's temporality - as does the spectator, analogically - which as a new fighter is instructed at one point, must be learned before anything else can be. Where the viewer sees this rhythm's manifestation, in addition to experiencing it on the level of the film's story-less temporal organization, is in the boxers' dancing feet - in the ring, on overturned semi-truck tires and as they skip rope; they are as conspicuous a motif as the film's reflection-less mirrors. Indeed, Wiseman and Davey's camera commonly emphasizes the footwork of the gym's fighters, often in tight, close-in framings, which commensurate with the sport itself, proves as fundamental in Boxing Gym as the boxers' thrusting arms and wrapped hands.