Sunday, May 23, 2010

The City as a Milieu for the Virtual to Happen, Part Two: Any-Space-Whatever

According to Deleuze, in classical cinema space is continuous in such a way that it supports the characters' actions. Therefore, time is imprisoned in the continuity of the story and that is why classical cinema works as a closed representational circuit in a similar way to how the represented city is closed to creative experience. Only with the emergence of the modern cinema does the status of cinematic space change: "purely optical or sound situations become established in what we might call 'any-space-whatever,' whether disconnected or emptied" (Deleuze, p. 5). In other words, the space in modern film does not stand for the continuation of the predictable film narrative; rather it stands for temporal subjectivity and, at the same time, the objectivity of the ambiguous real. In my opinion, the creative and non-representational relations with the city are grounded in the same idea of attentiveness to the virtual and the unknown. The creative openness, without any effort to subtract only what is needed (for purposes of utility), helps us come closer to a non-representational complex image of the city.

These thoughts inspire me to work on my project "Any-Space-Whatever," which is supposed to be the second part of the installation "Cinematic Journey Through Time." "Any-Space-Whatever" is a cinematic urban exploration that aims to reconsider the representational image of the city as well as to examine the exceptional temporal dimension of the cinematic medium. During the production part of the project a number of HD video studies in abandoned places all around New York City were shot. They will be screened on the four walls of a black box installation space.

The project examines the temporal dimension of cinema and the city at a few different levels, as presented below. First, the places chosen for cinematic explorations are not-yet striated spaces because they do not belong to the trajectories of everyday life and do not, in the words of Guy Debord, exist for purposes of consumption. Therefore, the first temporal aspect of the project is based on an unpredictable personal encounter with places without knowing in advance what will be found. To put it briefly, the cinematographic studies were implemented in time.

Second, according to Deleuze and Guattari, smooth space (which represents temporal becoming) does not mean homogenous space, quite the contrary: it is an amorphous, non-formal space. In this connection, abandoned, wasted, post-industrial places I have visited so far do not have a stable identity; rather, they are in a transitional mode between their striated past, which is already over, and a future identity that is still unknown. The buildings are fragmented, full of holes and gaps; walls are not vertical anymore, windows are leaky. The places are dehumanized and only serve as homes for silent wind, forgotten memories and unrecognizable relics. Therefore, the second temporal aspect of the project is decided by the space's transitional position in time. All the places I have recorded are in constant change from the striated to the smooth, having the impressive traces of both periods. As Deleuze and Guattari write, "a smooth space emanated, sprang from a striated space, but not without a correlation between the two, a recapitulation of one in the other, a furtherance of one through the other." So, I would say, that records of the abandoned places are portraits of duration of their temporal smoothness.

Third, the cinematic techniques I have chosen to use for capturing the temporal existence of these places formulate another temporal component of this project. 360ยบ panning long takes and static shots edited together with the sounds partially recorded on location move the short cinematic studies closer to the real time of the recorded places rather than the manipulative construction of personal and conventional views on the part of the cinematographer. Spontaneous editing was used only for the purpose of assembling the details together into the larger whole but not with the intention of stimulating a third meaning between the shots (ala Eisenstein). In my opinion, details from each location could be easily edited in various ways without paying attention to narrative at all. These places, following Deleuze, could be called "dehumanized landscapes of emptied spaces having absorbed characters and actions, retaining only a geographical description, an abstract inventory of them" (Deleuze p. 9).

Finally, in the end of the cinematographic study, the time-image is freeze-framed and combined with an artificial clock sound in order to inspire the viewer to rethink the relation between the real durational time of these spaces and constructed or abstract time. Summarizing the project, I would hope it could help us to reconsider the temporal, non-representational dimension of cinematic practice as well as re-think the representational image of the city.


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