Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics 9780755603374, 9781780760124

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Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics
 9780755603374, 9781780760124

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Illustrations FIGURES 4.1 4.2 5.1

6.1 6.2 10.1

10.2 10.3 11.1 11.2 11.3 12.1 12.2 12.3 13.1

Juergen Teller, from the visual essay ‘Kristen McMenamy: Marc Jacobs, Fall Winter 2005/6’, Purple Fashion, number 4 (Fall/Winter 2005–6), pp. 396–415 Juergen Teller, from the visual essay ‘Kristen McMenamy: Marc Jacobs, Fall Winter 2005/6’, Purple Fashion, number 4 (Fall/Winter 2005-6), pp. 396–415 Eija-Liisa Ahtila, The House, 2002, 14 min., DVD installation for three c Crystal projections with sound, photographed by Marja-Leena Hukkanen,  Eye Ltd, Helsinki, courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris ¨ fur ¨ Philippe Rahm architectes, Pulmonary space // Gyorgy Ligeti 10 Stucke Bl¨aserquinett, 2009 (courtesy Philippe Rahm architectes) Shona Illingworth, Balnakiel, 2009, video and sound installation, digital video still Carolee Schneemann, Fuses, 1964–66, 9:51 min., colour, silent, 16 mm film on video, courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York Sophie Calle and Greg Shepard, No Sex Last Night, 1992 Sophie Calle and Greg Shepard, No Sex Last Night, 1992 c Andrea Arnold Press, Andrea Arnold, Red Road, 2006, film still, 113 min.,  photo A-Film Distribution c Jill Magid, ‘Control Room’ (Evidence Locker), 2004, video, 7:14 min. loop,  Jill Magid, courtesy of the artist and Yvon Lambert Paula Albuquerque, GMT minus 5, 2009, webcam, 5:01 min., c Paula Albuquerque, courtesy of the artist  Hito Steyerl, Strike, 2010, smashed LCD TV, HDV single channel video, 1 min., video still, courtesy of the artist Hito Steyerl, In Free Fall, 2010, HDV single channel video, 32 min., video still, courtesy of the artist Hito Steyerl, In Free Fall, 2010, HDV single channel video, 32 min., video still, courtesy of the artist ˙ awski, Possession, 1981, film still Andrzej Zul

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PLATES 1. 2. 3. 4.

5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

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Bracha L. Ettinger, Eurydice, no. 30 (1994–2001), oil on paper mounted on canvas, 22.3 × 38.7, courtesy of the artist c ANP/AFP Hocine Zaourar, 2009,  Juergen Teller, from the visual essay ‘Kristen McMenamy: Marc Jacobs, Fall Winter 2005/6’, Purple Fashion, number 4 (Fall/Winter 2005–6), pp. 396–415 Eija-Liisa Ahtila, The House, 2002, 14 min., DVD installation for three c Crystal projections with sound, photographed by Marja-Leena Hukkanen,  Eye Ltd, Helsinki, courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris c courtesy of the artist and Antony Gormley, Blind Light, 2007,  JayJopling/White Cube, photo: Stephen White Shona Illingworth, Balnakiel, 2009, video and sound installation, digital video still Yang Shaobin, X-Blind Spot, 2008, video stills from four-channel video installation, courtesy of Long March Space Wangechi Mutu, Lockness, 2006, Mixed media on mylar, 95 1/4" × 54", courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects Wangechi Mutu, The Ark Collection: Karo Woman, Hamar Woman, detail from vitrine two, 2006, collage on postcards, 8" × 5" each, Sender Collection, NY, courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects Wangechi Mutu, Chorus Line, 2008, watercolor, ink, and collage on paper, part one of eight parts, 14 1/4" × 11" framed each, collection of the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ, courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, photo credit: Robert Wedemeyer Wangechi Mutu, She’s Egungun Again, 2005, ink, acrylic, collage, contact paper on mylar, 87" × 52 1/2", collection of MOCA Los Angeles, CA, courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, photo credit: Joshua White

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Acknowledgements

We would not have been able to complete this book without the continued support and encouragement from a number of persons and institutions. We, the editors, acknowledge the generous financial support from the focus area Cultures & Identities at the Faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University, enabling the organisation and hosting of the Carnal Aesthetics symposium on 11 March 2011. In particular, we wish to thank Prof. Ann Rigney for supporting the event. Bettina Papenburg’s work on this volume has been facilitated by a grant from the European Commission under the Marie Curie Actions of the People Programme within the 7th Framework Programme. Marta Zarzycka’s research period has been facilitated by a grant from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Both of us would like to express our gratitude to our colleagues at the Gender Studies Department and at the Research Institute for History and Culture at Utrecht University for their great encouragement. In particular, we wish to thank Prof. Rosemarie Buikema for her ongoing support for this project. Talks given by Prof. Martine Beugnet, Dr. Erin Manning, and Dr. Patricia MacCormack at the Carnal Aesthetics symposium in Utrecht were an amazing source of inspiration, helping us solidify the structure and develop the underlying themes of this book. We wish to warmly thank Philippa Brewster, our editor at I.B.Tauris, for her sustained enthusiasm for our project and for her invaluable help and good spirit in working with us on the contents and layout of this volume. We would also like to name several people to whom our gratitude goes for editorial comments, emotional support or both: Paul Bijl, Babs Boter, Flora Lysen, Sharon Stewart, William and Luka Verheul.

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Notes on Contributors Jill Bennett is Professor of Visual Culture, Director of the National Institute for Experimental Arts and the Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics, and Associate Dean at the College of Fine Arts, at the University of New South Wales. Her books include Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma and Contemporary Art (Stanford University Press, 2005), Practical Aesthetics: Events, Affects and Art After 9/11 (I.B.Tauris, 2012) and several new media monographs. She has curated a number of exhibitions including Prepossession (Sydney and Belfast, 2005), dealing with the inhabitation of place in the aftermath of conflict/dispossession. She is currently working on a project with the City of Sydney, developing aesthetic strategies to ‘curate cities’ in the face of climate change. Martine Beugnet heads the Film Studies division at the University of Edinburgh. She is the author of Marginalit´e, Sexualit´e, Contrˆole: Cin´ema Franc¸ais Contemporain (L’Harmattan, 2000), Claire Denis (MUP series on French Directors, Manchester University Press, 2004), Proust at the Movies, with Marion Schmid (Ashgate, 2005) and Cinema and Sensation: French Film and the Art of Transgression (Edinburgh University Press, 2007). She has also written articles and essays on a wide range of contemporary cinema topics. Anu Koivunen is Professor of Cinema Studies in the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. She is currently conducting research on Moving Experiences: Affective Turns in Cinema and Media Studies (2010–2012) and on Vulnerability: Rethinking Representation, Politics and Materialism (2012–2015). Recent publications include ‘Talking heads, imagined communities: Steam of Life and the affective politics of intimate documentary’ (forthcoming in Journal of Scandinavian Cinema), ‘Yes We Can? The Promises of Affect for Queer Scholarship’ (Lambda Nordica, 3–4/2010) and ‘An Affective Turn? Reimagining the Subject of Feminist Theory’, in Working with Affect in Feminist Readings: x

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Disturbing Differences, edited by Marianne Liljestr¨om and Susanna Paasonen (Routledge, 2010). Patricia MacCormack is Reader in the Department of English, Communication, Film and Media at Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge. She has published extensively in the areas of continental philosophy, sexuality, ethics, the posthuman and horror film. Her work has appeared in Theory Culture and Society, Angelaki, Women: A Cultural Review, Body and Society, Deleuze and Queer Theory, Deleuze and the Body, Deleuze and Law, Queering the Non-Human and New Formations among others. She is the author of Cinesexuality (Ashgate, 2008) and the coeditor of The Schizoanalysis of Cinema (Continuum, 2008). She is currently writing a book entitled Posthuman Ethics. Erin Manning holds a University Research Chair in Relational Art and Philosophy in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). She is also the director of the Sense Lab (www.senselab.ca) a laboratory that explores the intersections between art practice and philosophy through the matrix of the sensing body in movement. Her publications include Movement, Art, Philosophy (MIT Press, 2009), Politics of Touch: Sense, Movement, Sovereignty (Minnesota University Press, 2007) and Ephemeral Territories: Representing Nation, Home and Identity in Canada (Minnesota University Press, 2003). Laura U. Marks is the Dena Wosk University Professor of Art and Culture Studies at Simon Fraser University. A scholar, theorist and curator of independent and experimental media arts, she is the author of The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Duke University Press, 2000), Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minnesota University Press, 2002), Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (MIT Press, 2010) and many essays. She has curated programs of experimental media for venues around the world. Her current research interests are the media arts of the Arab and Muslim world, intercultural perspectives on new media art, and philosophical approaches to materiality and information culture. Domitilla Olivieri is Lecturer in the Department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University, where she also received her PhD with a doctoral dissertation entitled Haunted by Reality. Towards a Feminist Study of Documentary Film: Indexicality, Vision and the Artifice. Her primary areas of interest are at the crossroads between feminist theories, visual studies, contemporary art, semiotics,

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popular culture, documentary film and anthropology. Committed to bridging the distance between academic and non-academic milieus, she also collaborates with cultural institutes and spaces in the Netherlands and in Italy, and participates in international collaborative art projects. Bettina Papenburg is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies in the Department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University and was a Marie Curie postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Research Institute for History and Culture at the same university. Her research interests lie at the intersections of visual culture, theories of the body, affect theory, the senses, gender and the grotesque. She is the author of the book Das neue Fleisch: Der groteske K¨orper im Kino David Cronenbergs (transcript-Verlag, 2011) and the editor of a special issue ¨ Historische Anthropologie on Machine Bodies – Body of paragrana – Zeitschrift fur Machines: Medial Transformations (Akademie-Verlag, 2005). Patricia Pisters is Professor of Media Culture and Film Studies and Chair of the Department of Media Studies of the University of Amsterdam. Publications include The Matrix of Visual Culture: Working with Deleuze in Film Theory (Stanford University Press, 2003), Shooting the Family: Transnational Media and Intercultural Values, edited with Wim Staat (Amsterdam University Press, 2005) and Mind the Screen, edited with Jaap Kooijman and Wanda Strauven (Amsterdam University Press, 2008). Her book The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian FilmPhilosophy for Digital Screen Culture is forthcoming (Stanford University Press, 2012). Griselda Pollock is Professor of Social and Critical Histories of Art and Director of Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History at the University of Leeds, UK. She is a prominent art historian and cultural analyst, and a worldrenowned scholar of international, post-colonial feminist studies in the visual arts. Since 1977, Professor Pollock has been one of the most influential scholars of modern, avant-garde art, postmodern art and contemporary art. She is also a major influence in feminist theory, feminist art history and gender studies. Her most recent book is After-Affect/After-Image: Trauma and Aesthetic Inscription in the Virtual Feminist Museum (forthcoming from Manchester University Press, 2012). ´ Eugenie Shinkle is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Photography and Film at the University of Westminster. Originally trained as a civil engineer, she went

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on to study photography, art history and critical theory, obtaining her PhD from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2003. Her research interests include fashion photography, landscape photography, and digital games, with a special focus on the haptic and embodied dimensions of image perception. She has published and lectured widely in the field of digital game studies and photography, and is the editor of Fashion as Photograph: Viewing and Re-Viewing Images of Fashion (I.B.Tauris, 2008) and Emerging Landscapes: Between Production and Representation (Ashgate, 2012). She has been exhibiting her photographic work internationally since 1993. Vivian Sobchack is Professor Emerita in the School of Theater, Film, and Television at UCLA. Professor Sobchack is internationally known for her work on science fiction cinema, visual culture, and the phenomenology of film. She was the first woman elected President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and was on the Board of Directors of the American Film Institute for almost twenty years. Her best known works are The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience (Princeton University Press, 1991), Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film (Rutgers University Press, 1997) and Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (California University Press, 2004). Hito Steyerl, filmmaker and author, lives and works in Berlin. She has participated as an artist in many recent international exhibitions such as Documenta XII, Shanghai Biennial and Seville Biennial. She teaches extensively and is the author of several books on documentary in the artistic field. Marta Zarzycka is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies in the Department of Media and Culture Studies and the Research Institute for History and Culture, Utrecht University. She teaches and publishes in the field of photography studies and feminist art history. In her current postdoctoral research, funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and titled Images at War: Photography, Gender and Humanitarian Aid, she focuses on the role of digital photography in shaping collective Western consciousness through its representation of trauma happening globally.

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Introduction Bettina Papenburg and Marta Zarzycka

Art’s engagement with contemporary wars, geopolitical conflicts, the collapse of nation states, economic inequalities, ecological disasters, and with the consequences of revolutionary changes in communication technologies urges us to re-think the idea of artistic and cultural practices as a sphere separate from ethics and politics. Carnal Aesthetics builds on existing multiple discourses between aesthetics and politics within visual culture, gender studies, film and media studies, as well as critical theory. The book contributes to efforts to revise several terrains of inquiry: first, which ethical paradigms determine any encounter between a work of art and its audiences? Second, what affective dynamics emerge in the engagement with images, smells, textures, shapes and sounds? Third, how does the interlacing of sensorial experiencing complicate this engagement? And fourth, what are the very recent strategies of artistic intervention into processes of perception? The aim of this selective mapping of the challenges which aesthetics confront is to point to questions arising at various points of overlap in these diverse discursive fields and to outline new directions for future research on representational strategies and perceptual modalities. Key issues of such interventionist strategies and shifting modalities come into focus through the lens of interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches considering how various categories of difference such as gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, (dis)ability, geopolitical location and (non)humanity are addressed.1 Exploring a selection of resonances and fractures arising at these intersections, we hope to offer here a variety of ontological and structural paradigms through which the concept of ‘carnal aesthetics’ might begin to take on contours. Unlike other books that focus on aesthetics, affect, sensoriality or feminist interventions alone, this book pays particular attention to the new fields of study opening between these topics. All of the essays assembled here link to diverse

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lines of inquiry, stimulating interconnections between different – and distinct – theoretical and methodological traditions. While critically reflecting on feminist scholarship, Carnal Aesthetics aims at deepening and broadening discussions on themes that arise at the crossing of questions of gender, the body, trauma and historicity. In so doing, the book hopes to add a much-needed tool of gender analysis to scholarship in cultural theory. Moreover, this book sheds light on recent developments in the art world and puts forward a critical extension of these by way of an examination of various art forms. While all of the contributions remain critical towards the mechanisms and processes of cultural productions, they are simultaneously appreciative of the feminist questioning of frameworks and contexts that these have traditionally been placed in. Aesthetics as it is outlined in this book becomes a kind of cultural politics, which has the potential for fostering alliances between current and future feminisms, lesbian and gay activism, race and AIDS activism, as well as scholarly efforts in postcolonial critique. Carnal Aesthetics expands the field of cultural inquiry by offering new texts, objects and contexts for study, and new methods and approaches to study them. It consequently calls for the critical reassessment of the transformative potential of alternative sensorial modalities and of the various ways in which these unsettle viewers in the act of the aesthetic encounter. This reassessment points to directions that feminist scholarship might profitably take – directions we hope the readers will find useful. Carnal Aesthetics is an outcome of the 7th European Feminist Research Conference organised by and held at the Gender Studies Department at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, in June 2009. The conference’s general aim was to present and take stock of alternative ways of addressing societal issues and power dynamics through a consideration of a wide variety of examples from the arts in conjunction with feminist politics. The resulting book focuses on the thematic strand titled Art, Politics and Imagination and engages with emerging discussions around such topics as affect, embodied perception and the senses. Ultimately, it addresses the question of how these topics can inform feminist interventions into cultural practices, and in turn how feminist interventions can offer a different reading to those cultural practices. This book takes off from the contributions to this strand, presenting essays from eminent scholars solicited during the editorial process. Finally, in March 2011, the Carnal Aesthetics symposium was held at Utrecht University to foster dialogue between several authors, generating a number of guiding issues. These issues of future inquiry are reflected in the

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book’s title, Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics, which we will clarify in more detail in the following.

AESTHETICS In the context of this book, we argue for an understanding of aesthetics as aisthesis, that is, as perception, sensibility or sensation, emphasising the cultural formation of the senses.2 With this stress on aisthesis, we move away from the understanding of aesthetics as being concerned with ‘beauty’ and question the universalising claims that this concept implies. Instead, we seek to revive a notion of aesthetics that relies upon sensory perception and underlines the significance of cultural valuing of certain sense impressions and the dismissal of others. Many of the artworks our contributors engage with challenge the culturally inscribed ‘hierarchy of the senses’. The inquiry into sense perception has been at the heart of aesthetic theory from its very beginning,3 yet aesthetic apprehension has often been reduced to the visual only. Carrying the multiplicity of aesthetics in its title, this book seeks to contribute to efforts of reaching beyond vision alone. It takes into account the (often fearful) collapse of distance between the viewer and the art object, fostering an immersive approach where the viewer is no longer only a viewer, but rather the subject of an embodied encounter. Recent and ongoing research in fields as diverse as the anthropology of the senses,4 performance studies,5 film studies6 and philosophy7 has drawn attention to the politics of perception larger than looking. Building on a wealth of case studies, numerous scholars in these fields have challenged the idea of the dominance of vision prevailing in Western epistemes as well as the conceptual split of the sensorium into five senses. Particular emphasis has been given to cross-modal perception, including studies on ‘synaesthesia’ and ‘co-enaesthesia’,8 stressing various forms of overlap between and leaps across the boundaries of clearly demarcated ‘sensory channels’.9 The contributions in this book address the political relevance of the empirical studies and theoretical reflections on perception. They underline the importance of sensorial faculties and affective forces shaping our encounter with art as well as of the various dimensions of embodied difference. Carnal Aesthetics focuses on multiple cross-fertilisations between feminist theory and cultural practices. In line with this focus, the collection advances a critical and politically engaged stance towards aesthetics as it is articulated by Hal Foster, among others. In his seminal collection The Anti-Aesthetic, Foster

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questions the very term as ethically problematic as it reinforces the idea that aesthetic experience exists beyond history, location and the body. For Foster, the term anti-aesthetic marks a practice which is cross-disciplinary, tentative, politically engaged and subversive.10 This resonates with feminist aesthetics, a movement that took shape in the 1970s, which gives precedence to the encounter instead of the artwork, declaring the collapsing of the divide between ‘art’ and ‘life’, and thus emphasising the political commitment of art.11 As this book aims to inquire into how we can engage more deeply with (anti)aesthetics as an effective mode of cultural analysis, the essays assembled here establish the importance of an approach which is dialogic and intersubjective, responsive and responseable to various modes of encounter. This approach is concretely dealt with in the contributions in various ways. Taking the cinema as her example, Patricia MacCormack moves away from those approaches in film theory that treat the image and the viewer as independent entities by developing a model of spectatorship that underlines co-constitution and co-emergence of image and spectator in the cinematic encounter. Reconsidering the current discussion on affect, Anu Koivunen argues in her chapter that affectivity cannot be addressed without considering history, location and embodiment.

CARNALITY The question of embodiment as a cultural and ethical force is a central theme across all the contributions. Embodiment as it resurfaces in the notion of ‘carnality’ articulates various sources of inspiration which have shaped and continue to shape our thinking. When Barthes wrote about his movie-going habits, he noted that he allowed himself to be fascinated both by the image on the screen and by everything else in the theatre, as if he had two bodies at the same time: a narcissistic body which gazes, and a body ready to grasp not the image but precisely what exceeds it – the sounds, the proximity of other bodies, the spatial positioning of the self.12 This carnal simultaneity, taking the body as a ‘process-in-practice’ rather than as a fixed object, is the major thematic focus of this book.13 We take further inspiration from Vivian Sobchack, who in her seminal book Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture combines a phenomenological stance towards cinema with the cultural implications of the sensory roots of metaphor. Her linking of bodily apprehension and cognitive reflection set the tone for many of the more recent studies which take the proximal senses as their focus.14

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Moreover, our use of the term ‘carnal’ is in tune with Ann Laura Stoler’s book Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule. With ‘the carnal’, Stoler refers to the representation of desire as it is implicated in complex configurations of power/knowledge. Her understanding has informed the discussion on the ‘colonised’ body as an object, subject and medium of representation and desire. Stoler’s stance is picked up in Papenburg’s contribution, dealing with the artistic subversion of stereotypical representations of the black female body. The theme of the female body as desiring and desired returns again in MacCormack’s chapter, examining how we may visually and theoretically conceive of female pleasure. Consequently, the engagement with disparate phenomena, including images, rests on inquiring into the border between the somatic, the psychic and the conceptual. In line with the recent turn to affect in cultural and feminist studies,15 this entails a rethinking of the notion of and research on embodiment as it becomes open to multiple sensory modalities and fosters a conception of desire that takes the female body as its referent.

TRANSGRESSIVE IMAGERY Since the beginnings of the feminist art movement in the late 1960s, transgression and inversion have been vital forces in questioning traditional roles assigned to women and have constituted political strategies for asserting and celebrating women’s agency.16 In her influential collection The Reversible World, Barbara Babcock writes: “‘Symbolic inversion” may be broadly defined as any act of expressive behaviour which inverts, contradicts, abrogates or in some fashion presents an alternative to commonly held cultural codes, values, and norms, be they linguistic, literary, or artistic, religious, social and political’.17 Babcock’s contentions emerged in dialogue with studies on such topics as ‘ritual rebellion’, ‘taboo’ and ‘liminality’, which were carried out in social and cultural anthropology in the 1950s and 1960s. One such instance is Max Gluckmann’s seminal work in which he pointed out that, counter-intuitively, transgressive behaviour is required in clearly demarcated periods in the life of the collective in order to ensure, celebrate and re-establish the continuity of the social order.18 In a similar vein yet writing in different contexts, Mary Douglas and Mikhail Bakhtin elucidated the ambiguous and interdependent relation existing between social rules and their subversion.19 Victor Turner referred to a liminal space and time, that is a spacio-temporal limbo opening up in-between fixed states, and drew attention

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to importance of this liminal state for the transformation of an individual’s status within a collectivity. What is key in all these studies is the concentration on liminality implying required transgression, which, although the associated subversive behaviour is socially prescribed, may potentially effect a transformation of the social order.20 Taking our cue from these studies we shift the focus from transgressive behaviour to transgressive imagery and from ritual practice to the experience of art. We investigate the question of how viewers can performatively engage with artworks in a process that is co-constitutive and co-emergent. This inquiry opens up the query over whether and how this engagement can facilitate a transformation of both the viewer and the social structures. Consequently, the transgressive imagery to which we allude in the subtitle refers not solely to challenge and provocation on the basis of pictorial content going against ‘good taste’. Rather, it denotes the confounding of the boundary between ethics and aesthetics extending to the disruption of normative cultural frameworks and the breakthrough into new theoretical ground by way of exploring the transformative potential of alternative perceptual modalities such as multisensoriality, sensation and affectivity. Looking at digital photography, painting, video, film and multimedia art, we see a variety of transgressive movements that significantly reconfigure the relationship between the viewer and the image, which disrupt and can potentially transform the representationalist paradigm. This observation raises a number of important questions, which are addressed by all contributors: How can feminist research methodologies open up fresh perspectives on these artistic and cultural practices? How can we think differently about our encounter with art, allowing for alternative sensory modalities beyond the visual? How do the horrors of contemporary instances of war, conflict and violation of human rights, as well as inequalities based on gender, race, and (dis)ability change and inflect our perception? Can the paradigm of transgression still be applied in the face of rapidly changing con` temporary societies and vis-a-vis a world order as it is marked by incessantly shifting boundaries? The contributions assembled in this book address these questions by considering the encounter with representations of the female body in light of instances of trauma (Pollock; Zarzycka); by emphasising the historicity and the ‘affective and cultural weight’ of this encounter (Koivunen); by attending to the role of the proximal senses such as and touch (Bennett; Beugnet) and smell (Sobchack; Marks) in aesthetic and cultural experience; through the matrix of the concept of ‘the grotesque’ as a generative form of subversion (Papenburg); and by exploring artistic practice through practices of surveillance (Pisters).

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FEMINIST POLITICS What unites all the contributions in this book is the aim to challenge the conceptual boundaries of current research on perception as it is carried out in the humanities and beyond. Pointing to the transformative potential of alternative perceptual modalities implies turning to the body and to the politics of perception as recurrent themes in feminist theory and activism.21 This is in line with a long-standing feminist tradition aimed at politicising representations of the female body and claiming agency over (self)representation, in both the artistic as well as cultural and political arenas.22 Critical interventions from various groups of activists and scholars have brought into focus other intersecting dimensions of difference such as sexuality and race.23 As a consequence, feminism can no longer be conceptualised as a unified movement of women’s empowerment, but evolves into multiple feminisms concerned with, among others, queer and postcolonial theory.24 Contemporary artistic practice and theoretical inquiry following a feminist agenda drew attention to increasingly influential studies on difference, trauma, affect, (trans)cultural memory and the cultural configuration of the human sensorium.25 On the basis of a variety of case studies ranging from (and across the boundaries of) film, video, photography, painting and collage, the assembled essays concentrate on the affective and multisensory dimensions of aesthetic experience. All of these dimensions, we argue, inflect current artistic expressions at the forefront of feminist politics. Engaging with questions of aesthetics, culture and politics, this book seeks to weave these research strands together.

STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK The four parts of this book are as much independent as interdependent entities as they interweave and interleave. The concept of rhythm might be helpful when thinking about the structure of this book. Examples as diverse as installation art (as discussed in the contribution by Bennett), the use of sound in war coverage (as addressed by Zarzycka) and dance-like movements in an encounter between an autistic person and an animal (the focus of Manning’s chapter) highlight the seminal role of rhythm in facilitating and organising any aesthetic encounter. The topic of rhythm reverberates throughout the book, resonating also with the contribution by Beugnet, who introduces the notion of pulsating celluloid for the

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bodily experience of both the film and the spectator. It extends into the discussion between Steyerl and Olivieri on intervals, gaps and silences as principles of montage, the attractions and repulsions between shots generating novel imaginative patterns. Rhythm understood on a meta-level is not an externally imposed order of this book, but rather the articulation of concepts and approaches, objects and media, bodies and unanimated matter, memories and prognosis, (non)human agents and subjectivities, political relevance and affective pleasures, transgressive moments and fixed cultural beliefs.

Part I: Encountering (Aesth)Ethics In line with this contention, the essays assembled in the opening part of the book take as their starting point the dissolution of the boundaries between ethics and aesthetics as addressed in critical theory and feminist discourse. They do so by focusing on traumatic experience and the way it is mediated through representational strategies. To witness trauma in artistic/cultural artefacts is to be affected by the absence and the loss through which images fail to show rather than represent. The aesthetics of trauma relies on the slippage between signification and materiality, on the aporia between the seen and the unseen. The question of encountering the pain, loss or perishing of others which challenges the threshold between self and non-self, is posed by all three essays in this part. Art drawing on traumatic experiences ultimately challenges the split between the represented subjects, the artist, the art critic/art historian and the wider audience. The opening essay by Griselda Pollock takes trauma as an event beyond appearance that nonetheless haunts, returns and is processed on both the individual and collective level. Focusing on the artistic and theoretical work of the psychoanalyst, artist and theorist Bracha Ettinger, Pollock reconfigures the relations of the corporeal and the aesthetic through a new vocabulary. The bending of language to accommodate new spaces of understanding and experiencing outlines the processes taking place in art reception where art making and art viewing are intertwined in a relationship that oscillates between distance and proximity. Yet trauma, whether carried, latent or recurring, in contemporary cultures is also broadcast globally and immediately to suit the diverse agendas of the media. Western societies have developed a veritable fixation on the visualisation of violence and trauma both for those who experience trauma as a real-life incision and those who witness it from afar. Marta Zarzycka takes up the question of accountable witnessing of such testimonies in her chapter on war photographs. Her concern is how the incorporation of sound into the still (in the sense of

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‘inaudible’ as well as ‘immobile’) photographs changes our comprehensive and receptive capacities. Re-thinking the witnessing of human suffering as a combination of both images and sounds, her underlying question is: how can aesthetics, through the broadening of particular kinds of sensation in a gesture of conaisthesis, help us find ethics and, consequently, also politics? Moving away from sounds and silences in photographs, Erin Manning’s contribution explores the ‘silence between’, the unspoken activated in the trauma of radical difference as it is experienced by autistic people, where facial recognition in a human to non-human encounter is no longer applicable. Based on what she calls ‘autistic perception’, she examines the category of ‘the more-than human’, where what is human is no longer the starting point for meaningful experience. She postulates an ethics of becoming as ‘autistically perceptive’ as possible, moving beyond spaces we are allocated in a species-oriented world. In a different vein, yet akin to Bracha Ettinger’s art, Manning’s essay performs relationality, using the fluidity of language and meaning on many levels and interweaving the concrete example of autistic perception and philosophical theorising, as well as ideas about and practices of movement. The ideas in the contributions assembled in this part can be categorised by their treatment of the unspeakable and unintelligible, that which precludes the capacity for communicating. Taking this incommunicability as a starting point, all of the essays argue for a style of perception wherein an encounter with the world does not begin by sorting the field into preconceived, general categories of either objects or subjects, images or sounds, humans or animals, but rather emphasises how new modes of attention are being activated which may counter established relations of power.

Part II: Affective Imagery Addressing various media and different genres, the essays assembled in the second part build on current debates within art criticism and visual studies, critically and creatively engaging with affect theory in regard to the practices of looking. Affect, an emergent term in cultural studies, is widely agreed to signal a correspondence between the psychic and the somatic, between the cultural and the biological, between feeling and knowing, between its resistance to representation and its appropriation by aesthetic discourse. Questioning linguistic models of subjectivity, feminist scholarship has recently turned to affect to consider the ethics of those conceptual and analytic apparatuses that aim to explore our bodily involvement with images, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings.26

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Building on this scholarship, Eug´enie Shinkle picks up on the transformation and circulation of affect in the fashion photographs of Juergen Teller, which present a flawed, unpredictable and disorderly body, instead of a normalised, desirable, socially coded body. Navigating away from the sort of semiotic analysis that has formed the basis of important work around fashion and fashion images, Shinkle argues that fashion imagery offers new configurations of ‘the affective’ as the refusal of meaning, inciting the emergence of new knowledges which contest normative judgements. Fashion images, she argues, explicitly address embodied subjects, and somatic or bodily responses are integral to the way in which they come to function. The chapter by Anu Koivunen takes theories of affectivity as an explanatory framework for the viewing experience of Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s film Love is a Treasure. However, while Koivunen, along with Shinkle, proposes affective engagement with the image, she does not reject the film’s story-telling capacities, its historical context or its cultural implications. Koivunen holds that Ahtila’s images remain thoroughly invested with and embedded in the interpretive histories of identity and the gendered self, carrying ‘cultural weight’ and, because of this, forcefully and intensely ‘weigh’ against the viewer. Arguing for narrativity and intertextual and contextual frameworks in the work of fiction, Koivunen advocates a return to questions of cultural and historical force as framing devices that shape our affective response. Read against/along one another, the two chapters pose the following question: Does our bodily response to images preclude thinking or, conversely, does affectivity facilitate a reflexive process? In her contribution, Jill Bennett presents several examples of art that directly challenge the polarisation of image and spectator in ways that modulate and redirect cultural preconceptions about affect. Bennett draws upon the sensory and affective experience using the example of air. Air, as both a portent and a sensory medium, enables both the investigation of questions of sensory perception and the exploration of the body’s interface with the surrounding environment. Taking Patrick S¨uskind’s novel Perfume as one of her case studies, Bennett argues for the affective power of smell which, through diffusion in and transmission via the air is capable of infecting and seasoning the social experience of an environment. A focus on air undermines the very notion of an ‘object of representation’ by turning to what is conventionally considered the ‘background’ for the process of representing, comprising the ‘natural’ and the social world. An aesthetic conception of air which entails the spatial, the invisible and the intrinsic challenges us to rethink the gap between sociocultural practices of framing and the embodied reactions in art and cultural practices.

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At the crossroads between Part I and Part II thus the following question arises: How do the ethical meanings we attribute to the representations or traces of historically documented traumas, works of fiction and interpersonal encounters with atrocities, as well as our responses to those, shift when taking into account not only their historical and geopolitical mediations, but also their affects?

Part III: Sentient Bodies It is in the third part that we address this question by examining how the bodily entanglement of the viewer changes our understanding of the aesthetic encounter. Positing the body as sentient agent and contesting the notion of an independent ` viewer positioned vis-a-vis an ‘object of representation/perception’, the contributions assembled in this part take further the explorations of the transformative potential of alternative perceptual modalities. All of them put the synaesthetic and co-enaesthetic cooperation and manifold interlacing of the senses centre stage and address this cooperation, which is otherwise often precluded by the culturally coded and hierarchical arrangement of the ‘five channels’ of sensorial perception. One such instance of the blurring of sensory boundaries is the overlap of touch and vision, as it has been examined by both Vivian Sobchack and Laura U. Marks in their earlier work. The work of both scholars has been crucial in initiating a scholarly tradition which considers the importance of ‘the haptic’ in the experience of moving images such as film (Sobchack)27 and video (Marks).28 Directing attention to smell and cinema, Vivian Sobchack’s contribution to the present collection addresses the moment when the visual reaches beyond the domain of vision and captures other sensory modalities. She studies audience responses to the representation and evocation of smell in Tom Tykwer’s film Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), aiming to arrest film’s fleeting ‘visual aroma’. Putting Tykwer’s adaptation of Patrick S¨uskind’s novel in dialogue with phenomenological reflections as well as anthropological and neurological studies on smell, Sobchack provocatively attends to smell as interpenetrating vision. Her focus is on ‘inhabiting and breathing in – in mediated and displaced form – the atmosphere and scents of an alternate world’. Her discussion adds a new angle to Bennett’s engagement with the same novel, as Sobchack emphasises how smell is synaesthetically linked to vision and hearing. Grounding her argument in an analysis of the spectatorial experience of the film, Sobchack draws upon the affective power of visually-evoked olfactory sensations in the encounter between film and spectator. She develops her point by dwelling on film’s capacity

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to speak to our ‘sense memory and sensory imagination’ and to play on an ‘affective tonality’ effectively enveloping the spectator in the ‘atmosphere’ of the film. Critically assessing the commodification of smell in consumer culture, Laura U. Marks dialogues with and expands upon Sobchack’s argument. Taking her cue from her visit to the perfume Souk in Damascus, she explores the generative potential of smell for creating communal experience. In a similar vein to that of Bennett’s essay, Marks raises questions about the particular pleasures and knowledges to be obtained from different kinds of sensory experience. Focusing on the ‘membrane between communicability and incommunicability’ of sensation, Marks argues a case for the senses’ potential for collapsing the divide between the public and the private, the social and the individual, and ties this to the capacity of the sense of smell, given its intimacy with emotion and memory, to mould our ‘olfactory unconscious’. Bettina Papenburg’s chapter investigates practices of disordering, mixing and cannibalising as strategic disruption undermining both established forms of representation and conventionalised modes of perception. She engages with some of the collages by Kenya-born, New York-based artist Wangechi Mutu featuring the dis/assembled black female body. In so doing, she re-introduces the concept of ‘the grotesque’ as an anti-canonical force, which deliberately subverts notions of moral decency and visual beauty, to the cultural analysis of representations of the black female body. Papenburg points out how the artist’s ironical embrace of derogatory representations gives transgressive imagery its force, effectively unsettling representational clich´es of the racialised and gendered body. This challenge to stereotypical depictions, she argues, is posed through tropes of excess and inversion and by resisting fixed form, completion and closure. Shifting the concept of the grotesque from the arena of representation to the arena of perception, she proposes a carnivalisation of the hierarchy of the senses. All three chapters revolve around the question of the aesthetic, cultural and political implications of the confusion of different sensory domains. While some of the contributions in Part I and II already consider how senses other than the visual become significant in shaping the cognitive-affective encounter with artworks (Zarzycka; Bennett), the contributions assembled in Part III detail alternative sensory modalities and pose the questions that tie the three parts together: How, in our encounter both with medium-bound (audio)visuality and cultural, sexual and species-based difference, can we move beyond the realm of

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the visible and deliberately unsettle the certainty provided by the boundaries of subject and object? What are the losses and gains of this transition?

Part IV: Strategies of Disruption As has become clear by now, all of the contributions in this book expound an understanding of the body as the locus of the sensing, perceiving and experiencing subject. Connecting this understanding to the interventionist tradition of feminist art leaves us wondering: how do certain sensory modalities intervene with conventional perceptual frames? How can these alternative ways of sensing and perceiving challenge and subvert socially inscribed structures of power and knowledge? Following from a tradition of critical intervention shaping the history of feminist art and criticism, the essays in this final part discuss the empowering and disempowering potential of erotic, remediated, elusive and monstrous body imagery and the sensorial and affective implications of the aesthetic encounter with such imagery. Building on Sobchack’s and Marks’ earlier work on touch and vision, Martine Beugnet historically contextualises and critically reassesses a selection of pieces from experimental, art and feature film as well as installation and video art from the 1940s until now. In line with Sobchack and Marks, Beugnet’s text maps out a trajectory of theoretical positions that shape the emerging scholarship on the politics of perception within film theory. It is the focus on the particular intersection of touch and vision that links Beugnet’s chapter to Bennett’s contribution. Yet, where Bennett concentrates on the most recent installation art, Beugnet extends her reflections to different media and across historical periods. Taking key examples from both feminist filmmaking and video art as the pivot of her reflection, Beugnet argues for the vitality of involving the whole sensorium, in particular the sense of touch, for the filmic creation of presence as opposed to more conventional, that is scopically orientated, representations of gender and sexuality on screen. Zooming in on an excess of the scopic by directing the discussion to the problem of visual control of the public space, Patricia Pisters sets out to assess some of the registers of our submission to and resistance against a contemporary surveillance culture that monitors our bodies. This particular culture is formed by ubiquitous devices such as CCTV screens, satellite tracking grids, Sat Nav positioning on mobile displays, webcams and internet polling, among others. Pisters looks at how the theme of surveillance resurfaces in recent

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cinema and contemporary art. She argues that artistic practices can effectively intervene in both scholarly discussions and public debates on surveillance through problematising further the complex and confusing affects roused by this topic. While Pisters considers the deliberate evocation of often contradictory affective responses which feminist artists employ for disturbing ongoing discussions, the conversation between Berlin-based visual artist Hito Steyerl and Domitilla Olivieri underlines gaps, intervals and silences as instances of disturbance. The conversation touches upon the problem of preserving the traces of the body in the material objects of art and their mediated reproductions. Recalling some of her recent projects, Steyerl guides us through the materiality of images which she sees as kinetic, gravitational and fluid. This leads her to conclude that alternative images, imaginations and imaginaries can be produced in the interstices of the space of the visible. Effectively disrupting theories of spectatorship and sexual difference, Patricia MacCormack takes female desire and female pleasure as a starting point for engaging with aesthetic experience in the cinema. In her analysis of Andrzej ˙ awski’s film Possession (1981), female desire emerges as an expression of, but Zul also as a disturbance to, male sexual paradigms. Inspired by Irigaray’s writings on the mucous as a remainder of delirium, wounds and exhaustion, MacCormack proposes to conceive of spectatorship as ‘mucosal’, that is as affective, contingent and indeterminate. Moving away from an understanding of difference as oppositional, she offers an alternative to feminist theorising on ‘the male gaze’. In line with this proposition, she envisions the relationship between the screen and the spectator as a ‘parabolic configuration’, emphasising the infinite relationality between screen image and spectator, thus breaking away from the representationalist tradition which posits this configuration as a relationship between a passive object and an active subject. The essays assembled in this part all pivot around the question: How can artists and theorists disrupt the conventional (mis)representations of the female body and female desire as they are persistently rearticulated in artistic and cultural productions? In the context of this book we link this question back to the inquiry into how a focus on affect and on alternative sensory modalities can shatter traditional frames of looking. This inquiry implies a call for an ethical relation between spectator and screen, between viewer and artwork, as it can be facilitated through disruptive practices of representation and perception. It is via this claim that Part IV links back to Part I, and the book comes full circle.

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NOTES 1 When we speak of interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches, we follow the stance as it is laid out in R. Buikema and I. van der Tuin (eds), Doing Gender in Media, Art, and Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 2009). See also Wekker, Gloria, ‘Intimate Truths. Theorizing Subjectivity and Sexuality. A Psycho-Analytical and a Post-Colonial Approach’, in R. Buikema, G. Griffin and N. Lykke (eds), Theories and Methodologies in Post-Graduate Feminist Research: Researching Differently (New York: Routledge, 2011). 2 We are referring here to a line of research, returning to the fore, that goes back to the scholar of aesthetics Alexander Baumgarten, who, in opposition to Immanuel Kant, stressed the indissoluble unity of thinking and feeling, of rational knowledge and aesthetic apprehension. See Baumgarten, Alexander Gottlieb, Metaphysik (Halle: Hemmerde, 1766), pp. 202–204. 3 Kant, Immanuel, Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Ditzingen: Reclam, 1986); Lessing, ¨ die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie (Ditzingen: Gotthold Ephraim, Laokoon oder Uber Reclam, 1986). 4 Classen, Constance, Worlds of Sense: Exploring the Senses in History and across Cultures (London and New York, 1993); Classen, Constance, ‘Foundations for an Anthropology of the Senses’, International Social Science Journal, September 1997, No. 153, pp. 401–412; Classen, Constance, The Book of Touch (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2005); Classen, Constance, Howes, David and Synnott, Anthony, Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (London and New York: Routledge 1994); Stoller, Paul, The Taste of Ethnographic Things. The Senses in Anthropology (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989); Stoller, Paul, Sensuous Scholarship (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997); Taussig, Michael, Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses (New York: Routledge, 1993). 5 Banes, Sally and Lepecki, Andr´e (eds) The Senses in Performance (New York and London: Routledge, 2007). 6 Chion, Michel, Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994). 7 Nancy, Jean-Luc, Corpus (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008); Ranci`ere, Jacques, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (London and New York: Continuum, 2004); Keller, Evelyn Fox and Grontowski, Christine R., ‘The Mind’s Eye’, in S. Harding and M. B. Hintikka (eds), Discovering Reality (Norwell, MA: Kleuwer Academic Publishers, 1983), pp. 207–225. 8 While co-en-aisthesis usually refers to the pre-cultural not yet moulded sensory spectrum, deriving from two Greek roots, that is koinos implying commonality and aisthesis as explained above, co-enasthesia in turn denotes joined as well as undifferentiated perception, emphasising the notion of embodiment. For a more extensive discussion on the concept of ‘co-enasthesia’ see Sobchack, Vivian, ‘What my Fingers Knew:

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The Cinesthetic Subject, or Vision in the Flesh’, in Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), pp. 67–72. See Sobchack, Vivian, ‘What my Fingers Knew’. Foster, Hal, The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Seattle: Bay Press, 1983). See, for example, Pollock, Griselda, Differencing the Canon. Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art’s Histories (London: Routledge, 1999). Barthes, Roland, The Rustle of Language (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989). See also Marks, Laura U., Touch. Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), Sobchack, Vivian, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and. Moving Image Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004) and Chion, Michel, Film, A Sound Art (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009). Barker, Jennifer, The Tactile Eye. Touch and the Cinematic Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), Beugnet, Martine, Cinema and Sensation: French Film and the Art of Transgression (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), del R´ıo, Elena, ‘The Body as Foundation of the Screen: Allegories of Technology in Atom Egoyan’s Speaking Parts’, Camera Obscura 38 (1996), pp. 92–115, Elder, Bruce, A Body of Vision: Representations of the Body in Recent Film and Poetry (Waterloo, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1998). Bennett, Jill, Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma and Contemporary Art, Cultural Memory in the Present (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005), Brennan, Teresa, The Transmission of Affect (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2004), Blackman, Lisa and Venn, Couze (eds) Affect, Body & Society 2010, vol. 16 (1), pp. 7–28, Clough, Patricia T. and Halley, Jean (eds) The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social (Durham, New York and London: Duke University Press, 2007), Sedgwick, Eve Kossofsky, Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (Durham, New York and London: Duke University Press, 2003), Hemmings, Clare, ‘Invoking Affect: Cultural Theory and the Ontological Turn’, Cultural Studies 19:5 (2005), pp. 548–67; Bal, Mieke, ‘What If? The Language of Affect’, in G. Beer, M. Bowie and B. J. Perrey (eds), In(ter)discipline: New Languages for Criticism (Cambridge: Modern Human Research Association and Mancy Publishing, 2007), pp. 6–23. Isaak, Anna Jo, Feminism and Contemporary Art: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Laughter (New York: Taylor and Francis, 2007). Babcock, Barbara A. (ed.), The Reversible World: Symbolic Inversion in Art and Society (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978), p. 14. See Gluckman, Max, Custom and Conflict in Africa (Oxford: Blackwell, 1955) and Gluckman, Max, Order and Rebellion in Tribal Africa (London: Cohen and West, 1963).

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19 Douglas, Mary, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (New York: Routledge, 1966); Bakhtin, Mikhail M., Rabelais and his World, translated by Iswolsky, H´el`ene (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984). 20 Turner, Victor, The Ritual Process (Chicago: Aldine, 1969); Turner, Victor: ‘Variations on a Theme of Liminality’, in Sally F. Moore and Barbara G. Meyerhoff (eds), Secular Ritual (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1977). For a more recent assessment of the topic of transgression see Stallybrass, Peter and White, Allon The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995); Koepping, Klaus-Peter: ‘Introduction’, in Shattering Frames: Transgression and Transformation and Anthropological Discourse and Practice (Berlin: Reimer, 2002); Jenks, Chris, Transgression (New York: Routledge, 2003). 21 While the consideration of alternative perceptual modalities is a topic that only quite recently stirred the debate, ‘the body’ has been a key focus in feminist theory and activism since the 1970s. The theme of the body has been explored, among others, by Betterton, Rosemary, Intimate Distance. Women, Artists and the Body (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), Bordo, Susan, Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), Gatens, Moira, Imaginary Bodies (London: Routledge, 1996) and Grosz, Elizabeth, Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994). 22 See Jones, Amelia (ed.) The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), Nochlin, Linda, Representing Women (London: Thames and Hudson, 1999), Hardt, Lynda and Phelan, Peggy (eds), Acting Out: Feminist Performances (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993). 23 Dolan, Jill, The Feminist Spectator as Critic (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 1991), Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, ‘Can The Subaltern Speak?’ in C. Nelson and L. Grossberg (eds), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (Urbana/Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), pp. 271–313, hooks, bell, Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston MA: South End Press, 1992), Shohat, Ella (ed.), Talking Visions. Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age (New York: MIT Press, 1998). 24 Butler, Judith, ‘Critically Queer’, in Bodies That Matter. On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 226–227, Butler, Judith, ‘Merely Cultural’, Social Text 52/53, Queer Transexions of Race, Nation, and Gender (Autumn–Winter, 1997), pp. 265–277, Halberstam, Judith, Female Masculinity (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), Halberstam, Judith, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York: New York University Press, 2005), Esteban Mu˜noz, Jos´e, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). 25 See for example Ahmed, Sara, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004), Berlant, Lauren, Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion (New York: Routledge, 2004), Marks, Laura U., The Skin of the Film. Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Durham and London: Duke

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University Press, 2000) and Sobchack, Vivian, The Address of the Eye: Phenomenology and Film Experience (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). 26 See Hemmings for a critique of ‘the affective turn’: Hemmings, Clare, ‘Invoking Affect: Cultural theory and the Ontological Turn’, Cultural Studies 19:5 (2005), pp. 548–567 and Gibbs, Anna, ‘Disaffected’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 16:3 (2002), pp. 335–341. 27 Sobchack, Vivian: ‘What My Fingers Knew: The Cinesthetic Subject, or Vision in the Flesh’, in: Carnal Thoughts. 28 Marks, Laura U.: The Skin of the Film and Touch.

