Archive for Film

Reorientation of Time and Space: A Study of Narrative, Painting and Film

Posted in Art and Philosophy, Bergson, Deleuze, Film, Subjectivity with tags , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by immanentterrain2

Deleuze’s interest in the relationship between time and space resonates through his work. Recent course readings have coalesced around ideas of rhythm and milieu along with the dynamic relationships they allow, setting groundwork, in a sense, for his treatise on the spatiotemporal, relating time to movement and image in film in Cinema I and Cinema II.  The texts have engaged my interest in a study of  how relationships of time and space have been employed artistically across various forms of media to evoke deterritorializing, intensive effects serving as a push toward a reorientation of values.

Kafka’s work serves as a Deleuzian model of print narrative as plots twist into and out of themselves creating intensive narrative connected to its own dissolution. Kafka’s use of temporality can be understood as a component of minor literature that deterritorializes the reader.

The short story A Country Doctor melds ideas of temporality and space in a way that divorces the reader from previously held valuations of such ideas. It is easily illustrated in a synopsis of the work in which entities are unreliably referred to by pronouns as the narrative oscillates between past and present. The country doctor is awakened to attend to a patient he does not know, on horses that mysteriously appear in his stable, likely at the price of his maid’s safety. He is whisked from the scene of the maid’s peril to the sick man’s bedside. Time and space mutate simultaneously. With little use of narrative transition, the doctor is transferred from place to place, but always needs to be somewhere else.

Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor 2007/21 min. Yamamura Animation

Kafka creates a world of components which appear recognizable, yet work outside our experience, so that all understanding of their familiar characteristics and uses will not help us decipher their new relationships and values. If our seemingly stable and autonomous universe can possibly serve as  foundation for such a reality and can be extended and transformed in such a manner, its stability becomes problematic—the disturbing potential once acknowledged can no longer be dismissed.

Moving from spatiotemporal constructions generated by texts on the page to two-dimensional images, Francis Bacon’s work is exemplar of blurred time and space—streaked with smears, globs and scratches—indicative of a passage of time in a painted version of a photographic frame, suggestive the progression of time as the work itself was created. The works are intentionally finished complete with accidents and imperfections. Bacon’s work, as the work of those such as Cezanne and Braque nearly a century before, is an abstraction echoing the daily visual encounter with the world, with enough aberration to haunt our idea of reality and cause an affective deterritorialization.

In Study of a Baboon, a work housed in MoMA’s permanent collection, Bacon’s intense brushstrokes, wiped out and repainted at the focal point, evoke a moment in a seemingly furious movement or transition frozen for an eternity. Combined with the dry-brushed crossed lines, the image could be understood to include a cage, but one is unable to discern whether the figure is inside or outside of it. If inside, does it imply the spectator inside as well?

  Study of a Baboon, 1953. Francis Bacon

The image is familiar, yet foreign. The spectator learns from the title of the painting that the image could be interpreted as a baboon. The face of the baboon figure turns towards the spectator from a place of visual indiscernability and screams.  The viewer is once again implicated by this image frozen in time, causing an identification with feelings of intensive space and time, as well as deterritorialization.

As the discussion transitions from the still image of paint and canvas to the moving image of film, Tarkovsky stands out as one who takes seriously the relationship between time and image. Temporal deterritorialization could be said to be the main tenet of Tarkovsky’s cinema. His use of long takes, surreal settings and plot that typically resembles a type of science fiction engages the spectator in a sometimes excruciating and often futile attempt to follow or create a narrative. Any meaning that could be drawn from the work, comes not neatly in understanding ordered plot elements, but after reflecting on the film as a whole, both in form and in content.

This is true of Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker. The film follows the journey of three men: the stalker leads a writer and a scientist through the Zone, a hazy post-apocalyptic landscape, in search of the Room, a place the stalker has never seen but supposedly lies hidden in the deep tangled passages within the Zone. The Room is rumored to have the power to fulfill entrants’ innermost desires. Their quest ends as they finally arrive at the entrance to the Room. The three stand outside the entrance in an extended shot but never enter. The stalker, the writer and the professor are transferred, in a single cut, back in the bar where the journey began.

Stalker 1979/160 min. Andrei Tarkovsky

Tarkovsky’s trademark long take combined with his artistic choices to present time in a specific way through cuts creates a unique temporal deterritorialization. In combination with the setting that bears earthly resemblance, spectators identify with and are simultaneous alienated from the work. In many ways Stalker also imparts affects similar to those feelings imparted by Kafka’s novels and Bacon’s paintings. Deleuze would likely agree that Tarkovsky’s treatment of space and time in Stalker suggests an alternative way of viewing a film. It allows spectators to circumvent conventional understanding of what film structure and narrative should be—it causes the viewer to question their own view of reality and to look at the world in new way.  Tarkovsky’s treatment of time and space is indicative Deleuze’s summary of Bergson’s idea of time and subjectivity in Cinema II: “Time is not the interior in us, but just the opposite, it is the interiority in which we are, in which we move, live and change.” (Deleuze, 82)

–B. Paris


Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema II: The Time-Image. University of Minniesota Press. 1989.

