Archive for Piibe Kolka

Gilles Deleuze on Framing

Posted in Deleuze with tags on May 19, 2012 by immanentterrain2

 

Deleuze does not see the cinematic image as something that should praised for its ability to create reality resembling illusion. On the contrary he sees the frame as essentially ensuring “the deterritorialisation of the image” (1986:15) because images with very different measurements get eventually projected on the same screen, in the same frame. Extreme close-ups and long shots are accommodated in the same measurements and that changes their relationship to each other. This ends up in creating a distinct images specific of the film-world.

 

For me the most interesting function of the frame that Deleuze talks about is the creation of the relationship with the out-of-field. He explains its functioning on two levels. Firstly in the way a framed set is creating and delimiting its own out-of-field sets and establishes relationships with them. This could happen either by literal framing that leaves elements and actions partly out of the frame and implying their continuation or by self-contained framing that nevertheless refers to the out-of-field – to the sets that are not included in the apparently closed frame. The second level of the frame’s out-of-field is its reference to a whole, which is not just the conglomeration of all the sets of framed elements in the film. The whole is rather something that is passing into each of the sets, each of the frames. (1986:17)

In Deleuze’s take the distinction of the framed elements from the out-of-field is not a parallel to the distinction between concrete space and imaginary space because the out-of-field can easily be turning into the elements in the frame. It is more like his distinction between actual and virtual where one is always becoming the other. As he says about the out-of-field, it “refers to what is neither seen nor understood, but is nevertheless perfectly present”(1986: 16)

 

Deleuze’s emphasis on the out-of-field allows a greater attention to the potential of the framed image. Even an apparently closed set must find an openness to something outside it. To look at each image then not as a self-contained unit of information, and not even as building relationships with other shots in a sequence, but rather as something always in relation to what is outside its limits, the framed image becomes much more dynamic. Furthermore the connection to the whole means that something that the film does, its most fundamental ability to affect must be present in each frame. An image can thus no longer be just a narrative continuation from what preceded it, but rather an element that encompasses the whole in some way.

Piibe Kolka

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 1986. Cinema I. The Movement-Image. London: The Athlone Press

 

 

Film-Thinking in Documentaries

Posted in Deleuze, Film, Process Ontology with tags on May 4, 2012 by immanentterrain2

To have an encounter with the film that one is making is a compelling idea that stayed with me from last week’s session. David Lynch’s Inland Empire and the discussion about films without scripts that proceed the filming made me think about documentary films, which are generally unscripted. Most of what happens in front of the camera is not predetermined, but an event with unanticipated consequences and meanings. I am not suggesting that there are no agendas involved – the choices of what to film and how are made more or less intentionally by the filmmaker, as are the things said and done by the subjects in front of the screen. However the outcome of the whole that is captured is generally less planned for, than in fiction films that follow a concrete script. To be surprised by life in front of the camera is one of the reasons why I have developed a strong attachment to the documentary form and non-fiction films. Of course the process of discovery is not always as fruitful as it potentially could be. Often there are preconceived ideas that guide the filmmaker and make the film just another representation of a specific idea, not a possibility for something new to emerge. Nevertheless I think that in its nature the documentary form has good prerequisites for the real encounter between the filmmaker, the film and the world.

However there is also a paradox built into the general understanding of documentary form that inhibits the full freedom and potential for something new to emerge. It is the common understanding of documentary as somehow representing reality “as it is”. Even if there is an acknowledgement that the film is always different from the events that were captured,(due to editing as well) the assumption remains that a reality in documentary should resemble more or less the reality outside the film world.
Hence even if we go along with David Frampton’s (2006) claim that film produces its own way of thinking, I would argue that the distinction that is made between documentary and fiction is making us expect the thinking of documentaries to be much closer to everyday thinking and cognition processes. This makes the documentary process fall too easily into the preconceived categories of understanding.

I am not advocating this paradox to be completely resolved, since I feel there are films where the explicitly “life like” character of the film is relevant for its reception. For example in documentary films that advocate a concrete cause. However I think it is necessary to also approach the documentary genre as an art form in becoming, so that the established notions would not predetermine all possible developments. To provide an example I am posting one of my old time favorites – Peter Greenaway’s short film H is for House. It is an example that in my view manages to go beyond the established notions of documentary form, initiating a distinct film-thinking

Piibe Kolka

References

Frampton, David. 2006. Filmosophy London: Wallflower Press

The Place is the Film

Posted in Deleuze, Film with tags on April 23, 2012 by immanentterrain2

Nathaniel Dorsky’s films were mentioned a few times in the last class. As I had the chance to see them recently and thought about their relation to our discussions, I decided to write up my impressions and share them here. Dorsky came to The New School a few weeks ago for a Doc Talk event. There was a screening of three of his recent films: Compline (2009), Aubade (2010), The Return (2011),  followed by a discussion with him.