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Chapter 1

Trauma, Time and Painting: Bracha Ettinger and the Matrixial Aesthetic Griselda Pollock

I What time is it?1 I have a watch. I am not jet-lagged. So why ask? I am asking about the time of feminism, and the temporalities of sexual difference which feminist thought raises as a historical-theoretical question.2 The temporalities of feminism are in crisis. Think about the current reframing of what feminism has been into first, second or third waves, or the prevalent use of the generational metaphor that pits feminist mother against post-feminist daughter under the unconscious shadow of mother-hating fantasies.3 Banished to a past by both patriarchal resistance and either feminists’ own historical nostalgia or Oedipal anxiety, both of which shape a historical reconstruction of the feminist moment lodged around 1970, feminism is falling prey to the mirage of posterity. Post-feminism or third-wave feminism, such phrasings connote supersession, transcendence and exhaustion. Feminism is over even before it has really begun. The speeding-up temporality of fashion-conscious liquid modernity fails to grasp the longue dur´ee of social histories of women and the monumental time of psychosymbolic orders, both of which are critical to understanding the movement of feminism between linear time and symbolic time, between history and language.4 How can we link these new discourses of feminism either being in the past or needing a new face, with trauma as no-time, when trauma challenges all temporal thinking since it is both a continuous unknown present and a haunting absence? According to psychoanalysis, trauma is an overwhelming event for which the psyche has no means to digest its impact. Pierced by what has happened, the subject does not know it. Trauma has two dimensions. One is a structural dimension of how subjectivity is formed through overwhelming psychological events such as 21

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birth, weaning, and loss of the mother’s body/love that impact the infant before it has the psychic apparatus to process these catastrophic events. They happen to a subject who cannot know them. Trauma also refers, however, to the shattering effects of extreme historical events that impact on already formed subjects and even on collectives of subjects: peoples, nations, cultures. The impact of such historical events is predetermined by grooves within the psyche already carved by structural traumas of loss, abandonment and feared mutilation. In cultural analysis, trauma confronts mass catastrophes such as world wars, decolonising struggles and their long aftermaths, AIDS, the Holocaust, the Armenian, Rwandan, Cambodian and other genocides and so forth. Modernity itself is considered traumatic in the shock of urbanisation and industrialisation through to the impacts of new technologies that themselves generate what Luc Boltanski has named ‘suffering at a distance’.5 We – a worldwide ‘we’ of contemporary humanity in all our plurality – live in a post-traumatic age. Does the disinclination to keep feminism on the academic as well as general cultural agenda alongside its former partners in radical critique – the post-colonial and the queer – in fact register not so much the exhaustion of the feminist project as the traumatic impact of feminism’s continuing challenge not only to phallocentric cultures but to us, the feminists ourselves, still deeply formed by, and even comfortably within, phallocentric imaginaries? Rather than quibbling over when feminism was, or what generations of feminism succeed/displace each other, both of which positions tie us to Oedipal models, I propose to argue that feminism is to be understood under the sign of trauma. Its challenge to the epochal psycho-symbolic order we name phallocentrism is so shocking that we have not yet found a way to assimilate that challenge culturally or even subjectively. Gayatri Spivak taught us that our project would always be a double one: work against sexism (opposition) but for feminism (critique). Oppositional denunciation of immediately palpable sexism was relatively easy, but it would rapidly lose its potency once the very reforms we campaigned for began to materialise. But critique? Are we still doing that? Do we still imagine, are we still working for, feminism to come? As a work in progress? As a space creating new conceptualisations of both sexual difference and time to which the aesthetic may give us singular access? Instead of the linear model represented by waves of feminism, or even Kristevan generations of feminism (superseding each exhausted phase and turning to different preoccupations managing a Hegelian synthesis of their contradictions between equality and difference), I suggest a more spatial mapping of a multidimensional feminist landscape across which different intellectual/theoretical

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settlements have emerged to work through specific issues, questions or problems, themselves overdetermined by the pressures of local geopolitical and historicofamilial formations on each location of feminist practice. The linear time of political histories and historical narratives is the time of nations and nation states, whose borders were transgressed by both emergent transnational movements (women, youth, queer, diasporic and migrant peoples) and the brute forces of globalising capitalism which has rendered powerless the hitherto national monitoring of capitalism’s unchecked and rapacious activities. Caught between its new exploitations and the facilitation of communication through international webs, radical movements and critical thought also work to re-imagine modes of connectivity and forms of difference. These then touch on aspects of the social and the subjective that are not shaped exclusively by linear time. While feminism engages politically within its bounds to bring about real change, it also operates at deeper theoretical levels with slower moving sediments of relations of power and meaning to which the term phallocentrism refers: a symbolic order with real effects on life and meaning, difference and desire. Thus a challenge I seek to address is that which allows us to articulate the relations between both the historical and the monumental times in which what we call feminism constitutes a barely initiated investigation into human possibilities not merely beyond class oppressions, racialised violence and self-determining sexual choice, but into that domain we have never yet been able to think: a meaning for sexual difference. I do not mean sexual difference as we usually understand it: namely difference between men and women (gender), or the psycho-linguistic (+/-). We need to imagine a non-derivative, originary sexual difference of /from the feminine, a possibility which Lacan intuited when he acknowledged a psychosymbolic dimension ‘beyond the phallus’, that is a psychic dimension not organised by the unique phallic signifier tracing the signifying field by means of a binary logic plus/minus, presence/absence. Feminism, it seems, has turned away in fear from this very possibility of a sexual difference of/from the feminine, fearful before the dangers of daring to think so shattering a challenge to phallocentric logic. Why? Because it would need us to find the means to think about bodies, sense and signs in ways that our own desire, groomed within the blockages and seductive pleasures of the phallocentric to enter linear time, has effectively made taboo. It would inevitably take us back to the unconsciously hated/desired maternal, to a realm of meaning and subjectivity that feels too carnal while also being too aesthetic for our over-intellectualised, social constructionist, linguistic structuralist feminist identities who will play with de-gendered rhizomes but not sexually-differentiated strings.

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The idea of the body, the sexual body, the sexed body or rather sexed bodies, not merely differentiated bodies, but sexuated bodies capable of both sexual pleasure and creative sublimations that might found other systems of ethical, aesthetic and affective relations, leads us, the feminist theorists, to confront two longstanding fears. Any invocation of a non-linguistic construction of sexual difference leads to the fear that what feminist theory wants to insist is purely social might be reduced to merely physical, physiological, anatomical, hence nonsocial and unchangeable ‘facts’. For this threat, we resist what we dismiss as essentialism. Embodied we may be, but corporality is not allowed to determine what we are. Any discourse on the body risks the taint of essentialism or biologism that seemingly places issues of gender and sex beyond social transformation. Thus we have created a theoretical no-go area. Then, of course, the body in such debates is not neutral. Body connected to or specified as sexual/sexuated is the reproductively-defined body and hence any consideration of femaleness in these terms appears to risk reifying the procreative dimension of the gendered body which is elided with the heteronormative body and with the social institutions that heteronormatively police all bodies and desires towards the proper ends of procreative activity.

II I want to take you around but one painting by Bracha Ettinger, titled Eurydice, no. 30, 1994–2001, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 22.3 × 38.7 (see Plate 1). Its high number, 30, already suggests it belongs in a series and that the series is a long one. It took time to arrive at no. 30. It also took many years to make this one painting. Why does a painter remain with a question over a prolonged period? My eye initially discerns a grid across the painting’s surface. Its verticals are stronger than the horizontals. The grid provides an underlying structure, but negatively. It exists only by the degrees of its lightness in relation to other densities on the paper mounted on canvas. Through its ‘absence’ resulting from a fine degree of deposited colour or intimated mass, I can see the grain of the paper. I sense yet another layer, itself grainy, of an ashen deposit that yields some kind of figuration. I know that this is a product of depositing photocopic dust from a blind but interrupted reproduction of found images, bearers of several histories, and different times. I am familiar with the image-archive, faithfully explored by Bracha Ettinger, of found images, texts, photographs, diagrams,

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which form a reservoir of familial and historical images with, not from, which the artist repeatedly works. Participant in what now appears in retrospect as the archival turn in the visual arts, Ettinger’s archive is a traumatic one, linking ‘the Family Album’ with historical catastrophes across the twentieth-century, linking the array of public and private images with the militarisation of technologies of vision in spaces of conflict.6 Some elements of this archive come from German aircraft surveillance of Ottoman territories named Palestina during the First World War, others from pre-war Poland or Germany, yet others from post-war Israel/Palestine, others from the theoretical papers of Freud and Lacan on sexuality, hysteria, femininity, from Hebrew-German lexicons, from nineteenth-century psychiatric manuals on madness, some from Nazi racist typologies. Others come from the family album which Jo Spence revealed to us, lying precisely at the hinge of the private and the public, the familial and the social, the historical and the psychological. In Eurydice, no. 30 we have traces of two such images: a family snapshot of a young mother holding her lolling baby taken by someone who excised her face and a historical photo-readymade from the violence of war and a racist genocide folded within it. On the left of the painting, we can discern figures; this is the trace of an incomplete photocopy of a photograph of a woman holding a newborn baby. The newly born baby is tiny, almost its entire body grasped by the hands of the woman who holds its limp, unmuscled, once swimmingly weightless body which is almost matched for size by the lolling head; its inexpressive infant face has not yet learnt from the humanising mirror of its mother’s face how to configure itself. We see the sweep of the neck of the black garment and a locket around the woman’s neck. But troublingly her face is cut off at the level of her mouth. She has no eyes. Her subjectivity, her gaze is absent from the field of the painting. She cannot look at her baby. She cannot look at us. She cannot meet the gaze of the figure on the extreme right. The other source is the trace of a frieze-like photograph from a notorious image of a massacre of innocent women and children perpetrated in Mizocz, Ukraine on 14 October 1942 during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War. On 13 October some of the Jewish prisoners confined to the ghetto of Mizocz, near Rovno in the Ukraine, rose up against their Germans captors. As a punishment, the entire population of 1,700 men, women and children was taken to a nearby ravine and systematically shot dead. A series of seven photographs documented this process. How and why photographs were taken, of which five still exist, is hard to imagine. Was it as witness, as protest,

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as trophy? More importantly, how are we, belated viewers of such a document of atrocity now to position ourselves before it? How can we move beyond its troubling conditions of production and beyond its current pedagogical use to reveal evil by exposing, again and again, vulnerable women and children to a gaze that cannot be secured from the ambiguities inherent in its creation: voyeurism, pornography or sadism, whatever our own political or personal affiliations and identifications? The partial promise signified by the mother and new baby on the left as the trope of the familial highlights the atrocity of its total abrogation as the Jewish mothers desperately and tenderly hold their babies and toddlers nakedly, in the autumnal chill as they proceed towards a hillside where they must lie down and be shot dead. But at no point in Ettinger’s painting must the violence that is encoded in the archive photograph, ‘shot’ at the same moment as deadly shooting was about to begin, be allowed to return to feed sadistic voyeurism or scopophilic mastery in the viewer. Ettinger’s novel painting process generates another kind of gazing to allow us to look back through time without iterating a deadly looking, linking looking and killing that is the historically traumatic condition of the production of this image. Several figures in this new encounter-painting lack a gaze. Is the painting then about sightlessness, and about what is not, cannot be seen, or is it about the missed encounter that the painting’s virtual geometry unconsciously seeks to re-plot as a newly spun web of willed resonance? A tall figure on the right, head averted, forms part of a trio, the ‘three Graces of catastrophe’ as I have named them elsewhere.7 There is a second woman beside the standing figure. Her hand encircles and cradles the head of her baby whom she holds in her arms, both of them naked and afraid. At the centre of the painting in a space that is paler as it forms a horizontal band or opening we can discern two dark pools. I read them as the eyes of a third woman in the trio whom we will find again and again in the Eurydice series and before in another series by Ettinger named Autistworks (1993–1994). She gazes directly out from whatever space or place she was once, staring at the photographer who was there then, watching, photographing women condemned to die as they waited for their deaths, and appealing now to the passing gaze of whoever stops, and is drawn by the riddle of this painting to gaze long enough at the multi-valent surface. The onlookers feel themselves found, once again by this fading, emerging trace of an invocation to shared human reciprocity of a woman perpetually suspended between two deaths: what came after this photograph and what might come because of its existence beyond her death and in our life.

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Were we to use the intimations of a grid and imagine it in three dimensions, we might create a series of sight lines in and across the depth of the space of this virtual encounter that weave strings through time. What would occur if we could align the gazes of women across time and place? Would we sense the anguish of missed or impossible encounters, the pain of not being seen or of being subjected to a murderous gaze, identification? Is there a willingness to wait with these figures, to share the tremor of their terror clothing the naked horror along with the artist’s constant painterly scanning of the surface? Is it her touching refusal to abandon these many Eurydices in their darkness of death? What kind of gazing does this painting now solicit from the viewer once the elements have begun to yield their affective freight? In her notebooks, reflecting on working with this image in several series at the time, when the Biblical figures of Ruth and Orpa resonated with this twentieth-century document of genocide, Bracha Ettinger wrote, firstly in 1990: I want her to look at me! That woman, her back turned to me. The image haunts me. It’s my aunt, I say, not, my aunt’s the other one, with the baby. The baby! It could be mine. What are they looking at? What do they see? I want them to turn toward me. Once, just once. I want to see their faces. The hidden face and the veiled face are two moments calling to each other: moments of catastrophe.8 Later we find another entry: Please look at me once. You are my dead aunt, or you are my living aunt or you are someone I known. Lost, you do not stop raising questions in me. In painting, face to face, face to non-face. A moment before leaving again. Mother-I, my aunt could have been my daughter.9 And finally: This woman has more to look at than the watchers of the painting . . . but what she looks at is inhuman.10 These passages in the notebook suggest the artist’s now post-maternal identification with the women in the artist’s imaginary museum of family memory. The image of anonymous, if now located, victims in the Ukraine becomes a surface for projections of anguish from within this specific family history, the burden

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of whose losses are now subjectively enhanced by the artist’s own life-event of becoming a mother, holding her baby, imagining the anguish of others in the similar relation to a vulnerable newborn, powerless to protect her on the brink of horrible death. At the same time these passages in the notebook bear witness to the transitivity of identification in maternity itself. As the woman becomes a mother, she is at once her own mother and her own child precisely because any mother was also once child and daughter and now lends her own unconscious history to this event, a new beginning, that is at once a repetition for her and a novelty for the child she now holds. Embedded in the paper is another layering of colour that has infused some of the grains of these multiple ur-images that are suspended in an in-between state, both emerging like the faint ghosts of a developing photographic print, and fading as if time was endlessly erasing their tentative visibility. This quality has material effects as it frustrates vision, recognition or mastery. It is also suggestive of an aesthetic effect sought in order to suggest, through its materialising and dematerialising transience, something about the impossibility of either redeeming or forgetting, while, nonetheless, the holding effected by even such fragile traces stops time and makes the space for an encounter. Seeming to hover over these infra-thin layers, in which masses tip into and out of visibility and legibility, attached to no form, and, therefore, refusing to assist in the emergence of any fixed form, touches of floating colour create what Buci-Glucksmann has named ‘the inner space’ of the painting.11 This is not to be confused with creating illusions of space or depth, these colours adamantly float on a surface. Colours with both perceptual and affective resonances, violet and red, have been applied by a hand running ‘blindly’ across the painting’s surface in a scanning gesture of tiny impersonal strokes that traverse the surface, resting, building, depositing in certain selected areas, pooling independently but in no way demarcating things or figures or objects. They bring into vision what the artist calls a borderspace in which non-relating entities come into a mutually transforming rapport. In some instances, the colours are more figurative. They do serve to bring forth, or as if in an older photographic sense, to ‘develop’ from dismal and partial emergence, the shapes of hands, the head of a baby, the profile perdu of a standing woman with dark hair bound up on her head that highlights her unclothed body. Closer attention to the painting reveals yet another stratum, a screen of printed Hebrew letters that stretch across the same spaces, playing over the bodies, or underlying them, as it is impossible to ‘see’ the logic of accumulation. The grid of language has both historical and geographical resonance. The letters

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introduce into the space of painting the acoustic, semiotic and symbolic imaginary of the Hebrew alphabet that became, for the artist, the displaced child of Polish-Jewish survivors of the Holocaust born in the State of Israel, a mothertongue, while the Polish of her mother – the mother-mother-tongue – remained unintelligible to her as a child except as meaningless sound invested none the less as the lost space of her perpetually exiled mother. Hebrew also overlays a space with other languages, histories and families to which the artist wishes to attend in order to enable painting to hold co-inhabited spaces laced now with overlaying traumas of dispossession. This is a double composition at two levels. It is made from accumulation and layering of multiple images retouched by several sweeps of painting that remain attached to and insistent upon a surface. At once asserted, this surface is not, however, intended as the modernist abolition of depth. What has happened here, knowingly, is the opposite of modernist optical flatness, for the vibrations of the colour create breathing space inside the painting. This, of course, brings to mind the vibrating surfaces of Mark Rothko, yet here they are untrammelled by his insistent use of the rectangle and hence reference to the painting’s frame and material support. This is vital for us to begin to imagine how materialities can be deployed to generate such an association in the field of the visible. Ettinger connects breathing with gazing, playing with registers of surface/depth/inside/skin. Such illogical composites recall an intense sensing of the world’s substance and its own and others’ rhythms, smells, touches, movements, gestures, sounds that at once bathe and hold the becoming subject and even could constitute a nonvisual form of gazing. The painting is not, however, regressing or mimicking the infantile or archaic. Its created aesthetic form resuscitates, on the other side of subjective formation, as an aesthetic dimension now, the potential of the archaic, matrixial stratum of pre-natal becoming-human that has been overlaid by postnatal, hence phallicising fantasy and thought, but which has never been entirely knocked out. The ghostly grid holds the paper to its own flatness preventing the creation of illusionist deep space or recession. The strong vertical effects, created at once by the complementary uprights of the grid, are enhanced by the overlay of parallel bands of colour that, in spreading off the vertical, further affirm an invisible surface membrane on which they seem to float. Yet it is not a dead surface, flattened by such astute geometries. This use of the grid, so beloved of the minimalists and serialists as a way to hold the flatness of an image and to de-subjectify the art work through rigid use of abstract protocols, always, of course, undone by tychic (from the Greek Tych´e meaning chance) and contingent events because

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humanly made, serves a very different purpose here. Certainly the grid decentres, dispersing the incoming gaze across and up and down. It makes our eyes slither and slide (but never blur) while not being lost in an oceanic infinitude we might experience before paintings on the scale of Newman or Rothko.

III It is matrixial and the process we are witnessing is named by the artist metramorphosis, a word that contains the term metra from which matrixial itself derives. It is not a term for an organ, a womb, but for a structure of relations. That structure is being named matrixial not on the scale of masculine/feminine, uterus/penis, but in supplementary shifting of the phallic: the signifier by means of which subjectivity, or dimensions of it, is structured in relation to difference in a binary logic. The matrixial proposes a non-binary logic through which to consider relations of alterity and human connection that do not need the cut or separation to create distinct entities: subjects and their objects. Instead it works on the level of partial subjectivities in shared transformation. The second part of metramorphosis thus concerns the process of forming and transformation. The opposite of the idea of static container, the metra structure gives rise to shared, but differentiated, co-emergence and co-transformation. The painter herself describes metramorphosis, both suggesting the qualities and effects of her own painting, and explaining something fundamental about what we call painting itself:12 Metramorphosis is the process of change in borderlines and thresholds between being and absence, memory and oblivion, I and non-I, a process of transgression and fading away. The metramorphic consciousness has no centre, cannot hold a fixed gaze – or, if it has a centre, it constantly slides to the borderline, to the margins. Its gaze escapes the margins and returns to the margins. Through this process, the limits, borderlines and thresholds conceived are continually transgressed and resolved, thus allowing the creation of new ones.13 As a psychic process that becomes a distinctive aesthetic one, metramorphosis thus extends the way we can understand figurative language and meaning-making in post-conceptual painting. Typically we think with metaphor and metonymy, hence of meaning arising out of substitution or contiguity. Metramorphosis allows

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us to begin to grasp the specific ways in which painting produces meaning-affects by working with and towards a matrixial concept of the gaze. Looking can be about mastering, knowing, dominating. It can thus become sadistic and what Foucault named ‘the eye of power’. Looking can also be about seeking, searching for what we desire to see. Then it is erotic and scopophilic, and can become voyeuristic. This is what Freud revealed. Looking can also involve another kind of desire: to be seen once again by an unremembered other in whose holding gaze we initially sensed our own becoming. This is what Lacan named the gaze as petit objet a’; this is the gaze that is lost as the condition of any subject becoming a subject, but that the subject carries a psychic scar that marks the lostness of something that is now desired. The matrixial gaze suggests yet supplementary resonances on the visual channels of subjectivity and desire, what Ettinger renames ‘erotic aerials of the psyche’ in which we yearn or languish, but not for an object which will fantasmatically make us whole again because it has been lost. In matrixial terms, we may yearn or languish for partial connectivity, for channels of shareability that are not about absence versus presence, that move at the shared borderlines without suspending them, that work across shared borderspaces without violating difference, that transmit and foster trans-subjective moments of mutual yet differentiated co-eventing amongst partialised elements of several subjectivities fundamentally unknown to each other but still susceptible to shared resonances on their covibrating strings. You will marvel at a vocabulary gone so strange. Language, forged in a phallologocentric structure of binaries is forced to bend poetically to accommodate what its binary logics render senseless. Ettinger discovered – through what she allowed her artworking to create with her, with its materials, with its freighted archives and ready-mades – and thus posits a human capacity for com-passionate connectivity which she hypothesised was always already emerging within the human subject-to-be by means of the specifically human and humanising manner of our human emergence/creation. The condition of human creation and emergence is in a humanising severality. From the beginning is the severality of partial, unknown, but co-emerging and co-affecting subjective elements in a prolonged subjectivising (not merely biological) co-emergence. We are not in the realm of a (post-natal) discourse about mother and child, mother and baby. Instead we are considering a mutual if asymmetrical genesis of human life and new subjectivities composed of partners-in-difference that is a primordial dimension in human becoming. Mutually affecting, caught up in the temporal disunity of a fantasising-remembering-already-subject (the pre-maternal) being

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transformed by a not-yet-subject (the pre-natal) that can, none the less, affect as if a human person the other with whom that beginning is sensorially shared, we have a chance to think and to imagine radically different understandings of the human encounter within the sexual specificity of the feminine such that Ettinger theorises this feminine as the matrixial feminine of primordial severality and subjectivity as encounter. This severalist event-encounter stores up potentiality, traumatically, for other dimensions or channels of subjectivity that may be later overlaid by post-natal traumas that are about loss and separation, and fear over mutilation of the body (castration). Thus, while also shifting the phallic understanding of the subject as undifferentiatedly fused before birth, then cut from the cloth of symbiosis, and finally distinct and territorialised through the mirror phase and by the castration complex, Ettinger proposes the additional dimension of subjectivity as encounter (not fusion, separation and loss). This means refusing to deny that fundamental, human potentiality created for us by the prolonged pre-natal, carnal but psychically significant sojourn of the becoming-infant in the being-transformed and transforming contact with the pre-maternal becoming-mother – they share, asymmetrically of course, an encounter-event. As painting, Eurydice, no. 30 is completely non-modernist in its very hybridity, in its shared space for drawing, painting, printing, photocopic dust. Ashen deposits that form ghostly traces of found images and texts co-emerge with dissolving hierarchies of significance between historical, public sources and private family memories, while mixing most transgressively times and histories, and words and images, even if the words are Hebrew and bring with their printed alphabet traces of the glyphic origins of all writing. For me, the work is deeply affecting. This is not because I recognise a meaning or its subject matter. But the painting is doing something. That does not mean what is given by means of this process – or it is with process and material I am initially engaging – cannot be read, or should not be elaborated beyond its initial formalisation. Art is both an affective and a symbolic activity; its potency lies in creating the space between them without succumbing to either. This painting has poetically, creatively and uniquely, brought forth a first encounter of charged and disparate histories, of moments in time brought together in this aesthetically crafted space. What is the nature of the encounter in time and with other times? The painting does not refer outside itself. Yet it is utterly embedded in both the traumas of history and the search for its futures.

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The images whose traces hover through interrupted photocopic translation on the field of Ettinger’s painting are not, however, juxtaposed as in modernist montage. Radically transformed by the very process of appearance/disappearance, they co-emerge into an impossible temporal coincidence in this virtual space that is also co-inhabited by other spectres. The unconscious of the image-reservoir curves to meet the unconscious of the painter in her persistent reverie at its borderspaces. Unlike Orpheus, unable to contain the desire to look in order to know and see the desired other, this painterly reverie allows for co-emergence, patiently working with the transforming events on the canvas that register in the carnality of materials and the visibility of the painted effect a pause at the threshold of time to meet, in part, her own other and the others from beyond the frontier of death who are desired through a gesture of compassion, not possessive anxiety. In many configurations, the recurring elements become part of ever-shifting chains of intuited images and references, which, remembered by the viewer, initiate a kind of familiarity and attachment. As bold sweeps of colour or suggestive suspensions of material, as blocks on or energising force fields, I discern the return of certain faces, bodies, scenes and the haunting gaze from elsewhere. In remaining faithful to her selected re-figurations, Ettinger affirms the life-desiring constancy of Eurydice, rather than a death-driven return of Orpheus. This prolonged painting process involves an ethics of besidedness, a being with the others whose traces are so delicately retrieved without repossession. The ‘being with’ of co-eventing is sustained without phallic closure. Ettinger thus follows the pathways of a matrixial gaze. Distinguishing the matrixial gaze from either the Oedipal gaze of imaginary mastery (Freud) or power (Foucault) or the phallic gaze as objet a: something the subject seeks to be found by once again at the risk of his own disappearance (Lacan), Ettinger concluded her study on that topic thus: In an era of events without witnesses, whether you take/find your materials with-in or with-out should not make a difference at not-all; the problems fade out and move elsewhere. We participate in the traumatic events of the other. What makes the difference is a certain awareness of this and as a consequence of it an opening up to possibilities for transforming the ways we join in the traumatic events of others. Under the matrixial gaze then, different aesthetic and ethical problems then arise.14

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Almost ten years after naming the matrixial gaze, Ettinger formulated a supplementary concept of fascinance that also touches on this feminist turn in aesthetics. The originary fascinance is an aesthetic-affective coming into knowledge that is revealed in a vulnerable transferential encounter-event in art when the matrixial borderspace becomes the psychic locus for the viewer’s (listener’s) encounter with the artwork, as in a healing working-through.15 Fascinance stands in contradiction to what Lacan identified as the deadliness of the gaze/image: fascinum. Linked with castration, fascinum is ‘the unconscious element in the image that stops and freezes life’. In the famous but incomplete Freudian case study of the hysteric known as ‘Dora’ (1905), Ettinger discerns a process of fascinance in the hours the young woman ‘Dora’ passes gazing at Raphael’s painting of the Madonna and Child in Dresden. Many have wondered about what ‘Dora’ was looking at, or even searching for, when she stood before this painting. Ettinger links this incident with another recounted in Marguerite Duras’ novel The Ravishment of Lol V. Stein (1966) in which the affianced Lol watches, smiling, the encounter between her fianc´e and an older woman, already a mother who will take her fianc´e away. In both cases something very complex is taking place at the level of an often crushed or foreclosed potentiality for the feminine subject to discover what a woman is, by asking the question, not of a man, father or lover, or Freud himself as he mistakenly thought, but of an-Other/Woman. In Ettinger’s formulation, this crucial other of feminine sexual maturity is named ffam: ‘femme-fatale/autre-m`ere’ pronounced as femme (woman in French), meaning sexual woman and other mother. Here fascinance refers to a prolonged sensing-knowing gazing form of exploration of femininity by the girl yet to become a woman, a fascinated gazing at/coming to know with the mature, sexual adult woman, who is not the girl’s mother, yet stands both for her and for the daughter’s future sexuality. The other woman-mother is not an object of an (homo)erotic gaze, but is a site of the link a (the matrixial version of the objet a) through which, post-natally, a coming into later sexuality in the feminine is potentially enabled through sustained but unknowing linking with/gazing at another woman. The matrixial gaze of fascinance is an affective vibration – not an objet a but a link a. By the gaze of fascinance the Girl and the Woman-m/Other do not ‘see’ one another, but are joining in a metramorphic string and

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are transformed by one another. A matrixial gaze enables a glimpse at the forever out of time and space.16 Having significant repercussions for the specific formations of feminine subjectivity and sexuality which remained so dark a continent to Freud himself, fascinance exceeds this formative sphere to become, in general, as a matrixial process, a supplement and shifter of the castrative, phallic model in which relations to the other are built on separations, splits, policed boundaries and the search for thereby lost objects. This opens an insight into the art-event. Bracha Ettinger writes: I have called the aesthetical duration of affective and effective participation in fascination within a transformational subjectivizing potentiality of a matrixial link (link a) be it gaze, touch, movement, breath, gazing-touching, moving-and-breathing and so forth fascinance. It operates in the prolongation and delaying of the duration of the encounter-event and it allows a working-through of matrixial differentiating-in-jointness and co-poiesis.17 If fascinance names a revelation about the aesthetical duration of affective and effective participation, about what occurs when we fragilise ourselves and enter vulnerably into an encounter with an event, memory or trauma that is not ours, through an artwork which comes from the other, the non-I with whom I, as spectator, willingly join in order to allow something to transform me at the affective level or in terms of understanding, it involves two other elements which indicate how and where the aesthetical inclines towards and joins with the ethical. Ettinger makes a fundamental distinction between empathy and compassion, a word she breaks to stress the joint nature of its process: com-passion.18 In writing about the ways in which art can work with traumatic events without allowing over-identification that might block political understanding which requires difference, Jill Bennett has theorised what she names ‘empathic vision’.19 Where Ettinger radically departs from Bennett’s understanding of how art might work through or with trauma is two-fold. Ettinger suggests that empathy without compassion is hollow as it merely satisfies the narcissism of the empathising subject while momentarily relieving the victim of her isolation. Compassion involves a wider responsibility for and capacity to respond to all the others that constitute the worlds of both partners in this encounter. It is a wisdom that places responsibility on the adult in any situation; but it is only possible because the capacity for response-ability in com-passion is primary. It has already arisen in the most archaic of encounters in our human becoming as pre-maternal/pre-natal

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partners-in difference.20 Com-passion is the legacy and gift, and the potential trauma, as well as its means of alleviation, of human creation in the sexual specificity of the feminine, which means a primordial severality whose promise is always awaiting post-natal occasions of recurrence, prime amongst which is what we know as the aesthetic event. The aesthetic event is thereby turned into an ethical event in so far as it fosters humanising com-passion and responseability towards the other, or the events or trauma of the other that I do not know.

IV So let me return to time. What time is it? Ettinger writes: In art today we are moving from phantasm to trauma. Contemporary aesthetics is moving from phallic structure to matrixial sphere. We are carrying into the twenty-first century enormous traumatic weight, and aesthetic wit(h)nessing in art brings its awareness to culture’s surface. Certain contemporary art practices bring into light matrixial alliances in confronting the limits of shareability in the trauma and jouissance of the Other. The beautiful accessed via artworks in our era – and I emphasize again our era since we are living through massive effects of transitive trauma, and it is captivated and alighted by different art works – carries new possibilities for affective apprehending and produces new artistic effects, where aesthetics approaches ethics beyond the artist’s conscious control.21 Bracha Ettinger’s work is not another chapter in the elaborating field of trauma studies in and beyond the visual arts. It is not about the question of art dealing with traumatic events as witness, or document. It does not enter the debate about non-representation of the unrepresentable. It is an anti-dote, offering, through aesthetic processes a way to shift our understanding of those relations most damaged by the legacies of multiple modern traumatic violations of humanity. What artworking, retaining the discoveries and failures of psychoanalysis while shifting the research to the matrixial territory of the aesthetic, founds is a new kind of aesthetical-ethical, com-passionate beauty that shapes subjectivity through affective understanding arising from the trans-subjective encounter with the partial other in a world freighted with many co-inhabiting traumas

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that are impossible not to share. Ettinger thus explains an ethical concept of beauty: Beauty that I find in contemporary art works that interest me, whose source is the trauma to which it also returns and appeals is not private [taste] or that upon which a consensus of taste can be reached; it is a kind of encounter, that perhaps we are trying to avoid much more than aspiring to arrive at, because the beautiful, as Rilke says, is but the beginning of the horrible in which – in this dawning – we can hardly stand. We can hardly stand at the threshold, which maybe is but, as Lacan puts it in his seventh seminar, the limit, the frontier of death, or shall we say self-death, in life where ‘life glimpses death as if from its inside’. Could such a limit be experienced, via art-working, as a threshold and a passage to the Other? And if so, is it only the death-frontier that is traversed here? Is death the only domain of the beyond? (my emphasis)22 Bracha Ettinger’s artworking forms a sustained enquiry into that final question which not only challenges the widespread cultures of death, but also promises a way to imagine other passages to, and rapports with, the unknown other, which address what Ettinger has defined, revising Laplanche’s reclamation of seduction, as a ‘seduction into life’. Who or what is Eurydice? Ettinger writes about Orpheus’s empty gesture of empathy; but Eurydice wanted from him something else that might be a future through a new co-birth: So in trans-sensing Eurydice connects a looking from the point of view of my death and non-living to the point of view of compassion as a source of light. Empathy without compassion – such a fine and invisible difference between these two – kills Eurydice again and again. Joining the virtual string of compassion participates in the ceremony of creating her potential future. Beauty is one of the names of such a potential encounter-event of rejoining.23 In a series of encounters during the early 1990s, Bracha Ettinger discussed her thinking about Eurydice – the feminine – with post-Auschwitz philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Fully aware of the psychoanalytic resonance of the question, she asks: ‘What would Eurydice say?’ Admitting his failure to investigate fully and understand femininity, Freud had wondered as late as 1933: ‘what does woman

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want?’ A great question: what is the specific nature of feminine desire? What does sexual difference look like, as Lacan would later ask, from the ladies’ side? Instead of focusing on questions such as: What did Orpheus want? What did Orpheus want to see when he looked back at his dead but almost resurrected bride, Eurydice, and inflicted on her a second dying by his gaze? What would it be to interrogate, from the differencing position of Eurydice, the culture that links scopophilia to necrophilia, which the Orphic figure mythically represents? In her illuminating exploration of ‘the feminine’ in the thought of Emmanuel Levinas reconfigured through her matrixial re/art/working, Ettinger declares: The figure of Eurydice seems to be emblematic of my generation and seems to offer a possibility for thinking about art. Eurydice awakens a space for rediffusion for the traumas that cannot be re-absorbed. The gaze of Eurydice starting from the trauma and within the trauma opens up, differently from the gaze of Orpheus, a place for art and it incarnates a figure of the artist in the feminine.24 Eurydice awakens. Intransitive, she is the figure of a re-awakening consciousness, a return from oblivion. Eurydice awakens a space. Transitively she is active in making a space for this new consciousness, the created memory. Eurydice makes a space for re-diffusion, reminding us of the traumatic blockage after which it is the first diffusion in effect. What is re-diffused, re-distributed is what cannot be re-absorbed: trauma, which must be transmitted, transported, taken on, processed in part by others. Here art differentiates itself from Orphic photography and its retrospect. The artist who works in a Eurydicean manner, irrespective of her or his gender, becomes an artist ‘in the feminine’, working in accord with a matrixial economy, desire and range of affects different from the mastering, possessing, phallic gaze – for Orpheus, of course, being followed, was himself being watched. Or he felt the look of the other which, in his turning to see, his gaze wanted to master and know that she was his. At the level of what the cultural myth encodes, therefore, that which is not Orphic, is not phallic and must imply not the gaze of women, but a kind of gazing coming ‘from the feminine’ as a non-phallic space, offering other ways of encountering the other and willing them to stay alive. How can artistic practices engage with the new categorical imperatives created by the suffering endured at and violence perpetrated in and beyond ‘Auschwitz’? Ettinger’s artworking offers an extended perspective that shifts the modernist paradigm through the figure of Eurydice whose gaze and questioning

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of what kills her, suspended between two deaths, again and again, can so easily be crushed by an insensitive, conventional, unaltered form of Orphic retrospect or narcissistic blindness to her question. Eurydice is a figure asking questions about the gaze, which can be deadly, or which might sustain a string of fragile resonance, becoming through artistic restaging a link of memory, a moment of desire for contact between self and an other even across time and the frontier of death. Beyond visibility and appearance Ettinger’s matrixial aesthetics repose the question of being seen and fleeing from it if the gaze contains deadliness rather than fostering the time-delaying work of fascinance and the timeless commitment to com-passion.

NOTES 1 This chapter is an extended and considerably revised version of a catalogue essay that first appeared as ‘One Painting Leads to Many’ prepared for an exhibition of Bracha Ettinger’s paintings, Resonance, Overlay, Interweave: Bracha Ettinger in the Freudian Space of Memory and Migration at the Freud Museum, London, June–July 2009 (Leeds: Centre CATH Documents, 2009). As a result of the installation the artist created in the Freud Museum a book-length reading of the installation as a matrixial art event which is forthcoming as: Bracha Ettinger in the Matrixial Space of Migration and Memory (Centre CATH and Wild Pansy Press). See also de Zegher, Catherine and Pollock, Griselda, Bracha Ettinger: Art as Com-passion (Brussels: ASA Press, 2011). 2 No question about time and sexual difference can be imagined without Julia Kristeva, see ‘Women’s Time’ [Le Temps des Femmes, 1979] trans. Jardine, Alice reprinted in Moi, T. (ed.) The Kristeva Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986). 3 See Ettinger, Bracha, ‘(M)Other Re-spect: Maternal Subjectivity, the Ready-made Mother-monster and The Ethics of Respecting’, Studies in the Maternal, 2:1 (2010), available online at http://www.mamsie.bbk.ac.uk/documents/ettinger.pdf [accessed 10 May 2012]. 4 Bauman, Zygmunt, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000). 5 Boltanski, Luc, La souffrance a` distance. Morale humanitaire, m´edias et politique (Paris: M´etaili´e, 1993), translated into English as Distant Suffering: Morality, Media and Politics, trans. Graham D. Burchell (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 6 Spence, Jo, Beyond the Family Album [1979] reprinted in Cultural Sniping: The Art of Transgression (London: Routledge, 1995). 7 Pollock, Griselda, ‘Three Graces of Catastrophe: Matrixial Time and Aesthetic Space Confront the Archive of Disaster’, in Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and the Archive (London: Routledge, 2007), pp. 171–198.

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8 Ettinger, Bracha, Matrix Halal(a)-Lapsus: Notes on Painting (Oxford: Museum of Modern Art, 1993), p. 67. 9 Ettinger: Matrix Halal(a)-Lapsus: Notes on Painting, p. 67. 10 Ettinger: Matrix Halal(a)-Lapsus: Notes on Painting, p. 85. 11 I am indebted to Christine Buci-Glucksman for this concept. Buci-Glucksman, Christine, ‘Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger: Images of Absence in the Inner Space of Painting’, in De Zegher, Catherine (ed.), Inside the Visible (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), pp. 281–289. See also Buci-Glucksmann, Christine, ‘Eurydice and her doubles. Painting after Auschwitz’ in: Bracha Ettinger, Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger: Artworking 1985–1999 (Ghent-Amsterdam: Ludion and Brussels: Palais des BeauxArts, 2000). 12 For a discussion of this point see Rowley, Alison, Helen Frankenthaler: Painting History/Writing Painting (London: I.B.Tauris, 2007). 13 Ettinger, Bracha, ‘Matrix and Metramorphosis’, Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 4:3 (1992), p. 201. 14 Ettinger, Bracha, The Matrixial Gaze (Leeds: Feminist Arts and Histories Network, 1995), p. 51, reprinted in B. Massumi (ed.), The Matrixial Borderspace (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), p. 89. 15 Ettinger, Bracha ‘Com-passionate Co-Response-ability, Initiation in Jointness and the matrixial link x of Matrixial Virtuality’, in van Loo, S. (ed.), Gorge(l) (Antwerp: The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, 2006), p. 18. 16 Ettinger, Bracha ‘Fascinance and Matrixial Feminine Difference’, in Pollock, Griselda (ed.), Psychoanalysis and the Image (Oxford and Boston: Blackwell’s, 2004), p. 85. 17 Ettinger: ‘Com-passionate Co-Response-ability, Initiation in Jointness and the matrixial link x of Matrixial Virtuality’, p. 11. 18 de Zegher and Pollock: Bracha Ettinger: Art as Com-passion. 19 Bennett, Jill, Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma and Contemporary Art (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005). 20 This is also why the proposition of the matrixial does not in any way affect a woman’s right to choose in relation to her own body or fertility. The compassion with empathy places the ethical responsibility towards the other with the adult in the situation. Thus the becoming-child’s independent claims cannot be made outside of the coemergence in which the woman retains the responsibility and responsibility for the event. 21 Ettinger, Bracha, ‘Wit(h)nessing Trauma and the Matrixial Gaze: From Phantasm to Trauma, from Phallic Structure to Matrixial Sphere’, parallax, 7:4 (2001), pp. 89–114. 22 Ettinger, Bracha ‘Art as a Transport-Station of Trauma’ in Bracha Ettinger Artworking 1985–1999 (Brussels: Palais des Beaux Arts and Gent; Ludion, 2000), p. 91.

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23 Ettinger: ‘Compassionate Co-response-ability’, p. 19. 24 Bracha Ettinger, What would Eurydice Say? Emmanuel Levinas in conversation with Bracha L. Ettinger, (1991–1993) (Paris Atelier BLE and Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1997), reprinted in Athena: Philosophical Studies, Volume 2 (Vilnius: 2006), pp. 137–45, p. 144.

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Chapter 2

Showing Sounds: Listening to War Photographs Marta Zarzycka

The sights and sounds of war are circulated by today’s mass media broadly and diligently. In this day and age, video footage showing sites of destruction, threats by terrorists and witness testimonies are increasingly becoming the medium of choice of contemporary wars. Television and online news are conspicuously full of Deleuze’s sound-images, that is images which have been penetrated by sound to the point of inseparability.1 In this chapter, however, I want to focus on the medium of still photography (in the sense of ‘inaudible’ as well as ‘immobile’). In the following pages I will draw attention to the fact that photographs of exploding buildings, screaming bystanders and lamenting mourners are not populated by deaf and mute characters that move about in soundless space, but rather suggest sounds (even though those sounds lack physicality). These sounds may clash or merge with the actual sounds that one makes/hears while viewing them, yet we as viewers do not remain insensitive to these images’ sonic effects. Twentieth-century criticism has paid ample attention to the visual, questioning vision as the sole means of reliable knowledge about the external world, while pointing out how our reality is constituted, disciplined and normalised by the power of Foucauldian surveillance.2 Consequently, sound is hardly an autonomous field of study: with the exception of relatively new sonic studies, it is theorised as subsidiary to the image.3 Sound has for a long time been conceptualised merely in relation to the visible. Terms like ‘on-’ and ‘off-screen’ have been applied to dialogues, monologues, music and other sounds, even though these are in themselves never ‘off’, as it can only be their source that is off-screen. Through that terminology the aural has been muted by the very words used to describe it.4

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And yet, sound involves many aspects including material production and active consumption, but also environmental effects (urban noise pollution, the psychological impact of background music in shopping malls), political use (sonic weapons in war zones), and the relations it forges between ‘self’ and ‘other’ (i.e. the bond between mother and foetus which is created through talking and singing). The term ‘sound’ is applied here to anything perceived by means of hearing, comprising noise (culturally understood as an irregular, loud, discordant sound) and tone (applied to a musical sound having a certain quality, resonance and pitch). In this chapter, I am particularly interested in the way in which sensory modes other than the visual influence the impact and meaning of photographs of traumatic events and their consequences. Trauma, as Griselda Pollock points out in this book, is always many-fold: while it might be an extreme historical event touching both individuals and collectivities, its effects include not only overwhelming loss on the psychological level. They extend to the social sphere, impacting it severely, importantly so through the wide circulation of digital images. In order to study more deeply the affective and cognitive impact of the omnipresent photographs of global suffering, we need to move beyond the already well-established analysis of the visual and the textual and include senses other than vision. Challenging the conceptual boundaries of research on perception and questioning the primacy of visual cognition have been a substantial part of current feminist research (see introduction to this book). Unlike vision, which has often been conceived of as distancing the viewer from the viewed, sound is well-suited to express and evoke the traumas of war.5 The physics and the phenomenology of sound in Western culture are often associated with proximity, contact and consequently violent disturbance; through the air, sound transmits the agitation resulting from collisions of objects with each other to our ears and skin.6 Whereas eyes have a visual range of 180 degrees and can be closed instantly, ears cover a 360-degree expanse, often immersing us in sound against our will. Though light and sound both come to us in waves, it is only the sonic blast which can knock us over and even kill us.7 Frances Dyson writes: Because hearing is not a discrete sense, to hear is also to be touched, both physically and emotionally. In listening, one is engaged in a synergy with the world and the senses, a hearing/touching that is the essence of what we mean when we talk about a ‘gut reaction’ – a response that is simultaneously physiological and psychological.8

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A sound one hears in a film without seeing its originating cause is called an acousmatic sound.9 What can we then call a sound of which, conversely, the source is visible, but which does not reach our ears?10 The two case studies that I discuss below will each address different types of sounds, silences and their workings. The first case study is a still photograph of a scream/lament. My approach here has been informed by studies on silent cinema, in which the image has been employed to suggest sounds: the smoke coming out of the gun or the flock of startled birds signified not just the consequences of the action of firing, but also the noise of a gunshot.11 My analysis pertains to the following question: how does listening to the sounds of certain photographs structure our perception of them? Second, I engage with an online documentary in which still photographs are accompanied by music and a voiceover. Adding sounds to photographs in the postproduction engenders further important questions: does the aural layer enhance or rather confuse our reception of still photographs? Can a sound hijack an image? My analysis of the sensorial intersections found in this case has been informed by performance theories of the senses that address both the visual and the sonic. The concept of performativity, in this case, does more than just suggest the visibility of sound, but rather indicates a whole range of resonances between the many interactive processes involving the somatic, the physiological and the imaginative.12 Both of my case studies represent women in the aftermath of violence, a choice which responds to the tendency of the contemporary media to use female bodies as sites of despair, as signifiers for the ravages of wars, genocides, and racial and gender inequalities.13 While there are clearly dangers in reducing women to the pathological and the melancholic, through cultural rituals connected to sound and music women have enacted an emotional reaction to violence and loss. Women in many cultures have used the aural as a means of both re-appropriation and empowerment; their screams and silences have formed an indispensable expression of pain, formerly constructed as private and consecutively transferred into a communal web of global and inter-medial relationships.14 Because of the societal implications of these screams and silences on a global level, we should be aware of them within the genre of war photography.

