Monday, April 21, 2014

Revision of Previous Instruction (5)

I was mistaken to think that a purely spatial orientation would suffice.

 If we see our Mystory, separated into the 3 (or so) discourses of the popcycle, the logo, and reflections on wabi-sabi as a film, then what I have decided to do is to create "another narrative," an impossible narrative through the pictures I am going to both take and select. My image-texts, derived from fragmented elements of my Mystorywill now be re-arranged to suggest one "day in the life" of Jake. Scenes from the everyday. However, some of these images will be constructed in the present, some will be taken from the past; some I will take myself, some I will take from others. This "one day" approach, beginning with "Let there be light" and ending with "Bedtime is immanent" will allow me to "produce time." The images still won't "move" in an illusion of cinematic continuity, but they will create a sense of the day's activities, which cannot be a day because some of these images have been created in a different state! Akerman writes, "I want people to feel the time it takes, which is not the time it really takes" (196).

 I am going to put into practice the role of the possessive spectator, who "commits an act of violence against the cohesion of a story, the aesthetic integrity that holds it together and the vision of its creator" (Cinematics 207).

 This may at first seem to contradict our instruction to "receive as a mystic," but I have received from my Mystory receptive and suggestive phrases. I must now re-assemble them into an "affective unity or common thread of feeling or being" (93).

The "impossibility"/surreality of this image sequence/day narrative will be increased by the narrative's suggestion that a woman came to me in a box.

Mix and Stir --Final Instruction for Recipe

In the previous classes, I have lamented that I do not have access to my popcycle's archive (aside from The Mask). Today, I furthermore was continuously frustrated by the lack of useful images in my Mystory,even as my own instructions have led me to realize I must take a picture.

After much reflection, frustration, and a little dread and anxiety, I have figured out how to connect the present and the past in a transferential relationship, both the past of the creation of the Mystory as well as the fundamental scenes and elements that structure and gather my life into a coherent pattern.

My mistake was to focus on the Mystory as an archive of pictures and images that represent my past. My final instruction is not to try and duplicate images in the Mystory (or, necessarily, in the film The Mask), but rather to isolate a fragment of the micro-narratives in my Entertainment, Family, and Community Discourses (let's say, 10 fragments) that I hit me in a punctive manner. They might only be a few words (or one word!), they may be a complete sentence or an image/description of an object that I mention.

Either way, my task will be to isolated fragments of the micro-narrative, as if it were a film still ripped out of the overall context of the narrative. Like my previous instruction from Cindy Sherman, we will sense that the images belong to a narrative, but will not be able to place them (perhaps I won't even be able to place them after awhile!).

I will estrange the language of the Mystory and then look at the world for how that 'partial object', that fragment, may show up in my present life to create a connection between the two scenes and the two times. In a sense, I will be looking for the photographic "objective correlative" to the fragment of narrative I select from the Mystory. The fragment will not be "interpreted," but used to write with my present world.

This concrete strategy corresponds well with the demands of the theory slot. The project allows me to construct a montage of elements that both attract and repulse. That is, I will recognize some resonance between the fragment of my past and the photograph of my present, but the goal will be for the photograph to express something the fragment cannot, an excess, the objet a. And vice versa. Even when attempting to produce a scene from my Entertainment discourse, I will inevitably not "be in the picture" (as Lacan says)  because I am in a different context. "I" am never really in the picture since, as one theorist in Cinematics points out, the "I" of the picture is already dead.

I do not think it necessary to produce actual "moving" images, since the movement of film is ultimately an illusion of it anyway. I think that the tension created between the fragment of the narrative, which recalls the "fuller" scene and the photograph as objective correlative will set off a movement of imagination and understanding (to use Kant's categories in the 3rd critique).

World --Mystory and Gainesville--Instruction 4

In the Mystory itself, we "felted" the Family and Entertainment discourses. In theory, we could have used any of these discourses to create a felt, in which one discourse became expressive of the other. One of my initial complaints of the Mystory was that I felt like I had to dive into my past when all I really wanted to do was live in the present.

And yet, as we all do, I have still been living in the past, present, and future this entire semester. I've "involuntarily" remembered my past many times because I have been trying to tell my girlfriend about my past my life, so she can understand where I'm coming from. When we were composing the Mystory, we were just instructed to allow (especially Family) memories to come to us, without asking why. Perhaps now we need to think about what triggered those memories. What might be something in our present that triggers part of the popcycle from our past, and then how does one make that visible? This may allow us to discern what aspects of our popcycle continue to structure the unconscious.

In order to do this, we may take direction from Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills. Since I am in a completely different time and place, I will try and re-stage moments/scenes from my Mystory. Not necessarily "literally" since they cannot be repeated, but try and find an object, element, or gesture that repeats in my present. The scenes that I take pictures of should create an uncanny connection for me to my past. I should try and figure out how to (re)construct (and stage-- like Jeff Wall) in a figurative manner how my past still corresponds with and influences my present.