Deleuze, Gilles. Logic of Sensation. University of Minniesota Press. 2002

Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix. “Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature”. Theory and History of Literature, Vol. 30. 1986.

Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix. “Affect Percept Concept”. What is Philosophy?. Columbia University Press. 1994

Kafka, Franz. “The Country Doctor”. A Metamorphosis and Other Stories. 1993

Tarkovsky, Andrei. Stalker. 1979


Everything should go into film – Godard

Posted in Film with tags , on April 21, 2011 by immanentterrain2

It is natural that Deleuze talked about Godard in Cinema books. Since the beginning of his career, he has shifted his interests continuously, and as a result, there are distinct periods according to his different interests. For example, it is obvious to find different approaches of his filmmaking between Vivre Sa Vie, Alphaville, and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, Film Socialism. His early films seem to have a clear narrative structure, and later he radically explores the possibility not for the storytelling but for film as medium: indeterminable relations through montage, between music or text and images, disconnected narratives and so on. We can make connection between Deleuze and Godard in several ways.

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, the film that Godard made before his turning point to political ways clearly resonates with Deleuze’s difference and philosophical attitude in general. How we generate thought? Based on my understanding of Deleuze so far, that generation happens when we encounter, simply speaking, new things that does not fit into our pre-existing knowledge of world. This confrontation immediately stimulates our fixed interpretations and leads us to move beyond our limits. This film creates this process from the beginning to the end of the film. In the beginning, Godard whispering explains the construction in Paris region first and then moves to the introduction of actress and her character (Juliette Janson) in the film. His whispering, of course, creates immediately some distance between the viewer and film. And the introduction that consists of two almost identical sequences of images and actions keeps creating unexpected encounters, and even after Godard whispering, Juliette speaks about herself a bit. Godard already puts several elements together in his own ways that provides us different ways of interpretations of this beginning. We can examine of relations between two separate introductions such as limitation of language, and find ourselves thinking of something different.

As pointed out in Douglas Morrey’s book, the way of representation in this film is very related with Deleuze’s difference; “…life results from the affirmation of difference…Godard refuses an approach between that which is and is not suitable material for a film.” Like an explanation by Morrey about a specific scene, 360-degree pan starting from Juliette and returning to her, Godard embodied his thought through images and dialogues; “No event is experienced in isolation. You find that it is also inked to what surrounds it”. Part of Juliette dialogue has same sense; “The feeling of my ties to the world. Suddenly I felt I was the world and the world was me. It would take pages and pages to describes it.” With whole relations with the world, which creates difference, we can do thought. Godard’s demonstration is accomplished well this simple 360 pan. In this scene, we can also see Godard’s belief on cinema and his ambitious and earnest desire to achieve this belief though camera. Through camera, reality becomes images but Godard agonizes over what these images are and the possibility of series of images in cinema. Godard’s anxiety establishes his attitude to cinema in historical sense. And this tendency is still alive in his recent films.

Personally this 360-pan scene is beautiful even the moment when Juliette smiles because of her dialogue “She looks like Chekhov’s Natasha. Or the sister of Flaherty’s Nanook” (I am not sure whether Godard used an earphone for this scene). Also, on the background, it is great to see two people looked out of the window of the apartment. Like this scene, Godard never loses his capability to depict images with his thoughts beautifully. Another example – Morrey also explains in detail the café scene of this film. This scene has abundant resources for images, meanings and objectifications like separate images from magazine or close-up of coffee. Right after this scene, with gentle music as transition, the next scene that three different takes of Juliette walking on street. Her dialogue is “I’ve tried to recapture the feeling all day. There was the smell of trees. I was the world. The world was me “. Personally, this short scene somehow looks like Godard’s comforting words although I do not know why I feel, but in terms of cinematic expression, music, voice over of Juliette, and three similar shots work together perfectly- at least for me.

When I read The Smooth and The Striated chapter, personally it is important to think about actual activity in real world, and considering his film career, Godard is clearly a filmmaker who keeps deterritorialize boundaries to create the smooth space. When we talk about Godard, intellectual characteristics of his film often are mentioned. But besides his radical approaches, his attitude to the art, human and world cannot be missed. Last year, I saw his latest film, Film Socialism, and at the end of film, I saw his decisive decisions, ceaseless study of images, and his desire to make the film free to anything (although I only saw the film one time and did not fully understand it). It is surprised that Godard keeps making his films with his own way without compromise.

The tile of this posting is the actual title of Godard’s article for his film, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (Morrey, 68).

Reference: “Jean-Luc Godard” by Douglas Morrey


Screenings: Nathaniel Dorsky

Posted in Deleuze with tags , , on April 3, 2011 by immanentterrain2

Nathaniel Dorsky’s films will be screened soon. As I mentioned in my posting, his films emanate something through distinct images, lighting, and rhythm between shots. Here the info about the screening:

And this is recent interview with Dorsky (thank you Sam!):


Nathaniel Dorsky and Deleuze’s philosophy

Posted in Film with tags , on March 1, 2011 by immanentterrain2

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.