SOUNDS FIGURING AS SIGHT The photograph of Hocine Zaourar (see Plate 2), World Press Photograph of the Year 1997, shows ‘A woman crying outside the Zmirli Hospital, where the

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dead and wounded were taken after the massacre in Bentalha (Algeria). Mass killings and bomb blasts dominated life since the army annulled the results of the 1992 elections, in which it appeared the Muslim fundamentalist party, FIS, would win. The conflict had claimed more than 60,000 lives in five years’.15 The image shows the aftermath of an August night when around two hundred men, women and children in the village were methodically slaughtered in their houses, while armed forces units were stationed outside the village and stopped some of those trying to flee. The fact that the image depicts grieving acquires a particular significance in regard to its aural layer. In Western culture, the responsibility of remembering the dead, formerly assigned to the mourning rituals of lamenting, singing, screaming, wailing and silence, has been gradually replaced by portrait photographs of the deceased performing the function of rites of passage. In commemoration and mourning, the aural has therefore been replaced by the visual.16 What interests me here is what happens if we bring back the notion of sound to the photographic rendition of lamentation. Just as in silent cinema, where sound is conveyed through a number of physical gestures at an appointed point of maximum intensity,17 here the scream is suggested by the focal point of the image: the open mouth, reminiscent of the Laocoon sculpture or Picasso’s Guernica.18 The close-up of a face produces an intense phenomenological experience of almost excessive, unbearable presence and propels us to imagine a sort of acoustic close-up.19 And yet, the image does not tell us much about the scream’s specific character, its pitch, duration and intensity. In fact, the character of the sound itself is unknown to us; the same image may suggest a wail, a scream, a moan or a gasp. There have been witnesses, however, who did grasp the specificity of this very scream, both within and just outside the frame of the photograph: the other woman who puts her hand on the wailing woman’s breast as if to accompany the flow of air, and who holds her head as if to keep it from failing to exclaim; the shadow of a person to the left; the people on the street we do not see; and the photographer himself. However, the audiences of this mediated testimony are confronted with the silence. The silence is not a neutral emptiness, but ‘the negative of sound we’ve heard (or imagined) beforehand’.20 It is this silence that makes Zaourar’s photograph convey an acoustic sensation that extends beyond the environment in which we might be viewing it (which is hardly silent anyway, due to the noise of our blood and our heartbeats). Just like in John Cage’s composition 4 33, one has to see the silence to realise there is one.21 Our cultural understanding of silence is ambivalent: on the one hand, silence is seen as a form

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of control and prescribed normativity; on the other hand, it is often the sign of abnormality and malfunction. Yet, despite these dominant ideas about silence as constraint or impoverishment, silence experienced on the basis of the visual rendition of an extremely loud event can offer new spaces of social encounter.22 It is the tension between the materiality of the sound we imagine and the very lack of anything audible that functions as the carrier of affective reactions. To become fully aware of how the silence unfolds, we need to re-examine the notion of time in this image. Duration – rather than pitch, loudness or timbre – is the only parameter of sound that is shared by silence. After all, sounds need temporal space to develop, to resonate, and to fall silent again. Consequently, we usually think of sound-image combinations in relation to animated footage; if we press the ‘still’ button while watching a film, the sound vanishes. Photographs, seen as tableaux vivants, as moving images that have come to an eternal standstill, are thought to have no temporal directionality unless connected to other shots. We generally understand the organisation of time through movement in space. Yet in the case of a photograph, we are presented with an image that is immobile and therefore perpetually present. This shapes our affective and ethical relationship to it. As a consequence, many of the photographs of war and conflict move into the realm of universalised human suffering located beyond time; their actual, political dimension is denied. Consequently, photography is culturally perceived as being a soundless prac` tice. As the issues of sound and time have a comparable position vis-a-vis the photographs, it seems fruitful to turn to critical approaches towards photographic temporality in order to bring sound(s) into this image. Benjamin conceived of photography as a dynamic, temporalised medium displaying aspects of both stasis and movement.23 In Camera Lucida, Barthes commented upon Alexander Gardner’s Portrait of Lewis Payne, taken when Payne had been sentenced to death, and the ambiguity of the ‘anterior future’: we are looking at somebody who is dead already.24 The photograph provides unique phenomenological evidence of a prior existence; it comprises the here and the formerly, but also the not anymore, and the not yet.25 Following that argument, Azoulay argues that the force of images of atrocity can only be understood if the spectator recognises his or her temporal co-presence with a photographed body, temporarily suspended but in continuous action. If we assume that the photographed people have not been there once, but are there still at the time we are watching them, we can restore the identity, accountability and civil status previously denied to them. Azoulay argues for watching, rather than looking at photographs: usually reserved to moving images, watching entails dimensions of time and movement that allow

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for connections between the photographer, the photographed subject and his/her audiences.26 We can therefore argue that the photograph of a lamenting Algerian woman stages an encounter between a distinct historical moment in time and simultaneously produces the sense of an affective present, in which our watching takes place. In that sense, it mirrors the temporal structure of trauma which, never completed nor processed, is simultaneously after and now, in motion and at a standstill. Adding listening to the process of watching yields a similar notion of temporality. Just as it covers a moment larger than its own instant, the image may suggest sounds that last beyond the moment in which it was taken, breaking through the linearity of progressive historical time. The aural, unfolding in time, can be conceptualised in relation to this image also in regard to its functioning in society. Photographic images, as they are received by various audiences, are (not) spoken about in certain ways; their emotional impact is articulated through forms of (non)vocalisation. Photographs and voice are integral to forming and extending relationships between people, both by the way of telling histories and through paralinguistic vocalisations such as cry, laughter or chant.27 In the afterlife of Zaourar’s photographs, voice and silence loop and contract. After taking the picture, featured on the front pages of many newspapers around the world, the photographer was forbidden by the Algerian authorities to work in the country and stopped using his last name for the time being to protect his identity due to safety concerns. Just like many photographic stills of crying women, one of the central visual techniques of humanitarianism, the image had a significant voice in swaying public opinion and influencing political actions. It was quickly dubbed the ‘Bentalha Madonna’ or ‘Algerian Pieta’ and controversy ensued as the Muslim woman, Umm Saad, objected to being identified with Christian symbols and sued the Agence France Presse for defamation and exploitation of human suffering.28 It is on this backdrop that I propose to encounter Hocine Zaourar’s image not as silenced, where its aural layer is lost as soon as this image becomes a sound container emptied of the female voice and filled with those of others, but rather as silent, where the (lack of) sounds open up the potential of a more accountable engagement.

SEEING RHYTHM Ordinarily, we arrange photographs into sequences; place them in various contexts – such as the family album, the newspaper, the exhibition – and create

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rituals to make sense of them. Yet still photographs are also increasingly incorporated into multimedia projects. This new form of visual storytelling, either linear or interactive, is rapidly becoming a part of photography contests, museum installations, and online news platforms. The project by photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik titled Intended Consequences tells the stories of Tutsi women in Rwanda, who fell victim to sexual violence used as a weapon of war by Hutu militia groups in 1994. Close to 20,000 children were born as a result; most of them have contracted HIV/AIDS from their mothers. Due to the stigma of rape, the women’s communities and the few surviving relatives have largely disapproved of the existence of these children. Torgovnik’s project resulted in a book with interviews and photographs of 30 women and their families, a travelling exhibition and a film available at Media Storm (www.mediastorm.com), an online platform featuring still photographs enhanced by videos, music, voiceovers and interviews. Although the documentary is about long-internalised silences, it has a complex and elaborate sonic structure: there is (originally written) music, most of the time a translated account is provided, and in several instances we hear the women themselves, with a (female) voiceover, giving their accounts in translation. I would like to focus here on the opening and closing minutes of the film where the portraits of individual women (at the beginning of the film) and their children (at the end) are flashed at us rhythmically, accompanied by the same tune. The last frame of each sequence smoothly transforms into a video portrait, which may at first look like a still photograph, but on closer inspection reveals minimal movements such as blinking eyes or curling lips. At first glance, there seems to be a disjunction between the images and the sounds. The sounds we hear in Intended Consequences are not linked to the images in an illustrative manner: the portraits appear to listen rather than be heard, their mouths are closed, their eyes focused.29 Although the photographs of women and children claim truth on the basis of their indexicality, there is a distinct absence of diegetic sounds – that is sounds inscribed within the film’s action, with an apparent source. The discrepancy between the origins of the sounds and the images in Intended Consequences points towards a disruption of the transparent immediacy of the photographic image. This disruption is reminiscent of the mediation processes taking place and the restrictions/enhancements operative in the genre of documentary. In this sense, images and sounds (dis)organise each other. However, watching/listening on, the audience realises that sounds and images are closely interwoven and meticulously synchronised in the opening and closing sequence. Sounds participate directly in conveying, prolonging and

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amplifying the emotional impact of images: the formal qualities of the photographs (texture, contrast, lighting and composition) form a duet with the formal and temporal qualities of music (rhythm, volume, pitch, melody). The frequency with which the images pop up is identical to the frequency of the sounds, leading to a tight coupling of vision and sound. A lot of our viewing and listening pleasure stems from this rhythmic and multisensory performance and is based on anticipation, progression to climax, release, and the symmetrical re-playing of the cycle. The repetition of sounds which are similar in pitch, volume and timbre and the regular patterns of their pace and composition smooth over gaps, fissures and discontinuities between the reality of the film and that of a spectator. Vibrations and frequencies surround the viewer-listener and lead to a perceptual experience radically different from what the sense of sight alone would have given. The result of this simultaneity is that at moments the film annuls the distance between itself and its viewers. This is not to conclude, however, that sounds are always beneficial factors in the perception of photographs of war and trauma. While digital culture presents its audiences with mixed, layered and heterogeneous audiovisual images in nonlinear space and time, it rarely offers the tools to challenge homogenous, linear modes of reception. Although music and sound indisputably impart a particular new intensity to certain shots, they may also frame, discipline and contain our emotional response. Sound and image often inscribe themselves into each other to such an extent that eyes and ears become a synaesthetic, trans-sensory system which perceives the concomitance of a sound event and a visual event as a single integrated phenomenon. Yet this synaesthetic experience may easily amount to a captivating feel-good consumption of images of atrocity in which the intensity of political injustice wears off as the intensity of aesthetic experience grows. Nonetheless, I would argue that in Intended Consequences the coming together of sounds and images, and specifically the rhythm these two co-produce, allows the audiences to recognise and acknowledge past and present traumas. The notion of rhythm as described by Deleuze and Guattari – namely not simply as a quality of pure temporality, but as a mixture of space, time, vision and sound – is helpful here.30 Rhythm, understood in such a way, is not an order that structures the footage into an aesthetic whole, but rather something residing in non-representational gaps, intensities and affective loops, suspended between sequence and chaos, between one milieu (the aural) and another (the visible). If we see the documentary as consisting of many milieus (materials, composing elements, membranes and limits, energy sources and actions-perceptions), it is the rhythm that gives consistency to their relations, encompassing continuity,

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flow, articulation, stillness, music, voice, colour and tone. Rhythm disciplines, contains and anchors sounds and images, and dispels the threat of what Barthes calls ‘the terror of uncertain signs’: traumatic images that are bound up with an uncertainty and anxiety, of which we cannot make sense.31 Images and sounds reproduce themselves in an active manner that conceives of death, disappearance, sexual violence and bonds of love/hate between family members, producing an engaging encounter with the traumatic events. The somatic, the physiological and the imaginable aspects of trauma, culturally seen as un-representable, come together here in rhythmic intervals reminiscent of Freuds’s fort da game, staging the disappearance and return, the repeating alternation of distressing experiences and of viewing/listening pleasure.32 The encounter between sounds and images offers modes of intervention that do not rely upon representational imperatives, but rather upon the performative workings of the rhythm. Despite their culturally acknowledged ‘fixity’, it is important to point out that the meaning and impact of photographs can easily be shifted by changing their context of viewing, or, as happened in this case, by literally adding sounds. Seen in this respect, digital photographs encountered online emerge from a complex entanglement of perceptual and cognitive processes in which various strategies of negotiation and exchange are involved. When senses other than vision are addressed, the effects that these images have change dramatically. If we see Zaourar’s photograph as stripped bare of its sound layer, the case of Intended Consequences leads us to ask what happens when we re-add sounds to still images, and whether we can do this without changing their integrity.

CONCLUSION Testimonies of war and disaster, produced both aurally and visually, in photographs are rendered perceptible solely through the visual. The way of seeing incorporates the way of listening: the photographer must produce images in such a way that their meanings will be congruent with those produced by both sights and sounds in the lived experience of the first hand witness. In this chapter, I aimed to develop a tentative understanding of what this incorporation does for our comprehensive and receptive skills. Discussing my first example, I argued that sound becomes perceptible through the eloquence of the image as well as through the silence that makes us imagine those sounds that the photograph is lacking. Using the second example, I asked how images can be rendered aurally meaningful by the sounds that were not there in the moment of taking the

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picture. Considering the various cross-fertilisations of vision and sound contributes to the ongoing debate on the politics and ethics of representing the contemporary world as a site of global war. We find ourselves at a level of exposure to war where our comprehensive and empathetic skills often fall short. The emotional power of images representing people detached from our lived experience wears away day after day. The images of disaster, indefinitely re-circulating online, eventually settle into a low-intensity visual landscape, trapping especially women and non-Western subjects into the modes of visual display. To think through and problematise the relation between acoustics and society might help us understand the impact and importance of sound in images of trauma and articulate responses different from reactions such as compassion fatigue, regarding at a distance or aesthetic contemplation. If we are specific and uncompromising in those responses, we might be able to start re-thinking our engagement with ongoing war and conflict. If we let ourselves hear the sounds, the photographs will be able to talk back to us.

NOTES 1 Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema 2 (London: Continuum, 2005). 2 Jay, Martin, Downcast Eyes. The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-century French Thought (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993). 3 See Birdsall, Carolyn and Enns, Anthony (eds) Sonic Mediations (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008) and Erlmann, Veit (ed.), Hearing Cultures. Essays on Sound, Listening and Modernity (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2004). 4 Metz, Christian, ‘Aural Objects’, in L. Braudy, and M. Cohen (eds), Film Theory and Criticism. Introductory Readings (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). 5 Grosz, Elizabeth, Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (Indiana: Indiana ˇ zek, Slavoj, ‘I Hear You with My Eyes’, in R. Salaci and University Press, 1994), Ziˇ ˇ zek (eds) Gaze and Voice as Love Objects (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996). S. Ziˇ 6 Goldmark, Daniel, Kramer, Lawrence, and Leppert, Richard (eds) Beyond the Soundtrack. Representing Music in Cinema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), Henriques, Julian, ‘The Vibrations of Affect and their Propagation on a Night Out on Kingston’s Dancehall Scene’, Body & Society, 16:1 (2010), pp. 57–89. 7 Goldmark, Daniel, Kramer, Lawrence, and Leppert, Richard (eds) Beyond the Soundtrack., Henriques, Julian, ‘The Vibrations of Affect’, pp. 57–89. 8 Dyson, Frances, Sounding New Media. Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), p. 4. 9 Chion, Michel, Film, A Sound Art (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).

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10 Neuro-imaging studies indicate that visual stimuli can modulate the firing of neurons in the auditory cortex. Pekkola, Johanna et al. (2005) ‘Primary auditory cortex activation by visual speech: an fMRI study at 3 T’, Neuroreport, 16 (2005), pp. 125–128. 11 Chion (2009) suggests the name ‘deaf’ cinema rather than ‘silent’ cinema, arguing that words and noises were part of the narrative, but they could not be heard. See also Altman, Robert, Silent Film Sound (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), Lastra, James, Sound Technology and the American Cinema (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000). 12 Banes, Sally and Lepecki, Andr´e (eds) The Senses in Performance (New York and London: Routledge, 2007). 13 Buikema, Rosemarie, and Zarzycka, Marta, ‘Feminist Research methods: Visual Analysis’ in R. Buikema, G. Griffin and N. Lykke (eds), Researching Differently. Handbook for Postgraduate Research in Women’s/Gender/Feminist Studies (London: Routledge, 2011). 14 Das, Veena, Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary (Berkeley: California Press, 2007). 15 Caption as found on www.worldpressphoto.org [accessed May 15, 2011]. 16 Holst-Warhaft, Gail, ‘Remembering the Dead: Laments and Photographs’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 25:1 (2005), pp. 152–160. 17 Celeste, Reni, ‘The Sound of Silence: Film Music and Lament’, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, 22 (2005), pp. 113–123, Doane, Mary Ann, ‘The Voice in the Cinema: The Articulation of Body and Space’, in L. Braudy and M. Cohen (eds), Film Theory and Criticism. Introductory Readings (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). 18 See also Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Paperbacks, 1962). 19 Doane, Mary Ann, ‘The Close-Up: Scale and Detail in the Cinema’, Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 14:3 (2003), pp. 89–111. 20 Chion, Michiel, Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994). 21 In 1952, John Cage wrote 4 33, a piece composed for piano solo, comprising of three movements during which the soloist sits motionlessly at the piano, producing no sound (first performed by David Tudor). The music of the piece consists of noises produced by the audience and its environment. See Cage, John, Silence: Lectures and Writings (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1961), pp. 22–23 and Leppert, Richard, The Sight of Sound. Music, Representation, and the History of the Body (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). 22 As Derrida points out, silence is [the] pre-oedipal, pre-linguistic origin of all speaking, ‘outside and against which alone language can emerge’. See Derrida, Jacques, Writing and Difference (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. 54. 23 Benjamin, Walter, ‘Short History of Photography’, Artforum, 15:6 (1977), pp. 46– 51. There is a growing trend to ‘put’ movement in still images; photographs are

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digitally mobilised using slow pans, zooms and fades (i.e. the Ken Burns effect, introduced in 2003). See Holzl, Ingrid, ‘Moving Stills: Images That are no Longer Immobile’, Photographies, 3:1 (2010), pp. 99–108. Barthes, Roland, Camera Lucida (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981). Sutton, Damian, Photography Cinema Memory. The Crystal Image of Time (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2009). Azoulay, Ariella, The Civil Contract of Photography, (New York: Zone Books, 2008). Edwards, Elizabeth, ‘Photographs and the Sound of History’, Visual Anthropology Review, 21:1–2 (2006), pp. 37–8. Popelard, Marie-Dominique and Wall, Anthony, Citer l’autre (Paris: Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2005). More recently, the photograph has been the object of the life-size wax sculpture Madone de Bentalha (2001–02) by Pascal Convert. While in this sculpture the women’s clothes are prominent and intricate like a baroque sacral sculpture, the colour is drained from her face rendering the screaming mouth invisible. The tension between the sound and the image is the subject of many audiovisual art installations dealing with the issue of geopolitical and gendered allocations. Shirin Neshat’s film Turbulent (1998) takes the form of a musical duel, portraying a male singer performing a love song with words by the great thirteenth-century mystic Rumi, and a female singer delivering her own eclectic composition. The soundtracks are unsettlingly different, untranslatable to each other, reflecting very clearly gendered allocation of space. Mona Hatoum’s video installation Measures of Distance (1988) shows the letters from the artist’s mother in Beirut, written in Arabic, read aloud in English, by the artist. The discrepancy in this case suggests exile and displacement, but also bonds of love between the two women. Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix, A Thousand Plateaux: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987). Gorbman, Claudia, Unheard Melodies. Narrative Film Music (London: BFI Publishing, 1987). Freud, Sigmund, Beyond the Pleasure Principle (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1924).

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Chapter 3

Another Regard Erin Manning

The gorillas regarded me. To them, I had never been away, because I had really been there once. Time is different to the gorillas. It is about being together, not about being apart. I am content to feel that kind of time, and I close my eyes and smell deeply the hot lemon smell of gorillas and the thick sweet smell of the hay.1

FIRST MOVEMENT ∼ ARE YOU A GORILLA? In a recent piece entitled ‘The Silence Between’, Dawn Prince writes of an encounter with a Bonobo Chimpanzee, Kanzi, that sets the stage for a re-thinking of the deep ‘regard’ Dawn Prince shares with apes of all kinds. Having flown to Decatur, Georgia at the invitation of Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Prince finds herself alone with Kanzi. She writes: ‘Naturally, I fell into the gorilla language I knew, a language of body, mind, and spirit. Kanzi and I played chase up and down the fence line, both of us on all fours, smiling in a sea of fun and deep breaths’. Then something uncanny occurred: He stopped suddenly and grabbed his word board off the ground. He pointed to a symbol and then pointed to me and made a hand gesture with his eyebrows raised. It was clear that he was asking me a question. He repeated this series of words and movements over and over, until I said, out loud, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t understand, Kanzi. Let me get Sue and maybe she can help me.’ At first, she was at a loss. Then after asking him to point to the word again, she realized he was pointing to the word ‘gorilla’ on his board

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and making the American Sign Language sign for question after pointing to me. It was clear he was asking me if I was a gorilla. What was amazing, though, is that he didn’t know American Sign Language: he had seen a video of the gorilla Koko using it and must have not only remembered the signed words, but, not having known other gorillas, assumed that all gorillas understood sign language. If I was a gorilla, he thought, this must be a way of communicating that I would understand.2 The regard of which Dawn Prince speaks above is not about vision, but about a certain notion of concern. ‘The occasion as subject has a “concern” for the object’, writes Alfred North Whitehead, a concern that is immanent to the event’s coming to expression. Concern redraws the dichotomy between the subject and object, between self and other. Subject and object do not set the occasion into motion. ‘And the “concern” at once places the object as a component in the experience of the subject, with an affective tone drawn from this object and directed towards it.’3 Concern is in the nowness of the constellation of this or that event unfolding. A durational field fed, certainly, by all pastnesses it re-activates, but emergent, relationally, always anew. ‘To them, I had never been away, because I had really been there once.’ To ‘have really been there once’ is to have set into motion the conditions for the reactivation, in the relational present, of a certain quality of regard, in the event. Where regard often extrapolates the terms of the encounter from their eventness – setting the human/animal relation as primary to the event and creating expectations based on the presumed differences between their species – concern does not take the relation as pre-composed. Concern is not about the human or about the animal – it is about the event of the occasion coming into itself. This concern for the event is a regard for what cannot pre-exist it: an affective tonality which will always be singularly tied to this or that occasion. ‘Concernedness is of the essence of perception.’4 Concern is never added on to a perception – it is the very how of perception: ‘It must be distinctly understood that no prehension even of bare sensa, can be divested of its affective tone, that is to say, of its character of a “concern”.’5 The time of the encounter is a time of concern, a durational field, infinitely complex, really there once. This durational field does not pre-exist its coming to act. While to speak of Dawn and Kanzi will always, to some extent, involve speaking of all the circumstances that make this particular encounter possible, what is at stake when confronting the question ‘are you a gorilla?’ is less either Kanzi or Dawn as

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pre-existing individual entities than the singular expression of regard that ensues. What is the status of this regard? Let’s replay the event: Dawn and Kanzi run along a fence, goading one another, moving one another forward in an eight-footed play. First, Dawn moves with what she knows: ‘Naturally, I fell into the gorilla language I knew, a language of body, mind, and spirit’. Dawn is not mimicking. Her movement comes from an affective attunement to a long-standing connection to non-human languages: When I was young I talked to animals in that language of silence. I knew what trees and streams were saying because they told me. I knew what sow bugs and snakes were saying because they molded me. [ . . . ] Sometimes my grandfather would ask me in the garden, ‘What are the worms saying today’, ‘Fine fine slither dirt push good rotting green’, I would answer, smiling.6 This, the language of the non-human, is a language that already tunes, for Dawn, to her movement. She listens with movement, listens to how it expresses in the now of the encounter. Kanzi, in turn, plays with the language of movement she proposes, ‘both of us on all fours, smiling in a sea of fun and deep breaths’.7 Dawn and Kanzi, cueing, aligning, creating a rhythm, in counterpoint. Gorillalike. For William Forsythe, counterpoint refers to ‘a field of action in which the intermittent and irregular coincidence of attributes between organisational elements produces an ordered interplay’.8 This particular definition of counterpoint emphasises the relationship between movement and time. Forsythe speaks of choreographing the future in the present-moving, of ‘dancing where the other dancer is going’ to ‘meet him there’.9 Dancing in an alignment with futures in the making suggests a structured improvisation that is attuned to the incipient more-than of movement – movement’s technicity. To move into the technicity of movement is not to mimic or predict: there is no standing back from the event-in-the-moving. It is to move-with the movement’s excess of position. It is to craft movement-moving in the more-than of movement’s taking-form. This happens in counterpoint as dancers ‘shift each other’s time’. Forsythe explains: ‘syncing is not what’s important, in the sense of matching an already known timing’. Move in the time-frames of the becoming-movement, pre-accelerate into the relational field activated by movement-moving, move with the affective tonality, with future time presenting. ‘This can operate in different time frames:

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go slower, be in another’s past right before they catch up to you, then move past them to their future – look for the moment – aim at it rather than going directly to it.’10 Counterpoint is not the activity of an individual body – it is the activity of a relational field through which movement moves. Movement-moving is intensively distributed – always both of the bodying, and infinitely beyond its simple location. In counterpoint, the movement exceeds the frame – the frame of time, the frame of the skin-envelope – activating an infra-mobility that tunes to a relational movement. As collective movement becomes attuned to this relational field, time folds, individual movements are no longer abstractable from the whole. One movement-moving. Counterpoint. The one is of course always more than one. It is an infinity of movementspeciations. Speciations make dancing body, not the other way around. We no longer have one, two, three bodies dancing. We have an affective attunement. This affective attunement cannot be measured in linear time. It happens in a time, continuously folding into the intervals created by the moving field. This time of movement-moving is felt by the dancers as a moment of uncanny synchronicity. Strange because it is slightly off, aligned to but in advance, attuned to but in excess, creating ‘an ordered interplay’, yes, but also something more: a sense of having been transported by the event. A field in counterpoint has been created. This field is completely what it is. Any repetition of the exercise of counterpoint will necessarily create a different field. Each counterpoint-event makes its own time. Counterpoint’s intermittent and irregular coincidence of attributes agitate the field of action at the level of speciations. It is not two fully constituted body-envelopes that dance, but a multiplicity of body-tendings – speeds and slownesses, finger-ground-spine, extension-rotation-bend constellations. What agitates is a body-likeness, a field of relations that does not mimic a body, but creates a bodying in a shifting co-composition of experiential spacetimes. Von Uexk¨ull speaks of spiders that are fly-like, of cups that are coffee-like. These are speciations – compositional tendencies active in the relational field their coming-into-eventness calls forth. To be fly-like means that the spider has taken up certain elements of the fly in its constitution. [ . . . ] Better expressed, the fly-likeness of the spider means that it has taken up certain motifs of the fly melody in its bodily composition. Everywhere it is the counterpoint which expresses itself as a motif in such configurations.11

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The dancer’s movement was perhaps spiral-like, wall-like, sound-like, connecting not directly to another body, but to a sounding, a spiraling, a levitating gravitational field. Heavy-to-the-ground meets laughter-in-movement: gorilla-like. Speciations are rhythmic activations of a body-morphing. They cut across species fully-formed, connective in the milieu of their relational activation: speciations never precede the event of their coming-into-relation. Speciations give rhythm, give tone, to the ‘how’ of the event’s in-forming. In the event of Dawn and Kanzi, to take them as the bonobo and the human would be to introduce metre into the event. This move always happens on the outskirts of the event. These are the claims of identity politics: before we can know how to approach the question ‘are you a gorilla?’ we must know who you really are, a captive gorilla? An autistic woman? A philosopher? An animal activist? A zoo-keeper? An anthropologist? While all of these criteria have effects, to posit these identity politics as the starting point of the process is to background in advance the activity of the milieu’s rhythmic in-forming. It is to assume we know the answer to Kanzi’s question in advance. Yet, we never know in advance how the event will achieve what Whitehead calls its subjective form: we cannot know before the fact how the event will have unfolded. To frame the event in advance of its unfolding with markers of identity (‘obviously’ she is not a gorilla, ‘clearly’ Kanzi is misrecognising) is to sidestep the act of the event’s unfolding as event: for who can know yet what constitutes a gorilla in this context of movement counterpoint? All movement is, to some degree, counterpoint. Movement rhythms: it connects, prolongs, undermines, subverts, dances. It never stops. Movement is always of multiple valences. There is total movement – the durational field of movement-moving – which envelops all worldings. And there is prehended movement, actualised movement for the moving. Actualised movement is the occasion of movement, the way movement cuts itself off from the virtual or durational realm of movement-moving. Counterpoint cuts into total movement to create an actualisable field – ‘an ordered interplay’. In doing so, counterpoint touches on both registers of movement, tapping into the field of total movement to create an opening for this or that movement-quality in the realm of the actual. This allows the milieu of movement to resonate with the more-than of actual movement. This more-than is the counterpoint-event’s motif. This motif is a like-ness. It gives the milieu a singular tonality. This tone in turn tunes the milieu to certain tendencies. A milieu with a springing motif tunes to air-likeness, for instance. Or, as in von Uexk¨ull’s example, fly-likeness tunes

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not to fly-as-species but to a qualitative likeness of a fly-movement intensively in rhythm with the spider’s web. This likeness is first and foremost affective – it is an attunement not simply to the fly in its quantitative dimensions, or in its behaviours, but to the way its singular movement-tendencies affect the speciation spider-like. ‘The web – but never the fly – can be called the goal of forming the web. But the fly does indeed serve as the counterpoint [ . . . ] for the formation of the web.’12 A speciation is not, as such, organic. It is not made up of pre-existing human and animal components in a metonymic relation to an organic whole. This very idea of the organic whole is an abstraction: both ‘body’ and ‘species’ are general categories that can only be conceived as such by divesting them of the relational field which co-constitutes them. To posit such a notion of the whole is to have separated out the event of bodying from its activity. Speciations are how to think this activity, the in-act of body-world constellations in all their organic and inorganic intermixings. These in-acts are not strictly physical – they are a conglomeration of physicalities with affective tonalities that emerge from the very necessity of the milieu: it is the milieu that fashions them. Speciations body in the event of their direct co-relation to the event, they are not body-species pre-formed. An event has concern for the bodying. And there is no body that is not infinitely more than one. An autonomy of expression is at work in the relational field speciations call forth. We are not talking of relations that exist outside of the event of their emergence. The relational field of movement-moving activates the distributed field in which the dancers dance, and in the dancing, they move with it, aligning to it, moving it. The field expresses, not the dancers as individuals. And what it expresses is a relational movement that exceeds the terms of the dancers’ individual body-ness, bringing into complex constellations a rhythm that informs the speciations their movement-moving creates. The creation, the culmination of the movement-moving, is a territorialising. Something has come to form, and with the coming-to-form, a certain casting into itself of movement has emerged. ‘An ordered interplay.’ From here, techniques can be abstracted and positions extracted. Territories are short-lived, however: movement keeps moving, occasions keep perishing. So what is left? Motifs, expressive tendencies. These motifs are the mode of appearance of a vacillating territorialisation, an abstraction of a subjective form. With them comes the tonality of the event’s form-taking. In a choreographic setting, returning to counterpoint will require the motif: the event’s force of form. But this will never

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result in the exact same counterpoint: in each instance, as the motif makes ingression into the new occasion, it will tune differently. Expressive qualities entertain variable or constant relations with one another (that is what matters of expression do); they no longer constitute placards that mark a territory, but motifs and counterpoints that express the relation of the territory to interior impulses or exterior circumstances, whether or not they are given. No longer signatures, but a style.13 Style can never be pinned down to form. It is always intimately tied to the event of its expression. And yet there is a certain consistency to style across occasions. A style can be recognised – we know the languid grace of a cat, the frenzied disappearance of a cockroach, even before we quite see them. Style happens in this ‘not quite’, in the movement of expression before it takes its form as this or that. Style is always in the moving. Style connects with the event’s affective tonality. It is movement quality carried forth into an event through the force of its reactivation from relational field to relational field. It is chiefly non-sensuous, as Whitehead would say, activating for the event a certain quality of past occasions. This quality is always a renewal of itself for the present occasion. Style is therefore never quite the same for two occasions. A moving-body’s expressivity will carry the force of an attunement that can be aligned to. This aligning will express a certain style that can be connected, transversally, to other events of its kind. A movement, Forsythe-like. The how of the aligning as style is not a question of connecting to a certain superficial quality but of moving with the movement’s movement such as to captivate the movement’s very potential for expression. Moving gorilla-like.

SECOND MOVEMENT ∼ AT PLAY The dynamic form gorilla-like is bred in play. Dawn and Kanzi run, on all fours, along a fence, laughing, grunting. There is no outside to their game: it is not meant for anyone else. Play is un-selfconscious. Improvisation, spontaneity, mixed in with the constraints of incipient territorialisations – the fence, the time of day, the newness of the encounter. Their movements are no doubt at first quizzical, careful. And then perhaps engaged, untroubled even, at times. Instinct, some people would say. Art, others would respond.

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Counterpoint is creative. It proposes an assemblage and this assemblage is always, to a degree, a territorialising platform. But what counterpoint does is keep that territory moving, active, transductive. Counterpoint activates the associated milieus of the territory, the milieus that cross through it and are always, to some extent, in excess of it. Counterpoint produces not positions as such, but the morethan of position on its way to activating times as yet unseen, unfelt. Positions outdoing themselves, in concert. ‘The territory itself is a place of passage. The territory is the first assemblage, the first thing to constitute an assemblage; the assemblage is fundamentally territorial.’14 The assemblage is a field for play. It must remain territorial to the degree that it can be accessed and returned to. But what is returned to is always, to a certain degree, difference. The field of counterpoint is dynamic, its movements local insofar as they co-constitute the singular expression of emergence their inconcertness calls forth, and global to the degree that they can be recaptured for future events in the making. Movements are always with regard, with concern for the event in its concrescence. Territory always far less stable than we might otherwise presume. Because territory can’t help but call for, but demand, play. Territory is always at the verge of its undoing. Territory’s play undoes the dichotomy between speciations and species. It’s not that there is no longer a bonobo and a human, it’s that there is more-than this species-combination. As soon as the territory becomes an active milieu, it becomes a field of movement constellations. The field produces an interplay of affects and effects. Speciations emerge active in the composition of motifs they are co-creating. Speciations are complex aggregates – they affect on a multitude of strata, elasticising the territory even as they move in concert with it. What is concretely in-act is never the general category. This is why starting with a general category cannot not yield nuanced results. Take, for instance, the question of gender. While (en)gendering – as speciation – has many roles to play in an event such as that between Kanzi and Dawn, ‘gender’ posited as a pre-formed category cannot make sense of their encounter without imposing a framing-device onto the event from the outside. This has the effect of backgrounding the in-act of the event, thus losing sight of the intricate complexities of the event’s actingout. A general statement about the species ‘woman’ in relation to Dawn would immediately have connected her body to a certain sets of qualities or criteria that would have mediated the event of her encounter with Kanzi, who, as a ‘male’ would have been expected to respond in certain, often stereotyped, ways. To posit the genders male–female as the framing device would also have been to ignore the fact that gender identification tends to be speculative at best for many

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autistics, for whom having a fixed body, let alone a fixed gender, is one of the most abstract of all abstractions.15 What is concretely in act is never a ‘gender’, but an engendering, a coming-into-itself of a singular set of relations, of which male-likeness and female-likeness may be defining elements, but always only in their in-actness, in tandem with all other co-constitutive elements of the milieu’s activity. If not given in advance as general categories, such speciations are not only allowed to emerge in their complexity, they can also open the field of gender to new constellations.16 Back to the fence, and to the art of play. We consider that an animal, in a complex and accidental milieu, would have few chances of survival if he could only use stereotyped behaviour, even if more or less corrected by orienting stimuli. Much more important are the improvised responses directed to the stimuli [ . . . ] that act as a sort of irritant, not as a signal.17 Animals play, and play is an art, as Brian Massumi underlines, precisely because instinct on its own is ‘outright maladaptive’.18 Following Ruyer, Massumi suggests that, at play, a processual trigger spurs a creative advance, an ‘immanent modification’. ‘The stimulus irritates, it provokes, it is a processual inducer. What it most directly induces is an integral modification of the tendencial selfconsistency of the animal experience, correlated to the externality of the accident but obeying its own logic of qualitative variation’.19 Instinct, as Bergson writes, is played more than it is represented.20 It is too simplistic, then, to suggest that what moves Kanzi, or what moves Dawn, is simply behaviour pre-dating the event, such as instinct tied to gender or species categories. They are not imitating or responding to something that pre-defines – they are creating, at play. Gorilla-like is an art. No gorilla has actually entered the scene. What has entered is a movementconstellation that has taken both Dawn and Kanzi by surprise. Gorilla-like is the more-than of their coming-together, the style, the motif of the event’s counterpoint. And although it is spoken in the language of the third – the sign-language ‘of’ the gorilla – it does not belong to a language that pre-exists. For gorilla-like remains here in the language of counterpoint, the language of movement’s possession by itself. The movement moves the gorilla-like speciation of which Kanzi and Dawn (in a million variations) are part. Paw-earth, foot-air, laughter-dirt, grunt-metal, all of these speciations are at work in dancing the emergent counterpoint. A speciation: a bloc of sensation, as Deleuze and Guattari might say.

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A desiring-machine. ‘Deleuze and Guattari have a favourite word to designate the affective force that pulls deformationally forward toward creativity: desire.’21 Desire as a transformational pull that activates a relational field. There is no purpose to play, except to create more play, to create more desire for play. ‘Are you a gorilla?’ is this event of play’s postscript, not its mandate. If we take it as the starting point the question of subjectivity will become the framing device for the event. I am, you are, a question of species. Play will be undone of precisely what makes it play: it will become a rehearsal for something that exceeds it in advance. But this is not what happens here. Play remains a field of play, and out of this field something uncanny emerges. A question, unresolved, hangs in the offing – ‘are you a gorilla?’ The interesting questions are the ones that cannot be subsumed into easy subject-object relations. It is not the external third ‘gorilla’ which is at stake here, but play’s motif, and the way the motif makes ingression into the newly formed constellation: gorilla-like. ‘Play is the abstractive suspension of a vital context.’22 It bursts open the frame of expectation. It intuits, activating a consciousness not of, but with – an awareness in the playing that defies the extraction of movement from the event at play. This with-knowing is never known in advance: it surprises itself by creating new forms of play – incipient territories – never before moved in the playing. A constellation-machine for movement-invention. Counterpoint. A vitality affect, as Daniel Stern would call it, is at work here, actively colouring the event.23 This is what pulls the event forward, this is what, in play, creates the event’s motif. It is what gives the event the singularity of its current concern. This vitality affect is the core of the question: not ‘are you a gorilla?’ but ‘how do you move me?’ or better, ‘how does our movement move me?’ Play as the bringing into focus of an affective force of relation that re-invents, in its small way, the relational how of life-living.

THIRD MOVEMENT ∼ AN INCOMPLETION Whitehead writes: ‘The community of actual things is an organism, but it is not a static organism. It is an incompletion in process of production.’24 Kanzi and Dawn meet. Play ensues. Their movement moves them, connecting them at the level of speciations that exceed them as individuals. In the speciation, a counterpoint emerges. This emergent counterpoint is a structured improvisation: it moves into the habitual movements brought into play and connects to a generative field of movement-moving. The generative force of movement in counterpoint

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creates a motif. This prolongs the dance, giving it a style all its own. This style exceeds Dawn or Kanzi as individuals, exceeds their habitual ways of moving – a relational movement has emerged. This relational movement is a field experience. Everything is concretely at play – the quality of air, the sound of breath on metal, on fur, on skin, the feel of paws on earth, on cement, the heaviness of limbs at play, the grumblings of stomachs, the pull of muscles, the rustlings of fallen leaves. Everything singularly contributes. And in this field teeming with activity, a question is drawn: ‘Are you a gorilla?’ This is not a question intended to be answered, it is a motif. It is a platform to spring from through which new movement-constellations can take flight. Gorilla-like is a new concept. New concepts, when they really do their work, activate speciations, which, in turn, affect how societies evolve. A society: ‘A type of order. [ . . . ] A nexus. [ . . . ] Endurance. [ . . . ] An animal body is a society involving a vast number of occasions, spatially and temporally coordinated. [ . . . ] Each living body is a society.’25 This is the force of concepts, that they insist, they irritate, they agitate in the cross-fertilisation of occasions and societies. These agitations play out on the level of the occasion, but as the occasion perishes onto the nexus, they also affect the contributive realm of that which makes ingress into the actual occasion. Concepts resonate transversally, creating a vibratory field that affects how future events are composed. They feed the future-presenting with their appetite for more. They are counterpoint-machines: they create a field of action which provokes a coincidence of attributes to produce the excess of an ordered interplay. Gorilla-like. The complex relational field of movement-moving courses across the societies ‘Dawn’ and ‘Kanzi’. These societies are altered by the process, as are all of the contributory forces that have made their way into the event. These contributory forces touch on the many stories the event calls forth, each one of them now tainted by the motif, gorilla-like. Take the story of Kanzi, born 28 October 1980, a bonobo chimpanzee raised in captivity, for whom contact has been for the most part restricted to the human. Infuse this story into the event and consider how gorilla-like re-frames it, foregrounding, perhaps, the fact that Kanzi’s ‘advanced linguistic aptitude’26 has made language the vehicle for communication since he was a baby. No surprise, then, that gorilla-like emerges in the speaking as much as in the moving. Take the story of Dawn Prince, born 31 January 1964, an autistic woman fighting for a place in a world tuned to neurotypical modes of encounter that continuously, painfully, set her apart. Infuse this story into the event and consider how gorilla-like speaks to the force of ‘another regard’, something Prince has honed in her years of working with gorillas, gorillas who

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she feels have offered her a place in the world. These are the societies, in brief, that meet on that fateful afternoon to play along the fence. The contributive force of a society (a nexus of occasions) on an individual occasion is not quantitatively measurable. Ingression is not about quantitative content per se: it is about the tuning of an occasion toward certain kinds of activations of the past in the present for future-presenting. Style. Style carries across occasions, giving them a sense of consistency. The relational field as it emerges through Kanzi and Dawn’s play is imbued with style, marked and fashioned by modes of thought – mentalities – already in counterpoint with their wider comings-to-be. With this in mind, in the spirit of incompletion, I want to turn briefly to one key element of style that I believe makes the question ‘are you a gorilla?’ far less strange than we may at first have assumed it to be. I want to turn to what I have elsewhere called ‘autistic perception’: a style of perception wherein an encounter with the world does not begin by sorting the field into objects or subjects.27 But first, let me be clear: autistic perception is a tendency in perception on a continuum with all perception, not a definition of autism. It is a style that has been remarked upon by many autistics including Tito Mukhopadhyay, D.J. Savarese, Donna Williams, Jim Sinclair, Jamie Burke and Nick Pentzell, a perceptual style that actively thinks-feels the edgings and contourings of fields of relation coagulating into instances of shaped experience. As the writings of these autistics attest to, the direct experience of the in-actness of worlding results in an ecological sensibility to life-living. But it bears repeating that while all autistics I have encountered prize this mode of perception, none of them would ever create a simplified relay between autistic perception and the everyday experience of an autistic. Autism is a complex world, at once full of perceptual richness and full of painful misalignments – many of them of the motor variety – to everyday neurotypical existence. The richness of perception experienced by autistics has to do to a large extent with a different speed of what autistic Anne Corwin calls ‘chunking’. Anne Corwin writes: ‘I often tend to sit on floors and other surfaces even if furniture is available, because it’s a lot easier to identify “flat surface a person can sit on” than it is to sort the environment into chunks like “couch”, “chair”, “floor”, and “coffee table”.’28 All perception involves chunking, but what autistics have access to that is usually backgrounded for neurotypicals is the direct experience of the relational field’s morphing into objects and subjects. Experientially-speaking, there is never the apprehension of an object or a subject before a relational field. It is a key contribution of Whitehead to have created a whole philosophical vocabulary of

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process to make this clear. Still, many of us neurotypicals experience the world as ‘chunked’ into species, into subjects and objects. This is the shortcoming, as autistics might say, of neurotypical perception, and is certainly what makes many autistics feel lost in a world overtaken by neurotypicals. The foregrounding of the world in its morphability as experienced in autistic perception opens experience to a level of relation with the world which is rare. This level of relation is an ecological attunement to the multiplicity at work. It foregrounds what Isabelle Stengers calls ‘an ecology of practices’.29 For autistic perception never begins with the general attribute, never assumes integration over complexity. It prehends, always, from the middle, with an active regard for the emergent field’s environmentality. The world is experienced always in the complex relations of its emergent unfoldings. This is a language of experience that moves not from self to self, or self to other, but from experience to experience. As Mukhopadhyay writes: ‘Maybe I do not have to try very hard to be the wind or a rain cloud. There is a big sense of extreme connection I feel with a stone or perhaps with a pen on a tabletop or a tree. [ . . . ] There is no separation.’30 Cloud-like. Rock-like. If we ignore the non-human centred valence of Prince’s or Mukhopadhyay’s approach and persist in placing the human at the forefront as the motivating force of all events, their words will seem anthropomorphic. We will read Prince’s encounter with Kanzi simply as a human once more telling the story of an animal, in human terms; we will interpret Mukhpadhyay as giving a human face to the pen or the tabletop or the tree. Autistic perception warns us against this approach, persistently reminding us that there is no human pre-assumed at the centre of experience for either Dawn or Tito. It seems to me that we should heed these words and learn from them, with them. That we might listen more intently to how the world composes itself in a mode of perception which does not privilege the human in any of its pre-composed guises, or any other general categories. And let us not stop there. The accusation of anthropomorphism whether misplaced as in the case of Kanzi and Dawn, or fitting in other instances, seems like one more way to close down the potential for thought, for appetition, for the as-yet-unfelt in experience. For the accusation of anthropomorphism has become one more way of not attending to the complex counterpoint of the creative advance. As Jane Bennett writes: [a] touch of anthropomorphism [ . . . ] can catalyse a sensibility that finds a world filled not with ontologically distinct categories of beings (subjects and objects) but with variously composed materialities that form confederations.

