Saturday, 13 March 2010

Deleuzian film studies in memory of David Vilaseca

Image of Ingrid Bergman as Karin in Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini, 1950)
For [French philosopher Henri] Bergson, the brain does not produce a representation of what it perceives. Perception is the mutual influence of images upon one another, of which the brain is only another image—it does not “produce” anything, but filters impulses into actions or non-actions. The implications for film are two-fold. By addressing the perceiving subject as one image among the world of images, Bergson steps outside models that locate perception and memory within the mind of the subject. I would further suggest, following [Gilles] Deleuze, that Bergson’s theory of matter allows us to see film not as a fixed representation, a concrete image of a “real” object, but as an image in its own right, with its own duration and axes of movement. What we might call the film-image thus occurs in the gap between subject and object, through the collision of affective images.
Deleuze’s formulation of the film-image as a mobile assemblage (sometimes a frame, sometimes a shot, a sound, or the film as a whole) lends itself to this reading. It refuses to reduce the physical image on the screen to a mere reproduction of an assumed “real” object it represents. Such a formulation similarly reevaluates the relationship between the concrete optical and sonic images that comprise the film. Rather than conceiving of each component as a “building block,” it allows for the shifting conglomerations of elements which are themselves dynamic and mobile. A film cannot be distilled to a structure that originates from outside itself. Instead, each film-image is contingent, particular, and evolving.
The distinction between the time- and movement-images becomes more clear in this context. Rather than a question of either content or form, the difference lies in their affective power, whether they are bent toward action, in the case of the movement image, or if they open into different temporal modalities. It is in this second case that the time-image falls, and it is here that Deleuze locates the creative potential of film. This potential does not exist solely within the physical image itself, however, but is contained as well in the modes of perception and thinking that it triggers. Much like the time-image, the mental faculty most attuned to the openness of time, according to Bergson, is that of intuition.
Amy Herzog, 'Affectivity, Becoming, and the Cinematic Event: Gilles Deleuze and the Futures of Feminist Film Theory', in Koivunen A. & Paasonen S. (eds),Conference proceedings for affective encounters: rethinking embodiment in feminist media studies , University of Turku, School of Art, Literature and Music, Media Studies, Series A, No. 49
Film Studies For Free lovingly presents its long list of links to online and openly accessible film-studies resources of note pertaining to the work of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Like lots of continental theorists invoked in Film Studies, 'Deleuze' has been somewhat of a moveable feast, but, as the links below testify, in recent years this particular feast has been a highly nourishing one for a variety of approaches to this discipline.

This FSFF entry is one of two posts to be dedicated to the fond memory of David Vilaseca, Professor of Hispanic Studies and Critical Theory at Royal Holloway, University of London. Professor Vilaseca tragically died in a road traffic accident in London on February 9, 2010. His achievements in life were many, as this touching obituary written by his good friend and mentor Professor Paul Julian Smith eloquently sets out. Both in person and in his writing he was an inspiration. He will be much missed.

FSFF's author had met David Vilaseca on a number of occasions over the years and is a keen follower of his brilliant work on queer, Catalan, and Hispanic culture. She wishes to express her sincere condolences to David's family, friends, and colleagues.

David Vilaseca had a particular interest in Deleuzian philosophy as well as in the critique of Deleuze's work by fellow French philosopher Alain Badiou. Three of his related essays are linked to below, and interested FSFF readers should also look out for his third book Negotiating the Event: Post-deconstructive Subjectivities in Spanish Literature and Film, to be published this Autumn, which will undoubtedly explore further the pertinence of Deleuze and Badiou's work for film studies.

Good Film and Cultural Studies-related Deleuzian websites:
          Deleuzian film studies:
          • Kara Keeling, 'Deleuze and Cinema', Critical Commons, 2010 ("The following selection of film clips from films discussed by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze were compiled in the Fall of 2009 by the participants in Professor Kara Keeling's Critical Studies graduate seminar on Deleuze and Culture at the University of Southern California")


                      Anonymous said...

                      see also:

                      Catherine Grant said...

                      Thanks for flagging the omission of Claire Perkins's great article for Senses of Cinema, Jason. No idea how that one passed me by, but I've now added it above. Your comment also prompted my somewhat sluggish memory that you refer to Deleuze in some of your own work and sure enough I discovered that you had published a related online essay (Jason Sperb, 'Time Passing in the Simulacrum of Videodrome', Intertheory, Vol. 3, 2006) which is of course more than worthy of inclusion above. So now I have two omissions to apologise for. Thanks! Can anyone else think of other good items I have missed?

                      Anonymous said...

                      Thanks, Catherine, but no worries of any perceived oversight on my end, perhaps because I've since renounced my own Deleuzian roots. But as you'll probably note, I tend to do that.