Duality of the Frame (but, admittedly, mostly positive words)

Following our in-class lecture/discussion and the reading Cache’s Earth Moves, I have been grappling with the idea of the “frame” and the sort of duality of the frame as manipulative and as a catalyst. The only answer or response I’ve been able to come up with is not really exciting or original but that the frame is indeed both – what I imagine Deleuze might phrase as ‘a framing of yet unseen becomings’ and ‘a becoming of yet unseen frames’.

We encounter this quite often in academia. In the assignment of a class project (in film, video, music, whatever) we are given parameters for adequately fulfilling the assignment. The parameters may not be (but often are) based on the outcomes of previous student assignments and the teacher’s inclination to promote or avoid certain outcomes in the future. In a way, a useful ‘class assignment’ is a scientific experiment. Either way, these enforced boundaries ultimately dictate what can and cannot be synthesized from the infinite virtual, but they also drive the student to a sort of creative frustration. At the beginning of the semester, it was said that ‘true’ acts of creation must come from the artist banging his or her head against a wall – and this is precisely why the frame is crucial in creative projects. If the frustration does not lead to self-destruction, the frame can catalyze a response of ingenuity and originality – what we have been referring to as ‘new ways of seeing the world’ and the development of new frames (and new, becoming assignments.) When our vision (literally or figuratively) is somehow ‘cut-off’ it necessitates a negotiation – an epistemological migration. The truth must be revised, re-determined, sorted out from scratch (or close to it).

In my own work, I can personally attest to the benefit of framing and parameters in projects. Some of my work of which I am most satisfied is usually the result of a set of boundaries or a self-limitation that forced me to furiously work up and down and around to an acceptable solution. That being said, I would reiterate the importance of the duality of the frame. There is still a manipulative quality that ought to be recognized. A specific problem will require a specific solution. Therefore, the frame – the imposed boundaries – ultimately influence and become a part of the ultimate act of creation and they must be considered in the understanding of a creative act.

-Matt Whitman


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