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[ . . . ] Maybe it is worth running the risks associated with anthropomorphizing [ . . . ] because it, oddly enough, works against anthropocentrism: a chord is struck between person and thing, and I am no longer above or outside a nonhuman ‘environment’.31 There is counterpoint in infinite abundance and we are not hearing it, let alone dancing it. Ecologies of perception are backgrounded by an overarching emphasis on general categories. New modes of attention are needed, and persistent efforts to experience the novelty of life-living are essential to enjoying the complexity of worldings that populates us. The more pressing question is what has led us to the certainty we seem to have that the world can be parsed out into subjects and objects, and how intertwined this assertion has become with a notion of relation that remains a mediating force between already-existent terms. James’s mantra bears repeating: ‘[T]he relations that connect experiences must themselves be experienced relations, and any kind of relation experienced must be accounted as “real” as anything else in the system.’32 There is no object ‘in-itself’ just as there is no subject only ‘for-itself’: to cite Whitehead again, ‘the occasion has a “concern” for the object. And the concern at once places the object as a component in the experience of the subject, with an affective tone drawn from this object and toward it.’33 Subjects and objects edge into experience, relationally. Not human-relationally, but in an incipient relation that speciates. To espouse a theory of object-irreducibility,34 as Graham Harman does, brings objects back fully-formed, onto themselves, with relation positioned ‘outside’, as extra to the event’s concrescence. The in-itselfness of the object must be resisted as strongly as the in-itselfness of the human. Neither human nor object nor animal comes to experience fullyformed. It is the counterpoint of their speciations that is at stake in experience. This, it seems to me, is what can be taken wholesale from Kanzi and Prince’s dance: speciations connect, cutting transversally across all genera, meeting at the level of intensities, motifs. An ecology of practices. Dawn Prince writes: ‘I hope that autistic people, and others that have been beyond understanding until recently, will be the natural interpreters of an important patois.’35 The patois of which Prince speaks is a language replete with the sensitivity of autistic perception, thick with a force of thought in the middling of its expressibility, textured by a more-than of future movements and unchunked experiences, ripe for the infra-linguistic telling. The incomplete answer to ‘are you a gorilla?’ is spoken in such a patois, a language that can only be heard in the moving, in the infra of positioning, in the beyond of subject and object.

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This is the challenge: to move in counterpoint with a language that trembles on the edges of understanding. To become as ‘autistically perceptive’ as possible, even at the risk of losing our footing in a species-oriented world. To participate in the concern for another regard.

NOTES 1 Prince, Dawn, Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism (New York: Harmony Books, 2004), p. 12. 2 Prince, Dawn, ‘Cultural Commentary: The Silence Between: An Autoethnographic Examination Of The Language Prejudice And Its Impact On The Assessment Of Autistic And Animal Intelligence’, Disabilities Studies Quarterly – Special Issue on Autism, Savarese, R. and Savarese, E. (eds), 30:1 (2010): www.dsq-sds .org/article/view/1055/1242 [accessed 17 April 2012]. 3 Whitehead, Alfred North, Adventures of Ideas (New York: Free Press, 1967), p. 176. 4 Whitehead: Adventures of Ideas, p. 180. 5 Whitehead: Adventures of Ideas, p. 180. 6 Prince: ‘The Silence Between’, n. p. 7 Prince: ‘The Silence Between’, n. p. 8 This definition was coined by Norah Zuniga Shaw with William Forsythe for the Synchronous Objects website, www.synchronousobjects.org [accessed 17 April 2012]. 9 Forsythe, rehearsal November 2010. 10 Forsythe, rehearsal November 2010. 11 Uexk¨ull, Jakob von, A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: With A Theory of Meaning, trans. O’Neil, Joseph D. (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2010), pp. 190–191. 12 Uexk¨ull: A Foray, p. 193. In ‘The Thinking-Feeling of What Happens’, and in Semblance and Event (Cambridge, Massachussetts: MIT Press, 2011), Brian Massumi develops a concept of semblance which emphasises the notion here developed of ‘likeness’. He writes: ‘The “likeness” of things is a qualitative fringe, or aura to use a totally unpopular word, that betokens a moreness to life.’ www.inflexions.org (Issue 1, 2008), n. p. 13 Deleuze and Guattari: A Thousand Plateaus, p. 318. 14 Deleuze and Guattari: A Thousand Plateaus, p. 323. 15 There is a large literature on ‘gender dysphoria’ and autism. This literature tends to take gender identity as a given, ignoring the rich autistic literature on their experience of gender’s complexity and autistics’ experience of not adhering to pre-fixed categories. In Women From Another Planet – Our Lives in the Universe of Autism, Kearns Miller writes: ‘For some of us here, our lives, outlook, and behavior don’t have much

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of a sense of gender at all. I myself live a somewhat femme life but it feels in some sense detachable, like a costume. I was an androgynous kid and most clearly perceive the world in a non-gendered way’, p. 38. For a variety of perspectives on gender and engendering, see the various chapters in J. Kearns Miller (ed.), Women From Another Planet – Our Lives in the Universe of Autism (Michigan: Dancing Mind Books, 2003). A longer exploration of the notion of engendering can be found in the chapter ‘Engenderings: Gender, Politics, Individuation’ in Erin Manning, Politics of Touch (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2007). Ruyer, Raymond, Gen`ese des formes vivantes (Paris: Flammarion, 1958), p. 149, in Brian Massumi, ‘Ceci n’est pas une morsure: Animalit´e et abstraction chez Deleuze et Guttari’ Philosophie n◦ 112 (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 2012). Brian Massumi, ‘Ceci n’est pas une morsure: Animalit´e et abstraction chez Deleuze et Guttari’ Philosophie n◦ 112 (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 2012). Brian Massumi, ‘Ceci n’est pas une morsure: Animalit´e et abstraction chez Deleuze et Guttari’ Philosophie n◦ 112 (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 2012). Bergson, Henri, Creative Evolution, trans. Mitchell, Arthur (New York: Dover, 1998), p. 180. The French ‘jou´ee’ is translated to ‘acted’ in the English. See Bergson, L’´evolution cr´eatrice (Paris: PUF, 1941), p. 181. Brian Massumi, ‘Ceci n’est pas une morsure: Animalit´e et abstraction chez Deleuze et Guttari’ Philosophie n◦ 112 (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 2012). Brian Massumi, ‘Ceci n’est pas une morsure: Animalit´e et abstraction chez Deleuze et Guttari’ Philosophie n◦ 112 (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 2012). Stern, Daniel, Forms of Vitality (London: Oxford University Press, 2010). Whitehead: Process and Reality, p. 215. Whitehead: Adventures of Ideas, pp. 203–205. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanzi [accessed 17 April 2012]. In Always More Than One: Individuation’s Dance (Durham: Duke University Press, forthcoming) I define autistic perception as ‘actively engaged in an encounter with edgings and contourings, with incipient sensings and synesthetic overlappings – shapings’, as ‘making felt that all comings-to-form are first experienced in the vortex of their incipient relational encounterings’. See also Manning, Erin and Massumi, Brian ‘Coming Alive in a World of Texture’, in Thought in the Act (forthcoming). http://www.existenceiswonderful.com/ [accessed 17 April 2012]. See Stengers, Isabelle, Cosmopolitics 1 (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2010). See Savarese, Ralph, ‘More Than a Thing to Ignore: An Interview with Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay’ Disabilities Studies Quarterly – Special Issue on Autism, Savarese, R. and Savarese, E. (eds), 30:1 (2010) www.dsq-sds.org/article/view/1055/1242 [accessed 17 April 2012]. Bennett, Jane, Vibrant Matter (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), pp. 99, 120. James, William, Essays in Radical Empiricism (Lincoln: Nebraska University Press, 1996), p. 42.

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33 Whitehead: Adventures of Ideas, p. 176. 34 Harman writes: ‘objects are irreducible to their relations with other things, and always hold something in reserve from these relations’, p. 187. See Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (Melbourne: re.press, 2009). See also: ‘Now you might ask: “Who on earth thinks objects can exist in isolation from all external as well as internal relations?” The answer is: I myself do. That’s my concept of “dormant objects”’ (blog Dec 2010) http://doctorzamalek2.wordpress.com/ [accessed 17 April 2012]. 35 Prince: ‘The Silence Between’, n. p.

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Chapter 4

Uneasy Bodies: Affect, Embodied Perception and Contemporary Fashion Photography ´ Eugenie Shinkle

At the back of the Fall/Winter 2005/06 fashion issue of Purple magazine is a 20-page fashion spread – a collaboration between model Kristin McMenamy and fashion photographer Juergen Teller.1 The images, which feature McMenamy in a selection of haute couture frocks, are mildly unsettling. Originally shot as part of Marc Jacobs’ 2006 advertising campaign, they are by no means unique in using disquieting imagery to sell clothes – indeed, the bizarre, the grotesque, the abject and the ugly have become something of a commonplace in fashion photography of the past decade or so. Not only does Teller’s spread gather together a number of these trends, it also crystallises a feeling of frustration that has preoccupied me ever since I began looking critically at contemporary fashion images some years ago. This frustration arose out of a growing sense of the limitations of conventional forms of photographic criticism – in particular, post-structuralist semiotics – in addressing questions of meaning in recent fashion photography. In the following chapter, I argue that the biological registers of image perception play a significant role in the meaning of fashion images. In making this argument, I position myself alongside a growing body of theorists such as Mark B. N. Hansen, Brian Massumi, Vittorio Gallese and others who examine the ways that body and brain functions colour the perception of images. This approach is not, of course, restricted to fashion photography, but it has special relevance to those photographic genres that trade on images of the body. There is a degree of anxiety, within visual and cultural theory, around the incorporation of the body and its biology into accounts of meaning and meaningfulness. Concerns have been raised about the lack of a common vocabulary between the humanities 73

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and the sciences, and about the methodological pitfalls involved in incorporating biological models into a cultural studies context. Seldom, however, have critics declared the two domains to be innately or categorically incompatible. It’s worth noting that semiotic analysis forms the foundation of some important early work around fashion and fashion images in fields such as photography, gender studies and feminist media studies. A touchstone for the critique of fashion images, Roland Barthes’ seminal text The Fashion System, written between 1957 and 1963, positions fashion and fashion photography within a semiological framework, arguing that real garments are meaningful not simply as objects, but as signs.2 The notion of the fashion image as inherently textual has shaped much of the subsequent critical literature on fashion photography.3 Within feminist and gender studies, fashion advertisements have been indicted for mobilising a set of normative and often debasing signifiers of femininity.4 Critical studies of fashion and advertising habitually treat photography as a part of a wider signifying system – that of ‘fashion’ – through which social meanings are communicated.5 Such analyses, and others like them, assume the fashion photograph as an ideological agent and a vehicle through which a range of culturally recognisable meanings are transmitted. Semiology, as Hans Belting writes: ‘does not allow images to exist beyond the controllable territory of signs, signals, and communication’.6 The issue of control is a timely one. Fashion in the new millennium is dominated by a handful of luxury conglomerates (such as LVMH, PPR and Richemont) who own most of the major fashion labels.7 Advertisers today have unprecedented economic and taste-making powers; significantly, they also have a substantial stake in the look of editorial fashion imagery.8 Yet within this oppressive scenario, fresh new approaches to fashion photography have flourished. Leaving aside ‘trite hangups about “meaning”’,9 many contemporary fashion photographers have begun to explore more nuanced modes of representation. Some, like Teller, have explored the body as imperfect and bluntly visceral. Others, like Terry Richardson and Anne de Vries, have engaged reflexively with the performative nature of imagemaking, creating images that ‘call into question just why we are looking’.10 Such work is part of a wider trend towards the production of images which quite literally incorporate the viewer in the production of meaning. This shift has taken place alongside a blurring of media boundaries which has seen fashion photography incorporated into broader critiques of fashion media – critiques that examine the impact of digital technologies on the perception of images, bodies and the self. Even analyses that ostensibly deal in semiotics and content analysis struggle to

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reconcile interpretation with more visceral and less easily articulated responses to fashion photographs.11 The image-as-text model makes less sense in this context; analyses of fashion photography which restrict themselves to the reading of images risk overlooking nuances of meaning that are incorporated in the process of perception more broadly conceived. In the following chapter, I suggest that theories of affect and embodied perception can help us understand this process. Such theories have proliferated over the past decade or so in response to post-structuralism’s alleged failure to address the role of the body in accounts of meaning and subject formation. As an idiom, affect appears in a growing number of disciplines and a range of different critical guises. Derived from the Latin affectus – which can be translated as ‘passion’ or ‘emotion’ – it is often used as synonym for these terms, but it has also come to be theorised as a cognitive mode operating between biology and the socius. Broadly defined, affect, and affective response, refers to mental and somatic resources mobilised in response to stimulus events, experienced in consciousness and registered by the body – mobile forces circulating and mediating between body and intellect, physiology and mind. Understood as the root of psychic life and the foundation of meaning, affect is characterised in part by its resistance to sociolinguistic qualification; as a category, it resists critique and lacks a precise theoretical vocabulary. The ‘affective turn’ in cultural theory has been criticised for installing ontology in the place of epistemology – for replacing post-structuralism’s focus on discourses of truth and knowledge with the supposed truth of a material body that is somehow outside of cultural shaping.12 Significantly, however, though such critiques take issue with exaggerated claims of the body’s autonomy and with the reductive deployment of biology as an endorsement of this autonomy, few go so far as to claim that scientific accounts and material bodies have no place within cultural criticism. Rather, they seek to remind us that affect needs to be understood ‘in the context of social narratives and power relations’.13 The following chapter builds on these suggestions while responding to indictments of affect’s alleged independence from culture. It shows how work – by writers such as Isobel Armstrong, Mark B. N. Hansen and Brian Massumi – seeks to bring accounts of the biology of perception into dialogue with such narratives and relations. Such texts frame affect’s difference from the social world it subtends as complementary, rather than contradictory. Sara Ahmed remarks that second-wave feminism’s ‘commitment to rich description of biological processes . . . provided a productive point of entry for

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feminist politics’,14 and the following chapter is undertaken in a similar spirit. The notion of both the clothed body and the image as signifying surfaces still dominates analyses of fashion photography; little sustained attention has been paid to the embodied dimensions of image perception, and almost none to theories of affect. It’s not my intention to argue here that semiotics has no place in the analysis of fashion images. Nonetheless, such images are explicitly addressed to embodied subjects, and somatic or bodily responses are integral to the way that they come to mean. As Paasonen writes, ‘[bodily] sensations and arousals do matter, yet their meaning is far more complicated and slippery an issue because the mattering does not primarily concern signification’.15 Focusing on the synergies between materiality and signification – examining the image as a site of affective labour – the following chapter deploys affect as a way of approaching meaning not just in terms of formal, semantic and ideological coding, but in terms of the visceral responses that subtend this coding. It posits these responses as intentional corporeal dimensions that function in concert, beneath the level of conscious awareness and cultural qualification, but in communication with it. It is concerned with several linked questions: What is to be gained by bringing the body, and affect, into a critical discussion of fashion photography? If affect comprises qualia that cannot be expressed in language, (how) can it be mobilised in a critique of images? How can affect be made to work in parallel with (rather than simply in opposition to) an existing critical vocabulary that is based in theories of signification? The present work offers a preliminary response to these questions by reflecting on the relationship between the visceral and the sociolinguistic dimensions of image perception, and between somatic and ideational structures. By tracing the movement and materialisation of affect in Teller’s images, I will show how the biological dimensions of image perception work in symbiosis with socially and culturally negotiated expressions of meaning. My intention is not to offer scientific accounts of perception in the place of semiological ones, but to extend the reach of post-structuralist criticism, and to rethink reductive accounts of fashion photography that frame it as little more than a vehicle for the circulation of commodity narratives and exploitive notions of femininity. Situating recent fashion photography in the context of new digital media forms that address the material body, I will argue that such work presents the possibility of creatively resisting determination by hegemonic discourses of fashion, and suggests new ways of thinking through the relations between body and image, surface and depth, and the aesthetic and the political.

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THE BIOLOGY OF AFFECT The human capacity for affective response is tied to a number of basic functional mechanisms in the brain. The exact nature of these mechanisms is not yet fully known, and is the subject of lively debate in the group of disciplines – such as neurophysiology, developmental psychology and neuropsychology – that make up the emerging field of cognitive neuroscience. The present chapter examines one widely accepted hypothesis. ‘Simulation theory’ posits that the human capacity for understanding the behaviour of others is facilitated, in part, by the presence of so-called ‘mirror neurons’. The term ‘mirror neurons’ describes a class of visuomotor neurons in the primate premotor cortex. First observed in macaque monkeys, mirror neurons have been seen to respond both to the performance of particular actions (such as grasping, holding and manipulating objects), and to the observation of those actions performed by others. Direct observation of mirror neurons is only possible by inserting a probe directly into the neural tissue of a living subject and recording neural activity – a procedure that has only recently been performed on humans.16 Along with other empirical evidence, research suggests that we share this matching system with our primate cousins.17 The same neural structures that are active when we experience particular actions (such as gestures and facial expressions) are also active when these same actions are observed in others. Simulation theory – or ‘embodied simulation’ – describes how this shared neural circuitry allows us ‘to appreciate, experience and understand the actions we observe, the emotions and the sensations we take others to experience’.18 Embodied simulation supports our capability to detect and comprehend the intentions of others – to form representations of their actions and emotional states and to understand not only what someone is doing, but why they are doing it. This automatic, unconscious somatic activity provides a framework for a variety of interpersonal relations, among them the empathetic reactions that are so important to our perception of images of the body. Freedberg and Gallese have argued that embodied simulation and the feelings of empathy it generates play a crucial role in the perception and aesthetic experience of images.19 Other studies examine the correlation between viewing images of pain or disgust, and the activation of particular areas in the brain associated with the direct experience of such stimuli.20 Research in the emerging field of neuroaesthetics suggests that the aesthetic experience of visual artworks depends upon the triggering of sensorimotor, emotional and cognitive mechanisms.21 Such works are part of

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a growing body of scientific research that frames human cognition as dependent upon somatic input, and perception as an amalgam of symbolic, rational, neural and sensate components. As far as visual media are concerned, there are clear links between perception, embodiedness and empathy. The perception of images involves seeing and reading, but also, importantly, it involves feeling.

AFFECTIVE IMAGES AND EMBODIED MEANING Though affect is rooted in the body, it is not independent from the domain of ideology and signification. Affect may lie outside the domain of culturally qualified form, but it operates in concert with it – the relationship between the two is one of symbiosis rather than antagonism. The title of Brian Massumi’s seminal article ‘The Autonomy of Affect’ is often taken too literally in this respect. Rather than positing affect in opposition to the social, Massumi frames mind and body as mutually resonating levels, ‘recapitulating the same image/expression event in different but parallel ways, ascending by degrees from the concrete to the incorporeal . . . ’.22 The autonomy of affect, he writes, lies in the extent to which it supports the possibility of culturally qualified experience.23 Affect is back-formed, culturally embedded and historically specific: it is bound up with the social and exists in a reflexive relationship with it. Though affect has no semantic content as such, and cannot be directly transcribed or fixed in an image, it has a relationship with representation. Affect is manifest in images as a trace or index of processes and events that take place before meaning is expressed. Images, for their part, act to amplify and modulate affect, though not in logical or predictable ways.24 The intensity of an image – its affective charge – is fundamental to its semantic substance, but it is not linked to this substance in a straightforward way: Affect . . . is an ambiguous, alternating force. . . . It belongs to a chain of discourse and breaks it: it alternates between being bound and unbound, attached to signification and rupturing it. It is essentially an energy of the ‘between’. . . . Thus it has the role of conjoining and disjoining, making and unmaking . . . The concealing and revealing, exposing and masking process which belongs to affect is structurally tied to the possibility of meaning.25 (italics added)

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Affect is a medium rather than a message – a dynamic modality by which new sensibilities and thought patterns make their way into representation. Affect animates, it fills signification; it is ‘that which is imperceptible but whose escape from perception cannot but be perceived, as long as one is alive’.26 Affect is the foundation of meaning: without soma, there can be no sign. Images, as Sarah Pink contends, are generators of meaning.27 Images do not simply ‘contain’ meaning. Rather, meaning emerges in/as a productive process incorporating images, embodied viewers and the contexts in which images are produced, circulated and consumed. Hans Belting argues similarly that images do not exist by themselves, but happen in/as an interchange with the body of the viewer.28 New media theorist Mark B. N. Hansen argues that new media forms, which foreground the multisensory character of human perception, function as cultural actors rather than simple texts. Drawing on Bergson’s notion of affection as ‘that part or aspect of the inside of our body which we mix with the image of external bodies’,29 Hansen suggests that visual technologies like the camera and the computer broaden the scope of human agency in the world by extending the body’s capacity for ‘enframing’ – perceptually ‘completing’ images by incorporating the subject’s own carnality and sensory memories into their meaning. This completion or performance of an image involves more than the instantiation of pre-existing codes: ‘It is a poesis, the making of something out of that which was previously experientially and culturally unmarked . . . ’.30 Situated in the context of new media forms that address the body, the fashion image can be understood as an actor that is ‘irreducibly bound up with the activity of the body’,31 and possessed of the capacity to affect the viewer in ways that resist interpretation. Evaluating the affective dynamics of an image, then, is not a matter of naming specific affects, but of paying attention to the way that they circulate within images. Affect may hide from the analytical gaze, but it is bound up with meaning: haunting signification like a phantom, affect shows itself in/as a kind of excess. Armstrong frames this excess in terms of the ‘prosody of the body’ – the irruption of the soma into the event of seeing – and the ‘prosody of the gap’ – those moments of semantic disruption, ambiguity and unqualifiable sensation within representation that signal the presence of the intentional body.32 In Teller’s spread, these excesses and prosodies emerge in and through McMenamy’s uncomfortable body and our empathetic responses to it, in the uneasiness of the interface between clothing and the body, emotion and expression, surface and depth.

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THE UNEASY BODY AND THE FASHIONABLE SELF Teller and McMenamy have been collaborating for over a decade, and many of their projects – beginning with the iconic ‘Versace’ series of 1997 – work the language of the abject, presenting the female body as raw, graceless and confrontationally real. In the place of beauty, sensuality and luxury, they offer the unsightly and the unappealing. Shot in Teller’s signature low-tech snapshot style – an idiom that has become something of a clich´e in art and fashion imagery – the Purple spread draws on the rhetoric of bondage and amateur pornography. Known for her non-conformist persona and unconventional looks, McMenamy is Teller’s beau ideal, the perfect incarnation of his eccentric approach to the imaging of fashion. Though he works predominately within the world of high fashion, Teller does not fit easily into the category of commercial photographer. He understands his images as determined, first and foremost, by their commercial context, but his advertising work for Marc Jacobs allows him an unusual degree of creative freedom. Communicating directly with the designer rather than through an advertising team, Teller is free to work in a way that is seldom possible in more mainstream fashion advertising. Purple magazine itself is positioned explicitly within this art/fashion niche, and presents Teller’s images in the twinned contexts of art and fashion editorial. Though it was created as advertising, the spread lies, to some extent, outside of its determinations proper. For this particular campaign, Teller and Jacobs sought a ‘certain romanticism and punkiness and aggressiveness’.33 Considered alongside the spread’s context and the rhetoric it employs, this description helps us to situate the work, and to offer a limited reading of it, but it is unable to account for its effect – there remains an excess, an intensity that is far less easily described. Marked by visual inconsistencies, lacunae and gaps of meaning, the spread frustrates attempts to read. Its presentation is ungainly – images appear overexposed and shot from odd angles, it is erratically paced, its layout conspicuously na¨ıve. Here, as in most of her work with Teller, McMenamy does not demonstrate the kind of self-possession that we expect of a fashion model. She appears inarticulate, even schizophrenic: by turns passive, powerful and vulnerable, androgynous and feminine, expressionless and animated, confrontational and withdrawn. This lack of a coherent persona introduces a disturbing anomaly into the rhetoric of amateur porn – McMenamy is not predictably sensual, vulnerable or willing. She lacks composure, and also, apparently, the ability to compose herself into a consistent, meaningful image.

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Figure 4.1 Juergen Teller, from the visual essay ‘Kristen McMenamy: Marc Jacobs, Fall Winter 2005/6’.

This irrationality is both semantic and somatic, surfacing in the treatment of her body as an image, an instrument, and a carnal object. Although the conventional fashion pose may have little to do with real-world actions, it is nonetheless part of a lexicon that provides a context and identifies it as a pose. McMenamy and Teller parody or refuse this lexicon. In the first three images in the spread, Teller’s flash captures her in motion, face contorted and head rolling wildly (see Figure 4.1). In other images, she flops forward limply, or stands stiffly, feet jutting out at odd angles and arms awkwardly akimbo (see Figure 4.2). Her postures bear little relation to real-world actions or to conventional fashion images. McMenamy lacks the physical grace and control that we expect of a model. Hers is an ungainly, poorly-managed body, passive and inert in one image, violently contorted in the next. Her postures and expressions lack meaning in a conventional sense – they are felt in the body, rather than rationalised by the intellect. Representations of the body are perceived, in part, in terms of our own experience of embodiedness. We don’t simply read postures and gestures, we translate our external perspective on the body into our own personal body perspective,

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Figure 4.2 Juergen Teller, from the visual essay ‘Kristen McMenamy: Marc Jacobs, Fall Winter 2005/6’.

incorporating its attitudes in our own skin and bones, muscles and viscera. Confronted with these images, we empathise with McMenamy’s discomfort, mapping her contortions onto our own body, recognising, on a bodily level, that her physical circumstances could be our own. Here, the exchange between image and viewer is an uneasy one, and this discomfort is exacerbated by the absence of any kind of rational correspondence between McMenamy’s contorted poses and her facial expressions, which provide little in the way of emotional cues. Most often, her demeanour is one of bland neutrality; even when she meets the viewer’s gaze, there is no clear intention in her look – at times it displays the vague inwardness of a trance. This dysfunctional relationship between interior and exterior is also enacted at a cultural level, in the staging of the clothed body. Dress has an intimate relation with the skin; it is both an ‘intimate experience of the body and a public presentation of it’.34 As the interface where the individual’s experience of their own body engages with the socius, clothing is charged with tactile and sociocultural memories. Fashion images typically present the relation between clothing and the body in an affirmative way, using the drape and texture of fabric to evoke

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the sensual pleasure of its touch against the skin. In Teller’s photographs, however, this touch is slightly repellent. In most of the images McMenamy appears half-dressed or wrongly clothed. A red velvet strapless dress sits precariously low on her small bust; a high-waisted black taffeta frock imprisons her in its folds (see Plate 3). Silks, satins and velvets – materials that should drape and caress – appear stiff and cumbersome. Teller’s flash reflects harshly off their surface, giving them a plasticky sheen or a gunmetal opacity that obscures the shape of both dress and model. McMenamy inhabits her outfits uneasily, and this refutation of fashion’s conventional relationship between clothing and the body is embodied in the opacity and stiffness of the luxury fabrics, in the refusal of tactility and mobility, in a kind of animosity between McMenamy’s body and the clothing she wears. The images call to mind all sorts of unpleasant sensations – the prickling irritation of ill-fitting clothing, the dis-ease of an outfit that doesn’t suit, the withering shame of being seen to be unfashionably dressed. The sensual pleasure of the fashioned body is given over to something far less sympathetic – a violent disjunction between surface and depth, between clothing and skin, between the body and the fashionable self. The fashion photograph is, at heart, a sales pitch. As advertising, however, Teller’s images do more than they are intended to. It has been argued that fashion images participate in an affect economy in which the body’s affective capacities act as sites of capital investment, and in which value is produced by the channelling and modulation of affect.35 Such channellings and modulations, however, are far from straightforward. Affect is not easily manipulated – one cannot simply create a fashion image that will engender predictable or programmatic sensations in its audience. To ask what strategies Teller has used to persuade us to empathise with his model is to miss the point – he hasn’t explicitly or consciously done anything at all in this respect. The creation of a good fashion image (or any image, for that matter) relies, in no large part, on intuition: on remaining open to the possibilities that constitute the creative act. As Teller himself remarks: You have something so extreme in front of you, the location, clothes, her, you can’t blindly photograph it, it’s such an extraordinary thing, you have to sit back and look at it a bit [ . . . ] there’s something so extraordinary happening, you haven’t seen that before, you look, and physically experience what you’re looking at, and I’m thinking, how do I capture this [ . . . ].36 The perfect image is discovered, not determined. As Sarah Pink has so astutely observed about bullfight photography, these images ‘are only possible because

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they are part of the photographer’s movement with the performance, his or her corporeal engagement with it. . . . Viewing the performance as a photographer is therefore not simply a visual practice. Neither is the practice of viewing . . . ’.37

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS Fashion, by some accounts, exists only in the form of the image.38 Fashion photography, for its part, is said to treat the body as a semantic surface rather than a sensual object: ‘a non-body that only exists as a constantly updated simulacrum’.39 The colonisation and privileging of the visual by fashion and the fashion media can be understood in the context of late modernity, and the specialisation of the senses as a political force designed to homogenise and normalise individual bodies. By re-functioning the senses individually, as utilitarian instruments, modernity sets aside the synaesthetic character of perception in order to accommodate it more easily within official and institutional narratives.40 It’s tempting to slot work like Teller’s into this apparatus, dismissing it as nothing more than a canny advertising gimmick designed for a knowing – but ultimately no less easily manipulated – audience of fashion insiders who are at ease with its edgy rhetoric and arty self-referentiality. But this seems too easy a dismissal of the complex inconsistencies that are incorporated in these images, where a spectacular, socially coded, aspirational body coexists with a carnal body that might be mine. Teller and McMenamy offer a fashioned body that belies its alleged superficiality; here, the body is made not just visible, but tangible, sensible, present within the order of fashion. In disturbing the order of depth and superficiality that is said to typify the fashion image, Teller’s images posit the existence of a differently configured sensorium, one that runs counter to fashion’s alleged obsession with spectacle. His work – indeed, much contemporary fashion photography – might be said to mark the difference between a vision-centred model of perception and a body-centred one: the difference between what Laura U. Marks terms an ‘optic visuality’ – one that masters through distanced vision – and a ‘haptic visuality’ that values the proximate and engages a range of sensory modalities.41 Situating Teller’s spread in the context of new media forms recognises the way that his images, and others like them, acknowledge and incorporate affectivity – the ‘bodily modalities of tactility, proprioception, memory, and duration’42 – into meaning. Here, the formation of the fashionable subject is a disorderly, visceral affair, and this viscerality – a ‘feeling’ about the image that is bound up

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with interpretation, but which is not easily teased apart from it or expressed in language – makes space for the emergence of unexpected affects that meddle with fashion’s spectacular logic. By allowing a disorderly body into the hermetically sealed world of fashion, Teller’s images, and others like them, play, in unpredictable ways, on fashion photography’s dealings in tactility and sense memory. By privileging the somatic body – flawed, individual, capricious – in our encounter with the image, Teller’s spread presents dress not as a means of disguising the body, but of displaying its vulnerability. Rather than an explicit refusal of the logic of fashion, this is a lateral movement, born out of the reciprocal exchange between signification and sensation. Incorporated into Teller’s spread, inseparable from it, is a sense of what Sianne Ngai terms ‘affective indeterminacy’43 – a how or a why, rather than the more resolute want that we’ve come to expect from fashion imagery. It is a truism that fashion advertising shows us our own desires, plays on our sense of lack, invites us to imagine possible future selves – to reflect not on who we are, but on who we might be. Affect turns this dynamic on its head. Bodily empathy is a discourse of the same: ‘who we might be’ in Teller’s images is deeply and inescapably rooted in the present and the personal. We empathise, on a bodily level, with McMenamy, because bodily empathy is a vital and visceral part of image perception – it is part of what embodied subjects do with images. Dress, as Entwistle44 points out, is incomplete without a body; so, I would suggest, is fashion photography – and this appeal to the carnal lies at the heart of its ability to move the viewer. Affect is the body’s address to the self, shared in terms of its generative possibility, but not necessarily in its expression. Affect is transformative precisely because of its ability to move between the intimate, the idiosyncratic and the individual, and the public or institutional. It is in the mattering of perception that images become political: paying attention to the affective and embodied dimensions of image perception can lead to new ways of understanding how such images can embody not conformity, but political divergence. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that in the face of the tightly controlled economies of contemporary fashion and its representation, the heterogeneous, unpredictable body – a body that is the substance of something more fundamental than fleeting desire – should make its presence so openly known. Acknowledging the part played by this body in the creation of meaning opens the possibility of a more personal, critical engagement with fashion imagery, and allows us to move beyond narrow notions of fashion as concerned solely with the manipulation of desire for commercial ends.

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NOTES 1 The present chapter extends and develops concepts discussed in my earlier article ‘The Line Between the Wall and the Floor: Reality and Affect in Contemporary Fashion Photography’, in Eugenie Shinkle (ed.), Fashion as Photograph: Viewing and Re-Viewing Images of Fashion (London: I.B.Tauris, 2008). 2 Barthes, Roland, The Fashion System (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992). 3 See, for example, Calefato, Patrizia, ‘Fashion and Worldliness: Language and Imagery of the Clothed Body’, Fashion Theory, 1:1 (March 1997), pp. 69–90; Jobling, Paul, Fashion Spreads: Word and Image in Fashion Photography Since 1980 (Oxford and New York: Berg 1999); Lehmann, Ulrich, ‘Fashion Photography’, in Chic Clicks: Creativity and Commerce in Contemporary Fashion Photography (ICA Boston and Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2002). 4 Bordo, Susan, ‘Never Just Pictures’, in Amelia Jones (ed.), The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), pp. 454–465; Goffman, Erving, Gender Advertisements (New York: Harper and Row, 1979). 5 Barnard, Malcolm, Fashion as Communication (London: Routledge, 2002); Goldman, Robert, et al., ‘Commodity Feminism’, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 8 (1991), pp. 333–351. 6 Belting, Hans, ‘Image, Medium, Body: A New Approach to Iconology’, Critical Inquiry, 31: 2 (Winter 2005), pp. 302–319, p. 304. 7 LVMH (Louis Vuitton Mo¨et Hennessy) is the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate, comprising fashion and leather goods, wines and spirits, perfumes, cosmetics, watches, jewellery and selective retailing. They own a range of fashion brands, including Louis Vuitton, Loewe, C´eline, Kenzo, Givenchy, Fendi, Pucci, Thomas Pink and Donna Karan. PPR owns the Gucci Group, who in turn own Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Sergio Rossi and Boucheron. Swiss Group Richemont owns Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Montblanc, Chlo´e, Azzedine Alaia and Net A Porter. 8 As Jason Evans writes, ‘at many magazines, editorial discussions-which once began with a dialogue about concepts and themes now start off with a list of advertisers, both actual and desired, in order to ensure an even return of back-scratching. The fashion stylist’s selection of objects to feature is compromised before the story is even proposed, and his or her position is often devalued to one of wardrobe manager.’ See Evans, Jason, ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Fashion Photography’, Aperture, 195 (Summer 2009) pp. 48–57, p. 54. 9 Evans: ‘The Artist’, p. 54. 10 Evans: ‘The Artist’, p. 55. 11 Crane, Diana, ‘Gender and Hegemony in Fashion Magazines: Women’s Interpretations of Fashion Photographs’, The Sociological Quarterly, 40:4 (1999), pp. 541–563;

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Wallerstein, Katherine, ‘Thinness and Other Refusals in Contemporary Fashion Advertisements’, Fashion Theory, 2:2 (June 1998), pp. 129–150. Ahmed, Sara, ‘Imaginary Prohibitions: Some Preliminary Remarks on the Founding Gestures of the ‘New Materialism’, European Journal of Women’s Studies, 15:1 (2008), pp. 23–39; Hemmings, Clare, ‘Invoking Affect’, Cultural Studies, 19:5 (September 2005), pp. 548–567; Papoulias, Constantina and Callard, Felicity ‘Biology’s Gift: Interrogating the Turn to Affect’, Body and Society, 16:1 (2010), pp. 29–56. Hemmings, ‘Invoking Affect’, p. 562. Ahmed, ‘Imaginary Prohibitions’, p. 30. Paasonen, Susanna, ‘Disturbing, Fleshy Texts: Close Looking at Pornography’, in Marianne Liljestr¨om and Susanna Paasonen (eds), Working with Affect in Feminist Readings: Disturbing Differences (London and New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 58– 71, p. 67. Keysers, Christian and Gazzola, Valeria ‘Social Neuroscience: Mirror Neurons Recorded in Humans’, Current Biology, 20:8 (27 April 2010), pp. R353– R354. Gallese, Vittorio and Goldman, Alvin ‘Mirror Neurons and the Simulation Theory of Mind-Reading’ in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2:12 (December 1998), pp. 493–501; Schreiber, Darren, ‘Political Cognition as Social Cognition: Are We All Political Sophisticates?’ in W. Russel Neuman, et al. (eds), The Affect Effect: Dynamics of Emotion in Political Thinking and Behaviour (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2007), pp. 48–70; Schulkin, Jay, ‘Theory of Mind and Mirroring Neurons’, Trends in Cognitive Neurosciences, 4:7 (2000), pp. 252–254. Gallese, Vittorio, ‘The Manifold Nature of Interpersonal Relations: The Quest for a Common Mechanism’, Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 358:1431 (Decoding, Imitating, and Influencing the Actions of Others: The Mechanisms of Social Interaction), 29 March, 2003, pp. 517–528, p. 525. Freedberg, David and Gallese, Vittorio ‘Motion, Emotion and Empathy in Esthetic Experience’, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11:5 (May 2007), pp. 197–203; Freedberg, David and Gallese, Vittorio ‘Mirror and Canonical Neurons are Crucial Elements in Esthetic Response’, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11:10 (October 2007), p. 411. Benuzzi, Francesca et al., ‘Does it Look Painful or Disgusting? Ask Your Parietal and Cingulate Cortex’, The Journal of Neuroscience, 28:4 (23 January 2008), pp. 923–931. Di Dio, Cinzia and Vittorio Gallese, ‘Neuroaesthetics: A Review’, Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 19 (2009), pp. 682–687. Massumi, Brian, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2002), p. 32. Massumi: Parables for the Virtual, p. 35. ‘The relationship between the levels of intensity and qualification is not one of conformity or correspondence but rather of resonation or interference, amplification or dampening’. Massumi: Parables for the Virtual, p. 25.

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25 Armstrong, Isobel, The Radical Aesthetic (Oxford and Massachusetts: Blackwell, 2000), p. 123. 26 Massumi: Parables for the Virtual, p. 36. 27 Pink, Sarah, ‘Sensory Digital Photography: Re-thinking “Moving” and the Image’, Visual Studies, 26:1 (2011), pp. 4–13. 28 Belting, Hans, ‘Image, Medium, Body: A New Approach to Iconology, Critical Inquiry, 31:2 (Winter 2005), pp. 302–319. 29 Bergson, Henri quoted in Hansen, Mark B. N., New Philosophy for New Media (Cambridge Massachusetts and London UK: Routledge, 2004), p. 100. 30 Seremetakis, C. Nadia (ed.), The Senses Still: Perception and Memory as Material Culture in Modernity (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2004), p. 7. 31 Hansen: New Philosophy for New Media, p. 10. 32 Armstrong: The Radical Aesthetic, p. 124. 33 Teller, Juergen, Interview with the Author, London, UK, September 2009. 34 Entwistle, Joanne, The Fashioned Body: Fashion, Dress, and Modern Social Theory (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2000), p. 7. 35 Clough, Patricia Ticineto, ‘Introduction’, in Patricia Ticineto Clough (ed.), The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007), pp. 1–33; Wissinger, Elizabeth, ‘Always on Display: Affective Production in the Modeling Industry’, in Clough: The Affective Turn, pp. 231–260. 36 Teller, Interview with the Author, 2009. 37 Pink: ‘Sensory Digital Photography’, p. 11. 38 Evans, Caroline, Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity, and Deathliness (Boston: Yale University Press, 2007). 39 Lehmann: ‘Fashion Photography’, p. 14. 40 Seremetakis: The Senses Still, 1994, p. 9. 41 ‘The ideal relationship between viewer and image in optical visuality tends to be one of mastery, in which the viewer isolates and comprehends the objects of vision. The ideal relationship between the viewer and image in haptic visuality is one of mutuality, in which the viewer is more likely to lose herself in the image, to lose her sense of proportion. . . . Haptic visuality implies making oneself vulnerable to the image, reversing the relation of mastery that characterizes optical viewing’. Marks, Laura U., The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2000), pp. 184–5. 42 Hansen, New Philosophy for New Media, p. 100. 43 Ngai, Sianne, Ugly Feelings (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2005). 44 Entwistle: The Fashioned Body, p. 9.

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Chapter 5

Force of Affects, Weight of Histories in Love is a Treasure Anu Koivunen

Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s film Love is a Treasure (2002) invites viewers to think about affect, identity and perception. The film comprises five individually entitled episodes (Underground, Ground Control, The Bridge, The Wind, The House) all based on research on and interviews with women who have experienced psychoses. The episodes feature female protagonists who struggle with boundaries – and the lack thereof – between ‘I’ and others, ‘me’ and ‘you’, now and then, order and disorder, inside and outside, reality and fantasy, safety and danger. The film leaves it to viewers to infer how the parts are interrelated or integrated into a series or a whole. Whether seen in cinema or as part of television programming, the film’s formal identity is further blurred by awareness of two of the five episodes (The Wind, The House) being exhibited separately as multi-screen gallery installations. Furthermore, versions of the episodes also appear in The Present (2001), a fivemonitor installation. For viewers experiencing the multi-frame installations, a range of uncertainties and choices destabilizes perception: standing in front of and partly in between three big screens, viewers have to choose where to stand, where to look, and in which order and at what pace to do so. Facing one screen they will necessarily be turning their back to another one. In her ‘cinematic works’, Eija-Liisa Ahtila makes innovative use of the technological, generic and aesthetic resources of the post-medial age (see Plate 4). Her work is renowned for appropriation of mainstream film conventions and narrative content, as well as for mixing genres, utilising digital image technologies and recycling footage.1 The multiple ontologies of Ahtila’s ‘cinematic works’, their existence as both 35mm cinema screenings and multi-screen installations in galleries, as well as the aesthetic strategies employed and thematic concerns raised, have invited readings of the artist’s oeuvre as a meta-discourse on cinema, 89

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self and perception.2 According to Mieke Bal’s figural reading of The House, the experience of viewing the three-screen installation and the aesthetic strategies imbuing the work coincide in creating ‘a conceptual metaphor for affect in the encounter with art’.3 Notably, both formal and thematic aspects of Ahtila’s works have inspired critics to view them as enactments of going beyond the frames of identity and representation and, thus, as vehicles of transposition into a different experiential mode outside historical and interpretive frameworks. In this chapter, I propose a different reading, arguing that Love is a Treasure (2002), and in particular its fifth episode, The House, indeed employs an aesthetics of affect, but one that is thoroughly invested and embedded in the interpretive histories of identity and the gendered self. Rather than rejecting the emotional landscapes and histories of female subjectivity, it is from these legacies that the film and the installation draw their affective force. I suggest that in calling for an understanding of affect as cultural weight and thereby highlighting how emotions have an affective force, Love is a Treasure as a whole and The House in particular transgress any strict opposition between affect and representation. As cinematic works they operate with a simultaneous pull and push, both pulling viewers towards culturally weighty and forceful images and displacing them, pushing them away, stalling the narrative mode. While cuing figural readings on processes of perception and on the affectivity of the subject, the film and the installation simultaneously remind viewers of the ‘true story’, the material histories of femininities and the costs and risks of vulnerability and affectivity. Rather than calling forth a new materialist notion of experience as beyond the realm of the subject, Love is a Treasure invites critical discussions on topics such as identity, history and experience.