That is, we look at the Mystory (which is both us and not us) and say: What is that for me (now)? The gap between then and now might be the gap of the unconscious.

My bandmate Lance took this and wrote on FB: "I call this one 'Blue Jake'"

Device (Analogy, Theory)--Instruction 3

If the phenomenon of 'transference' creates an epiphantic connection between the present and the past, the clearest instruction for me is the necessity to take/generate new images in the present in order to link my present to my past. Transference creates a kind of "suture," but it is a discontinuous suture. That is, as I wrote in another one of my other posts, we do not want the suture created by film, which is an illusion of continuous time and motion, but a constructed continuity between two times and/or places that do not seem directly connected. Because if we really take the idea seriously that primal scenes from our pasts affect how we find ourselves in the present, then my task is to make this relation visible and to create an affect. It will not be on the level of story continuity that the images in my montage will coalesce, but at the level of mood: "

The phenomenon of transference is embodied in various concepts that arise in Cinematics, The "meaning" of this connection will not be "readable" but "intuitable" Whether we gather this instruction from the famous "Capa" image from La Jette which "in itself carries the condensed implication of a whole action, starting, happening and finishing at one virtual point in time" or Victor Burgin's more extended definition of "sequence image" : 
The elements that constitute the sequence-image, mainly perceptions and recollections, emerge successively but not teleologically. The order in which they appear is insignificant (as ina  rebus) and they present a configuration--lexical, sporadic -- that is more 'object' than narrative [. . .] the sequence image as such is neither daydream nor delusion. It is a fact--a transitory state of percepts of a 'present-moment' seized in their association with past affects and meanings. (203) 
Hence, circling back to Julien (and to a certain extent, Lacan's idea of the circulation of the drive around partial objects), my project will not lead to some "final image" that encompasses or synthesizes all of the others, but rather every element must be taken as part of the (w)hole that I am trying to form. Nor will my project form a narrative, but an "object" and objet @.  

Theoretical Principle (Lacan) -- Instruction 2

The theoretical principle that will guide my project is the partial object, the objet a. Photography will allow us to write with these objects.  While the objet a is not a specific object, it can be recognized as the excess significance (or attraction?) that accrues to an object or scene in a photograph. It is Barthes punctum, the "surplus" value, exchange value, commodity value of an image. The values or lifestyles associated with a scene or object.

As Lacan writes, "the objet a in the field of the visible is the gaze" (105).

The key for me will be able to place myself in the correct position to see how I am fixed by the gaze.

Metaphysical Principle (Julien) -- Instruction 1

My first instruction will be a metaphysical principle that shows up in all three texts in addition to being the fundamental dimension of the Electrate apparatus: attraction/repulsion. This is the principle behind the montage (which is the device I draw from the Cinematic text -- more in another post), a non-dialectical tension. That is, the point will not be to allow all components of my project into one unified, synthesized image (like the wide image), but for the images to endlessly circulate and play off one another. Although there will be a sequence (elaborated in another post), the sequence will not be linearly progressive. The attraction/repulsion will create a kind of magnetic field:

Or a yin/yang symbol:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Surreally Standing-In

If it is true that we need images that conduct between our present and past moments, then it seems clear that we are going to have to take a picture in the present that somehow recalls our past interpellation into the popcycle. Rather than try and re-create a moment from our memory, we can attempt to reproduce a shot from a film like Cindy Sherman. This film still is not from a particular film, but it gives us an uncanny feeling that it is from a film. It is this kind of surreal, uncanny, quality of not-being-able-to quite place it that we should strive for in our own image experiments.

Cindy Sherman--Untitled Film Still
We get this same instruction from Lacan, about the libido/drive being a surrealist montage. Maybe we do not literally have to copy the style of the surrealist montage, but we should take into account the surreal feeling (unheimlich) of recognizing something but not quite being able to place it. Sherman's photographs recall a kind of noir aesthetic, atmosphere, and mood, but the scene does not provide enough information for us to contextualize it within a narrative. In this way, Sherman creates a fragment that resists interpretation in the context of a particular film. We do not know the meaning, but we can identify in her face and posture a feeling and mood -- perhaps one of dread.

Jeff Wall creates a similar surreal feeling of not-quite-recognition. An image that looks "real" but some little detail or element is off and we sense that what is occurring in the image is an impossible perspective/event to capture without the work of further construction.

Jeff Wall--Milk
The picture to the right, for instance, looks plausible, but we would never be able to see the milk coming out of the container without photography. It makes it look like rushing water or a kind of sculpture. This is a kind of freezing of time, suggesting movement and stasis at the same time. Sculptural and yet potentially filmic.