Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Time Image Striation

My final project is going to be a series of long take video experiments that attempt to evoke the link between action image and time image as well as suggesting their interchangeability. In Gilles Deleuze’s two books on cinema (Cinema 1 and Cinema 2) he talks about the evolution of the film medium by nature of its frames and especially of the images it produces. In Cinema 1 Deleuze describes the images of the classical era as action images. That is to say that they are predicated by cause and effect. Every shot, every movement, every piece of dialogue is motivated in some way, shape or form. The characters in these classical films were always active, never passive. There is always a goal for the protagonist to aspire to and there is always an obstacle that must be overcome. These images remain constant in film until the aftermath of World War II where we see an emergence of a new kind of image. This time image, as Deleuze refers to it as, represents the movement towards modern cinema where characters are reflective instead of active. We see them observe through the frame and as a consequence, the audience thinks and perceives with the character.

I would liken the time-image described in Cinema 2, as a manifestation of another Deleuzian concept, smooth space, which Deleuze discusses in detail along with collaborator, Felix Guattari, in A Thousand Plateaus. For Delueze, smooth space is defined by its unlimited variation and its vast realm of possibility. In the time-image, the viewer and the character(s) are both in an ineffable space absent of any provocation. According to Deleuze, we become a new breed of character in this space because we are contemplative and unsure in lieu of being reactive and physically or emotionally active. This a-centered mental capacity brings the viewer and the character into a state of smoothness where the trajectory of our perception is boundless and our tactile acuity is heightened. Our collective minds become a smooth nomad wandering from thought to thought with no anticipated direction in sight.

On the contrary, the action-image would be of the same ilk as striated space. The formulaic structure of action-oriented plots and movement changes at pre-defined junctures is a form of striation that regulates the delivery and construction of cinema. The viewer was to be ensconced in the narrative so that any other elements of the filmmaking apparatus (i.e. music, soundtrack, camera movement, etc.) were only to be used to enhance the narrative and if they couldn't, they were to be downplayed so as to go unnoticed by the viewer (e.g. cuts in the middle of actions).

So if we can come to the conclusion that the action-image is a form a striation and the time-image a form of smoothness, then we should also be lead to the conclusion that the time-image and the action-image can become each other and reach a point of interchangeability just as it is so for smooth and striated space (e.g. the naturally smooth dessert being segmented and striated by mapmakers) as Deleuze asserts. For Deleuze, neither smooth nor the striated spaces are permanent and impervious to change and becoming. Once again, the goal of my project is to display this interchangeability and constant evolution between the action-image and time-image relationship through the film media itself. This will be done through a series of long take experimental shots that look to alter perception from the haptic to the optic within the same continuous shot. I hope to achieve an affection that is not static, but continuously emerging. Although I’m sure (in true Deleuze fashion) the process of developing these short projects will reveal even more ideas about morphing viewing experience within shots, which can be further explored in future endeavors.

--Jonathan Masino

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