AFFECT AS CULTURAL WEIGHT During the last decade, the notion of affect has emerged as a key term for thinking about audiovisual experience. Drawing on phenomenological theories of lived embodiment and new materialist reassessments of ontology, many authors offer the concept of affect as a way to conceptualise how media, culture and art work beyond linguistic models of textuality and subjectivity. What has been termed ‘the affective turn’ features a range of criticisms both against and within poststructuralist, social constructionist theories of subjectivity and power.4 Importantly, many scholars across the humanities and social sciences embrace the notion of affect as a possibility to move beyond the individual and personal, and to shift

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critical attention away from language, discourse and representation and emphasise ‘the real’ instead. The concept of affect is in line with and an outcome of this moving from body to matter, from culture to nature, from identity to difference, from psychic to social.5 The critical reception of Ahtila’s films goes hand in hand with ‘the affective turn’ in visual culture and media studies, emphasising the body’s vulnerability to cultural and artistic practices. In the new materialist model of affective aesthetics, the cultural and historical context of an artwork, its textual and contextual framings, are rejected as questions of belonging to the realm of emotion. Affects and emotions, in this tradition, are seen to ‘follow different logics and pertain to different orders’, to quote Brian Massumi’s influential formulation.6 Diagnosing linguistic theories of signification as a prison-house for critical thinking, Massumi identifies affect as the key concept to understanding of ‘our information- and image-based late capitalist culture’. He locates in Spinoza’s Ethics a notion of ‘first-order idea produced spontaneously by the body’ that for him offers a way out of linguistic models and a beginning of ‘a philosophy of the becoming-active’. Massumi conjures a binary model for conceptualising affect in distinction from emotion: where affect is a term for indeterminacy, emotion is for determinacy. Whereas affect is ‘irreducibly bodily and autonomic’, a feeling or ‘intensity’ that is disconnected from ‘meaningful sequencing, from narration’, emotion is described as ‘subjective content, the sociolinguistic fixing of a quality of experience which is from that point onward defined as personal’.7 In her detailed reading of The House, Mieke Bal has identified the aesthetics of affect and in particular that of affection-images as pivotal to the installation.8 Following Deleuze’s discussion of the movement-image9 and Massumi’s definition of affect, Bal describes the viewers’ encounter with the protagonist, Elisa, pacing around in her house, looking out of the window, lying on the sofa or floating among the tree-tops. Numerous facial close-ups of Elisa, which are curiously blank or without emotional expression, as well as the shots of Elisa floating among tree-tops, Bal reads as affection-images that connect the figure on the screen to the viewer, not necessarily mediating emotional reactions or leading to action, but conflating and collapsing subject with object. In Bal’s reading, affectionimages arrest linear and diegetic time, ‘dislodging narrativity from affect’ (see Figure 5.1).10 Hence, following Deleuze, Bal characterises affect as intensity, force, process and movement. She argues for affect as a way of untying criticism from psychological models of identification and, hence, as a possibility to bypass the realm of representation and its familiar interpretive frames. This notion of affect also

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Figure 5.1 Eija-Liisa Ahtila, The House, 2002.

serves to define perception not as a question of social and cultural construction or habituation but as active selection. It is illustrated in scenes of The House which show Elisa wondering how her position in relation to the window and the curtain frames her perception differently. While endorsing Bal’s desire to develop a critical focus on audiovisual experience as making sense and sensing of an artwork beyond psychological accounts of specific emotional dynamics, I argue that the operationalisation of the affect/emotion distinction implies problematic consequences for thinking about such experience. In Bal’s analysis, the ‘affect-lessness’ of facial close-ups in The House leads to a lack of identificatory potential which, for Bal, serves as support for her reading of affect as a medium, as semantically free intensity and potentiality.11 Such a reading, however, potentially disregards the force and intensity of images in terms of cultural and historical force. Employing the concept of force I refer to the historical and citational legacies evoked by images: the historicity of images that pulls viewers towards them, cuing anticipation, propelling narrative curiosity and interpretive desires. In this perspective, figures that do not necessarily invite identification or dis-identification in narrative or psychological terms are nevertheless anything but semantically empty or without content. In

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my understanding, hence, the binary distinction of affect/emotion proves problematic as it prevents one from conceptualising images as forceful and intense – as ‘weighing’ against the viewer12 – not in spite of but because of temporal layers and citational legacies. Importantly, these legacies, such as feminist debates on identity and representation as well as on the discourse on mental illnesses, are far from univocal but can be described as affective inheritance effectively animating contemporary discussions. My reading of Love is a Treasure and The House is indebted to these affective legacies. They are initially evoked as an explicit interpretive framework: the real life stories of women with psychosis mentioned in authorial statements accompany both the single-screen cinema version, television screening and the gallery installations. Second, the film’s compellingness draws on an array of implied intertextual and contextual frameworks. Here, I will invoke the representational, affective histories of second wave feminist politics and filmmaking, contemporary therapy culture, the woman’s film of the 1940s and the modernist cinema of the 1960s. Through these frameworks, I argue, the film and the installation make a spectacle of what Denise Riley has termed ‘linguistic unease’. They enact and stage the traumatic but politically potent feeling of ‘I am necessarily and constantly displaced from my centrality to my own utterance’.13 In my reading, these works by Ahtila pose and probe the question of self-description – who am I, where am I, how am I – and it is from the affective historicity of these that the imagery draws its force.14 Hence, I use the concept of affect in the sense of weight and force in order to highlight how Ahtila’s cinematic works address us beyond the conceptual distinction between affect and representation.15

TRUE STORIES, REAL WOMEN As mentioned above, the episodes of Love is a Treasure all revolve around the complex issue of challenging the distinctions between control and chaos, safety and danger, reality and fantasy, inside and outside. In Underworld, the protagonist hides under her mental hospital bed fleeing from the nurses whom she reads as assassins. In Ground Control, a young woman reports that she has been recruited as an assistant to UFOs who communicate with her via flashing streetlights. In The Bridge, the protagonist cannot walk across a bridge because memories throw her off her balance; therefore, she feels urged to crawl over it. The trope of self and its leaky boundaries are most evident in the last two episodes, The Wind and The House, where the instability and breakdown of these borders is explicitly

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treated both visually and figurally. In these episodes, sites of dwelling, a flat and a house, are both concrete places and figurations of mind. Their boundaries and timespace coordinates are increasingly questioned as outside objects, sounds and people start moving in and out without the inhabitant’s control. In The House, the voice-over narrator comments: ‘I think the living room or my house is breaking down. It can’t keep things out any more, can’t preserve its own space. My garden is coming into my living room’. Indeed, the episode features not only sounds of the surrounding world invading the home space, but also cars driving on the walls and cows seen on the TV suddenly passing through the house. Love is a Treasure stages the issue of identity as a drama that is both painful and playful. As Denise Riley contends: ‘Self-description is undoubtedly an area of trouble, but its disquiet is vivid’.16 The five episodes of Love is a Treasure enhance playfulness, imagination, fantasy and transgression of the boundaries of both everyday reality and the forces of gravity. All the films are explicitly fictional, carefully scripted and employing professional actors. Nevertheless, viewers are haunted by their awareness of the fact that the work is based on research on psychotic women. In the episode The Wind, the protagonist Susanna gives a first-person account of her psychotic state and expresses anger, trashing and destroying objects. Since Ahtila’s ‘human dramas’ are carefully and consistently framed by providing information about background interviews with women who have experienced psychosis, it is difficult – if not impossible – for viewers to forget about the weight of history. Thus, the authorial gesture providing the explicitly fictional aesthetics with a ‘based on a true story’ label works against any purely figural reading of the psychotic women as affective bodies sui generis. Instead, Ahtila’s works engage viewers through ambiguity provoking ‘linguistic unease’ generated by the feeling of displacement. A purely figural reading is, furthermore, complicated by the film’s insistent formal feature of conjuring up a female self and a voice-over. The House as installation and Love is a Treasure feature first person narrators, who in their speech and action, if not always in their faces, enact the powerful emotions of fear, anger and anxiety. Although playing with lack of narratological clarity, nonsynchronous image- and sound tracks, the film’s episodes are very pointedly stories about psychotic women. As such, they problematise any simple descriptions of the enacted affect as ‘irreducibly bodily and autonomic’, a feeling or ‘intensity’ that is disconnected from ‘meaningful sequencing, from narration’.17 Problematising a notion of affect as a free-floating empty category, Love is a Treasure literally presents the female figures as place-bound and grounded in particular landscapes: under the hospital bed, against the walls of a flat, over a bridge.

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Whereas theorists of audiovisual experience – after an era of historicism, culturalism and the paradigm of active audience – are currently fascinated by a discourse of viewership that foregrounds vulnerability, affectivity and susceptibility as resources, the framing of Love is a Treasure as ‘based on a true story’ or being grounded in interviews with psychotic women calls for the ethical responsibility of viewers. Although Ahtila uses ambiguity as a premeditated and repeated gesture, this does not imply a view of the female characters as pure figurations of audiovisual experience. To celebrate their affective blankness as a free-floating category of futurity, change and becoming entails risking a double gesture of symbolic violence.18 Once again, the woman on the screen risks being read as an empty figuration, ripped from material context and standing in for something else.

INTERTEXTUAL FRAMEWORKS, AFFECTIVE LEGACIES To counteract such a reading, I argue here that it is the richness of textual and intertextual references and meta-critical perspectives that account for popularity of Ahtila’s films both as exhibition pieces and as research objects. Rather than doing away with the frame as a burden, Ahtila’s cinematic works make the frame visible, playing with it, in my reading, both in a formal and in a thematic sense. The formal play with the frame is embedded in the multiple ontologies of the cinematic works and episodes. The same actors appear in several episodes, even if they play different roles. As for The House, in many exhibitions viewers have an opportunity to see both the three-screen installation and a 35mm screening of Love is a Treasure and therefore encounter Ahtila’s approach to the framing of images as fluid and transgressive. As an integral part of Love is a Treasure, The House testifies to formal and thematic symmetries and repetitions within the film. Ahtila indeed invites viewers to approach her work as a reservoir of images, narratives, characters and situations – in a nutshell, as a world to play with. The different exhibition contexts frame the works differently, evoking various intertextual frameworks. The affective legacies invoked by identity dramas in gallery spaces, museum cinemas or film festivals may be different from those enhanced by more popular contexts such as television. In Finland, the public service company YLE, one of the sponsors of the film, has broadcast Love is a Treasure on national network television. Although scheduled as part of late night art film programming, the televisual context automatically re-frames Love is a

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Treasure in juxtaposition to documentaries and reality genres. In this frame, the film invites to be read in dialogue with ‘TV of feelings’, the realm of first-person confessions and therapy culture in the documentary and reality genres.19 Surprisingly, this framework highlights continuity in Ahtila’s cinematic works. Until releasing Love is a Treasure, Ahtila worked and experimented explicitly with the documentary modes and the recognisably televisual conventions and rhetorical gestures of intimacy and emotionality. Aki, Anne and God (1998) and Consolation Service (1999) featured explicitly therapeutical scenes, engaging with and problematising the transnational, late modern therapeutic imagination and the adjacent notion of self as ‘the subject of true feelings’.20 Viewed through this frame, the speaking selves of Love is a Treasure line up with other late modern subjects in confessing problems, acting out anguish about what passes as normal, agonising over available diagnoses and seeking momentary stability. This therapeutic publicity is, however, also activated in the gallery space: the renderings of the episodes in the five-monitor installation The Present all end with a call to the viewers: ‘Give yourself a present, forgive yourself’. This call, in capital letters, explicitly links the work with the commonplace address of therapeutic culture: while this culture is a language for probing the self, its goal is an affirmation of the self. While evoking the therapy culture and its assuring discourse on the self, Love is a Treasure draws most importantly from the affective legacies of women’s cinema and feminist filmmaking in questioning female identity. In particular, The House evokes the language of gothic melodrama as a genre of investigating the female self.21 The haunted house as a metaphor for gendered vulnerability evokes ‘paranoid woman’s films’ such as Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) and Secret Beyond the Door (Fritz Lang, 1948). These classic Hollywood melodramas dramatise the traumas of gendered power relations and the anguish of identity through telling stories in which women fear for their lives in their own homes.22 Ahtila’s tale of Elisa calls forth this imagery as we see her waiting and observing, imagining and being afraid, resourceful in defending her house and, hence, herself, but ultimately unable to control its leaky boundaries. Not just The House but also The Wind plays out the drama of boundaries of both one’s home and self being invaded. In this episode and in the art installation with the same name, wind blowing from outside brings about and echoes the chaos indoors. Elisa’s anguish in The House as well as Susanna’s rage in The Wind evoke one of the key works of 1970s feminist filmmaking, namely Chantal Akerman’s Je tu il elle (1974), a film the title of which literally refers to ‘linguistic unease’ surrounding the question of identity and self-description. In 1970s feminist filmmaking,

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the issues of identity and perception were staged and worked-through by using non-linear image and sound tracks, working against a sense of coherent identity and affirmation of self. From this perspective, The House also reads as a commentary on Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966) and as an exemplification of Ahtila’s embeddedness in cinematic imagery. Persona is, famously, a drama of identity, depicting the convoluted relationship between Elisabeth Vogler (Liv Ullman), an actress experiencing a nervous breakdown and reacting by refusing to speak, and her assigned nurse Sister Alma (Bibi Andersson). While in The House Elisa speaks, in Persona Elisabeth is mute. Nevertheless, both works operate with the trope of the madwoman. The main part of the story in Persona takes place at a seaside home, and the mise-en-sc`ene accentuates the distinction between the closed space of the cottage and the open sea – like the one between Elisa’s house and the surrounding woods. Echoed in The House, Persona features recurrent shots of sitting, waiting and looking out of the window. Most importantly, Persona is about ‘the horror of the dissolution of personality’, as Susan Sontag has argued.23 Considering that close-ups are often thought to be vehicles for intimate looking and carriers of a truth about an identity, Sontag’s thesis is striking. Similarly, according to Deleuze, the close-ups in Bergman’s film, seen as affection-images, serve to question identity.24 To quote Maaret Koskinen, Bergman’s use of close-ups becomes ‘a kind of depersonalization of human features, which in turn are made abstract; human features morph into aesthetic attributes rather than characters or expressions of psychic states in a more conventional sense’.25 Identifying and naming these interpretive frameworks, I wish to highlight the specificity of the affective aesthetics that Love is a Treasure and The House enact. Rather than offering the trope of the ‘mad woman’ as an empty category of affect or a figure without a context, the film and the installations reiterate this trope with affective, historical and citational legacies. Evoking the intertextual frameworks of the gothic melodrama as a subgenre of the classical Hollywood woman’s film, of later feminist filmmaking or of modernist filmmaking a` la Persona, adds to the weight and intensity of the figure of the ‘psychotic woman’ in Ahtila’s works. Evoking these affective legacies, the recurrent close-ups of The House forcefully engage viewers in a drama of identity. In my reading, hence, Elisa’s ‘affect-less’ face is anything but blank: her account and the events in her house impress upon us and take hold of us not despite but because of the affective legacies they evoke. These legacies are not dependent on references or nameable intertextual frames, but rather they affect us because of the weight of the cultural forms, the issues, yearnings and fears invested in them.

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CONCLUSION: BEYOND AFFECT VS. REPRESENTATION In this chapter, I have argued how Love is a Treasure and The House, while destabilising and playing with the viewers’ perception, also call forth the powerful emotional landscapes of feminine subjectivities. In this way, the cinematic works place viewers on a threshold between affect and emotion, to use the new materialist vocabulary, or beyond the implied dualism of affect and representation.26 In Love is a Treasure, the drama of identity and the gendered self does not conclude in affirmation of a medical diagnosis or a fixing of a livable social identity. Rather, when Elisa addresses the disintegration of the boundaries of her house by blocking away the images and choosing to live with the sounds, a rather positive reading of the ‘linguistic unease’, the ‘inescapable failure to thoroughly be, involving a demurral, a discomfort or a guilt’ is offered.27 While haunted by the horror, pain and the trauma of weightlessness and of the leaking boundaries of the self, Elisa’s closing words in The House are full of hope: I meet people. One at a time they step inside me and live inside me. Some of them only for a moment, some stay. They set up wherever they want to and take my facial expressions or my leg’s resting position and put their own in their place. They lie on my back and press their toes into my Achilles tendons. They appear in every pause and come out when I am in doubt and fill all the empty space. I shake and say to myself for a long time: good, really good. These words confirm the affectivity of the embodied subject, delineating the necessary relationality, intersubjectivity and worldliness of all selves. The pronoun ‘they’ opens up for multiple readings. It can be read as referring to the many frameworks and complex intertextual references the work cues us as viewers to activate. It hints at the cultural weight of the images and figures and gestures towards the frames we bring along to the cinema or to the gallery. In this reading, the people that Elisa recognises as ‘stepping inside’ and ‘living inside’ her include representations, historical and contemporary, that weigh, press and fill her – and our – space. Instead of seeing intertextual and contextual frames as mere ‘content’ or something constraining the potentiality of affect, I propose that they be seen as important conduits of affectivity in the sense of being-in-and-with-theworld.

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In my reading, Love is a Treasure with its multiple, overlapping ontologies grounded in cinema, television and gallery space transgresses the divide between affect and representation often suggested in contemporary criticism. While the ‘turn to affect’ in media and cultural studies can be welcomed as an important rehabilitation and reformulation of the question of experience – an urge to rethink workings of and encounters with media and art as complex material processes – its binary logic also has inhibiting and unproductive effects. When conceptualised as an empty category of futurity and becoming distinct from realms of representation and signification, the notion of affect risks foreclosing any dialogue between studies of aesthetics, culture and politics. Furthermore, this conceptualisation makes it difficult to think about affects as temporally and locally specific and grounded. Love is a Treasure makes a compelling argument against going ‘beyond’ representation, language and discourse and against projecting both artworks and viewing experiences as abstractions beyond time and space.28 Its aesthetics of affect works with a simultaneous push and pull. It engages with a persistence and a force that derives from the affective legacies of representation, from the histories of identity politics, from the diversity of affects and meanings attached to them, from the accumulation of intertexts and contexts linked with them. This force feels like a hit, it is unsettling and exhilarating, it draws viewers back in history, weighs them down – and it sets off their imagination.

NOTES 1 Ahtila’s multi-screen installations include If 6 was 9 (Jos 6 olis 9, 1995) and Consolation Service (Lohdutusseremonia, 1999) to Love is a Treasure (Rakkaus on aarre, 2002), The Hour of Prayer (Rukoushetki, 2005), Where is Where? (Miss¨a on miss¨a?, 2008) and The Annuciation (Marian ilmestys, 2010). For the notion of ‘cinematic works’ and scripts of Ahtila’s films until 2002, see Ahtila, Eija-Liisa, The Cinematic Works of Eija-Liisa Ahtila (Helsinki: Crystal Eye Ltd., 2004). 2 Fowler, Catherine, ‘Room for Experiment: Gallery Films and Vertical Time from Maya Deren to Eija Liisa Ahtila’, Screen 45:4 (2004), pp. 324–343; Butler, Alison, ‘Feminist Film in the Gallery: If 6 Was 9’, Camera Obscura 58, 20:1 (2005), pp. 1–30; Laine, Tarja, ‘Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s Affective Images in The House’, Mediascape 1:2 (Spring 2006), http://www.tft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Spring06 Eija-LiisaAhtila.html [accessed 17 April 2012]; Sundholm, John, ‘Contemporary cinematic work from Finland: The non-place of cinema and identity’, New Cinemas 4:2 (2006), pp. 83–92.

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3 Bal, Mieke, ‘What If? The Language of Affect’, in G. Beer, M. Bowie and B. J. Perrey (eds), In(ter)discipline: New Languages for Criticism (Cambridge: Modern Human Research Association and Mancy Publishing, 2007), p. 20. 4 Koivunen, Anu, ‘The Affective Turn?’, in A. Koivunen and S. Paasonen (eds), Conference Proceedings for Affective Encounters: Rethinking Embodiment in Feminist Media Studies (Turku: University of Turku, School of Art, Literature and Music, Series A, No. 49, 2001); Koivunen, Anu, ‘An Affective Turn? Reimagining the Subject of Feminist Theory’, in M. Liljestr¨om and S. Paasonen (eds), Disturbing Differences: Working with Affect in Feminist Readings (London: Routledge, 2010); Clough, Patricia Ticinato and Halley, Janet (eds), The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007). 5 Parisi, Luciana and Terranova, Tiziana, ‘A Matter of Affect: Digital Images and the Cybernetic Re-Wiring of Vision’, Parallax 7:4 (2001), pp. 122–127; Gibbs, Anna, ‘Disaffected’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 16: 3 (2002), pp. 335–341; MacCormack, Patricia, Cinesexuality (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008); Angerer, Marie-Luise, Vom Begehren nach dem Affekt (Z¨urich-Berlin: Diaphanes, 2007); Gorton, Kristin, Theorising Desire: From Freud to Feminism to Film (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). 6 Massumi: Parables of the Virtual, p. 26. 7 Massumi: Parables of the Virtual, pp. 31–35, 28. 8 A critical language drawing from Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy was established by the catalogue of the 2002 retrospective ‘Real Characters, Invented Moods’ (Kiasma, the Museum of Modern Art in Helsinki and Tate Modern in London). See Hirvi, Maija (ed), Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Fantasized Persons and Taped Conversations (Helsinki: Crystal Eye, 2002). 9 Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, transl. Tomlinson, Hugh and Habberjam, Barbara (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), p. 99. 10 Bal, Mieke, ‘Affect as Medium’, lecture at Stockholm University 26 November 2009. 11 Bal: ‘Affect as Medium’. 12 Kyr¨ol¨a, Katariina, The Weight of Images. Affective Engagements with Fat Corporeality in the Media (Turku: Annales Universitatis Turkuensis, 2010). 13 Riley, Denise, The Words of Selves. Identification, Solidarity, Irony (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), p. 2. 14 This argument of repetition as historicity draws from a reading of Judith Butler’s early work on performative acts working through ‘the accumulating and dissimulating historicity of force’. See Butler, Judith, ‘Critically Queer’, Bodies That Matter. On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 226–227. For a discussion of the historicity of affect in the context of gendered imagery of nation-building, see Koivunen, Anu, Performative Histories, Foundational Fictions. Gender and Sexuality in Niskavuori Films (Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2003). 15 See also Ahmed, Sara, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004).

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16 Riley, Denise: The Words of Selves, p. 2. 17 Massumi: Parables of the Virtual. 18 de Lauretis, Teresa, ‘The Violence of Rhetoric’, in Technologies of Gender. Essays on Theory, Film, and Fiction (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), pp. 31–50. Unlike Alison Butler (‘Feminist Film in the Gallery’, p. 2) argues, it is impossible to view the films as mere figurations of schizoid states called forth by authorial or epochal engagement with schizoanalytical thinking. 19 Jerslev, Anne, Vi ses pa˚ TV. Medier og intimitet (Copenhage: Gyldendal, 2004). 20 Berlant, Lauren, ‘The subject of true feeling: pain, privacy, and politics’, in M. McNeil et al. (eds), Transformations: Thinking Through Feminism (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 33–47; Illouz, Eva, Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008). 21 Philbrick, Jane, ‘Subcutaneous Melodrama. The Work of Eija-Liisa Ahtila’, Performing Arts Journal 25: 2 (2003), pp. 32–47. 22 Doane, Mary Ann, The Desire to Desire. The Women’s Film of the 1940s (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987). 23 Sontag, Susan, ‘Persona. The Film in Depth’, in L. Braudy and M. Dickstein (eds), Great Film Directors (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 83. 24 Deleuze: Cinema 1, pp. 99, 105; Bal, ‘What If?’. 25 Koskinen, Maaret, Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence. Pictures in the Typewriter, Writings on the Screen (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010), p. 135. 26 I wish to thank Prof. Jackie Stacey (University of Manchester) for her helpful response to my paper and for her insightful reading of my argument about the historicity of affects as placing the viewer on the threshold. 27 Riley: ‘The Words of Selves’, p. 2. 28 For critical readings of new materialism, see Hemmings, Clare, ‘Invoking Affect: Cultural Theory and the Ontological Turn’, Cultural Studies 19:5 (2005), pp. 548–567; Ahmed, Sara, ‘Imaginary Prohibitions. Some Preliminary Remarks on the Founding Gestures of the “New Materialism”’, European Journal of Women’s Studies 15:1 (2008), pp. 23–39; Tyler, Imogen, ‘Methodological Fatigue and the Politics of the Affective Turn’, Feminist Media Studies 8:1 (2008), pp. 85–90.

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Chapter 6

Atmospheric Affects Jill Bennett

The air, as Michel Serres argues, is an indistinct mixture: vector of everything and medium of the sensorium. It functions as a kind of sensorial baseline: colourless, odourless, transparent, tasteless and soundless but a conduit for light, smell and noise: It penetrates our bodies, ears, mouths, noses, throat and lungs, envelopes our skin: it is the medium for every signal that reaches our senses [ . . . ] a thing to be sensed, at the very limit of the sensible.1 Air is in this regard the baseline for aesthetics; for the investigation of sensory perception and the body’s interface with a living environment. And yet, as an ‘object’ of representation and the (back)ground for human activity, it has traditionally fallen into the categories aligned with the ‘natural’ rather than social world, its aesthetic investigation associated with the genre of landscape rather than with the intimate study of human interaction. Air is the baseline for microsensory experience but also for the macro productions of atmosphere, weather, climate (of global warming and climate change). An aesthetic conception of air that addresses the ontological nature of this medium is, then, destined to be ecological, to reconcile the micro experience of sensation with any larger geographic enterprise. To instantiate an aesthetics of air is to rethink human perception and the human body’s connection to everything. To think the body in its milieu of air – or rather to think of the body as itself a milieu through which air moves – is to understand body and environment as reciprocally enfolding. More than an interface with the world, the body is, to use Serres’ term, the ‘mingling’ of matter, situated by virtue of its capacity for sensing – absorbing – its environment. 102

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How then does an ecological aesthetics come into being? I begin by citing Serres because he would affirm the exercise of the senses as the means to an ecological practice, which is evinced in the doing (the connecting and the understanding of connection) far more than in a representation. It seems to me then, that we must look not especially to the genres of environmental arts for ecological thought but to the aesthetics of engagement, of sense perception and affect. At the same time, the indulgence of sensation through art is not in itself a critical process. So when and how does the exercise of the senses become a critical aesthetics that traces and actively forges connections with a material environment? And how does such an aesthetics examine the physical and social experience of air as atmosphere? What is the affective and sensate binding that locates us within an atmosphere and makes that atmosphere cohere as an environment? And can we investigate this through aesthetics and contemporary arts?

TRANSMISSION AND AESTHETICS In Patrick S¨uskind’s novel Perfume: the Story of a Murderer (1985), Grenouille, the eighteenth-century journeyman perfumer, devoid of odour but possessing an extraordinary gift of smell, murders young women to extract their scent. From this extraction he fashions an intoxicating perfume, which he ultimately unleashes on the crowd at the scene of his execution. So powerful is the distilled scent of the murdered virgins that it transforms rage and vengeance to rapacious desire and ‘love’. The crowd once baying for blood and the spectacle of torture, succumbs to an orgiastic frenzy and then, upon regaining composure, to a self-serving collective denial. Grenouille the perfumer, characterised throughout as a blank signifier (inherently odourless and hence, invisible), becomes fleetingly the object of misplaced positive affect. Misplaced, he realises, because Grenouille does not transform himself with the powerful odour he bears; he transforms the atmosphere, creating a chemical cloud which momentarily envelops the population. The invasive perfume has an intense but largely unconscious effect on the gathered bodies. Changes in bodily affect are palpable, while the underlying process of chemical transmission, the change in the air, understood only by the rogue perfumer, occurs unnoticed. Smell in this case stimulates affects that are themselves contagious, manifesting in the ecstasy of the crowd. This cumulative mood qualifies as an atmosphere, pervading and momentarily sustained within an environment. The scene of an execution, derailed by an act of what Peter

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Sloterdijk calls ‘atmoterrorism’ (a chemical attack on air) in effect brings into play two senses of atmosphere – the one referring literally to the cloud of gasses affected by the release of chemicals, the other to the social experience of an environment.2 The latter, often conceived in a purely metaphoric relation to atmosphere in its meteorological sense, is in this scene equally a product of physical interaction with airborne chemicals. The air of the perfume cloud, in turn, becomes ‘heavy with the sweet odour of sweating lust’,3 reminding us that atmosphere is not just the inert backdrop of human activity but continually modified through human actions and their byproducts. Crowds exuding moisture and carbon dioxide, secreting pheromones and filling the air with odours, heat, gasses and noise, produce what David Gissen calls a ‘socioclimate’ akin to weather systems.4 A social atmosphere is defined by a perceived density, a thickening that envelops bodies and regenerates qualities of experience. A quality of atmosphere, good or bad, is experienced as affectively binding: the buzz of a party, the vibe of an interior space, the mood of a crowd. Necessarily defined by its intensity (a building excitement, a mounting tension, palpably felt), a social atmosphere dissipates as affect subsides. Affect is, in this sense, the substrate of social atmosphere. Yet its communication depends on material processes of transmission: chemical, electronic, auditory, processes that implicate not just bodies but the air space in between. Human communication is largely conceived in terms of the twin poles of expression and reception, subject and object (as Teresa Brennan notes); even within the visual arts, which have always rendered atmospheric effects, we have paid little attention to transmission or to the air space connecting these poles. To do so would take us beyond the realm of the visible and the certainty provided by the boundaries of subject and object. Visual studies falter in the face of the body’s indeterminacy, precisely because any appraisal of ‘space’ or of comingling with air immediately displaces the primacy of the visual, calling other senses into play. Affective entrainment, Brennan suggests, prioritises two senses in particular, smell and hearing.5 Smell is the key vehicle for chemical entrainment, which encompasses pheromonal transmission (pheromones being externally secreted substances, which may communicate fear and anxiety, for example, when detected in the air). Nervous or electrical entrainment – ‘the driving effect one nervous system has on another’ – is effected by touch, sight and sound, but particularly through the communication of rhythm, in regard to which auditory cues have priority.6 Whereas chemical entrainment is largely unconscious, as the drama of

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Perfume evokes, rhythmic or auditory entrainment may be both conscious and more readily manipulated (as, for example, in the case of dance parties or crowd chants that raise the intensity of an event). Both these transmission processes have a profound relationship to aesthetics. The atmospheric description of Perfume, of course, turns on aesthetics in a number of respects. The character of Grenouille, the aesthete or tortured soul, is defined exclusively by the immediacy of aesthesis – aesthetic perception. A craving for aesthetic satisfaction – through the creation of the ultimate perfume – drives him by turns to despair and disciplined experimentation. The perfume is an aesthetic production in the purist and most pathological sense, its pursuit unfettered by ethical, social or religious principles. Heightened sensitivity is here aligned not to good (as it is in the ‘beautiful soul syndrome’)7 nor to external social concerns, but to the exclusive goal of aesthetic perfection for its own sake and for the sake (survival) of the aesthete, whose sensory exploration is also (paradoxically, given its sociopathic nature) an environmental sensitivity. Grenouille’s own affect is similarly conceived in atmospheric terms. In the midst of his perfume cloud, he feels a ‘fog rising: a dreadful fog from his own odour’, which he cannot smell but which fills him with boundless terror and the feeling that he is going to suffocate.8 This internal perturbation is the effect of inhaling the odour that escapes his body and usually formidable powers of discernment: an odour exuded into an atmosphere that then folds back into his body. The sensing body is itself here a porous entity, subject to gaseous exchanges within a living environment. Its affects are prompted by sensations: suffocating terror is a response to Grenouille’s failure to discern his own presence in the air, amidst the fog of competing odours. His intuitive differentiation of the aromas of a compound perfume is an extension of his everyday navigation of the street, where he absorbs and grasps the nature of the environment through its smells, detecting the living presence in the imprint of human scents, which recombine and react with other entities. Olfactory perception thus becomes a vehicle for an exaggeratedly refined pseudo-scientific classification of everything – and for analysis of a sphere commonly experienced as ‘fog’. Within the broad satire of Perfume (generally read as a Frankfurt school-inspired attack on Enlightenment rationality), an aesthetics of environment – an ecology – is imagined as the natural outcome of aesthesis. The device of the sensorial gift gives rise to an environmental narrative in which human bodies are configured as active and reactive agents in the realm of atmosphere. But my argument here is not to recoup Perfume for green

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politics. Instead, I am interested in how ecological thinking comes into being across disciplines and genres. The characteristics of ecological method might be understood to lie not in its explicit goals but in its capacity to render the sphere of atmosphere as a dynamic, differentiated and inhabited zone, to describe its modulation through a configuration of human movement: a comingling. In this sense, the depiction of the stench of the eighteenth-century Parisian market or the trace of a human presence on a country road is as profound a study of atmosphere as the cloud paintings of Jacob van Ruisdael or the Romantic landscapes of Turner and Constable, which established atmospheric phenomena as part of the repertoire of landscape. In those works, human beings are bystanders and onlookers to the spectacle of ‘nature’, their movement through the landscape an incidental aside to a larger meteorological drama. Landscape is in these terms a precursor of our consumption of weather information as ‘climate theatre’ (in Sloterdijk’s phrase) – a habit that is broken only when being in landscape is configured in terms other than those of an unfolding spectacle, and with some means of registering the footprint, the physical and material trace of a spectator.9 Within the arts, one area of operation in particular has a definitional interest in the interaction of bodies and environments: the still relatively new area of immersive installation. By enveloping spectators within its fabric and unfolding, an immersive installation – sculptural, architectural or audiovisual – engages bodies (and the conditions of their moving, perceiving and sensing) as material, dynamic elements. The space intervening between subject and object, between image and spectator is no longer extraneous: no longer ‘space’ but an environment. Immersive installation marks a turning point in the history of art, a move from spectacle to experience, played out as a physical, sensate engagement with an environment. This turning point has particular ramifications for an environmental politics that seeks to understand the role of human agency in climate production.

FOG AND PHENOMENOLOGY: THREE EXPERIMENTS At the Hayward Gallery in 2007 Antony Gormley mounted the installation Blind Light, describing this as a ‘climatological and sociological experiment’ (see Plate 5).10 Visitors were invited to enter a reinforced glass box, within which Gormley created a cloud of bright, white fog produced by eight overhead ultrasonic humidifiers, fuelled by water (37 gallons every hour). Bright fluorescent lights overhead

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give the ethereal white cloud a luminous appearance, so that one is enveloped in a fairly dense fog, or ‘blind light’, and a humidity that makes it somewhat difficult to breathe. Blind Light simultaneously curtails vision: ‘You immediately are lost in space and that makes you anxious’, explains the artist; ‘by the time you come across somebody, you are already well inside their ordinary zone of intimacy’.11 In 2010 Olafur Eliasson and Yansong Ma pursued a similar experiment with atmospheric density – Feelings are Facts – introducing condensed banks of artificially produced fog, articulated with coloured fluorescent lighting, into the gallery of the Ullens Centre in Beijing. A more extensive, less confronting space than Blind Light, Feelings are Facts transformed the air of a whole gallery. These two, anti-spectacular though far from anti-aesthetic, pieces each engage vision in an active, experimental sense. Sight, like hearing, readily discerns order (pattern, harmony, recurrence), using points of reference and stability as a means of orientation. In the whiteout of a fog, moments of discernment are intermittent. Vision oscillates between the recognition that enables orientation and an embodied experience of seeing in a mist that obscures spatial coordinates. The vaporous surround – like a background noise – cannot itself be perceived until its limits are tested, until figures emerge from the enveloping cloud. Serres argues of background noise that it is not a phenomenon: it ‘may well be the ground of our being’ but a sound is perceived as a phenomenon only when separated from this indeterminate ground. He uses the following metaphor: ‘like a beacon against the fog’.12 Our first engagement with the world is when we can focus on one sensation, one phenomenon. Noise in this sense is not a matter of phenomenology, ‘it is a matter of being itself’. Like fog, odour, rain, it is around us and upon us before we think it: ‘it settles in subjects as well as in objects, in hearing as well as in space, in the observers as well as the observed’.13 These aesthetic experiments are ontological in this way. They stage such a condition of being, creating a ground for an experience poised always at the point of emergence and encounter. We are touched by fog – fog settles in us – before any perception of a phenomenon can occur. This is an important interpretative point. To undercut habitual knowledge by engaging perceptual experience in this way is not merely to replace visual recognition with a more replete synaesthetic experience. It is to constitute the ground of perception – the ‘baseline’ or air that sustains and enables any kind of contact – as the condition of participation and movement. Viewers are inside the work before it can be seen, viewed, consumed, appraised, understood. To create work in this way is to extend art into the domain of ‘space’, which is here literally sculpted and illuminated. At the same time, it is,

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as Gormley suggests, to ‘materialize’ the sensation of the inner space of the body, to ‘realize embodiment’.14 These ‘experiments’ parallel moves in architectural design toward the design of climate and atmosphere and its relationship to a sensing body. Philippe Rahm’s Digestible Gulfstream (Venice 2008), conceived as ‘architecture on a current of air’ is an invisible landscape, a thermodynamic mediation between the macroscopic and the microscopic, the body and space, the meteorological and physiological. Conducting the movement of air, using the natural phenomenon of convection, it produces a differentiated environment that not only warms and cools bodies but encompasses gastronomic elements (chilli, camphor, menthol) that will interact with neuroreceptors sensitive to heat and molecular sensory receptors on the skin and in the mouth that register cold sensation. The Digestible Gulfstream reminds us that atmosphere is always a matter of differential perception, a manifold of internal sensation and dynamic environmental effects, not only spatial but temporal. Similarly, Feelings are Facts or Blind Light purvey an experience of changing humidity and density, of sensory adjustment as well as of coming into vision. Eliasson and Ma illuminate the phenomenon of transition most emphatically with coloured fluorescent lighting, differentiating areas at different moments. These works each constitute an atmospheric momentum rather than ambient stasis. But still, are these experiments, these self-contained multisensorial events, ultimately self-referential? Immersion has the virtue of collapsing the distinction between inside and outside, but the creation of an absorbing atmosphere or ambience always risks becoming an end in itself, a warm bath of indulgence. Ambience is, after all, a tangible commodity. By the logic of marketing it is the necessary qualifier of a place, the feel-good factor that transforms a club, a resort, a desert island into a sensual experience. No less so for deep ecology and the more romantic strains of environmentalism, argues Tim Morton.15 From the perspective of critical ecology, Morton takes issue with conservative brands of ecocriticism that insist on the purity of nature, hankering for a sublime union. These, he suggests, promote the belief that simply being-there is virtuous, that a self-improving ecological awareness is bestowed through a direct engagement with nature. Nature – as esteemed content – is the sign for this automated form of ecological enjoyment and hence, as a category, a problem in itself. While nature-scepticism may seem at odds with Serres’ philosophy of engagement, both in fact turn on the necessity of writing oneself into the environment and out of it. For Serres one learns about the world through forms of dedicated physical training (disparaging of armchair phenomenologists, he affirms knowledge gained through mountaineering and

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gymnastics).16 Morton meanwhile objects to automated criticism (‘sitting back, relaxing and letting the system do it for you’) and to immersive experience as a romantic rather than critical mode of engagement.17 Morton’s line of argument has some parallels with art historical scepticism of the appeal of immersive art.18 For Hal Foster or Frank Popper, immersive media’s appeal to affect and bodily experience eradicates the critical distance that the space between spectator and image seemed to secure.19 The experience purveyed by much immersive media in their view amounts to an unreflective indulgence of a media derived techno-sublime: a ‘faux phenomenology’ based on empty sensation.20 Such criticism is more productively levelled at the specific rather than the general. As a critique of immersion per se, it evinces a resistance to the medium (and by extension, to a body of theory that understands affect and sense perception in more productive terms). But as a critique of the evacuation of content (and of a corresponding evasion of engagement) it is more compelling; for if immersive media is inherently or unavoidably concerned with bodies and environments, its potential to elaborate wider environmental dynamics is not yet consistently realised. These arguments from critical ecology, on the one hand, and art theory, on the other, are in fact informed by different political trajectories, but they attack the same problem from two different sides. Both are concerned with the substitution of self-serving enjoyment (consumerism) for critical engagement. Immersive media art inclines toward consumerism when it lacks content and connection to an environment beyond the media domain, deep ecology risks to do so when it places too much faith in content (nature as a destination offering uninterrupted enjoyment), not enough in process and reflection. Aesthetic materialism (exemplified in the work of Eliasson and Ma and Gormley) works on this problem by envisioning corporeal presence not as an end in itself but as the essence of an experimental method: a new means of investigation. It is this beginning from an inquiry into ontology – into the question of how we understand our presence and activity within an environment – that distinguishes critical aesthetics from more commercial applications of immersive technologies to environmental narratives. In James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), for example, the resource-rich natural paradise of the planet Pandora is the virtual nature of deep ecology, reconstituted in a place that is not just under threat but beyond the point of access to all but a single well-connected anthropologist. Immersion, here imagined in terms of absorption into the Pandoran ecosystem, is now achievable only through advanced technology, entailing teleportation via a hybrid avatar body. Within this science fiction scenario

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0.00 min > Molto sostenuto e calmo

4.60 min > Prestissimo staccatissimo e leggiero

11.40 min > Presto bizzarro e rubato

Pulmonary Space // György Ligeti 10 stücke für Bla¨serquinett // Philippe Rahm architectes // 2009

¨ ¨ Figure 6.1 Philippe Rahm architectes, Pulmonary space // Gyorgy Ligeti 10 Stucke fur ¨ Blaserquinett, 2009.

the natural utopia is preserved as a techno-sublime fantasy. Tempered by the grim environmental realism of the framing narrative, Avatar expresses a certain anxiety over the fact that an excess of technology is now required to ‘get back to nature’. This is, in essence, the clash of civilisations: the natural utopia and the military-industrial human world collide. The bleak conclusion is that even if the military retreat from nature, there is no reconciliation; in Avatar, nature is not for humans, who are literally unable to breathe the air of Pandora. The challenge for the arts is to materialise and inhabit environment, to fill in the content of the environmental dimension of the immersive encounter. Immersive media art does this by creating a sense of – literally, a possibility of sensing – atmosphere, by rendering atmosphere as sensible, extensive and connective. It is in this regard that ‘air’ as a material term is more important than any generic or meta-category of nature. ‘Ecology beyond nature’, in Morton’s formulation, requires us to turn attention to the hyper-objects21 that defy objectification but demand material analysis by virtue of their profound and continuing material effects. Air as an indeterminate, expansive hyper-medium is in this framework a means to configuring the content of a corporeal environmental process, of tracing breath and what is breathed.

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Rahm’s experiments with invisible ‘meteorological’ architecture are similarly attempts to map a connective cultural (material) space. In the recent Radical Nature exhibition, Rahm presented a project called Pulmonary Space (2009), drawing on Ligeti’s notions of the physical manifestation and movement of breath to reconsider music as matter (see Figure 6.1). Beginning from the principle that sound is a pressure point placed upon the air, Rahm’s image of the output of a music ensemble takes on a spatial presence corresponding to the ‘warm tide of germs and perspiration’ flowing from mouths.22 Space assumes the architectural form of breath: ‘viscous, fetid, humid, excised from the lungs and in turn inhaled’.23 Architecture (effectively ‘installation’) as a material mapping of the environment thus debunks the Hegelian notion of music as a transcendent or immaterial art form. No longer sublimated as sound or auditory experience, music is perceived as the presence of players, porous bodies and the trace of breath in the immediate space. The shape of breath, architecturally configured, realises a conjoining, immersive space: an atmosphere, not merely cultural in the conventional sense of a musical ensemble, but chemical, sensory and social, predicated on the baseline of air. Such an architectural aesthetics, extending into and qualifying airspace, in turn raises the question of how a geographic aesthetics might envisage a modulated airspace, realising transitions and interconnections between what Sloterdijk would call ‘spheres’. Spheres, as Sloterdijk imagines them, denote areas of inhabitation characterised by specific atmospheric conditions; these then proliferate and connect as ‘foam’ or ‘bubbles’ bordered by membranes.24 The image of an extensive foam, encompassing relatively self-contained but contiguous spaces, offers a way of re-imagining a material connection between the space of an installation and the space of the world outside; in other words, a means of thinking through the ‘content’ of mediated immersive experience and its links to real world ecology without resorting to the language of representation. Classic screen theory typically distinguishes between two spaces: the space internal to narrative or representation (diegesis) and the space of the filmic apparatus (i.e. cinema) that positions the viewer in a fixed relationship to the moving image. This inside-outside binary is effectively challenged by the range of non-representational theory that characterises both affective aesthetics and new materialist geography.25 It is also undercut by an immersive viewing experience that affords the viewer relative mobility. The mobile viewer connects dynamically with temporally changing ‘depicted’ environments in a series of discrete encounters, each potentially engaging tactile, kinaesthetic, proprioceptive, auditory and/or visual sensing capacities at different points in an immersive space.

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An extensive, connective modelling of space – as for example, foam – has the potential to account for such fluid interactivity as it unfolds through a succession of spatial encounters.

GEOGRAPHY The space of installation is itself a sphere, an ‘inside-like, accessed, shared circle [Runde] that humans inhabit’26 with its own regulated atmosphere. No longer simply a viewing space (in the sense that cinema can claim to be), an installation is a space of experience: a connecting space. The experience of such an environment is necessarily multisensory, unfolding in a variety of registers within the body and around its periphery. A viewer’s apprehension of visual and other phenomena is inflected by a variable relationship to conditions of perception: to space, atmosphere and air. These ‘baseline’ elements are rendered perceptible through work that explicitly engages with the conditions of phenomenology, opening up the possibility of envisaging airspace as continuous but differentiated, connecting and separating. In this vein, a video and sound installation like Shona Illingworth’s Balnakiel (2009) may be understood as an extensive geography: an evocation of a place, its climate, its history and people, literally extending into and modelling space (see Plate 6 and Figure 6.2). In the opening sequence, the village of Balnakeil (changed to Balnakiel in the title) and neighbouring Durness, a remote outpost in the northwest highlands of Scotland, is seen from the aerial perspective of a plane. Bounded by mountains, rock and bog, and pounded by continuous weather fronts during winter, this isolated place is rendered inhospitable by its geography and climate. Its small community has been shaped by a history of forced removal (Highland Clearance), and by the trickle of incomers from the South, who came to escape the pressures of urban living. During the Cold War, the military arrived to set up an Early Warning Station to guard the North Atlantic; now a large part of the surrounding area of Cape Wrath is a bombardment zone. Beginning with this geographic survey from the sealed cockpit of an aircraft passing through clouds, Balnakiel is a study of atmosphere as something that is politically, geographically and historically created. Spheres are emphatically delineated by air and noise, regulating structures such as planes or buildings. Glass windows are barriers to the battering wind and rain (which, we hear, can be like an ‘attack’, confining inhabitants for 40 days at a time). A young girl climbs through a window and leads us out into the night. An air traffic controller

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guides in a Tornado from inside a tower with wrap-around windows. Balnakiel, then, is not a landscape but a series of environments: distinct airspaces. These environments give rise to qualities of experience: affects. One man describes in a voiceover the panic aroused in him by the experience of walking through the village of Durness: pounding heart, breathlessness, a sickness like hunger, a silent hiss in the head; adrenalin taking possession of a body that feels ‘completely wired’. Prompted by memories of the local community’s hostility to incomers – his anxiety is a response to a general air of threat rather than a specific incident. But if this atmosphere of threat characterises Balnakiel, threat does not function here as in a narrative film; there are none of the devices that intensify fear and trepidation. Threat has driven the inhabitation and organisation of this landscape. The dominant sign of the Cold War, embodied in the Early Warning Station, the air of anticipated danger finds an echo not just in the affective tenor of remote village life, but in the military manoeuvre underway as the man recounts his symptoms. His voice is counterpointed with that of an air traffic controller rehearsing a show of force, a tactic of contemporary warfare in which planes fly as low as possible over a target area to ‘buzz’ the ground population, frightening civilians into hiding and exposing enemy combatants. Tornados, armed with live bombs, are guided in by features of the terrain; hence we hear the air traffic controller ‘speaking’ the landscape as the jets approach their target. In this explicit territorialising of threat, the Cape Wrath Bombardment Range stands in for the theatre of conflict and for the enemy insurgents: a virtual Afghanistan. The atmosphere of threat is materialised in the air, in rehearsal for future enactment. In Balnakiel, atmosphere is produced as various natural and cultural forces conspire – and then it is put into place, literally rehearsed. Sound in this work is not ecomimetic to use Morton’s term.27 That is, it is not constructed with the purpose of creating a fiction of ‘being there’ in some approximation of nature; immersion in this case is not about transportation but a means of constituting a set of relationships to spheres that are both connected to us and differentiated by qualities of air and environment. Mimesis presupposes a unified bodily experience, such that one is able to live the holistic fantasy of being in a place. Phenomenology here is premised on differential sensation: seeing, hearing, feeling, breathing at a distance, experiencing the landscape through a series of partitions. In other words, it is less about ‘the body’ as a singular entity around which representation is organised, than about experience as manifold sensation, a ‘mingling’ on many fronts that makes it much harder to envisage a single body with a single interface to the world.

