Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Passage of Time and Construction of Memory: A Thesis

As a supplement to/outline of my presentation for today's class, I wanted to post an explanation of the thesis project I am currently working on. Loosely titled "Through a Century of Ideas: Time and Memory in the Work of Walter Benjamin, Chris Marker, Gilles Deleuze & Wong Kar-Wai" (until I think of something better), the paper will examine the notions of time and memory as they appear in the works of these four figures.

I've been interested for the past year or so in the potential connections between Walter Benjamin's work and that of Deleuze. While I don't want to conflate their arguments, it seems that there are a number of possible connections between their writings, and so I'm looking at Deleuze's Cinema books and a number of Benjamin's essays (and The Arcades Project) to figure out how they interact with and possibly enhance one another. Both Deleuze and Benjamin write extensively on the passage of time and recollection of the past, though where Benjamin's work focuses on the fragmentary and transitory nature of modern experience, Deleuze addresses (in the Cinema books – certainly not in general) more the nature of time itself and the way that Cinema as a medium allows us to experience it qualitatively. Both theorists also use Bergson, and so I will be looking at their different applications of Matter & Memory.

Because this is a project that focuses on cinema, I also wanted to look at directors/film-makers whose work examined the same themes. Wong Kar-Wai and Chris Marker, I think, are working through the same kinds of problems in their films and so I will be examining their films in conjunction with the writings of Deleuze and Benjamin. I'll show some clips in class.

I'm really interested in the way these four figures, whose writings and films span roughly a century, work through the same kinds of problems and what we can get out of engaging with these different socio-historical moments as well as with different mediums.

I'll talk more about my research, concerns, and the things I've been mulling over recently in class, but I also wanted to share with you all a short piece I did for Film Forum last semester that was inspired by this project. I titled it after Proust (mostly because I thought it was funny), and it's a short sort-of documentary piece I shot on the Bolex. It clearly needs some work but addresses some of the same topics in a much more personal/informal kind of way so I thought I'd post it here.

-Ashley Arostegui

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