Year Zero: Faciality

In the chapter Year Zero: Faciality in A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari address on the face. Before read this chapter, I read first two chapters of Cinema 1 where Deleuze talks about the close-up, affection and any-space-whatever. In contrary to those chapters, both authors critically approach the face as subject and mainly emphasize its historical notion. What is the face? Simple stated, through signifiance (white wall) and subjectification (black hole), an abstract machine of faciality produces face, and this machine is performed by certain assemblage of power. Namely, very specific social formations (power and organizations) “impose significance and subjectification as their determinate form of expression. Therefore, the face is political.

Through abstract machine system, the standard of face have been constructed, which is starting from Jesus Christ and now existing as White Man (typical European). This face facializes not only the face but also the entire body and spread everywhere. In this sense, the face is not a universal: “It is not even that of the white man; it is White Man himself”. This is the first function of system, which is to produce concrete individualized faces such as father and son or worker and boss. The second function of it is to judge or make a choice whether produced faces are good or not, and on the basis of choice, binary relations between first, second, third choices, etc. are established. Shortly, the face itself has a history.

The question is how to dismantle this faciality produced by abstract system. Here, deterritorialization is necessary: how to break the white wall of signifier and get out of the black hole of subjectivity. Both authors clearly claim that this deterritorialization of faciality only will happen in white wall and black whole system. In other words, knowing my face becomes the highest priority, which is actually the only way. More practically, dismantling face needs to happen in real life. According to Deleuze, it does not happen in art because art is only tool for “all of positive deterritorializations…toward to the realms of the asignifying, asubjective, and faceless”.

In the end of this chapter, both authors curiously mention about a probe-head that is another type of face born from abstract machine. This probe-head is “a living block” that dismantles faciality and opens “a rhizomatic realm of possibility effecting the potentialization of possible”. Personally, I cannot understand exactly this probe-head. Is this a kind of few possibilities that can be generated from abstract system by coincidence (in terms of historical sense)? Considering conventional ways of filmmaking, we can make some connections between abstract machine and the close-up/face in cinema. Through habitual editing techniques, the close-up/face only serves for the arc of narrative. But in cinema, there are some great filmmakers who critically examine what the close-up and face are such as Dreyer, Bresson and Costa. And also, I can add Weerasethakul’s Blissfully Yours. In fact, it is not difficult to find current filmmakers who explore different possibilities…(images at the bottom is from In Vanda’s Room).



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