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Figure 6.2 Shona Illingworth, Balnakiel, 2009, video and sound installation, digital video still.

Ambient sound selectively penetrates the viewing sphere, folding into space and establishing a phenomenological continuity even as sounds distort and change. The vibrations of a plane sensed through a sub-woofer in the airconditioned gallery space impact on the body of the viewer in some approximation to the wind and turbulence of the air in Balnakeil, which appears in the film through various partitions, so that we feel its effects across different registers. Actions in one sphere have effects in another, ultimately folding back into viewing space. The effects of remote or radio controlled actions in more ‘distant’ spheres (a plane’s descent, an explosion, heather burning in its wake) are seen but not always heard, their sonic resonance muted in certain sequences. A silent explosion appears disconnected from our experience, and hence confined momentarily to a distinct sphere, discontinuous with the present: the virtual event of an explosion in Afghanistan or some future war, or a hint of the past when heather burned in the aftermath of Highland Clearance. If the semantic elements in this sense-based study create something approximating a narrative of place, this is not a story with characters but a series of affective encounters. Affects are not motivated, but simply occur under a set of conditions. A young girl, skipping, battered by a ferocious wind, undeterred as a helicopter makes its deafening descent above, does not act out threat, the transferable affect; low flying military planes disturb the ground and air, their noise and vibration settling in the landscape, in objects and in subjects, in bodies

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on screen and off (see Plate 6). These are not dramatic elements signifying an intensified threat but parts of a landscape triggering sensation. Landmarks in this sense are enlivened – not merely as objects onto which inner anxieties are projected, repositories of personal affect, representations of states of being, but as objects that are already part of a living geography into which human experience is enfolded.

AIR Body and landscape, two traditional objects of art, now intermingled, are no longer allocated to distinct genres. Like subjects and objects they are, in Bergson’s terms, ‘composed of nothing more or less than relations of reciprocal unfoldings’.28 This mutually constitutive relationship, expressed as atmosphere, perhaps finds fullest extension as a documentary method in Yang Shaobin’s X-Blind Spot (2008) – a study of coalmining in the area of Northern China where the artist grew up (see Plate 7). In a four-channel immersive video installation, Yang documents enormous open-pit coalmines resembling a vast moonscape, shooting at both noon and dusk. The video continually alternates positive and negative images, evoking a kind of x-ray vision that cuts across the sublime aesthetic of the dust cloud rising from the mines, night and day. Yang’s study of this landscape is an inquiry into the destruction of local ecology and community and into the reality of China’s rural social body. It references a history of celebrating mineworkers in the social realist painting of the Cultural Revolution, recasting ‘portraits’ of the miners at work within a dynamically evolving landscape. There is, in Yang’s vision, no distinction between nature and the machine. In the opencut mines, where there is no meaningful division between night and day, no fresh air to distinguish open space from enclosed, any such separation has long since eroded.29 In Yang’s project, the object of the diseased lung replaces the heroic image of the miner. Preserved in formaldehyde, x-rayed, photographed, painted and exhibited as an object, alongside other elements of aesthetic research, the lung is a relic of the landscape. It is a counterpoint to the immersive video and the inescapably sublime movement of the enveloping fog, ranging across a landscape and into the body’s interior. Rahm’s pulmonary space is here reconfigured as a geography of airflow and the contaminants that pass into bodies. Miners with pneumoconiosis, a respiratory disease that results from breathing in dust from coal or carbon over a long period of time, are filmed in the Beidaihe lung lavage

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hospital. Here, they breathe with the aid of respirators and sediment is washed from their lungs (the only remedial treatment for the disease). Water, the other candidate for the sensorial baseline that Serres considers (almost neutral in its transparency and odourlessness but given to varieties of taste and myriad sound associations) flows through the landscape in streams as well as through bodies undergoing the lung lavage procedure. Bodies – and their most basic functions – are part of a larger circulation of matter. Both the air and water that pass through them are aesthetic connectors, repeating motifs but, more profoundly, the content of an ecological aesthetics that traces the degradation of a local ecosystem. The politics and aesthetics of atmosphere are here played out simultaneously in the grand spectacle of landscape as well as in intimate studies of respiration and of an atmosphere that is sensed, not viewed. Blind spots are revealed as perceptual, political and natural phenomena. If apprehension occurs against the backdrop of fog, there is no point of total illumination; to discern an object emerging from the haze is to simultaneously comprehend the meaning of a blind spot. It is to experience the blinding quality of light to which Gormley alludes and which Yang captures as the experience of bodies emerging into daylight. The blind spot not only enjoins us to feel facts, to use the senses, it reminds us that bodies are already touched, already breathing; as Yang shows, already compromised within the environment that sustains existence. Immersion is in this sense a necessary method of aesthetic investigation. Neither a function of technology nor imagination, neither mimetic nor sublime, it is simply the baseline for a critical ecology.

NOTES 1 Serres, Michel, The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies (London and New York: Continuum, 2008), p. 169. 2 Sloterdijk, Peter, Terror from the Air (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009), p. 9. 3 S¨uskind, Patrick, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (New York: Vintage International, 2001), p. 277. 4 Gissen, David, Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments: Atmospheres, Matter, Life (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009), pp. 192–193. 5 Brennan, Teresa, The Transmission of Affect (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003), pp. 68–73. 6 Brennan: The Transmission of Affect, p. 70.

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7 See Morton, Timothy, Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), pp. 117–118. 8 S¨uskind: Perfume, p. 280. 9 Sloterdijk: Terror from the Air, p. 86. 10 http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/18702761/ns/today-entertainment/ [accessed 7 April 2011]. 11 http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/18702761/ns/today-entertainment/ [accessed 7 April 2011]. 12 Serres, Michel, Genesis (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), p. 13. 13 Serres: Genesis, p. 13. 14 http://whitecube.com/artists/antony gormley/related texts/antony gormley inter view with antony gormley/ [accessed 13 March 2012]. 15 Morton: Ecology Without Nature, chapter 2; especially p. 183. 16 Serres, Michel, Variations sur le corps (Paris: Editions le Pommier, 2002). 17 Morton: Ecology Without Nature, pp. 167, 183. 18 In Ecology Without Nature, Morton links the easy indulgence of immersion in nature to the practice of experimental art, p. 183. 19 Popper, Frank, From Technological to Virtual Art (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007). 20 Foster, Hal, ‘Polemics, Postmodernism, Immersion, Militarized Space’, Journal of Visual Culture 3:3, (December 2004), p. 327. 21 http://philosophyinatimeoferror.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/tim-morton-on-hypero bjects/ [accessed 10 April, 2011]. 22 http://www.philipperahm.com/data/projects/pulmonaryspace/index.html [accessed 10 April, 2011]. 23 http://www.philipperahm.com/data/projects/pulmonaryspace/index.html [accessed 10 April, 2011]. 24 Sloterdijk, Peter, Sph¨aren I – Blasen (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1998); Sph¨aren II – Globen (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1999); Sph¨aren III – Sch¨aume (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2004). 25 Thrift, Nigel, Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect (London; New York: Routledge, 2008). 26 Sloterdijk: Sph¨aren I – Blasen, p. 28. 27 Morton: Ecology Without Nature, pp. 20–21; 31. 28 Bergson, Henri, Key Writings (London: Continuum, 2002), p. 3. 29 For elaboration of this issue, see: Papastergiadis, Nikos, ‘The Paradox of Light’ in Yang Shaobin: X-blind spot (Milan: Edizioni Charta, 2009), p. 25.

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Chapter 7

The Dream Olfactory: On Making Scents of Cinema Vivian Sobchack

And so it happened that for the first time in his life, Grenouille did not trust his nose and had to call on his eyes for assistance if he was to believe what he smelled. This confusion of the senses did not last long at all. Actually he required only a moment to convince himself optically – then to abandon himself all the more ruthlessly to olfactory perception. Patrick S¨uskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer The provocation for this chapter was the sensual challenge that our sense of smell presents to cinema – and, more specifically, to the experience of Tom Tykwer’s 2006 film, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Adapted from Patrick S¨uskind’s acclaimed, and allegedly ‘unfilmable’, novel set in eighteenth-century France,the film follows the life and single-minded (or, should I say, single-sensed) obsession of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a foundling turned perfumer turned murderer, in his search to find, capture, preserve and possess for himself the voluptuous and seductive smell of ultimate (female) beauty – and thus of ultimate desirability and power over others.1 Despised from his birth as an abomination or ‘non-entity’, Grenouille – much like Tykwer’s film – possesses ‘the most acute sense of smell in the world’, and yet has ‘absolutely no scent of his own’.2 As a young man, living passively amidst the stench of Paris, his miserable life then takes its homicidal direction: [Grenouille] commits the olfactory equivalent of falling in love when he discovers the most exceptional and indescribable scent he has ever experienced, emanating, as it turns out, from a young girl. This is the ultimate perfume, the higher principle, the pattern by which all other smells must 121

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be ordered. Grenouille knows he must possess this smell and kills the girl in order to do so.3 But possession and preservation of this ultimate perfume – this ‘odor di femina’4 – takes years to achieve and, over time, the odourless Grenouille becomes a serial killer of 25 young women, most of them virgins, in his attempt to capture and make their scent quite literally his own.

I Certainly, although it will not be the task of this chapter, Perfume is ‘ripe’ for feminist analysis. Indeed, in terms of plot and the motives that drive its central character, both novel and film invite a cultural deconstruction of the complex entailments of smell, sensuality and gender. As Constance Classen, David Howes and Anthony Synnott note in Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell, S¨uskind’s novel is marked by ‘olfactory stereotypes’: ‘the maniac sniffing out his prey; the fragrant, hapless maiden; the dangerous savagery inherent in the sense of smell’.5 Indeed, they go on to explore more generally how smell (as sense and odour) has been aligned in Western culture with the primitive, erotic and uncontainable – and hence with animals, savages and women. Because of these alignments as well as its transgressive and intimate pervasiveness, smell has been long singled out as the sense most ‘threatening to the social order’ of the West.6 Nonetheless, what follows is not a feminist reading of Tykwer’s Perfume, a project I will leave to others. Here I am interested in the broader phenomenological ‘problem’ of smell as its particular qualities relate to the synaesthestic dimensions of cinematic experience, these informed not only by the discrete (if cooperative) dynamics of our various senses but also by historical and cultural practice. Indeed, if smell, with its ‘radical interiority’ and ‘boundary-transgressing propensities’, has posed a problem to ‘civilized’ Western culture, it has also posed a problem to cinema.7 As Andr´e Bazin suggested in his influential essay, ‘The Myth of Total Cinema’, although a medium born in and of a dominant visual regime, well before its technological invention the cinema was imagined not only in terms of ‘moving pictures’ but also as a perceptual and representational ‘totality’ that would appeal not just to vision but, more broadly, to our other senses.8 Thus, Bazin writes: ‘The primacy of the image is both historically and technically accidental’.9 Nonetheless, even today, when this original imagination has been more fully

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realised, the cinema is still a medium in which the senses and operations of vision and hearing are predominant for both films and viewers. That is, whatever its narrative content or technological enhancements, the cinematic experience is grounded in the irreducible – and doubled – audiovisual entailment of viewer and viewed, hearing and sounding, that occurs symmetrically not only between the film’s spectator and what is seen and heard onscreen but also in, and as, the film itself.10 This irreducible and doubled entailment, however, would seem not to be true of the sense of smell which, in the cinematic experience, would seem asymmetrically only available to the human viewer. What, then, might a film that explicitly foregrounds smell suggest about the cinema’s broader sensual possibilities – and limits – in its appeal to the senses beyond audiovision? Although, like Grenouille, such a film objectively possesses no scent of its own, might it nonetheless possess a sense of smell subjectively, enabling it not only to make scents of the world and others but also to recall and recombine these aromas in moments of memory and imagination? Furthermore, if less horrifically than Grenouille, might such a film not only breathe in the world in a present sensual perception but also exhale it in a corporeally experienced act of objective expression? Indeed, and counter to solely objectivist accounts that limit cinematic perception solely to sight and hearing, I and others have argued that we also sensually perceive the cinema more broadly. In this regard, in Phenomenology of Perception, Maurice Merleau-Ponty tells us (as do many contemporary neuroscientists) what, in experience, we already know: our senses interpenetrate each other and cooperate synaesthetically (or cross-modally) even as they subjectively open us to engaging the objective world in quite different and discretely-structured ways. Although ‘each organ of sense explores the object in its own way’, it is also involved in a ‘certain type’ of sensory synthesis that is a common – rather than ‘clinical’ – form of synaesthesia.11 Thus the philosopher writes: ‘If, then, taken as incomparable qualities, “the data of the different senses” belong to so many separate worlds, each one in its particular essence being a manner of modulating the thing, they all communicate through their significant core’ – our lived-body.12 So common as to be transparent, ‘synaesthetic perception is the rule, and we are unaware of it only because scientific knowledge shifts the centre of gravity’ away from our actual experience to analytic ‘data’ and deduction.13 Given this communication among our senses, we also sensually experience the cinema cross-modally and synaesthetically. Certainly, we proprioceptively experience and mimetically share, if to a varying degree, in almost every film’s movement and editorially rhythmic kinesis, changing our comportment in our

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theatre seats, altering our breathing, holding tightly to the armrests.14 We also sense and make sense of the ‘textures’ of the audiovisually given cinematic world as tactile – not merely understanding but in some transformed way feeling the rough bark of a tree or the smooth silkiness of a satin dress.15 We even occasionally salivate and, in some transformed way, taste onscreen feasts – images of the garlicky spaghetti sauce in Goodfellas or the aphrodisiac dishes in Like Water for Chocolate soliciting not our intellectual appreciation but our sensual appetite.16 Why, then, should smell be an exception? Nonetheless, our experience of a film’s ‘visual aroma’ seems particularly elusive – and, certainly, compared to our other sensual engagements with the cinema, extremely rare (although, every time I watch it, I seem to smell, if only faintly, the overpoweringly floral scent of the young general’s handkerchief as he waves it in front of a schoolroom of young girls in Black Narcissus, the film itself named after his perfume).17 Responses to this question of smell’s sensual exceptionality in our cinematic experience (and our everyday life) are extremely complex. They emerge, perhaps, first from the differentially-structured discretion of the senses – smell marked most particularly by its pervasiveness, its presence as both within and without the lived body so that ‘who’ smells and ‘what’ smells conflate in the smell ‘itself’. Furthermore, smell, unlike our other senses, seems quickly to erase or efface itself in a physiological process of ‘odour adaptation’, in which, after a short period of time, a given odour is no longer perceived as explicit.18 Thus, odour is experienced not only in our awareness of its standing out as a figure against the air we breathe as a particular smell but also as unspecific and diffuse, generalised with every breath we take into the naturalised and unnoticed ‘atmosphere’ or (back)ground of our ‘being in the world’.19 Indeed, Aroma begins by quoting a man who realises these figure/ground qualities of smell only after he’s lost his sense of both of them: ‘It was like being struck blind. [ . . . ] You smell people, you smell books, you smell the city, you smell the spring – maybe not consciously, but as a rich unconscious background to everything else’.20 Under ordinary circumstances, however, and as Grenouille observes in S¨uskind’s novel, the olfactory context that constitutes our general atmosphere is not experienced as the ‘special smell’ of things but, rather, as the unremarked upon and enveloping ‘very air’ within which we live and breathe – ‘like clothes you have worn so long you no longer smell them or feel them against your skin’.21 In this regard, it is notable that, unlike smell, our other senses (sight, hearing, touch, and to lesser degree, taste which entails smell) all emerge in relatively more explicit figure/ground structures that have allowed us (whether by nature or

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nurture) to figurally discriminate and identify their elements much more elaborately than we do with smell.22 Certainly, there are cultures, such as the Pitjantjatjara people of the Western Desert of Australia, in which smell has great epistemological or spiritual prominence.23 However, although specific olfactory figurations may be foregrounded in cultural contexts such as seasonal or religious ritual, smells generally – and unspecifically – function as the ground of our existence. Thus, in Western cultures, unless we are parfumiers, chefs or sommeliers, gourmands or oenophiles, or unless we smell a socially disruptive odour like someone else’s fart, we do not generally practice what S¨uskind, in his novel, calls ‘fractionary smelling’. That is, unlike Grenouille, we do not walk about the world explicitly dissecting scents and separating their blended unity into specific components. It is certainly also the case that the historically particular hierarchical arrangement of the senses in modern Western culture has generally subordinated and weakened the consciously proactive (rather than merely responsive) epistemological and social functions of smell. Classen, Howes and Synnott write in Aroma that the ‘denigration’ of smell is ‘directly linked to the revaluation of the senses which took place during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’, at which time ‘sight [became] the pre-eminent sense of reason and civilization’, and smell (aligned with madness, savagery and animality) became increasingly ‘silenced’ in the modern world.24 C. Nadia Seremetakis further suggests that the modern West’s general effacement of memory and imagination in sensory domains such as smell has been ‘a consequence of an extreme division of labour, perceptual specialization and rationalization’.25 Henri Lefebvre is even more emphatic; parsing the spaces and epistemological emphases of Western modernity, he tells us: [T]he pertinent fact is that everywhere in the modern world smells are being eliminated. What is shown by this immense deodorizing campaign, which makes use of every available means to combat natural smells, whether good or bad, is that the transposition of everything into the idiom of images, of spectacle, of verbal discourse, and of writing and reading is but one aspect of a much vaster enterprise.26 Thus, other than, for example, smelling something burning or milk gone sour in the refrigerator, we no longer depend upon our sense of smell to save our lives or preserve our health. We also erase certain smells by deodorising, homogenising, or covering them with other – and increasingly crafted – scents like Chanel No. 5

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(the first chemically-synthetic fragrance) that then figure against the naturalised – if increasingly foul – air we breathe.27 Is it any wonder, then, that given not only the relative weakness of a constant and sharply-delineated figure/ground structure to our olfactory experience but also the fact of our relatively passive and sensually-reduced olfactory practices, that we, in contemporary Western cultures that supposedly ‘smell good’, are not very good at smelling?

II In this epistemological and sensory context, it thus would seem completely counterintuitive to suggest that we might in some way ‘smell’ a film, although in vernacular English we often say one ‘stinks’. Indeed, it seems absurd to propose a film as possessing or evoking an ‘aroma’ at all – aside, that is, from the various (and often hilarious) historical attempts to ‘add’ discrete scents to the cinematic scene from an external off-screen theatrical source. These attempts began early in cinema’s history.28 In 1908, long before Bazin described the impulse to reproduce our perceptual experience of the world in full as ‘the myth of total cinema’, the exhibitor Samuel L. (‘Roxy’) Rothafel delighted the patrons of his Family Theatre in Forest City, Pennsylvania, by ‘dipping cotton into a rose essence and [putting] it in front of an electric fan’ to scent a newsreel of the Pasadena Rose Parade.29 In 1929, perfume was sprayed from the ceiling during a New York screening of The Broadway Melody, and screenings of Hollywood Review at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles were enhanced with orange scent ‘during a big musical number called “Orange Blossom Time”’.30 Many years later, in the 1950s, during a decade marked by enhancements of the sensory experience of cinema as a response to the ‘threat’ of television, along with wide-screen and 3-D technologies, movie patrons saw the emergence of various attempts to add smell to the cinematic sensorium. In 1957, Morton Heilig (often called the father of Virtual Reality) invented ‘Sensorama’ as a harbinger of the ‘cinema of the future’. However, this response to the ‘myth of total cinema’, which synchronised 3D motion pictures with seat vibrations, tactile-feedback handlebars, artificial breezes, stereo sound and, yes, smell, could only accommodate a maximum of four people and remained an obscure and unprofitable novelty.31 Less obscure were ‘AromaRama’ and ‘Smell-O-Vision’.32 At the end of 1959, ‘AromaRama’ (pre-empting ‘Smell-O-Vision’ by what Newsweek called ‘a nose’) debuted with a scented travelogue about China, Behind

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the Great Wall, its promotional injunction ‘You must breathe it to believe it’.33 The film offered patrons 31 odours (including jasmine, incense, soy sauce, a tiger, grassy fields, a waterfront), these dispensed through the theatre’s ventilating system and then (supposedly) removed by an air purifier. A month later in 1960, ‘Smell-O-Vision’ debuted Scent of Mystery, a film, with known actors and a much more elaborate system, that used its ‘smell brain’ to link a series of scent containers on a motorised reel to specific cues on the soundtrack in order to release smells such as baked bread, orange, garlic, pipe smoke, port wine and shoe polish through tubing located under each theatre seat.34 The promotional material for this comedy-thriller exclaimed: ‘First They Moved (1895)! Then They Talked (1927)! Now They Smell!’ Despite the rhetoric, these attempts at fulfilling Bazin’s ‘myth of total cinema’ failed miserably. Although ‘AromaRama’ used Freon gas to supposedly diffuse the scents so as to keep each of them spatially and temporally discrete from the others, the odours often mixed in irrelevant or unpleasant ways and were so potent as to cause a Time reviewer to write that they were ‘strong enough to give a bloodhound a headache’.35 Then there was the problem of the scents themselves. How does one go about creating the ‘typical’ odour of something? Thus, of Behind the Great Wall, one critic wrote: ‘A beautiful old pine grove in Peking smells rather like a subway rest room on disinfectant day’.36 ‘Smell-OVision’ was also doomed. Daily Variety reported that aromas for Scent of Mystery were released with a ‘distracting hissing noise’ and that the audience in the balcony complained that the scents reached them several seconds after the pertinent action on screen. Elsewhere in the theatre, the odours were too faint, ‘causing audience members to sniff loudly in an attempt to catch the scent’.37 However, according to one reviewer (whose turn of phrase evokes synaesthesia), compared to ‘AromaRama’, the odours dispensed by ‘Smell-O-Vision’ didn’t ‘stink so loud’.38 Some 20 years later in 1981, John Waters paid ‘camp’ homage to these earlier attempts to infuse the cinema with scent using a simpler technology. ‘Scratch and sniff’ cards were distributed to the audience of an ‘Odorama’ version of his film, Polyester, scenes of which were numerically cued to numbered odours on the card. Most of the film’s odours were what Waters called ‘bad smells’ such as farts, garbage and old socks, and were meant to confirm its prologue assertion that ‘some things in life just plain stink’.39 Promotional material told prospective viewers: ‘It’ll Blow Your Nose’. More recently, in 2006, another venture into cinematic olfaction occurred – this for a limited run in Tokyo and Osaka of Terrence Malick’s The New World. NTT Communications, a Japanese telecom

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corporation, working with the film’s distributor and mimicking ‘Smell-O-Vision’, installed a sophisticated electronically-synchronised system of ‘scent generators’ located under their theatres’ ‘more-pricey “aroma premium seats’” (33 out of 470). Seven computer-controlled odours were released in seven scenes, these cued, however, not to specific objects on screen but to the emotional tone of the sequence. To great degree, paralleling the affectively-coded manner in which colour filters and scene tinting were used in silent cinema to modulate tone and mood, floral scents were released for a love scene, peppermint and rosemary during a sad portion of the film, orange and grapefruit for a joyful scene, and eucalyptus and a combination of herbs for a scene involving anger.40 In The Scent of Desire, Rebecca Herz lauds this strategy as ‘more effective than trying to match odours with momentary visuals’ – especially since ‘olfaction is a very slow sense compared to vision’.41 Nonetheless, this strategy created other problems. One patron felt the experience was like ‘watching a movie while an aromatherapy clinic was being held in the lobby’, and, in a scentless scene in which Pocahontas smells the pages of a book, the absence of any aroma was ‘acutely felt [by] the scent-expectant viewers’.42 All these olfactory ‘enhancements’ of the cinema seem funny, if not downright misguided. Indeed, Avery Gilbert in What the Nose Knows notes that, in 1980, ‘Smell-O-Vision’ was nominated by two critics for their Golden Turkey Award ‘in the category of “Most Inane and Unwelcome Technical Advance in Hollywood History”’, and, in 1999, ‘made Time’s list of the 100 Worst Ideas of the Century’.43 Unlike certain (and rare) uses of olfaction in conjunction with cinema to construct a self-consciously sensual theatrical experience,44 these attempts to ‘integrate’ external scents with the world onscreen seem far too literal. They seem to ignore the fact that the cinema is a medium as well as a technological apparatus and thus it mediates and transforms (as well as transports) literal perception to also figural perception. Thus, the focus is on smelling a film literally rather than on inhabiting and breathing in – in mediated and displaced form – the atmosphere and scents of an alternate world that appears in the space ‘here’ before us but is always also ‘elsewhere’ in its presence, ‘there’ on the screen. In essence (to pun in this context!), supplementing the cinema’s literal lack of scent by imposing odours upon it from without constitutes not an olfactory cinematic world but a ‘perfuming’ of the film’s material body (precisely what the scentless Grenouille must do for others to smell him in both S¨uskind’s novel and Tykwer’s film). From this perspective, the ‘problem’ of smell (for exhibitors as well as for Grenouille) becomes focused upon finding technological solutions to the cinema’s scentlessness as well as upon the external regulation of

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simulated – and thus idealised – olfactory content, the latter only tenuously related to (albeit meant to signify) its specific onscreen source and particular world. Smells, however, as Lefebvre notes, are not really ‘decodable . . . nor can they be inventoried, for no inventory of them can have either a beginning or an end’.45 Hence the fact that the ‘inventoried’ theatrical smell meant to ‘signify’ the fragrance of a cinematic pine forest was ‘decoded’ as the pungent smell of a deodorised lavatory. Indeed, as Laura Marks writes: ‘When it is separated from its source and packaged, smell becomes a simulacrum, the scent of non-place’.46 Not only is an idealised odour made a single figure of our consciousness against the transparent ground of the smells of the theatre but also it is often not a ‘figure’ for us with such insistence, blending instead into the naturalised ground of the smells we passively breathe. Thus, such figured – and figural – odours are oddly distanced from both their technical origin and their cinematic context. They have ‘no place’ in the darkened theatre and ‘no place’ onscreen. Just as important, this external and ‘additive’ sensory enhancement of what is thought of as a scentless cinema seems based on the premise that our senses are clearly bounded domains, each separate from the others, their linkage merely an a posteriori perceptual and experiential conjunction. Objectively regarded, then, movies would seem to be odourless. However, as I suggested, if we look at the subjective aspects of the cinematic experience, might we argue otherwise? Perhaps – but, as I’ve also suggested previously, there are some significant problems with the subjective fulfilment of our sense of smell at the cinema (aside, that is, from the extra-filmic olfactory realisation of our popcorn and candy). Although both the phenomenology of perception and contemporary neuroscience have demonstrated that ‘clinical synaesthesia’ is grounded in a more holistic, pervasive and, indeed, ontological, cross-modal imbrication and cooperation of all the senses, each with the others, the sense of smell nonetheless presents us with a conundrum.47 Research as well as experience show that smell seems a great deal less ‘cooperative’ and ‘translatable’ than the other senses, even though, as Herz notes, olfactory information is related from the olfactory cortex and the limbic system ‘to diverse regions of the brain, including the vision, taste, and touch centres’.48 We do know, of course, that smell and taste are fundamentally linked not only functionally but also structurally; as neuroscientists V. S. Ramachandran and E. M. Hubbard point out, ‘brain pathways for smell and taste are closely intermingled and project to the same parts of the frontal cortex’.49 Nonetheless, neuroscientist Richard Cytowic’s clinical research has demonstrated that, in terms of synaesthetic cross-modality, ‘it is rare for smell . . . to be either the trigger or the synesthetic [sic] response’.50 Furthermore, Cytowic writes that

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aside from a single clinical case, he has ‘found no other in which sight evokes smell’.51 Thus, and significant for the cinematic experience, the synaesthetic link between smell and vision seems particularly tenuous. And yet there are many of us who, if only momentarily, have in some very real (if elusive) way subjectively experienced the scents of what we objectively see on screen; that is, we have made not only optical sense but also olfactory sense of our vision as the latter expands to accommodate the sensual world onscreen. Certainly, compared to the audiovisual activation of our more sustained kinetic or tactile sense-making at the movies, this cinematic activation of olfactory experience is relatively rare, temporally fleeting, and spatially modulated so as to quickly become diffuse – as is the usual perceptual dynamic of scent itself. Nevertheless, this olfactory experience does occur, drawing upon (and to different degrees) our capacity not only for synaesthetic transliteration of the senses but also for sense memory and sensory imagination. In their respective studies of smell, both Herz and Gilbert begin chapters on olfactory memory by evoking Marcel Proust’s ‘madeleine biscuit soaked with linden tea’ bringing back through smell and taste a long-forgotten memory – and this involuntarily, without a thought.52 Might audiovisual cues do the same? – for, if so, that would open up the sensory possibilities of cinema to olfaction. A salient instance of cinema provoking the sense of smell (if to a limited portion of its audience) involves Steven Spielberg’s Second World War epic, Saving Private Ryan.53 In a listserv for historians, one discussant posted (and several others agreed) how, in the opening scenes of LST boats landing on the beach on D-Day, the film had evoked literally for him, a veteran of a later war, ‘the smell of salt, water, vomit, piss, and fear’.54 Here, the poster’s ‘personal’ olfactory memory of a war he fought connected him across time – and the senses – to the smells of a war he didn’t. Olfactory imagination is another matter. Research has demonstrated that ‘merely reading an odour-related word is enough to activate olfactory regions of the brain’; indeed, fMRI brain imaging reveals that ‘odour words automatically and immediately activate their semantic networks in the [brain’s] olfactory cortices’.55 Indeed, as Herz notes, ‘The most compelling data supporting imagery with our other senses comes from neuroimaging studies, which show that the same areas of the brain are active during imagining and perceiving a particular sensation’ – although she goes on to point out that ‘the parts of the brain involved in actually smelling . . . do not overlap neatly with the parts of the brain that are active when you image [an] aroma’.56 What she suggests is that, for most people, ‘the image of an aroma is derived from related perceptions and memories’ – these conjuring ‘the feeling’ of smelling the smell rather than actually smelling it.57

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III Certainly, Tykwer’s Perfume solicits olfactory memory and olfactory imagination from its viewers, both articulated in a broad range of ‘user comments’ on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB).58 This discursive field – its comments about the film from English-speaking viewers from the USA, Australia, the UK and Europe – is most useful not as a quantitative and objective survey but as the qualitative expression of a subjective perceptual experience and, in this instance, a particularly confounding one. For example, in relation to the synaesthetic transliteration of vision to olfaction, one viewer tells us: ‘In this colourful and gripping film, you can literally “smell” the pictures. Sometimes they are captivating, sometimes awful. [ . . . ] A must see. Or, should I say, a must “smell”!’ Another says: ‘Although it is pretty hard to smell something you cannot smell because you are only watching a movie, from the first shot in the [fish] market, you have actually the feeling that you can smell it all’. And yet another posts: ‘This is one of the most sensual films I have ever seen. The film manages to convey the bad smell of an earlier epoch. If smell could be visible, this film makes smells visible, from dirty bodies to fields of lavender. Don’t see this film if you have a cold’. While most of the IMDB viewers either praise or criticise Perfume for its capacity or incapacity to make them ‘almost’ smell the film’s world (an olfactory experience to which I will return), the viewers quoted here clearly did in some way actually smell it. That is, at certain moments, their olfactory sense was not only cross-modally activated by what they saw but also phenomenologically fulfilled by it. Indeed, watching the film, I, also, found my sense of smell fulfilled on two separate occasions: once when a dense shower of intensely red flower petals rained down from a chute to fill both the screen and perfumer Baldini’s basement laboratory and I smelled roses – an instance, perhaps, of olfactory memory; and again when, with the camera, we track exuberantly across a vast field of lavender in the town of Grasse and I smelled a scent primarily grassy but also vaguely floral – this, in part, an instance of olfactory imagination consonant with the fact that I really have no clear sense of what lavender actually smells like. Although in the minority, several IMDB posters explicitly invoke their sense memory as contributing to their fulfilled experience of smell. One, for example, writes: ‘I had been to Grasse; I saw and smelled the endless lavender and flower fields in reality and I relived these moments in [the] movie’. Here, Seremetakis is particularly apposite in her emphasis on ‘memory [as] the horizon of sensory experience’. She writes: ‘There is no such thing as one moment of perception and then another of memory, representation or objectification. Mnemonic processes

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are intertwined with the sensory order in such a manner as to render each perception a re-perception’.59 This is particularly the case with smell, which among the senses is most intimately connected to memory, suddenly and sensuously bridging time without a thought.60 Thus, like the smell and taste of Proust’s madeleine (indeed, taste is given its nuance and fullness by smell), specific sights in Perfume involuntarily stirred the IMDB viewer’s olfactory sense memory and, without a thought, he or she smelled the fields and flowers of Grasse once again. Most of the IMDB viewers of Tykwer’s film who experienced a form of olfactory satisfaction, however, articulate neither an unmediated and involuntary cross-modal response nor a sense memory. Certainly, these processes are operative to a degree at all times but, for these viewers, if entailed in fulfilling some figural sense of smell, they are implicit. Rather, these appreciative viewers draw explicitly upon their capacity for sensory imagination – the very word ‘imagination’ always already linking our senses to some subjective form of ‘optical consciousness’ (if not objective ‘visibility’). It is thus not surprising that these viewers voice their sensory imagination in explicit relation to Perfume’s cinematography. Consider the following comments: ‘Even if you cannot smell the things, you can imagine how they smell which may be due to the camera work’; ‘I loved the cinematography, and they actually accomplished conveying the smell of whatever [Grenouille] was sniffing; in a way you saw it visually and used your imagination too’; ‘The way the sense of smelling is filmed is absolutely wonderful. The lack of smell in a movie is successfully compensated [for] with suggestive imagery. It is as if you really smell all the smells and more’. Here olfactory experience cannot be attributed solely to the specificity of some previous olfactory sense ‘memory’ (as was the case with the viewer who had been to Grasse). Rather, although grounded in implicit sensory memory, and empathy, it emerges as a constitutive, creative and empathetic extrapolation from visible cinematic imagery. Indeed, many of the IMDB viewer comments are quite specific about the various cinematic strategies Tykwer uses to provoke (successfully or not) their olfactory imagination. One such strategy is to focus on and bring close the aromatic or odiferous object. A viewer writes: ‘Compared to the eye, the nose is a sense organ of short distances. In the film, the camera approaches its objects to such a degree that you can discern every hair and pore of human skin’. And another elaborates: ‘We have hyper-real imagery, using stunning macro shots that are extreme close-ups in startling detail . . . the explosive splash of a single drop of essence falling into a pool . . . maggots in a rat, the filth of the fishmonger, bad teeth, dirty hands, all in amazing, sometimes squeamish detail’. In an essay

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focused on the ‘logic of smell’, Laura Marks suggests that ‘the audiovisual medium can call on the sense of smell’ through such close-ups, this strategy eliciting ‘an identification with the object itself, as much as with the person smelling it’.61 Thus Perfume often puts the viewer into optically direct sensual contact with the olfactory object, unmediated by Grenouille’s sensorium (if, perhaps, primed by his olfactory acuity and mediated by his unseen sensibility). From a phenomenological perspective, we might understand how, for some viewers, the extreme close-up with its intensification of detail and quasiproximate bodily ‘nearness’ of the intentional olfactory object in Perfume provokes a vision that is sensually ‘hyperbolised’ – that is, augmented beyond its own discrete optically-structural horizons to also become ‘almost’ smell. As an effect of this strategy, vision may be experienced as expanded and transported beyond its ‘natural’ sensorial limits to become felt not only as sensually ‘more’ vision but also as sensually ‘otherwise’ than vision – as ‘quasi-aromatic’, as ‘latent’, and perceived as ‘more than vision’ and ‘less than a smell’, but a smell nonetheless. This ambivalent structure (a smell and not a smell, ‘almost’ a smell) does not only negatively frustrate olfactory sense and emphasise some ultimate absence; rather, it must also be recognised as positively yielding a real olfactory presence, a sense of smell of some kind. Hence, its ambivalent structure can be ambivalently valued by those who experience it. Certainly, not all viewers of Perfume had a fulfilled olfactory experience and, indeed, several expressed irritation at the object’s insistently close-up olfactory solicitation when they smelled nothing at that solicitation’s ‘intentional terminus’. One irritated viewer, for example, felt the film ‘taunted’ his nose and ‘denied’ him ‘odours, stenches, aromas and perfumes’ – although he goes on to praise a cinematic strategy he found more effective, admitting that ‘the way the [camera] managed to visually crawl up Jean-Baptiste’s nose’ caused him to ‘almost’ have ‘a massive olfactory experience’. Indeed, Jennifer M. Barker notes that the film’s use of the slow zoom from outside to inside Grenouille’s body at the film’s beginning dramatically collapses ‘the space between inside and outside . . . and between objective and subjective viewpoints’, and is a cinematic movement that ‘makes palpable the transitive space and time that exist between the perceiving subject and the perceived object, between interiority and exteriority’.62 Barker goes on to argue that the zooms in Perfume are less depictive than performative: enacting subjectively ‘the phenomenological act of smelling, which is characterized by movement, transitivity, and “inbetweenness”’.63 That is, as a strategy, the zoom acts as the movement and form of an intensified olfactory attention that modulates experience; it ‘doesn’t “visualize” smell as much as it “scents” vision,

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rendering it in olfactory terms’.64 In this regard, Barker writes of the film zooming us close in to (and into) the objects the young Grenouille ‘finds particularly odiferous: an overripe apple, warm stones, cold water, tadpoles floating about in their eggs, and the rotting intestines of a dead rat’.65 This movement from watching Grenouille smell the world to an extreme close-up on the odiferous object makes the latter sensually available to us in a manner that overcomes the distance of vision and includes a commixture of smell with haptic textures, experienced at once as both outside and inside. The movement of the zoom from outside to inside and from objective to subjective also points to a second strategy noted by several IMDB posters in which the viewer’s sense of smell is provoked by mimetic identification with an onscreen character.66 As Marks puts it: ‘We watch someone smell something and we identify with them’.67 Here, phenomenologically speaking, we are solicited to identify directly – and corporeally – not with the intentional olfactory object but with the intentional olfactory act. Trying to identify a scent that attracts him, we watch and understand as Grenouille shuts his own eyes and concentrates his attention – smelling seen (cross-modally) as much like listening. In this regard, the film’s use of subjectively-selective sound – particularly in the form of sound close-ups – also enhances mimetic identification. As one viewer puts it: ‘It is as if you really smell all the smells and more. [ . . . ] You can actually hear [ . . . ] Grenouille [ . . . ] smell’. Both in the film and in the language this poster uses to describe their experience, the ordinary synaesthetic cooperation and crossmodality of the senses is made explicit. Indeed, as viewers, insofar as our own lived bodies engage in the potentiality of what might be called a ‘mimetic comportment’ in relation to characters onscreen, we may (and often without a thought) engage in the actual act of smelling an imaginary visible world – even if we’re not successful in realising its smells. That is, however latent the awareness, our lived bodies know and understand what it is to prospect the world through smell, how and where a scent is scented, how one’s nostrils may flare to take in an odour or tighten in an attempt to block it. This is not to say that we watch Perfume (to our olfactory satisfaction or not) by scrunching up our noses or sniffing loudly – but, in the process of making sense of both the scene and seen, we (as well as the film) are provoked to mimetic corporeal enactment. Again, however, this cinematically-induced mimesis of olfactory comportment and act can constitute quite differently valued experiences for the viewer. The film’s very vigorous solicitation of the viewer’s olfactory activity may lead to great olfactory disappointment at the lack of olfactory pay-off in an actual smell. Alternatively, as in the case of one IMDB viewer, it may also lead to an

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enhanced and prolonged awareness of what it is to smell the world. ‘After this movie’, he posts, ‘you will have an impression that everything smells’. Indeed, here Perfume presents an especially fascinating conundrum. The film (through both voice-over narration and visible dramatisation) constantly emphasises Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s acute – even inhuman – sense of smell. We see him (very often in close-up) actively exploring and prospecting worldly space with his nose, the sense organ overtly responding to olfactory direction: quivering, probing the air, sniffing. The problem is that we, as ordinary humans in modern Western culture, do not customarily comport ourselves – and our noses – in such an extraordinarily active manner. That is, the visibly vigorous activity of olfaction is highly regulated in our deodorised culture, and its physical display regarded as utterly peculiar and obtrusive, if not downright rude. As Lefebvre says of our ‘modern’ noses: ‘One can’t help feeling [ . . . ] that to carry around an atrophied organ which still claims its due must be somewhat pathogenic’.68 In this regard, Grenouille seems alien (as, indeed, he is) and it is difficult, watching him objectively, to subjectively align our olfactory comportment with his. Thus, in response to close-ups of him smelling, we may well become alienated, if also fascinated – drawn, that is, not to mimetically and corporeally identify with his overly-vigorous olfactory activity but, rather, from a distance, to ‘watch’ him smell the world literally. Indeed, for me, one of the most uncanny moments in the film is when, in his filthy cradle, the infant Grenouille, in close-up, suddenly scrunches up his nostrils and actively smells the world – not baby ‘cute’ but chillingly inhuman despite his human form. One particular olfactory moment in the film points to this dilemma of identification in an extremely striking way. Not in the novel, this is a scene that ends with the discovery of Grenouille’s buried female victims in his workshop. At a key moment, we follow one of the victim’s dog – as, its nose close to the ground, actively sniffing, it recognises her scent and, ultimately, leads the police to the murdered girls’ hidden graves.69 What struck me as extraordinary was that I found it easier to identify subjectively – and imaginatively – with the dog’s olfactory activity than with Grenouille’s. In this instance, the visibly active, sniffing, snuffling, olfactory prospection of the world was more corporeally familiar – more mimetically available – to me through a dog than through the strange (and estranged) twitchings and scrunchings of a human nose from which I often felt distanced because of the unfamiliar overtness of this very activity. Thus it was only through the mediation of the dog that I was able to make more than intellectual sense of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s experience of his world. Here, it is worth noting a similar instance of mediation in relation to a heightened sense

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of smell in one of neurologist Oliver Sacks’ cases, recounted briefly in his The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales. The case centres on a young man who, after taking amphetamines, experienced a neurological episode lasting three weeks in which he perceived the world as might a dog. His colour vision, visual perception and memory all were enhanced with the aid of smell. His world became, he said, ‘infinitely redolent’ – ‘a world in which all other sensations, enhanced as they were, paled before smell. And with all this there went a sort of trembling, eager emotion, and a strange nostalgia as of a lost world, half forgotten, half recalled’. He recognised everything by smell; people had what he called a ‘smell-face’ and he could ‘smell their emotions, fear, contentment, sexuality’. Sacks writes that, to the young man, smell seemed ‘a whole aesthetic, a whole judgment, a whole significance, which surrounded him’.70 And so it must have been with Grenouille. Nonetheless, watching Grenouille from the outside as his nose visibly twitched and sniffed the air for scents to follow, one IMDB viewer criticised: ‘When they showed a close-up on the guy’s nose, I thought to myself: Is this the only way they will show the smelling process? That would be really dull’. And another comments: ‘The constant close-ups on . . . Grenouille’s nose to convey that he smells something is a little akin to an extreme ear close-up to tell us there is a sound we should hear’. This last viewer, however, goes on to praise the film. ‘Aside from this misstep’, he writes, ‘Tykwer’s solution to the smell problem is excellent: close-ups, enhanced sound, vivid colour, and rapid cutting to get a sense of a great array of scent from the putrid fish market where Grenouille is born to the beautiful lavender fields of [Grasse]’. This articulation is particularly provocative. What might it mean to ‘get a sense of a great array of scent’ in Perfume? – particularly if, as with this viewer, imaginative mimesis with the discrete olfactory act and ‘identification’ with the discrete olfactory object are problematic as well as often editorially fragmented from each other. Here, it is important to emphasise that, phenomenologically, in existence, olfactory act and object are irreducibly – ontologically – linked each to the other in the intentional fulfilment of our sense of smell. Furthermore, act and object occur always in a context that is experienced as an inexhaustibly rich ‘world’ that matters – a world in which all our senses are mobilised (if to different degrees) in acts of making not only ‘scents’ but also sense and value, the latter signalled and coloured – often intensely as in Tykwer’s film – by emotion and various tonal qualities affected by it. Thus, it is of particular interest that most IMDB viewers express olfactory fulfilment less of a discrete and particular object’s smell or from their own olfactory activity than they do of a much more generalised olfactory perception and

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experience – that is, from ‘getting a sense’ of the whole atmosphere of Grenouille’s olfactory world. Consider, then, the following – and most common – kind of postings from those IMDB viewers who, even if they could not smell Perfume precisely, felt sensually fulfilled by it as a whole: ‘[While the film] can’t actually make you smell all the scents and odours, [ . . . ] the images and the music allow you to experience the atmosphere and the emotions Grenouille is feeling when he takes in the scents of his environment’; ‘It’s overwhelming how Tykwer’s picture language lets you experience not only all kinds of smells but also the atmosphere of life in the eighteenth-century’; ‘The music, the acting, the colours, the life in this movie, the smells from everywhere!’; ‘The director lures you into a world where he captures the emotion of scent and wants you [ . . . ] to feel the aroma that our anti-hero is after’; ‘Tracking shots across landscapes and through intimate spaces, a swelling and yearning string-based sound track. [ . . . ] these things, for the most part [ . . . ] leave us actually able to conceive of just what scent means to Jean-Baptiste’; ‘It might be impossible to [ . . . ] fully understand the world in which Grenouille lives but [the film] does manage to create a similar vibe that brings us close to what Grenouille “feels” when he smells [ . . . ] with the help of an amazing soundtrack and great camera work. [ . . . ] Open your mind to images and sounds and try to imagine what your feeling could “smell” like’. What is particularly significant in the expressions here is that smell is experienced neither literally nor discretely as particular smells but, rather, as an affective quality of both a world and a whole sensual experience. In this regard, as phenomenological description reveals and some neuroscientists have suggested, smell is ‘protopathic’: that is, ‘elemental’ and ‘full of feeling-tone’.71 To varying degrees of intensity, in Perfume (as well as potentially in other films), smell is thus linked synaesthetically to vision and hearing – but this linkage is not literal or direct; rather, it occurs through the affective mediation of tonal elements that subjectively modulate and ‘qualify’ the objects and people we see onscreen. Most obvious because they are ‘given’ rather than remembered or imagined, these tonal elements are colour and music. Thus, it is apposite that Tykwer not only pays great attention to colour (as in the lavender fields or the shower of rose petals) but also elaborates on S¨uskind’s connection of scent with music. In the novel, Baldini speaks of perfume as having ‘high’, ‘middle’ and ‘low’ notes but, in the film, Baldini speaks as well in musical terms implicating temporal simultaneity and succession: chords, melody, harmony, over- and undertones. It is on the phenomenological mark that viewers refer to ‘atmosphere’, ‘emotion’, ‘swelling and yearning’, to ‘what your feeling could “smell” like’, and – most tellingly – to

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the film’s ‘vibe’. Thus, although smell in Perfume, and in the cinema, is infrequently experienced in relation to the object of a focused olfactory act – that is, as a particular odour – it is most often experienced as the diffused atmosphere of a cinematic world. Appealing to the sense and corporeal meaning of smell not through external and additive odours but through the cross-modality and synthesis of the senses, both Perfume and its viewers engage in tonally-intensified and hyperbolically-modulated acts of seeing and hearing that extend their sensory boundaries to confer, if not odour itself, then affective olfactory value on the world. In sum, even when not externally perfumed, the cinema does not exclude our noses in its provocation of our whole sensorium to acts of sensory memory, imagination, mimetic identification and corporeal meaning.72

NOTES 1 S¨uskind, Patrick, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, trans. Woods, John E. (New York: Vintage Books, 2001). The original publication date in Germany was 1985. 2 Ebert, Roger, Review of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, 5 January 2007, at http://rogerebert.suntimes.com [accessed 17 April 2012]. 3 Popova, Yanna B., ‘“The Fool Sees with his Nose”: Metaphoric Mapping in the Sense of Smell in Patrick S¨uskind’s Perfume’, Language and Literature 12:2 (2003), p. 136. 4 ‘Odor di Femina’ is the title of an essay by Carol Mavor in James Drobnick (ed.), The Smell Culture Reader (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), this in a section called ‘Sexuality and Identity’. 5 Classen, Constance, Howes, David and Synnott, Anthony, Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 4. 6 Classen, Howes and Synnott: Aroma, p. 5. 7 Classen, Howes and Synnott: Aroma, p. 5. 8 Bazin, Andr´e, ‘The Myth of Total Cinema’, in What is Cinema?, trans. Gray, Hugh (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967). Bazin writes of those who dreamed of cinema before its initial realisation: ‘In their imaginations they saw the cinema as a total and complete representation of reality; they saw in a trice the reconstruction of a perfect illusion of the outside world in sound, colour, and relief ’, p. 20. Bazin, of course, does not mention the ‘near’ senses: kinesis, touch, smell and taste. However, although his emphasis is on representation, the desire for a ‘perfect illusion’ demands as well an emphasis on a ‘totality’ of perception. 9 Bazin: ‘The Myth of Total Cinema’, p. 21. 10 For elaboration of the film itself as both viewer and viewed, see Sobchack, Vivian, The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).