His films are silent and consist of shots of objects, bodies, light, movement, colors, sometimes quite abstract sometimes more identifiable. As there is no “plot” in the sequences it is not really possible to describe what happens in the film. In fact the only thing I can describe is what happened to me while watching the film. Furthermore it became apparent in the discussion after the screening that the viewers experience is the only “story” that Dorsky himself is aiming for with his films.

The first thing I remember asking myself during the screening was “Where am I? What is this place that I’m in?”. I was trying to make coherent sense of it, trying to understand what I was shown. It took me a while to give up the search for a story. Even in the broadest sense – to give up the need for continuity and clear associations and to realize that in his works “the place is the film” (Dorsky in MacDonald 2006: 87, original emphasis). I saw it as a highly aesthetic world, but a world where everything cannot be immediately recognized. It was not the aesthetics of the everyday, rather of a rare moment I have lost myself in, observing something “too closely” or for “too long”. For a moment I even thought of it as an aesthetic that is not primarily for human beings. Because humans are often too noisy, too fast, too anxious to see the world in a way it was captured in the film. Also it seemed that for the same reason one sees very few shots of human bodies in Dorsky’s films. I realized that I had to be very much present to enter this world. After the screening Dorsky said that when the viewers understand that the films are actually about themselves and nothing external to them, that is when they start to see the films. When the viewer stops searching for the story that is being told, then she can actually start to see the film as a purely visual experience. Dorsky’s films are not references to something external, but about the exact moment when in his words “the camera touches the world” and he invites the viewer into this experience.

Explaining his journey to film making Dorsky shared his discovery of haiku. This is the art form that he felt came the closest to his deepest life experiences and to the way he wanted to express himself in film. The logic of haiku is close to his logic in editing – first there is a description of something and then the next line (shot) breaks down what was established and a third (shot) line makes a connection again, but with something completely new. It is interesting to note that Tarkovsky also talks about the comparison of haiku and film. In his understanding the real poetry in film resembles the poetry of haiku, through the act of pure observation. “What attracts me in haiku is its observation of life – pure, subtle, one with its subject.” (Tarkovsky 2008: 66).

This approach to film resonates with Deleuze’s discussion of the development beyond movement-image and towards pure optical-sound image (Deleuze: 2007). The meaning of a situation does not emerge from a purposeful action but from the pure description (in case of haiku) or pure observation (in case of film). For me this is an experience that Dorsky establishes with his editing – whenever there starts to be a clear association or a continuity developing, he breaks it to bring the viewer back to the pure optical-sound image, to the pure observation. However he is not working towards total chaos but creates an echo that would weave the piece together: “I started to learn relationships and you realize that if you put two shots together that were similar that wouldn’t work. Because the mind would start to find conceptions, parallels between the two things – this red shirt and this red flower: the idea is red. But if you took them and you moved them – if you find the right distance, just like a spark. Let’s say there is two shots between them. When this red came on, and then two shots after that, this red came on, it would echo. It’s not a conception idea.”(Dorsky: 2011)

 Somewhere in the last third of The Return there is a shot of two pairs of feminine hands “conversing” by a coffee table in bright sunlight. It is a prominent moment in the film because we suddenly see human movements that haven’t occurred previously in the film. However by that point the film has taken the viewer so deeply into the experience of the light, colors and movements that the sight of the gesturing hands is completely altered. Their movement becomes a movement in itself, without an explanation, without the desire to hear the accompanying voices, to know what the conversation is about. Because it is about the movement.

Piibe Kolka

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 2007. Cinema 2. The Time-Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. Continuum: London

Dorsky, Nathaniel. 2011. “Forest Roads. Conversation with Nathaniel Dorsky” in “Lumière” June 4, 2011. Interview by Francisco Algarín Navarro and Félix García de Villegas Rey. http://www.elumiere.net/numero5/entrevista_dorsky_en.php

MacDonald, Scott. 2006. “Nathaniel Dorsky (and Jerome Hiler),” in A Critical Cinema 5. Berkeley: University of California Press

Tarkovsky, Andrey. 2008 Sculpting in Time. Trans. Kitty Hunter-Blair University of Texas Press: Austin