Nathaniel Dorsky and Deleuze’s philosophy

After we started to look at Deleuze’s works on different arts, I keep thinking about Dorsky’s films and his book “Devotional Cinema”. Dorsky is an experimental filmmaker who only uses film. His works are silent films and most of them are montage without specific narrative. Seeing his films, one thing that fascinated me is vivid materiality of film as medium itself. With light, color, frame, and own rhythm, film itself brings back its own life whenever it is played in dark place.

In his book, Dorsky tries to describe how he perceives the world and imprints those perceptions on filmstrips. Among his thoughts, he argues that film should not represent “spoken-language ideas that are ornaments in the context of visual space” because ornaments of language does not see the world. This statement is little abstract but considering conventional films in present, it is easily understandable. Many films just represent the world to explain written themes or ideas, which does not contribute unique qualities that film has. The question is how we separate two different images: one exists for act of seeing and the other exists as representation of the world. Dorsky develops his ideas through several steps, but I think that although he talks about specific qualities that film can have or achieve, the position of audience always exists. In other words, he clearly or subtly points out the relation between film and the viewer.

Showing and watching happens at the same time. According to Dorsky, people usually think that films show us continuous images, but the thing is that we are seeing films that are shaped within the rectangle frame: it is the process of viewing: “It is important to understand what we’re participating in, to realize that we rest in darkness and experience vision. Many people take vision as a given and don’t realize that they are actually seeing”.

Deleuze’s main claim is process ontology: identity emerges from difference – different relations. So it is “becoming” rather than “pre-identified”: Being in process. Watching film is an experience. We have to spend time in dark theater to experience difference.

Time – Cinema – Temporal Medium: singular moment in time: Where is image in cinema? Personally, image we are seeking here may exist in relations or even somewhere (space and time) between ruminated image on the screen and viewer who are fully active for seeing something on the screen.

Another interesting element that Dorsky points out is Intermittence. We understand that we are also watching blacks between images in film. According to him, “The intermittent quality of film” is somewhat similar with the way we experience the world. Life is full of gaps. We think our daily experiences are continuous but often we are disconnected with ourselves for various reasons. Also, according to Dorsky, we drift the extremely fast alternation of existence and nonexistence although we cannot experience nonexistence between existence moments. For now, I am not sure how to connect this idea with Deleuze’s thoughts, which can be possible or not. But it’s interesting concept that I want to share.


One Response to “Nathaniel Dorsky and Deleuze’s philosophy”

  1. I remember when Dorsky was present at a class discussion a couple of semesters ago, he talked about “letting the mind off the leash” in his process of filming, and how we are always trying to get film to do what we want it to do, rather than what it wants to do – the relations possible in its expressive potential. I do think this process and this understanding is connected to Deleuze’s ideas of a plane of immanence, and becomings that create as they are created, that affect as they are affected in a rhizome of relations rather than a one way street with a predetermined conclusion.

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