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11 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Phenomenology of Perception, trans. Smith, Colin (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962), p. 223. See also, Cytowic, Richard E., ‘Synaesthesia: Phenomenology and Neuropsychology: A Review of Current Knowledge’, Psyche 2, no. 10 (1995), n. p., available at http://webpub.allegheny.edu/employee/ a/adale/p108/Synaesthesia%20Phenomenology%20And%20Neuropsychology.htm [accessed 10 May 2012]. 12 Merleau-Ponty: Phenomenology of Perception, p. 230. 13 Merleau-Ponty: Phenomenology of Perception, p. 229. Neuropsychologist Cytowic agrees with Merleau-Ponty, suggesting clinical ‘synaesthesia as the premature display of a normal cognitive process’ and ‘that we are all synesthetic’ even if ‘only a handful of people are consciously aware of the holistic nature of perception’ (‘Synaesthesia’). 14 See, for examples, my ‘What My Fingers Knew: The Cinesthetic Subject, or Vision in the Flesh’, in Vivian Sobchack, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004); Dyer, Richard, ‘Action!’ Sight and Sound 4:10 (October 1994), pp. 7–10; and the chapter ‘Viscera’ in Jennifer M. Barker, The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009). This kinetic entailment of film and viewer exists even without the few instances of objective technological enhancement of the kinesis of the viewing experience: The Tingler (William Castle, 1959) which used ‘Percepto!’ (small vibrators) attached to selected theatre seats – and, currently, the motionsensitive D-Box tested in a year-end San Diego screening of Sherlock Holmes (Guy Ritchie, 2009), which synchronises both the film’s ‘action’ and movement of the theatre seats themselves. 15 See Sobchack: ‘What My Fingers Knew’; Marks, Laura U., The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000) and Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002); and Barker, The Tactile Eye. 16 Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990); Like Water for Chocolate (Alfonso Arau, 1992). See Sobchack, ‘What My Fingers Knew’. 17 Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947). 18 See Herz, Rachel, The Scent of Desire: Discovering our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (New York: Harper, 2007), p. 84. 19 See Herz: The Scent of Desire, who writes: ‘Everyday we inhale at least twenty-three thousand times’, p. 20. 20 Classen, Howes and Synnott: Aroma, p. 1. 21 S¨uskind, Perfume, p. 33. 22 Herz: The Scent of Desire, writes that research suggests that those mammals which possess trichromatic (red, green, blue) colour vision have fewer olfactory receptors than those, like dogs, who are red-green colour blind. She writes: ‘The theory is that with the emergence of full colour vision we lost the need for detecting the world so keenly with our sense of smell, and there was essentially an exchange in importance between these two senses in primate evolution. The better you can see, the less acutely

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you need to smell. Animals, including humans, either have excellent colour vision or an excellent sense of smell, but not both. The finite size of the human brain is to blame’. p. 25. See Young, Diana, ‘The Smell of Greenness: Cultural Synaesthesia in the Western Desert’, Etnofoor (Special Issue: The Senses) 18:1 (2005), pp. 61–77. See also, Part II, ‘Explorations in Olfactory Difference’, in Classen, Howes and Synnott: Aroma, which discusses olfactory classification systems and functions in certain cultures in Brazil, Senegal, Cameroon as well referring to Incan and Chinese culture. There are also several relevant essays in The Smell Culture Reader. Classen, Howes, Synnott: Aroma, pp. 4–5. Seremetakis, C. Nadia, ‘The Memory of the Senses, Part I: Marks of the Transitory’, in Seremetakis, C. Nadia (ed.), The Senses Still: Perception and Memory as Material Culture in Modernity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), p. 9. Lefebvre, Henri, The Production of Space, trans. Nicholson-Smith, Donald (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), pp. 197–198. See Herz: The Scent of Desire, who points out that ‘Chanel No. 5 was . . . the first fragrance to be created with synthetic, that is, artificial chemicals’, p. 176. She also notes that, although developed in 1921, Chanel No. 5 came into prominence in the mid-1950s after a period of ‘conservative attitudes toward self-scenting’, pp. 174–175. For a detailed consideration of this history, see the chapter ‘Hollywood Psychophysics’ in Gilbert, Avery, What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life (New York: Crown, 2008). There is some debate about the date of this event. Both IJsselsteijn, Wijnand, ‘Presence in the Past: What can we learn from media history?’ in G. Riva, F. Davide, W. A. IJsselsteijn (eds), Being There: Concepts and Effects and Measurement of User Presence in Synthetic Environments (Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2003), p. 27; and Gilbert, What the Nose Knows, pp. 148–149 date this event as occurring in 1906. ‘Roxy’, however, did not open his first theatre, the Family Theatre in Forest City in which the scenting took place, until November 1908. (Thanks for this correction to Ross Melnick who is completing the first work solely devoted to Rothafel’s career.) Gilbert: What the Nose Knows, p. 149. See ‘Morton Heilig Bio: USC Interactive Media Division Weblog’, available at http://interactive.usc.edu/achievements/morton-heilig/ [Accessed 10 May, 2012]. Gilbert: What the Nose Knows, p. 147. ‘Scented Movies: The First Sniff?’ Newsweek, 9 November 1959, p. 106. See also Gilbert: What the Nose Knows, who notes that The Great Wall was re-edited using footage from an Italian travelogue about Red China and then ‘dubbed’ for smell. Gilbert also presents a detailed history of the development of 1950s’ cinematic smell technology (really begun in 1933) and the machinations to pre-empt Mike Todd Jr’.s more significant ‘Smell-O-Rama’ by ‘AromaRama’, pp. 155–166.

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34 Ijsselsteijn: ‘Presence in the Past’, p. 28. See also a review of the film (and process) in Variety, 1 January 1960 (accessed through the Internet Movie Data Base at http://www.imdb.com/). 35 ‘A Sock in the Nose’, Time, 21 December 1959, p. 57. 36 Ijsselsteijn: ‘Presence in the Past’, p. 28. 37 See review in Daily Variety, 1 January 1960. 38 Gilbert: What the Nose Knows, p. 164. 39 Waters, in Gilbert: What the Nose Knows, p. 166. 40 Herz: The Scent of Desire, pp. 230–231, p. 236; and ‘Movie Enhanced with Internet-based Fragrance System’, press release from NTC Communications dated 11 April 2006, available online at http://www.in70mm.com/news/ 2006/new world/index.htm [accessed 10 May 2012]. One can assume that either new-age aromatherapy or contemporary empirical research into the psychology of scent informed the choice of odours. In ‘aromatherapy’, orange oil is considered ‘euphoric’; herbs like basil are considered ‘warming’ and ‘stimulating’; chamomile is considered ‘soothing’ and ‘calming’. See Herz, who cites evidence that the ‘effects’ of these scents emerge from ‘learned associations’ rather than from inherent properties of the scent itself. Furthermore, these associations differ and are often opposed in different cultures, pp. 95–96. 41 Herz: The Scent of Desire, p. 231, 235. Herz writes that ‘it takes at least four hundred milliseconds after an odour has been presented for a smell sensation to be detected. [ . . . ] By contrast it takes your brain only forty-five milliseconds, one-tenth the time, to register that you’ve seen something’, p. 235. 42 Herz: The Scent of Desire, pp. 231, 236. 43 Gilbert: What the Nose Knows, pp. 147–148. 44 Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci-Lucchi are two collaborative artists who have mobilised scents for cinematic presentations/installations – for example, placing Bunsen burners filled with scent in front of the screen. They’ve also written several books on the power of smell. I thank Raymond Bellour for the reference. 45 Lefebvre: The Production of Space, p. 198. 46 Marks: The Skin of the Film, p. 245. 47 See Cytowic: ‘Synaesthesia: Phenomenology and Neuropsychology’, He writes: ‘We can . . . propose and test the concept of synaesthesia as the premature display of a normal cognitive process. This implies that we are all synesthetic, and that only a handful of people are consciously aware of the holistic nature of perception’, n. p. 48 Herz: The Scent of Desire, p. 21. 49 Ramachandran, V.S. and Hubbard, E.M., ‘The Phenomenology of Synaesthesia’, Journal of Consciousness Studies 10:8 (2003), p. 52. See also the chapter ‘A Nose for the Mouth’, in Gilbert: What the Nose Knows and the chapter ‘Craving’ in Herz: The Scent of Desire; both Gilbert and Herz point out that there are only five ‘tastes’ and that our sense of highly-nuanced sense of ‘flavour’ is primarily constituted by

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smell. Herz notes, as well, that we smell food twice: ‘once through [the] nose as food approaches it on the way to [the] mouth, called orthonasal olfaction, and again when the food is in [the] mouth, called retronasal olfaction, when the odours emitted from foods . . . move from the mouth back . . . and up behind the roof of the mouth into the nasal cavity’, p. 197. Cytowic: ‘Synaesthesia: Phenomenology and Neuropsychology’, n. p. Cytowic: ‘Synaesthesia: Phenomenology and Neuropsychology’, n. p. Herz: The Scent of Desire, p. 63. See Herz’s chapter ‘Scents of Time’ and Gilbert’s chapter ‘Recovered Memories’ in What the Nose Knows. Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998). H-Film (H-Net List for the Scholarly Study and Uses of Media), posted and accessed in July, 1998. Gilbert: What the Nose Knows, p. 134. It would take another essay to address the specific modes of appeal to ‘olfactory memory’ and ‘olfactory imagination’ mobilised linguistically in S¨uskind’s novel. For a fascinating essay on the use of language in the novel, see Popova, ‘The Fool Sees with his Nose’. Herz: The Scent of Desire, pp. 86–87. Herz: The Scent of Desire, p. 88. All comments come from the user comments of Perfume found on the Internet Movie Data Base (http://www.imdb.com/). Spelling, punctuation and grammar have been corrected by author. Material was taken in March 2007 from a total of 186 comments, most from Europe. Seremetakis: ‘The Memory of the Senses, Part I’, p. 9. (emphasis added.) On smell and memory, see the chapter, ‘Scents of Time’, in Herz: The Scent of Desire, and also the chapter ‘Recovered Memories’, in Gilbert: What the Nose Knows. Marks: Touch, p. 117. Barker, Jennifer M., ‘Neither Here nor There: Synaesthesia and the Cosmic Zoom’, New Review of Film and Television Studies 7: 3 (September 2009), p. 313. Barker: ‘Neither Here nor There’, p. 319. Barker: ‘Neither Here nor There’, p. 320. Barker: ‘Neither Here nor There’, p. 319. This notion of mimetic identification is now corroborated in neuroscientific accounts of ‘mirror neurons’ (which fire in concert with the activity of others – or images – even if our own movement does not come to visible realisation). Marks: Touch, p. 117. Lefebvre: The Production of Space, p. 198. See Herz: The Scent of Desire, who writes of olfactory receptors that ‘our 20 million receptors would look paltry to a dog, like the bloodhound, who has about 220 million receptors’, p. 20. See also n. 22 regarding the sensorial/neurological ‘trade-off’ between trichromatic colour vision and the sense of smell – dogs are red-green colour blind.

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70 Sacks, Oliver, ‘The Dog Beneath the Skin’, in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), pp. 156–157. 71 Sacks: ‘The Dog Beneath the Skin’, p. 158. 72 The first presentation of this chapter was at the invitation of Gertrud Koch and Robin Curtis for the conference ‘The Realm of the Senses: Synaesthetic Aspects of Perception’, at the Akademie der K¨unste, Berlin, April 2007. Jennifer M. Barker hosted the presentation of a second version in September 2007 as part of the series, ‘Sensational! Sensing Media Art and Theory’, at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. I thank them all – as well as Jane Stadler – for their very helpful comments and suggestions.

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Chapter 8

Thinking Multisensory Culture Laura U. Marks

Visual and cultural studies were founded with the intention to correct the apparent elitism and disciplinary narrowness of art history and related disciplines. However, the turn toward visual culture has left in place the sensory hierarchy that subtends Western philosophy, in which only the distance senses are vehicles of knowledge, and Western aesthetics, in which only vision and hearing can be vehicles of beauty. It seems that the democratisation of the object of aesthetic study to include high and low or popular arts has not really extended to non-visual objects, except for the audiovisual arts such as cinema. The neglect of touch, smell and taste (and to some extent, hearing) in visual culture descends particularly, of course, from art history, and generally from the tendency to dismiss the proximal senses as inferior that underpins Western thought. To include sense experience in our cultural analysis, we need to revisit the sensory hierarchy – while trying to retain the capacity for aesthetic judgement, knowledge and ethics associated with the ‘higher’ senses. And we have to do it before the new marketing of all sense experience does it for us. Recent questions of the affective dimension of sensuous experience permit a new epistemology and ethics that are immanent, grounded in the particularity of experience. Sense experience operates at a membrane between the sensible and the thinkable, and as Jacques Ranci`ere argues, art exacerbates this relationship: ‘The place of art is the place of an adequation between a sensible different from itself and a thought different from itself’.1 Thus a de-hierarchised aesthetics such as I am proposing would understand any sense experience as capable of opening in two directions, both potentially infinite: ‘outward’ to thought and ‘inward’ to the material.2 This chapter is illustrated with smells, which of course cannot be reproduced. Ideally, so that you can undergo the olfactory experiment on which my argument 144

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rests, you should be able to smell these ‘illustrations’ without knowing what they are. Ask a friend to gather and number the olfactory items listed in this footnote,3 but do not read the footnote yourself. For each example, smell the substance but avoid touching it or looking at it. Note how it smells and any associations you might have with it. For the moment, deal with the slight discomfort of having molecules up your nose without knowing what they are. Now, please smell substance number one. Smell receives a variety of attention in the history of Western philosophy: Aristotle the empiricist included smell, but not touch and taste, among the ‘noble’ senses. Islamic kalam philosophers counted touch and sight as the senses providing reliable knowledge, while the other senses perceive only ‘accidents’.4 The term aesthesis was introduced into philosophy relatively late, by Baumgarten in the eighteenth-century, and it was Lessing who defined aesthetics as the connection between the arts and the senses – but only the higher senses of vision and hearing. In transcendental philosophy, knowledge (in Baumgarten’s term, noeta, epistemology) must be emancipated from the senses, even though it may arrive through perception. The object of a sense perception (Baumgarten’s term aestheta, perception) can be called beautiful, as long as it is a distance sense, vision or hearing. Kant and Hegel both developed a hierarchical relation between the two remaining senses deemed capable of aesthetic experience, with hearing, the inner, temporal and more spiritual sense being above vision, the outer, spatial and more physical sense.5 For Kant, the bodily senses were capable of agreeable sensations, but not of beauty. Hegel argued that aesthetics is the transcendent rise from a sensuous particular to a universal truth, and was only possible through the distance senses: Smell, taste, and touch have to do with matter as such and its immediately sensuous qualities. [ . . . ] For this reason these senses cannot have to do with artistic objects, which are meant to maintain themselves in their real independence and allow of no purely sensuous relationship. What is agreeable for these senses is not the beauty of art.6 The place left for sensuous refinement is pleasure – the proximal senses are hedonic. I propose that the proximal senses, touch, taste and smell, are not only hedonic but may also be senses of knowledge (epistemology), vehicles of beauty (aesthetics) and even media of ethics. In this chapter my examples focus around smell – somewhat artificially, since most sensory events combine the experience

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of several senses simultaneously, but for purposes of argument. Why smell in particular? Because smell often brings with it a freight of personal affect: it seems to be the least translatable and most personal of all the senses. Smells can be semantically coded, but less easily than other sense perceptions for this reason. If smell can be a medium of shared knowledge, then I’d argue any sense can. I also note that smell may be the sense that best shows the mutual limits of psychoanalysis and non-psychoanalytic affect theory, in that the former pays little attention to the singularity of sense experience, while the latter does not have a concept of repression, both of which are important in the experience of smell. What you have been smelling is oil of truffles, which many people find has a provocatively, even unbearably gamy smell. Note how it’s reassuring to have a name associated with what you smelled. In fact, you may be able to smell it better now: studies show that an odour smells stronger when the smeller knows what it is. When you smelled what turned out to be truffles, you may well have thought you smelled human body odour, or some other organic smell that many people find noxious. Though semantically identifying the source of the smell probably makes it less noxious, you were in a sense right. Truffles have a chemical fingerprint that’s close to human body odour. This is why female pigs are used to hunt truffles. Truffles secrete a steroid, 5-alpha-androstenol, that is the same steroid that male pigs secrete to advertise their sexual availability; it’s also in human male perspiration and female urine. This three-part smell story – smelling, associating, knowing – shows that the ideal semantic window for perceiving smells may be in the middle of their signifying spectrum. When we know too little, or too much, about a smell, it moves beyond the heimlich: it ceases to communicate humanly. The smell of truffle reminds us of what we have in common with other desiring creatures. It does not reveal the fundamental naturalness of smell; it shows that cultivated odours operate across a membrane from the material to the symbolic, the asocial to the communal. The base notes of perfumes, similarly, are often sexual or animal odours that we have learned to find noxious in themselves, yet are seductive when masked. A fine meal or elegant perfume both recall and refine our animal and vegetable nature. Smell, the chemical communication, is uncanny because it reminds us what we have in common with pigs – and with mushrooms. If sense experience is to be analysed culturally, it must be communicable; we can ask, to what degree is sense experience culturally coded, to what degree is it asocial? I argue that all sense perceptions have aspects of both. The proximal

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senses are eminently teachable. Witness the cultivation of sense knowledges across cultures, as well as in the life of an individual learning archery, auto mechanics, Thai cooking, perfumery or another multisensory skill. This educability of the senses extends to the level of neural plasticity. The educability of the proximal (indeed all) senses indicates that they can be means of communication, and thus of knowledge and aesthetics. There is an aspect of smell experience that is learned but not communicable: namely, those olfactory events that are important in an individual’s life but repressed as part of general socialisation. Smell populates the imaginary, for it has intense personal associations that are difficult to communicate. Freud himself seems to have repressed the importance of smell, harshly criticising his friend, Wilhelm Fleiss, who argued for fundamental connections between olfaction and sexuality. Recent findings in neuroscience support the psychoanalytic argument for links between olfaction and intense emotional experience, including repressed experience. The power of smell to elicit memory has partly to do with the unique ‘wiring’ of olfaction directly to neural centres for emotion and memory (the amygdala and the hippocampus), before it connects to cognition (the cortex).7 Emotionally intense experiences (and not all experiences) are likely to cement an association between the emotion and the odour associated with the event (hence the olfactory imaginary), even if the event itself is forgotten. We may think of such events as lodged in a sensuous unconscious, which may be brought to consciousness, and its stories with it – as in the stories that tumbled from Proust’s fragrant encounter with a madeleine dunked in a tisane of tilleul. Thus the phylogenetic leaving-behind of smell that Freud posited in human history – where, in standing up, humans distanced themselves from each other’s bodily smells and the knowledge that they provided – is recapitulated in individual human experience. Such a repression has occurred in recent histories of civilisation as well: for example, Alain Corbin describes the eradication of ‘unpleasant’ smells as part of the construction of bourgeois experience in eighteenthand nineteenth-century France – smells of sewage, rot, corruption, body odour, in short the smells connected with death and impermanence were censored from bourgeois life and replaced by sweet, ‘clean’ smells.8 In the resulting deodorised environment, smell ceased to be useful as an epistemological sense and became simply a sense for pleasure – and a very limited palette of pleasures at that. Smell ceased to be a means of knowledge, especially of knowledge to do with death and danger. Smell is thus triply repressed. It is so strongly associated with excrement, sexuality, filth, poverty and other repressed contents of both individual and cultural

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history, that even innocent smells have a taboo, or at least an asocial dimension. We have more smell experience than we are able to talk about, because smells are inextricable from bodily events that are repressed. Smelling in public, or even talking about smell, seems to violate a private realm, which I’ve here called the olfactory imaginary. Finally, there is an aspect of sense experience that is neither educable nor communicable, not associated with repressed experience, and indeed has little association at all. The ‘wild’, uncoded dimension of smell shows that the senses can be vehicles of intensity that remain free, but that cannot communicate. Across the membrane between communicability and incommunicability, the proximal senses build an intensity that is not social but is the meaningful lining of experience. The sensory hierarchy is not only a Western phenomenon: most cultures maintain some version of sense hierarchy, usually with vision or hearing at the top; but what is interesting is the way in which certain constellations of sense knowledge are cultivated. Anthropologists are perhaps most aware of the variability of sensuous knowledges in different cultures, as in David Howes’s account of the complex auditory and olfactory epistemologies of Melanesian people.9 In a relatively Western genealogy of the senses, classical Islamic civilisation cultivated a multisensory aesthetics, the latter especially in the luxurious courts of the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad. Arabic philosophers tended to adopt the Aristotelian conception of the body as integral to human happiness, and thus valued bodily pleasures in moderation. Al-Kindi’s (d. 866) writings on music adopted the Greek doctrine relating elements and humours to notes and rhythms. He developed a kind of multisensory therapy combining music, colours and perfumes.10 Islamic aesthetics generally created a place for all the senses, as when Ibn AlHaytham (d. 1039), author of the Optics, described perception to consist of a compound of sensations that are mentally compared, as in the sight, sound and smell experienced by a man sitting on a riverbank listening to music and admiring lovely women.11 Arab cultivation of olfactory knowledge and pleasure remains in customs like offering perfumes to guests, maintaining an interpersonal distance close enough to allow both parties to smell each other and the cultivation of fragrant gardens as terrestrial reminders of paradise. And of course Arab and Indian olfactory pleasure was adapted by European wealthy classes of the Middle Ages, whose eagerness for pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and myrrh spurred explorers to discover continents. Recent scholarship is beginning to develop a multisensory Archaeology of Knowledge. Currently this is the domain mainly of sensory anthropology descending from Marshall McLuhan and Walter Ong, as in the work

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of historian Constance Classen and anthropologist David Howes. Scholars of ‘visual culture’ and cultural history can pursue the questions: what are the cultural, epistemological and economic currents that inform the development of some sense knowledges, the repression of others and relations among them?

ODOUR REVALUED, AT A COST The body and its senses have been embraced in scholarship and art practice for a variety of laudable motivations. Non-dualist philosophies in the nineteenthcentury already twisted the sense hierarchy, as in Nietzsche’s valuing of ‘flair’ or instinct and the inclusion of olfactory experience in C.S. Peirce’s semiotic theory.12 Emerging from critiques of dualism and idealism, contemporary materialist, feminist and intercultural theories practically reverse the values ascribed to the sensory hierarchy by traditional aesthetics. While vision and hearing can be experienced as bodily senses, as we’ve ‘seen’ they are strongly associated with abstraction and transcendence because of their ability to seem independent of the body. The embodied nature of the close senses of touch, taste and smell is more evident, and thus they link us to the material world, indeed bringing it close to or into our bodies. An understanding of sense experience as embodied resists transcendentalism, for it links perception and the perceived material world. Embodied perception, including the experience of all the senses, acknowledges the inextricability of perceiver from perceived and the groundedness of knowledge in local experience. The close senses, which index both the material world and the materiality of the body that perceives with them, insist upon mortality. Thus, a materialist aesthetics can find value in the close senses precisely for their grounded, provisional and ephemeral character. The immanence and materiality of the proximal senses can thus be the ground of aesthetics, knowledge and indeed ethics. However, the contemporary ‘bodily turn’ in scholarship raises new problems. An inversion of the sensory hierarchy with the bodily senses at the top is not necessarily any more conducive to knowledge or justice than the old hierarchy. Carolyn Korsmeyer writes: ‘One cannot simply add taste and the other bodily senses to philosophy as it has evolved and correct theories accordingly to be more comprehensive in their treatment of sensory worlds’.13 Instead we must ask, what are the particular pleasures and knowledges we can get from different kinds of sensory experience?

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Second, since the knowledge and pleasure gained by the distance senses are associated with transcendence, critical theory seems to have thrown aesthetics (and its presumption of a subject capable of transcendent experience) out with the bath water of dualism. Contemporary critical theory seems to have a lot of unease and bad faith about whether we can still speak of aesthetic objects. There is a certain theoretical squeamishness around the senses’ ability to function epistemologically, as well as aesthetically. For contemporary visual studies, Hegel’s dictum could almost be reversed: artistic objects are not meant to maintain themselves in their real independence from the material world and can only allow of a purely sensuous relationship. Bourdieu’s semiotic revaluation of taste translates aesthetic pleasure into economic and social terms alone. Contemporary theory can speak of pleasure (considered subjective) and of politics, but not of beauty. Just when the proximal senses have been redeemed, there seems little for them to do – except go shopping (of which more in a moment). So it is still necessary to argue that the senses are means of knowledge and ethics as well as pleasure. The contemporary popular tendency to reverse the sense hierarchy and reject the transcendental is not the answer. We still need to be able to ask, what knowledge am I gaining from sensuous experience? How can it make life worth living? Fourier, writing during the Industrial Revolution (1851), believed a society could be judged by the degree to which it gratified and developed the senses of its citizens. The current stinking state of the world was a far cry from the multisensory order that Fourier imagined for the cosmos, where each planet corresponds to a musical note and to a fragrance: Earth emanates the odour of violet; Jupiter, jonquil; Mercury, rose.14 Fourier’s utopia is idealist in its eradication of unpleasant odours, but it is decidedly corporeal in its appeal to embodied pleasure and knowledge. Marx adapted from Fourier the idea of liberation of the senses that are abused and impoverished in capitalist system of labour, such as the factory workers suffer from noise, heat, smell and immiseration: ‘the worker loses all notion of sensory refinement’ and ‘no longer knows any need [ . . . ] the need to eat’.15 As Howes notes, Marx had little interest in the sensuous dimension of life, but his call for humans to be able to cultivate our sensory capacities gave a political immediacy to Fourier’s fragrant idealism. Sensuous experience can make life worth living by liberating capacities that are not contained by instrumental purposes. But where and how? There is a current popular tendency to embrace feeling over thinking, which seems to be especially cherished on the North American west coast: it descends

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from feminist and other critiques of mind-body dualism and instrumental rationality, but has devolved into an anti-rationalism that is positively lazy. I am not sure how widespread this tendency is, but in my west-coast city of Vancouver ‘Feel, don’t think!’ (like ‘No worries’ – when surely there are things we should be worrying about) is considered a positive slogan. Fashionable anti-rationalism plays into the commercial capture of sense experience: the senses are being sold back to us as a means not of knowledge but of pleasure. Consumer capitalism is conquering the bodily senses from nose to toes. Fourier’s utopia is here, though not in the way he anticipated. The well-to-do people of the world are both educated and gratified in their senses – but for hedonic, not epistemological, reasons. That is, contemporary post-industrial society affords its consuming classes an overwhelming wealth of sense experience and the means to refine our appreciation of them. Meanwhile, the world’s poor live in sensuous poverty not so different from that bemoaned by Fourier and Marx. Among the many inequities resulting from the global division of classes into the very rich and the very poor the inequity of sense experience is one dimension. We, the well-to-do of the Western and Westernised world, still live in the deodorised bubble associated with the rise of the bourgeoisie, both European and global. Smell is an impoverished sense. We still use smell for survival reasons – to check for the presence of rotting meat, mould, infection, sewage, gas leaks and other things that pose a danger. Smell knowledge is arguably most useful for distinguishing different kinds of car trouble – oil burning, brake friction, coolant leaks. Poor people are more likely to live with odours that index real events, including danger – and thus are objects of knowledge. But these are the few opportunities that smell has to exercise its epistemological potential. After the olfactory whitewashing of Westernised middle-class life, pleasing new odours flooded the blank canvas. In the past couple of decades the use of smell, and the other bodily senses, for pleasurable and refined consumption has accelerated. The tasteless processed foods that signified modernity in the 1950s and 1960s16 have given way to a great variety of fresh produce, often locally grown, as well as exotic imports, because of industrial diversification and faster shipping methods. The canned Maxwell House of 20 years ago has given way to a bewildering array of speciality coffees, a marvel of niche marketing – North Americans drink less coffee than they did in the 1960s but they spend more on it. Wine, which those of us who were alive in the 1970s knew in the categories red, white and ros´e, is now produced and marketed in bewildering variety, requiring middle-class consumers to become, or act like, connoisseurs. Dish soap comes with aromatherapeutic promises, soothing or stimulating; etc.

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The reason for this explosion of sensuously pleasing products is of course the exhaustion of markets and the need of corporations to induce consumers to continue to spend. Multisensory products promise to enhance individuality as consumers are encouraged to design signature scents, express themselves through gourmet cooking, and so on; to confer cultural capital through connoisseurship of wine, coffee, chocolate, ‘artisanal’ bread and other luxury goods and the concomitant opportunity for snobbism; and to enhance sensuous pleasure. This they probably do: it is a great thing to savour good wine, choose among many varieties of international tasty food, inhale stimulating fragrances in the hurried morning shower, and bury one’s nose in Dove cleansing pads for a brief respite from screaming children, holiday in-laws and airport delays (scenarios provided by Dove advertisements). However, as these descriptions of pleasure begin to indicate, multisensory products are conceived to defray the pressures of contemporary life where most people, even middle-class people, are working too hard and have too little time. Many aromatherapy products and bath products emphasise the time of consumption, ‘time for me’; they sell a product in the name of creating free time, and their principal target seems to be harried, hard-working women.17 Sensuous pleasure is sold to us fundamentally to ensure that we get back to work – relaxed, refreshed and ready. Thus one of the most cynical promises of the new sensuous commodities is that they will give people more time. Sensuous refinement now serves mainly hedonic ends; the aesthetic, epistemological and ethical dimensions of sensuous experience are far from the commodity landscape. The ‘emancipation of the senses’ envisioned by Fourier is only a further enslavement if our senses are marshalled only for the purposes of consumption. The proximal senses, in their intimacy, relation to memory (especially smell) and affective intensity, are the very senses most resistant to mass communication. Sensory commodities that invade and encode the private space of the proximal senses are threatening this resistance.

ODOUR’S AFFECTIVE SPACE Please turn to your olfactory illustrations and smell substance number two. Two years ago I returned to the Souk al-Hamadiya in Damascus. This souk, where people have plied their trades in carpets, silks, blown glass, hammered brass and other handcrafted goods has expanded its focus with the changed direction of global trade, as well as the vast expansion of the Syrian factory economy. You

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can get everything there – cheek by jowl with the metalworkers’ souk are now the plastic kitchen equipment souk, the imported biscuit souk and the outrageous ladies’ underwear souk. But I was confidently in search of essential oils: the attar of rose, jasmine, amber, fil (a tiny flower with overpowering scent) and other locally extracted scents that perfumers have imported from the Orient for hundreds of years. You are now smelling jasmine, which just possibly might come from the Souk al-Hamadiya. This time I noticed that the expert Syrian knockoff artists, who have flooded Arab markets with camouflage Nike and misspelled Calvin Klein garments, now include ‘noses’ capable of discerning the elements of a composite perfume – for it is possible at the fragrance souk to buy reasonable facsimiles of Coco Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss and other commercial fragrances for a tiny fraction of the price. Indeed it’s my research dream to visit a Syrian perfume factory and meet the great ‘nose’ – but given the Bush administration’s practice of bombing Iraqi perfume factories during the last Gulf War, this is probably not likely any time soon. The perfume monger fills the little vials with a syringe of precious oil, then in a jolly manner sprays the remaining drops at customers, who spread out their arms to be engulfed by fragrance. It’s a social atmosphere of shared smelling. This time I happened to look at the vat from which the vendor syringeextracted the precious oil of jasmine that is so typical of this part of the world. It – this jasmine you are perhaps smelling – was a German synthetic. Complex original smells are being replaced by synthetic smells at what ought to be the centre of original smells, the library of real smells, the Damascus perfume souk. Synthetic jasmine is like a photocopy of jasmine, approximating its complexity with a compound of a few chemicals and a strong base note of petroleum. (By contrast, it seems to me that real jasmine has a base note of excrement, which is perhaps why jasmine is planted outside lavatories.) Such economically driven smell replacements worry me the way a film archivist would be worried if all the 35mm reels were replaced by MPEGs. What will we study in the future; with what will we enrich and educate our senses? Yet the socialness of the perfume souk at Hamadiya involves another dimension of smell experience that is perhaps more durable than smell itself. I have mentioned a few times the ethical dimension of multisensory experience, and it is high time to explain this seeming oxymoron. It has to do with the position of the proximal senses on the membrane between shared and private, between codified and uncodable experience – on the middle bandwidth of sense experience. Korsmeyer, a philosopher, argues (against Bourdieu) that the philosophical baby can indeed be retained when we toss out the bath water of purist

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aesthetics: the issue is what kinds of philosophical treatment do the close senses invite?18 Her answer involves the nature of the proximal senses as both objective and subjective: capable of being directed outward (epistemological) and inward (hedonic) within a set of bodily and cultural limitations.19 Thus the proximal senses operate at the literal border between the intimate and the communal. Knowledge and communication that make use of them may lose in ‘objectivity’ but gain in depth, trust and sociality. Recall that incommunicable dimension of sensuous experience, which I qualified as comprising an olfactory unconscious. We might refer to this incommunicable dimension, adapting Spinoza’s ethics, as affect. Between passive and active, affect is a passion (Spinoza): an intensity, an ‘excess’, a suspension of the linear progress of narrative.20 As in the affection-image of Deleuze, it is a moment of gathering force, which may or may never be acted upon. This is a volatile moment. It’s when a person feels the great pressure and potential of the virtual – of the broad realm of possibilities one of which can be summoned into being. It is not yet communicable. To what degree can affect be experienced in common, socially? The concept of excess from film theory, for example, shows that affect is marshalled around a common image, as when audience members all cry at a movie like the classic ‘weepie’ Stella Dallas, salivate emotively during Chocolat, or feel the urge to slay Persians while watching 300. However, I would argue that affection-images allow people to respond as they will – not necessarily all in the same way. What the participants in an affective situation have in common is that some affection-image stimulated their affective response – this intensity, this passion, not yet bound as emotion, and not yet communicable – and they had the response together. So they would attribute to the affection-image, be it Stella Dallas, Chocolat, 300, or a sudden rush of jasmine, the ability to arouse affect in them. This is Brian Massumi’s reasoning when he argues that the television addresses of former President Reagan unleash affect, which makes people feel good and vote for the man even without knowing why.21 Affect arises from a break in the continuity of experience, a shock in Benjamin’s sense. It may thus have the critical ability to disrupt the clich´ed narrative of daily life. For example, I’m working at my crummy telemarketing job and someone passes wearing the perfume my mother wore when she used to kiss me goodnight years ago. I feel the giddy vertigo of travel, between actual and virtual, then a resurgence of the original emotion (love? safety? excitement? jealousy?) before the memory resolves itself. For this is how smell memory works – first you experience the disruption, then you feel the emotion, then you

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identify the source. Such an experience could well make me burst into tears in my nasty little cubicle and remind me of the vast powers of the virtual hovering below the surface of my crummy actual life. The closer the sense, the stronger the affect: smell seems to be the perception capable of the most powerful affection image, though I note that music seems to have an effect exactly analogous to smell – a once-heard fragment of an old song arouses piercingly specific memories in just the same way as a whiff of a scent from long ago may. Physical gestures, tastes and colours can also sometimes call up intensely embodied emotional memories, though less often than smell and music. In an essay titled ‘The Logic of Smell’ I argued that smell cannot be a basis of communication.22 I still believe that smell’s asocial nature is a great virtue of this sense. The charged individual responses that may gather around particular smells protect olfaction from ever being completely culturally coded. This is a value in an economy that is forever finding new ways to encode meaning in sensory experience in order to eke out more profit. However, smell is also, like the other senses, a social sense. As Korsmeyer points out, taste is a social sense because one brings one’s memories associated with particular foods to the present encounter. Smell functions similarly. Being in the presence of smells familiar from the past sometimes has the quality of socialising with a community, even if others are absent. Such associations are a virtual presence that may be actualised. So too, smell, though it is even less codifiable than taste, can be a social sense as the virtual experiences it evokes are actualised, and communicated, by the smeller. What’s rich about these experiences is their virtual depth: the degree to which more is going on, more is potentially present, to each individual and to the group. The thickness of communication includes what is not communicated, what may not even be identified as more than a potentiality. Affect is incommunicable per se; and that is its virtue. People may respond in common, but that response will be enriched and complexified by a core of absolutely individual and relatively incommunicable experience. People cry at the movies, even happy movies, because the passage from virtual to actual is exquisite – it is painful. I cried once when an unanticipated smell (freon, melted plastic and cigarette smoke) reminded me of my grandfather because the love he gave me had slipped forever back into the virtual. Affect reminds people of missed appointments with love. In its autonomy, affect is the foundation of an ethics. Massumi writes, ‘The autonomy of affect is its participation in the virtual’.23 Even when affect is expressed as emotion, ‘Something remains unactualized, inseparable from but

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unassimilable to any particular, functionally anchored perspective [original italics]’.24 Affect, to the degree to which it remains free, is the force underlying emotion and action. In certain ways the protection of the freedom of affect is a conservative goal. Its result is not, for example, social action but a retaining of the quality of life. Any social or political effect comes later and not necessarily. If people could believe that the virtual powers with which they came into contact through affect could really be actualised in the social – they would not just weep, they would proceed to fight. To conclude with another look at that sensory hierarchy and the dualism it subtends. I’ve mentioned that we may think of sense experience, and the affect that it sometimes brings forth, as a membrane between several pairs: between social and private, between communicability and incommunicability, between codified experience and uncodifiable experience. In a certain way this membrane reinstates a duality, not between matter and spirit but between actual and virtual. Sense experience is one of the ways of traversing this duality. Smell (which, as the ancients remarked, was the only perceptible object that actually comes into contact with the brain itself) could be the mascot of that creative traversal.25

NOTES 1 Ranci`ere, Jacques, ‘What Aesthetics Can Mean’, translated by Holmes, Brian in P. Osborne (ed.), From an Aesthetic Point of View: Philosophy, Art and the Senses (London: Serpent’s Tail, 2000), p. 19. 2 Gilles Deleuze argues that an immanent infinite is to be found in the particularity or haecceity of experience, in ‘The Simulacrum and Ancient Philosophy’, in C. V. Boundas (ed.), Logic of Sense, translated by Lester, Mark (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990); see also Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, F´elix, ‘What Is a Concept?’ in What Is Philosophy?, translated by Tomlinson, Hugh and Burchell, Graham (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 15–34. 3 1. Truffle oil. 2. Jasmine oil. 4 Dhanani, Alnoor, The Physical Theory of Kalam: Atoms, Space and Void in Basrian Mu‘tazili Cosmology (Leiden, New York, and K¨oln: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 63. 5 R´ee, Jonathan, ‘The aesthetic theory of the arts’, in Osborne: From an Aesthetic Point of View, pp. 57–59. 6 Cited in Korsmeyer, Carolyn, Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), p. 61.

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7 Stopfer, Mark and Laurent, Gilles, ‘Short-term memory in olfactory network dynamics’, Nature 402 (9 December 1999), pp. 664–668. 8 Corbin, Alain, The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination, translated by Kochan, Miriam, Porter, Christopher and Prendergast, Roy (Oxford, 1986), pp. 140–141. 9 Howes, David, Sensual Relations: Engaging the Senses in Culture and Social Theory (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003). 10 Behrens-Abouseif, Doris, Beauty in Arabic Culture (Princeton: Markus Wiener, 1998), p. 69. 11 Nasir, Nasser Ahmad, ‘Ibn Al-Haitham and His Philosophy’, in H. K. Said (ed.), Ibn Al-Haitham (Karachi: Hamdard National Foundation, 1969), p. 85. 12 Peirce, Charles Sanders, ‘The Principles of Semiology’, in J. Buchler (ed.), Philosophical Writings of Peirce, (New York: Dover, 1955), pp. 74–97. 13 Korsmeyer: Making Sense, p. 37. 14 Classen, Constance, The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination (New York: Routledge, 1998), p. 39. 15 Cited in Howes: Sensual Relations, p. 206. 16 Belasco, Warren, ‘Food and the Counterculture: A Story of Bread and Politics’, in J. L. Watson and M. L. Caldwell (eds), The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), p. 221. 17 I thank Suzanne Lindgren, a student in Art and Culture Studies at Simon Fraser University, for pointing out this temporal-olfactory paradox. 18 Korsmeyer: Making Sense, p. 66. 19 Korsmeyer: Making Sense, pp. 94–98. 20 Massumi, Brian, ‘The Autonomy of Affect’, in Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), p. 26. 21 Massumi: ‘The Autonomy of Affect’, pp. 39–42. 22 Marks, Laura U., ‘The Logic of Smell’, in Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), pp. 113–126. 23 Massumi: ‘The Autonomy of Affect’, p. 35. 24 Massumi: ‘The Autonomy of Affect’, p. 35. 25 I thank two groups of listeners for their helpful responses to this paper, at Project for the Study of Visual Culture of the University of Southern California, and the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University.

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Chapter 9

Grotesque Sensations: Carnivalising the Sensorium in the Art of Wangechi Mutu Bettina Papenburg

The grotesque image is ‘opposed to all that is finished and polished, to all pomposity, a collectively enacted bodily mode that resists against every ready-made solution in the sphere of thought and world outlook’.1 In my adaptation of Mikhail Bakhtin’s work, the concept of ‘the grotesque’ refers to the subversive use of the body to pose a challenge to existing power constellations by drawing on tropes of excess, inversion and transgression as well as by resisting fixed form, completion and closure. This essay focuses on the concepts of ‘the grotesque’ and ‘the carnivalesque’ as anti-canonical forces, which deliberately subvert notions of moral decency and visual beauty, and introduces these to the cultural analysis of representations of the black female body. It engages with the collages of Kenya-born, New York-based artist Wangechi Mutu featuring the dis/assembled black female body. I aim to demonstrate how the concept of the grotesque can foster insights into desires and fears evoked by the gendered and racialised bodies conjured up in Mutu’s work. Offering close readings of a selection of Mutu’s collages, I will point out how the ironical embrace of derogatory ‘representations’ gives transgressive imagery its force, effectively unsettling representational clich´es of the racialised and gendered body. This rhetorical stance renders the grotesque a compelling category for the cultural analysis of societal issues as it articulates contradictions, tensions and contestations in our culture’s imaginary fabric.2 One such arena of contestation is the hierarchy of the sensorium. A key problem here is the tendency of our culture to divide up the sensorium into 158

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five senses and to rank these senses placing vision at the top and touch at the bottom. The critical engagement with these tendencies has spurred studies on topics ranging from the production of truth and knowledge,3 and variances as regards the organisation of the sensorium in different cultures,4 to the sensory basis of aesthetic experience.5 The first part of this essay will recapture the concepts of the grotesque and the carnivalesque. The second part will attend to the resurfacing of these concepts in Mutu’s art. I shall consider here how Mutu invokes and possibly challenges stereotypical representations of the black female by using the subversive force of the grotesque. In the third part, I shall turn to the encounter with Mutu’s work in the gallery space, investigating practices of disordering, mixing and cannibalising as strategies of disruption, concluding my contentions with a plea for a carnivalisation of the hierarchy of the senses. This trajectory implies shifting the concept of the grotesque from the arena of representation to the arena of perception and raises meaningful questions: How does the specific sensory experience offered in the encounter with Mutu’s art challenge and subvert socially inscribed structures of power and knowledge? How does the grotesque operate as a category of perception? It is in the light of these questions that the query of the title of this chapter ‘Grotesque Sensations’ is posed.

THE GROTESQUE AND THE CARNIVALESQUE The grotesque – as introduced to Western audiences in 1968 through the English translation of Mikhail Bakhtin’s book Rabelais and His World – is an anti-hegemonic force. Rabelais and His World is a highly perceptive analysis of the well-known satirical chronicle Gargantua and Pantagruel, written by the French monk Francois Rabelais between 1551 and 1556, offering a fierce critique of the scholastic worldview. Bakhtin’s study on the grotesque is groundbreaking, because he effectively launches the concept both as a performative medium and as an aesthetic style enabling critique of social and political conditions. Inverting both social and bodily hierarchies, the grotesque body is extended, protruding, fragmented, heterogeneous, incomplete, open, excessive, incongruent and multiplied. It is ‘the body of becoming, process, and change’, as Mary Russo puts it in her cogent analysis of female grotesques.6 This body has been staged in Europe in the context of carnival until the late Middle Ages. It has travelled to a number of cultural arenas such as literature and the visual arts in the form of what Bakhtin calls the carnivalesque, a strategy

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of intervention aiming to subvert the cultural canon. Some early examples of this transmedial movement are Shakespeare’s comedies, Boccaccio’s Decameron and other Renaissance parodies such as Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, all of which mock conventional literary genres. Paintings such as The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch and The Fight between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Breughel the Elder depict scenes of carnival, the time before lent, a period of the year in which the world is turned topsy-turvy. Carnival’s ‘grotesque realism’ turns classical aesthetics on its head, rejecting formal harmony and unity in favour of the unbalanced, the mixed and the paradoxical, celebrating a popular, convulsive rebellious beauty, one that cherishes the vulgar and mocks the powerful. Mockery is never personal, but always aimed at privilege and dogma, challenging established rules and dominant virtues. Differently from the ritual practice of carnival, ‘the carnivalesque’ is not a historically specific phenomenon, but a ‘strategy of intervention’ aiming to subvert the cultural canon.7 As many critics have asserted, the carnivalesque is a key concept for the analysis of contemporary art, literature and cultural politics, because it deconstructs not only the canon, but also the very matrix that produces this canon.8 One instance in this process of deconstruction is the category of the grotesque. When asked for synonyms to the term grotesque, my students coming from various transnational educational backgrounds mention words such as ‘gross’, ‘ugly’, ‘distorted’, ‘contradictory’, ‘monstrous’ and ‘caricature’. Examples range from the paintings and sculptures of the Colombian artist Fernando Botero to the surgical performances of the French artist Orlan, horror movies and, strikingly, black people. These stereotypical representations of the ‘racial grotesque’ are deeply inculcated in the Western imagination. This popular imagination of black people as grotesque points to the persisting effort in Western culture to imagine and represent specific social groups as non-human.9 In this prevailing fantasy, the dominant cultural group uses the trope of the grotesque against the disempowered. Kobena Mercer has identified the iconography of the grotesque as ‘one of the primary visual languages of modern racism’.10 While important work has been done on deconstructing and reworking pervasive stereotypes, the purpose of this essay, however, is to draw attention to potentially liberating, performative acts employing the grotesque body to subversive ends. In this vein, I consider the wide variety of aesthetic practices that invoke the grotesque body as a site of affirmative identity formation. Bakhtin has made clear that the force of the grotesque lies precisely in its capacity to invert

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existing power relations. Using derogatory modes of humour as a means for further debasing those who are already on the lower end of the social ladder does not fit together with the Bakhtinian outlook. For Bakthin, the grotesque body is tied to the challenge of existing hierarchies. The ‘lower classes’ employ the lower parts of the body to express defiance against those on top of the social hierarchy. In Bakhtin’s view, the grotesque body aims to ridicule the authorities, to provoke laughter in the face of fear, oppression and intimidation.11 How does this mesh with the racial grotesque?

THE GROTESQUE BODY IN WANGECHI MUTU In order to address this question I shall turn to the collage titled Lockness, 2006, mixed media, ink, collage on mylar, 95 1/4 × 54 (see Plate 8), by Wangechi Mutu. At first glance, this collage conveys a sense of beguiling beauty featuring curved lines, fluffy shapes, iridescent purple and magenta tones. The female figure represented in a standing posture, wearing leopard skin socks and high heels, emits a glow. She stands proud and tall raising her hands playfully above her head. A bunch of hair winds down from her head to the ground, shimmering, pearly glitter covering parts of her body. On closer inspection, her hair reveals itself as a bunch of bananas, dismembered female legs clad in pantyhose and high heels, snake skin, flowers, fruit, motorcycle parts, pieces of jewellery, tinsel and (parts of) wild animals. Her gloves end in a pair of black claws. One of these claws pinches an amorphous skin-coloured mass releasing splashes of a red substance away from her face. In many ways this piece recalls the grotesque body. Bakhtin stresses the mixing between the human body and other material entities. This amalgamation of body parts and non-human parts produces ‘untidy’, hybrid formations deliberately blurring the boundaries of existing aesthetic categories. He writes: ‘Contrary to modern canons, the grotesque body is not separated from the rest of the world. It is not a closed, completed unit; it is unfinished, it outgrows itself, transgressing its own limits.’12 And he continues: ‘the artistic logic of the grotesque image ignores the closed, smooth, and impenetrable surface of the body and retains only its excrescences (sprouts, buds) and orifices, only that which leads beyond the body’s limited space or into the body’s depths’.13 This focus on the body’s openings and extensions comes again to the fore in Mutu’s series titled The Ark Collection, 2006, comprising 32 collages on postcards displayed in four vitrines, 40 × 62 × 23 each vitrine. The middle ground of

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the collage titled Karo Woman (see Plate 9) is filled by the naked torso of a prepubescent girl. The girl wears silver bracelets and flaunts scarring on the skin of her stomach. Her head is substituted by the head of a young woman with pursed lips and closed eyes mimicking an expression of pleasure. Another young woman clad in red fetish attire winds herself around the girl. On closer inspection, it becomes clear that the woman in red strikes a pornographic pose, of which Mutu has eliminated the genitals. Alongside black porn magazines, Mutu’s raw material consists of postcards displaying images produced by the photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher.14 Comparable to Leni Riefenstahl’s work on the Nuba in Southern Sudan,15 Beckwith and Fisher construct highly aestheticised photographs of what they call ‘sacred tribal ceremonies across Africa’, which are displayed in popular magazines such as The National Geographic, in widely-available coffee table books, postcard books and in yearly altering wall-calendar editions.16 Beckwith and Fisher’s imagery replicates a (neo)colonial gaze recalling clich´ed images of turn-of-the-previous century ethnography displaying black women grinding corn or baking bread in front of a clay hut, as well as glossy prints of scarcely clad girls posing for the camera with their breasts exposed. Their photographs celebrate and, in the same gesture, capture African women, casting them as epitomes of ‘the noble savage’ and ‘unbridled nature’, thus arresting and immobilising these images as icons. In The Ark Collection, Mutu seeks to unsettle these clich´ed images.17 This she does by blending two forms of stereotypical representations of black women: she entangles exoticising depictions with hyper-sexualised representations.18 By superimposing stock imagery of ‘the traditional African beauty’ with fragments of widely-circulating images of ‘the vile, erotic black pin-up’, she effectively exposes both representational registers as fictions. As she sees it, ‘it is the synergy ensuing between the two that incites us to reflect on both stereotypes without actually reiterating the objectification of either one of them’.19 Mutu echoes here a history of fragmentation and of what Barbara Omolade has called ‘specialized commodification’, meaning the objectification, fragmentation and commodification of the black body in the context of slavery. Describing the white master’s perspective regarding the black woman, Omolade writes: ‘To him she was a fragmented commodity whose feelings and choices were rarely considered: her head and her heart were separated from her back and her hands and divided from her womb and vagina’.20 Mutu ingeniously reworks this view to her own ends by invoking one of the essential inclinations of the grotesque motif: The Ark Collection presents two

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bodies recasting each other into a new shape. The body – and representational conventions for that matter – is not treated as fixed and firm, but rather it is ‘continually built, created, and builds and creates another body’.21 The fragments clash and crash into each other generating a contradictory jumble which unsettles viewing conventions. It is precisely the entwining of these two icons that dismantles both of them as fabrications. In line with representations of the black female body entering a process of transformation and becoming, conventional imaginations about racialised and gendered bodies are unsettled and challenged. This mutual creation of two bodies comes again to the fore in an image selected from the series titled Chorus Line, 2008, watercolour and collage on paper, framed size 14 1/4 × 11 (see Plate 10). This image features stereotypical representations of African (American) and European women. In her critical reassessment of Foucault’s History of Sexuality through an intersectional matrix, Ann Laura Stoller has emphasised that ‘bourgeois sexuality and racialised sexuality’ must be considered ‘as dependent constructs in a unified field’.22 In a similar vein, Sander Gilman has eloquently pointed out how images and imaginations of the sexualised black woman and the white prostitute were co-created in the eighteenth and nineteenth-century at the intersection of various societal domains.23 Mutu’s figure of a young white woman in a high-necked yellow dress, modestly blushing, eyes cast down, represents the model of ideal Victorian womanhood, romanticised for her alleged fragility and dreaminess, sexual na¨ıvet´e and adorably capricious emotionality.24 In sharp contrast to this, the black female was marked as a sexual promiscuous, immoral Jezebel, and the black male was depicted as a clumsy, clownish figure. At the ending of an exaggeratedly elongated neck sits a hideous face with large bulging eyes, a huge mouth and a pulled out tongue. The powerful dark torso, subtly decorated with white ink, pays hommage to Sarah Bartmann, a Khoikhoi woman who was captured and abducted from her native land and displayed as a ‘freak of nature’ in various museums in London and Paris in the nineteenth-century.25 Rotated 90◦ to the right, head and posture of the black figure recall the iconic photograph of Grace Jones featured on the cover of her award-winning record Island Life, released in 1985. This photo-montage, created by Jean-Paul Goude, shows Jones gracefully balancing on one leg, her arms stretched horizontally, holding a microphone, her trained body oiled, gleaming like a statue.26 Quotations of and hommages to popular representations of black female performers recur in Mutu’s work in various forms. The figure in her piece She’s Engungun Again, 2005, ink, acrylic, collage, contact paper on mylar, 87 × 52 1/2

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(see Plate 11), for instance, alludes to a famous pose assumed by Josephine Baker in an iconic photograph taken in 1927. The photograph shows Baker wearing a variation of the (in)famous banana skirt, in which the bananas are replaced by pointed spikes. Yet, where Baker has two legs to stand on, the figure in Mutu’s collage leans on a crutch. Baker’s neatly arranged skirt, in Mutu’s appropriation, morphs into a mishmash of legs, breasts, buttocks, tentacles and exploding intestines. Many authors have hinted at Baker’s ambivalence towards racial stereotype.27 While Baker acquiescently fulfilled her Western audience’s expectations, she at the same time destabilised representational conventions. Baker’s mockery of the ideal she herself had succumbed to is aptly exemplified in her creative reworking of the banana skirt. Having been described as ‘phallic display’,28 the skirt buys into racial prejudice and, while capitalising on it, it deflects this prejudice back on the offender. ‘The skirt’s modifications’, writes Bennetta Jules-Rosette, ‘reflect the evolution of artistic agency within a framework of social control’.29 ‘Baker’s body’, Jules-Rosette writes, ‘was in constant motion’ and ‘she parodied her own image’.30 This made it difficult for the audience to pin her down and establish an unambiguous relationship to her performance persona. In a similar vein to Baker’s performances, Mutu’s collages are an excellent example for illustrating the effectual use of transgressive imagery. Both Baker and Mutu ironically embrace derogatory representations to confront (neo)colonial structures of the gaze. They redirect the stigmatising definition back towards the offenders by openly displaying its violence in public. What was most debased is now rectified by a self-naming that feeds on the original power of the derisive imagery. Differently from Baker, who strategically employed tools such as caricature, self-parody and pastiche in order to gain agency over her own image, Mutu, I argue, powerfully invokes tropes of the grotesque and the carnivalesque. She focuses on the body’s openings and extensions, stressing heterogeneity, excess and incompleteness as well as the interwoven-ness of the body with other bodies and with objects of the material world. One evocative trope here is the metaphor of ‘devouring’. In Mutu’s assemblages one body consumes another body, while being simultaneously engulfed by its counterpart; the body ‘cannibalises’ and is ‘cannibalised’, both incorporating alien body parts, animals and objects from the material world and being enveloped by these. To bring it metaphorically to the point, I take my inspiration from the use of the concept of anthropophag´ıa in the Brazilian context of carnival and argue that Mutu’s art compellingly employs the rhetorical gesture of ‘the cannibalistic’.31 In

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1928, the surrealist poet Oswald de Andrade published the Cannibalist Manifesto, in which he appropriates and reinvents cannibalism as a metaphorical practice. Alluding to the imagery of the native past in which cannibalism was attributed to the Tupinamba, the largest ethnic group in the Amazon, de Andrade conceives of ‘cultural cannibalism’ neither as an imitation nor as a rejection of European culture, but rather as a ‘devouring’ of it. The phrase ‘Tupi or not Tupi’ amounts to ‘eating Shakespeare’ as he puts it. As the Tupi were considered to be cannibals both by the neighbours and by the conquistadores, punning the famous phrase ‘to be or not to be’ and tying it to the question of whether or not the conquered are cannibals connects the colonial enterprise to the notion and practice of cannibalism. Reversing the cultural cannibalism practiced by the colonisers, the anthropophagists, as de Andrade envisages them, adapt the strengths of European culture and ‘incorporate [ . . . ] them into the native self’.32 In a similar rhetorical gesture, Mutu ‘cannibalises’ Western imaginations of Africa and Africans, adapts commodity culture and incorporates Western images of black women for her own ends. In doing so, she neither is cannibalised by this imagery, nor does she discard it altogether. Rather, she absorbs, digests and assimilates the clich´ed representations. She incorporates Western commodities and consumes stereotypical imaginations for resourcefully redressing Western prejudices about the African continent and its (diasporic) people. This strategy of metaphorical cannibalism, I argue, extends beyond the arena of representation, and, more importantly, recurs in aesthetic experience, shaping the encounter with Mutu’s art, where it takes on a more material, experiential and embodied quality.

SENSORY CANNIBALISM Thus far, I have considered how the grotesque, the carnivalesque and the cannibalistic operate as metaphorical registers in the arena of representation. I will now address the question of how these concepts operate as categories of perception. I will attend to the audience’s encounter with Mutu’s art, especially to how she is playing with various sensory registers and what the affective implications are of this play. Mutu carefully stages the display of her collage pieces. Her subversive use of the gallery space leads up to multisensory engagement with her finely-crafted collages. In an installation piece titled The Wounded Wall, she takes away parts of the wall’s surface and paints on the raw bricks, exposing the white cube’s materiality and incorporating it into the exhibition design. This active artistic

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engagement with the white cube is particularly pronounced in her exhibition at the Guggenheim Foundation in Berlin, held in the summer of 2010.33 Considering the staging of this exhibition, I intend to make clear how she attunes visitors to the encounter with her images. Upon entering the exhibition hall, a huge pillar comes into view. It is covered with grey, thick, soft felt. This work is titled Tree, 2010. Jagged pieces of felt blankets are sewn together to form the bark of an enormous tree. Lingering for a moment, caressing with the eyes the texture of the cloth, it is hard to resist the invitation to touch. These visual and tactile sensations are enriched and challenged by the concomitant smell of a rancid odour of putrid wine suffusing the atmosphere of the room. This smell originates from an arrangement of suspended bottles, titled Metha, 2010, which hang upside down from the ceiling, slowly releasing drops of wine into plates positioned below. The colour of the wine recalls blood and points to the ongoing violence shaping everyday life in a number of places on the African continent. While the colour is semantically meaningful, the odour is vital for setting the tone of the encounter. The imagined softness of the felt in combination with the repulsive stench of rotten fruit invokes contradictory sensations: attraction and repulsion, desire and disgust. Visitors oscillate between longing to caress the felt, while simultaneously being reproached by whiffs of decay. They are attracted and alarmed, wanting to come closer and, at the same time, take flight. As they make their way through the exhibition hall approaching the collages, the odour’s dominance seems to cease as they get used to it. Yet, a layer remains and ‘strikes a chord’, continuously ‘colouring’, or rather ‘suffusing’ the experience. The dramatisation of the encounter with Mutu’s art, I argue, privileges a simultaneous cannibalisation of one sense by another. The first artwork, Tree, prompts the sense of touch. This sense impression is overlaid with a more pronounced olfactory stimulation as Metha reaches our nostrils. Both of these sense impressions together attune visitors to the visual encounter with the collages, shaping the ‘affective tonality’, as Vivian Sobchack calls it in this book. I would even go as far as to argue that these two senses together cannibalise visuality. Both smell and touch are proximal senses, requiring closeness to and intimate intermingling with one’s object of perception. The particular form of collage calls for proximity. In order to recognise and disentangle the filigree and intricate details of her compositions, visitors have to come close. The delicate assemblages lure them in, inviting them to lose themselves in the patterns, textures and colours engulfing and the odour enveloping them.

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Mutu’s collages play on affective tonalities akin to the ambiguous, the excessive, the distorted and the heterogeneous. They do so precisely by subverting the conventional hierarchy of the senses. In this hierarchy, which has enabled and organised Western science for centuries, vision ranks highest and touch ranks lowest. Mutu’s work, instead, fosters multisensory perception and thus goes against Western standards of ranking the senses. Multisensory perception can be a monstrous conception in the face of the Western primacy of vision. As Constance Classen has remarked, sight has been given such importance in Western intellectual history that one might now be tempted to rename the five senses; somewhat ironically, she suggests that vision, aurality, taste, smell and touch have been superseded by the colonial gaze, the patriarchal gaze, the Marxist gaze, the psychoanalytic gaze and the subversive glance.34 This tradition calls for attention to other possible arrangements of the sensorium. The anthropology of the senses, for instance, looks at how different cultures divide up the sensorium differently.35 Recently, film scholarship has drawn attention to alternative ways of seeing involving sensory channels other than the visual.36 Doing justice to our shared embodiment as spectators, this strand of scholarship considers, as Vivian Sobchack has astutely put it, that ‘our vision is always already “fleshed out”’.37 Moreover, research on ‘synaesthesia’ and ‘co-enaesthesia’ has alerted us to the fact that the boundaries between the different senses might not be as stable as our culture wants them to be. Synaesthesia refers to a rare but not entirely uncommon capacity of involuntarily experiencing the stimulation of one sense as a perception in another. Persons who have this capacity perceive, for example, sounds as colours or shapes as tastes. Co-enaesthesia names the potential and perception of one’s whole sensory being.38 It refers to ‘a certain prelogical and non-hierarchical unity of the sensorium that exists as a carnal foundation for the later hierarchical arrangement of the senses achieved through cultural immersion and practice’.39 This makes clear that the tendency to split the sensorium into five senses is a consequence of cultural inscriptions. While this division enables us to function, it occludes much of our capacity for multisensory experience. One such concept accounting for multisensoriality and for the porosity of the boundaries between the sensory ‘channels’ is the concept of ‘sensation’. ‘Sensation’, Brian Massumi has argued, is an extremity of perception. It is the immanent limit at which perception is eclipsed by a sheerness of experience, as yet unextended into

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analytically ordered, predictably reproducible, possible action. Sensation is a state in which action, perception, and thought are so intensely, performatively mixed that their in-mixing falls out of itself. Sensation is fallout from perception [ . . . ]: pure mixture, the in-mixing-out of the most mixed.40

CONCLUSION Taking my cue from different sources, namely from Bakhtin, I propose considering the grotesque as ‘fallout’ of thinking about bodies. The inversion of ‘up’ and ‘down’ as well as of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, the emphasis on fragmentation and fracture as well as on heterogeneity and re-assemblage transgresses boundaries of the body alluding to potential transformation of the norms of the collectivity. It is via the concept of the grotesque that I suggest tying reflections on categorical mixing as they have been proposed by scholars like Sobchack and Massumi, among others, in regard to perception, to the question of representation. The extreme augmentation of categorical mixing of which Massumi speaks, I suggest calling the carnivalisation of the sensorium, referring to a carnival of the senses, a strategic de-hierarchisation, in which mixing, conflation, confusion and collusion reign supreme. Appropriating the force of the grotesque, the carnivalisation of the sensorium performs the suspension of all hierarchical ranks, privileges, norms and prohibitions and celebrates temporary liberation from the prevailing truth of the established sensory – and social – order. On the level of a politics of representation, carnivalisation, I argue, is an equivalent metaphor to concepts such as ‘co-enaesthesia’ and ‘sensation’ in this other strand of literature. It is a supreme metaphor for combining studies on representation with scholarship on perception and aesthetic experience. The benefit of this novel metaphor is that it opens up a fresh perspective on both fields of investigation. By way of a conclusion I shall reconsider the successive rhetorical movements expounded in this essay. The concepts of the grotesque and the carnivalesque brought me to the problem of ‘racial stereotypes’ and their representation. Subsequently, I have turned to the various ways in which Mutu reworks and transforms these in the process of de-assemblage and re-assemblage, evoking the subversive power of the grotesque. Having considered some rhetorical tropes Mutu uses in creative extension of the work of earlier black female performers, I have argued for the importance of the metaphor of cannibalism for unlocking her stance towards both disempowering and liberating (self-)representation. Consequently,

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I have considered the question of the encounter with the artwork, paying particular attention to multisensory perception and sensation. I have argued that grotesque sensations, which Mutu provokes through the staging of her artworks as an endless process of the cannibalising of one sense by another, undermine the conventional order of the sensorium. Ensnaring us with the ambiguity of attraction and reflexive repulsion at the surface itself, the art of Wangechi Mutu invites us to question these ‘traditionally’ pleasing and alluring aesthetics.

NOTES 1 Bakhtin, Mikhail, Rabelais and His World (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1984), p. 3. 2 An important line of scholarship focusing on a variety of cultural domains ranging from literature and art to ritual and film which are indebted to Bakhtin’s seminal study on the grotesque supports this claim. See, for instance, Harpham, Geoffrey Galt, On the Grotesque: Strategies of Contradiction in Art and Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982); Stam, Robert, Subversive Pleasures: Bakhtin, Cultural Criticsm, and Film (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989); Russo, Mary, The Female Grotesque: Risk, Excess and Modernity (London: Routledge, 1994); Stallybrass, Peter and White, Allon, The Poetics and Politics of Transgression (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995); Connelly, Frances S. (ed.) Modern Art and the Grotesque (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Papenburg, Bettina, Das neue Fleisch. Der groteske K¨orper im Kino David Cronenbergs (Bielefeld: transcript-Verlag, 2011). 3 See note 7 in the introduction to this book. 4 See note 4 in the introduction. Scholarship in this field resulted in the inauguration of the Sensory Formations Series and the launch of the journal The Senses & Society (both published by Berg, Oxford). 5 See Sobchack,Vivian, ‘What my Fingers Knew: The Cinesthetic Subject, or Vision in the Flesh’, in Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004); Massumi, Brian, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002). 6 Russo, Mary, ‘Female Grotesques: Carnival and Theory’, in K. Conboy, N. Medina, and S. Stanbury (eds) Writing on the Body: Female Embodiment and Feminist Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), pp. 318–336. 7 Isaak, Jo Anna, Feminism & Contemporary Art: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Laughter (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), p. 19. 8 Isaak: Feminism & Contemporary Art, p. 16. See also Shohat, Ella and Stam, Robert, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (London and New York: Routledge, 2008), p. 303.

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9 See Cassuto, Leonard, The Inhuman Race: The Racial Grotesque in American Literature and Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997). 10 Mercer, Kobena, ‘Tropes of the Grotesque in the Black Avant-Garde’, in K. Mercer (ed.) Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures (London: Iniva and MIT Press, 2007), p. 144. 11 Bakhtin: Rabelais and His World, p. 90. 12 Bakhtin: Rabelais and His World, p. 26. 13 Bakhtin: Rabelais and His World, p. 318. 14 The ubiquitous linkage between black femininity and eroticised savagery in pornography and in popular visual culture at large has been eloquently targeted by black feminist scholars like bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins, among others. See hooks, bell: ‘Selling Hot Pussy: Representations of Black Female Sexuality in the Cultural Marketplace’, in Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1992), pp. 61–77; Collins, Patricia Hill, ‘The Sexual Politics of Black Womanhood’, in Black Feminist Thought (New York: Routledge 2000), pp. 133–160. 15 Riefenstahl, Leni, The Last of the Nuba (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1995, originally published by Harper, 1974). 16 Beckwith, Carol and Fisher, Angela, African Ark: People and Ancient Cultures of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990). The postcard edition and the yearly calendar edition are both published under the title Women of the African Ark by Pomegranate. 17 A similar interpretation has been offered by David Moos. In the catalogue accompanying the exhibition of Mutu’s work at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2011, curator Moos writes: ‘the quasi-scientific and stock ethnographic style of Beckwith’s imagery [ . . . ] offers a template against which [Mutu launches] a critique of this highly constructed and fallacious stereotype of the African female’. See Moos, David, ‘The Ark Collection: Disjunctive Continuity’, in Wangechi Mutu: This You Call Civilization? (Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2010), p. 11. 18 See Cash, Stephanie, ‘Wangechi Mutu: Terrible Beauty’, Art in America, 98:5 (May 2010), pp. 120–128. In her discussion of The Ark Collection, Cash writes: ‘The work is a perfect melding of two of Mutu’s concerns: stereotypical depictions of exoticized African women and of hyper-sexualized African-American women’, p. 127. 19 Wangechi Mutu in conversation with David Moos in the video Wangechi Mutu: This You Call Civilization? by Art Gallery of Ontario, 2010, available at http://artmatters.ca/wp/2010/03/video-wangechi-mutu-this-you-call-civilization/ [accessed 22 April 2012]. 20 Omolade, Barbara, The Rising Song of African-American Women (New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 7. 21 Bakhtin: Rabelais and His World, p. 317. 22 Stoler, Ann Laura, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), p. 97.

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23 Gilman, Sander L., ‘Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine and Literature’, Critical Inquiry 12:1, ‘Race’, Writing and Difference (Autumn 1985), pp. 204–242. 24 Vicinus, Martha, ‘Introduction: The Perfect Victorian Lady’, in Suffer and Be Still: Women in the Victorian Age (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1972), pp. ix–xi. For further discussion on the social and psychological implications of the Victorian ideal of the ‘lady’ see Bordo, Susan R., ‘The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity: A Feminist Appropriation of Foucault’, in A. M. Jaggar and S. R. Bordo (eds), Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing (New Brunswick and London: Rutgers University Press, 1989), p. 16. 25 For an elaboration on the continued significance of Sarah Bartmann in the contemporary South-African consciousness see Buikema, Rosemarie, ‘The Arena of Imaginings: Sarah Bartmann and the Ethics of Representation’, in R. Buikema and I. van der Tuin (eds), Doing Gender in Media, Art and Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 2009), pp. 70–85. 26 Mutu has made it clear that she takes Grace Jones’ performances as a source of inspiration and finds very stimulating Jones’ cunning in confronting the audience’s expectations. See her lecture titled ‘Wangechi Mutu: My Dirty Little Heaven’, delivered at the School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, on 18 November 2010, available at http://playgallery.org/playlists/stamps#my dirty little heaven [accessed 22 April 2012]. 27 See, for instance, Jules-Rosette, Bennetta, Josephine Baker in Art and Life. The Icon and the Image (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007) and Rony, Fatimah Tobing, The Third Eye: Race, Cinema and Ethnographic Spectacle (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996), pp. 199–203. 28 Jules-Rosette quotes Jean-Claude Baker, Josephine’s biographer and prot´eg´e, who describes the banana dance as phallic display: ‘“Only Josephine”, he argues, “would dare to strategically fashion herself as a substitute phallus.”’ See Jules-Rosette: Josephine Baker, p. 67. 29 Jules-Rosette: Josephine Baker, p. 50. 30 Jules-Rosette: Josephine Baker, p. 264. 31 See Stam: Subversive Pleasures, pp. 122–156. By jumping to the Brazilian context, I do not mean to imply that concepts such as carnival, anthropophag´ıa and tropicalismo can be applied universally. However, while acknowledging that these concepts emerged in a specific context, I hold that the characteristic rhetorical move can be discerned elsewhere. Subsequently, the concepts of carnival and anthropophag´ıa are transposed and used as heuristic tools for adding a new angle to the discussion on the work of Wangechi Mutu. 32 For a scholarly discussion on de Andrade’s manifesto see Bary, Leslie: ‘Oswald de Andrade’s “Cannibalist Manifesto”’, Latin American Literary Review 19:38 (July– December 1991), pp. 35–37.

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33 The exhibition titled My Dirty Little Heaven took place at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin from 30 April until 13 June 2010 on the occasion of Mutu being selected Artist of the Year 2010 by Deutsche Bank. 34 Classen, Constance, The Colour of Angels: Cosmology, Gender and the Aesthetic Imagination (New York: Routledge, 1998), p. 143. Together with David Howes and Anthony Synnott, Constance Classen is one of the scholars responsible for initiating the anthropology of the senses in the anglophone world. 35 In aiming to counteract this mainstream trend, the Montreal-based Concordia Sensoria Research Team (CONSERT) has set out to re(dis)cover alternative sensory models by attending to the so-called ‘lower’ senses such as taste, smell and touch. The research that various members of the group have carried out on the diversity of sensory experience in history and across cultures has sparked my interest in this field and provided the starting point for some of the ideas that I am introducing in this essay. 36 For a succinct overview of this emerging research field see Martine Beugnet’s contribution in this book. 37 Sobchack: ‘What My Fingers Knew’, p. 60. 38 See Cytowic, Richard E., ‘Synaesthesia: Phenomenology and Neuropsychology: A Review of Current Knowledge’, Psyche 2, no. 10 (1995), n. p., available at http:// webpub.allegheny.edu/employee/a/adale/p108/Synaesthesia%20Phenomenology% 20And%20Neuropsychology.htm [accessed 10 May 2012]. 39 Sobchack: ‘What My Fingers Knew’, p. 69. 40 Massumi: Parables for the Virtual, pp. 97–98.

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Chapter 10

Tactile Visions: From Embodied to Encoded Love Martine Beugnet

A sexual encounter invites a relationship of trust that the other will not break you but, gently or ‘cruelly’, open you to new experience. Haptic criticism, similarly, invites the critic to have faith that these encounters may be transformative but need not be shattering.1 ˇ zek concludes his chapter on In his Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006), Slavoj Ziˇ eroticism and sex on screen with a clich´e: cinema’s most successful lovemaking scene is a scene that does not show anything.2 This remark probably finds an echo in many a spectator’s experience. While desire and love are amongst mainstream cinema’s most recurrent themes, the depiction of their physical expression on screen tends to be, in formal terms as well as in content, highly formulaic. More often than not, cinema’s treatment of lovemaking is, at best, boring or embarrassing, and at worst, grotesque or degrading. What, then, is the trouble with cinema’s evocations of physical love? The problem, it seems, has to do with the very nature of the medium, with an excess of visibility: the cinema shows too much too realistically. As Linda Williams summarises it in one of her classic studies on screen pornography: The inherent and unprecedented realism of movies seems to lead directly to an equally inherent and unprecedented obscenity. Most realist theorists of the cinema seem to come up against this ‘ultimate’ obscenity of the medium at some point in their thinking.3 This obscenity, Williams reminds us, finds its roots in the medium’s early development, in the establishment of a dominant tradition of cinema predicated both 175

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on photographic realism and life-like movement, and their scientific treatment. From its beginnings, cinema participated in what Williams, taking her cue from Jean-Louis Comolli, calls the ‘frenzy of the visible’, no more clearly at work than when the depiction of sex is concerned. As Williams puts it succinctly and eloquently: film shows us ‘the functioning and hydraulics of sex’.4 In exposing, with unequalled ‘realism’, that which is experienced first and foremost as a tactile, close encounter of skin against skin, cinema participates in a scopic ‘will-to-knowledge’ bent on uncovering the mechanics of sex, but disconnected from the experience and poetics of everyday corporeal perception. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the pornographers were quick to seize the opportunity and harness these particular qualities of the medium of the moving image to pornography’s specific strategy of maximum visibility. At (what appears to be) the other end of the spectrum of cinematic representation, in classic romantic cinema, the same issue of visibility renders the representation of physical love particularly problematic. In the words of Robert Lapsley and Michael Westlake, the evocation of lovemaking is ‘fraught with discomfort’.5 The very physicality of the act, when recorded by a distant camera-eye and projected on screen, threatens the conventional process of idealisation and abstraction that holds together romantic love’s illusory promise of lasting fulfilment.6 In psychoanalytical terms, what is at stake in both pornography and romance, and determines the ideological implications of both regimes of representation, is the wish to cover up the fundamental lack at the heart of the formation of the subject, or, as Lapsley and Westlake put it in their classic Lacanian appraisal of Hollywood romance, ‘this hole around which human life is organised and which can never be filled’ – the ‘absence of sexual relation’.7 Mainstream cinema has therefore developed a variety of aesthetic and narrative tactics, including metaphor and metonymy,8 the replacement of live sound with the unifying, covering effect of music – ‘the most prevalent accompaniment to sex acts in Hollywood, as well as a way to cover over what might appear to some as the tasteless grunts and moans of sex’9 – and the narrative deferment or displacement of the sexual act to the end, or, even better, as pointed out by Lapsley and Westlake, to a diegetic past or future: ‘More usually, Hollywood prefers a solution that enables it to avoid having to attempt any explicit representation of sexual rapport’.10 Pornography addresses the same conundrum with opposite tactics: rather than hide the lack that besets sexual relation by deferring or avoiding its representation, pornography ‘promises to present evidence of the “thing” itself’. Ideally, ‘this “thing” consists of an involuntary convulsion, a confession of the body in the grips of pleasure’.11

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ˇ zek’s conclusion as Given the dominant strategies of film representation, Ziˇ mentioned above appears like common sense, accepted wisdom. Yet it does raise an obvious issue: it implies that the direct evocation of an essential part of the human existence is, largely, left to pornography, and that no matter how inadequate pornography’s depiction of physical love, it stays unchallenged.12 In the era of thriving hardcore internet sex, this question remains of particular importance to women spectators, and to women filmmakers – for it is still primarily the female body and, by extension, the female psyche, that is commodified and subjected, on the whole, to mostly debasing treatment. It is neither the aim nor the place of this chapter to draw the kind of extensive inventory and history of screen representations of physical love that Linda Williams’ books offer: the small corpus of films discussed here is clearly limited in terms of the representation of gender and sexuality as well as in historical, cultural and geographical scope.13 What I propose to do in this chapter is to focus on a small selection of works that challenge customary formal treatments of sex on screen. At the same time, I will sketch out film theory’s changing response to such works, emphasising the backwash movement – between detached, critical analysis and haptic encounter – that diversely affects practice and theory. In particular, I am interested in the shift in emphasis away from primarily scopic models onto the embodied aspect of the film experience – from optical to haptic forms of visuality – which is felt both in the aesthetics and in the theory of film, and its implications as we move further into the digital age. If film in some ways expresses our relation to the world and to others, then this shift is significant, and it is nowhere more tangible than in the evocation of physical love – the most intimate and unpredictable of encounter with the other.

LOVE MANIFESTOS: FUSES (1967) AND NO SEX LAST NIGHT (1992) In A Body of Vision, Bruce Elder emphasises the need to look beyond conventional film practices to envisage the question of film’s representation of lovemaking anew: One reason we commonly feel that explicit presentations of lovemaking do not capture our sense of the act is that so much of our experience of it derives from our inward sensation of our bodies as they engage in the act of lovemaking.14

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Elder’s remark resonates with commonplace experience: whereas seduction is often predicated on the look, when engaged in the act of lovemaking we tend to close our eyes because we concentrate not exclusively, but primarily, on other senses – touch mainly, but also taste and smell, and on how they affect us internally. Invested as it is in buttressing gender differences in particular,15 mainstream cinema as well as pornography largely fail to translate into images and sounds this experience of temporary differance or un-difference where, through tactility in particular, as the skin becomes an interface between feelings and sensations, percepts and affects, we experience a blurring of boundaries, not only between our body and another body, but also between our outward and inward sensations. Here, Carolee Schneemann’s experimental film Fuses appears as a key work, from an ethical as well as from an aesthetic point of view. An unrepentant celebration of lovemaking featuring Schneemann herself and her lover Jim Tenney, Fuses is a montage of fragments that combine sequences of lovemaking taken from a variety of points of views, angles and distances (partial or full shots of entwined bodies as well as discrete parts of both of the lovers’ bodies in close up or extreme close-up) with a sample of complementary shots including landscapes (a forest, the sea), and everyday details (Tenney driving, sun shining through a window, a curtain flapping in the wind, Schneemann’s cat Kitch . . .). Sobchack’s comment that much of the ‘pleasure of the text’ emerges from a ‘carnal subversion of fixed subject positions, from the body as a “third” term that both exceeds and yet is within discrete representation’16 could serve as a description of the film’s fluctuating play with point of view. Schneemann herself insists on the importance of creating the sense of an unanchored filmic eye that subverts the conventional voyeuristic format: The fact that Fuses is filmed at home – the intimacy of lovers’ own bedroom – I hope that there is a sense that there is no outside camera person. That’s why the camera was part of our body. The cat Kitch watches with complete unrestrained interest. The cat becomes the filmic eye, a meta-presence inviting the viewers. ( . . . ) I wanted what was around us to be coming in and out of season, of frame, of focus, of flesh.17 Relating Schneemann’s depiction of heterosexual lovemaking to Luce Irigaray’s notion of the (female) indiff´erentes,18 Bruce Elder points out that while some of the shots in Fuses can be assigned to one or the other of the lovers, some shots have an ‘undecidable point of view’, and remain untied to ‘any subjectivity by any suturing close-up’,19 making it possible for Schneemann’s film’s to bypass

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Figure 10.1 Carolee Schneemann, Fuses, 1964–66.

the reifying effect of a mastering, objective gaze and suggest instead a dream-like perception: This capacity to see ourselves from the outside at the same time as we sense our body from within is also a feature of dreaming. Thus there is a quasi-oneiric quality to Fuses, and the images that could be Schneemann as seen by her lover can also be taken as Schneemann’s own imagining how she appears to her lover.20 However, it is not the fluidity of the point of view alone that allows Schneemann to sustain this sense of reciprocity and this blurring of the subject/object position, but the film’s non-narrative quality and its material presence. Elder describes Schneemann’s physical alteration of the film’s material properties as her working with ‘the film’s own flesh’ (see Figure 10.1).21 Schneemann used optical printing to rework the initial material, baking, painting, dyeing and scratching the negatives, superimposing, solarising and inverting some of the images. The images were edited together following rhythmic, musical patterns – a linking of pictorial effects and gestures rather than a narrative

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order. The result is a densely layered, richly patterned film, which intense colour variations liken to a moving tapestry or stain-glass, testifying to Schneemann’s interest in a multiplicity of artistic practices, from performance to painting and music. Kate Haug summarised the pictorial and musical quality of Schneemann’s filmmaking as ‘painting with motion and composing with color’.22 Fuses thus navigates between two extremes – between the graphic and obscure – the unravelling of the film’s sexually explicit content systematically undermined by its formal treatment which ceaselessly brings the images back to the brink of abstraction. Indeed, much of Fuses’s images are beautifully indistinct, affording only glimpses, or partial vision of the lovers’ bodies and their surroundings, encouraging the viewer to engage with the work through haptic perception. As in Laura U. Marks’ classic description of a haptic works, Fuses ‘invite a look that moves on the surface plane of the screen for some time before the viewer realizes what she or he is beholding. Such images resolve into figuration only gradually, if at all’.23 While Fuses’ denial of narrativisation creates ‘dispersive temporal structures that are homologous with a dispersed, generalized subjectivity’,24 its intensely tactile quality and the rhythmic, musical character of the editing subsume the physical presence of the bodies and the mechanics of the lovemaking into the variations of the body of the film itself. Schneemann’s film was produced between 1964 and 1966, at a time when female artists had started using their own bodies as a means of re-appropriation to produce alternative, politically engaged representations. As Skibsted Mogensen reminds us: One of the decisive changes in the art of the sixties occurred when the neoavantgardists, with their performance and action art, introduced the body into art, where it became visible as an actual physical presence. The body was no longer merely a representation, but rather a form of material – a compositional element in artistic action. [ . . . ] Feminist artists of the 1960s and 1970s used this to reveal the implicit sexual structures involved in visuality and the observing gaze in relation to the representation and self-representation of women.25 Schneemann’s project emanated partly from a desire to offer a female perspective in response to Stan Brakhage’s work and his vision of physical love as seen through the eyes of a male filmmaker.26 However, although Fuses gave expression to themes that would be later developed in feminism, in particular in the writings of the French feminists,27 it was generally overlooked by contemporary historians and theorists, including feminist film theorists.28

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At the time when Fuses was released, film theory was becoming increasingly transdisciplinary, appropriating the tools of established critical methods so as to deconstruct, first and foremost, ideological strategies at work in mainstream cinema aesthetics. The additional benefit, of course, was that film studies was also establishing itself further as a serious, scientifically oriented field of research. This was of particular importance to feminist film theory, which was distancing itself from the clich´e of the ‘immersed’, uncritical, un-distanced female spectator. Understandably geared towards a critique of Hollywood cinema aided by the co-optation of structuralist methodologies, film theory in the 1960s and 1970s would have had little time for the kind of theories of embodied knowledge that emerged two decades later.29 Even as they became increasingly attentive to the varying parameters that apply to definitions of gender and sexuality, classic film theories remained grounded in specific approaches that took the optical model of visuality as their premise. Yet the principle of the existence of contrasting regimes of vision, from tactile or haptic to optical visuality, has haunted the work of Western art historians for centuries, resurfacing in the twentieth-century in the work of various philosophers, including thinkers with an interest in film such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze. Its appearance in the field of film studies proper however – thanks to the writings of theorists such as Bruce Elder, Vivian Sobchack and Laura U. Marks – is relatively recent. As Elder, Marks and Sobchack have been at pains to remind us, knowledge functions are inseparable from the sensory. Sobchack describes it in relation to film viewing as a ‘commingling of flesh and consciousness’.30 As Marks also emphasises, theories of embodied spectatorship are crucial in that they offer a way out of ‘theories of representation grounded in the alienation of visuality from the body’. Whereas psychoanalytical models equate visuality with misrecognition, lack and self-alienation, theories of embodiment that explore the correspondences between the senses posit a ‘phenomenological encounter [that] is an exchange between an embodied self-in-becoming (the viewer) and its embodied intercessor (the cinema)’.31 A haptic regime of visuality implies a process of acquiring knowledge that is not synonymous with a detached, scientific gaze, but, on the contrary, is rooted in a sensual engagement with its object: a process of understanding that calls for a yielding into the object. Amongst early feminist film theorists such an emphasis on embodiment, immersion and empathy would have met with suspicion. Accordingly, that a film such as Fuses was, from the point of view of its contemporary film theory, somewhat anachronistic, becomes clear when the film is envisaged in relation to the kind of conceptual and experiential framework elaborated,

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most notably by Laura U. Marks, in the early 2000s. Here numerous descriptions are strikingly evocative of the kind of aesthetics at play in Schneemann’s work: The image indicates figures, and then backs away from representing them fully – or, often, moves so close to them that they are no longer visible. Rather than making the objects fully available to view, haptic cinema puts the object into question, calling upon the viewer to engage in its imaginative construction, and to be aware of her or his self-involvement in that process.32 If Fuses was ahead of its time in the 1960s however, by the 1990s, following the advent of AIDS and the redefinition of the ideals of the so-called sexual liberation according to the precise and quantified standards of achievement and normality of contemporary ‘liberal’ societies, the kind of expressiveness in evidence in Schneemann’s work had again become the exception. Would-be subversive art turned away from representations of a liberated and liberating sexuality to wilfully explore the abject or commodified territories of the so-called genres of excess (pornography and horror), or expose the ‘inadequacy’, ‘dysfunctionality’, or even plain dullness of emotional and sexual lives in the late twentieth-century Western world. Haptic aesthetics were thus either eluded or harnessed to dystopian visions infused with a sense of postmodern irony and a post-Foucauldian awareness of the implicit policing of sexual behaviour.33 Whilst the first strategy, with its reclaiming and subvertion of the conventions of pornography and horror, is in evidence in the work of art cinema directors of the 1990s and early 2000s,34 the second approach was embraced by a number of artists, amongst whom is Sophie Calle. Calle’s mockumentary No Sex Last Night, released 35 years after Fuses, stands as the playful antithesis to Schneemann’s erotic manifesto. No Sex Last Night offers the beguiling combination of ostensible artlessness and creative shrewdness that is characteristic of much of Calle’s work. Produced with a minimum of technical means, and ingeniously put together, the film plays on cinematic conventions (from experimental film to the road movie genre) as well as the codes of sexual and emotional behaviour characteristic of modern Western cultures. Whilst the film’s title humorously takes stock of the collapse of the sexual revolution, the opening sequence, an extended visual citation of Chris Marker’s La Jet´ee (1963), stands as a dedication to the memory of writer Herv´e Guibert who died of the disease, thus emphasizing the film’s reflection on love as belonging to an era marked by the advent of AIDS.

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No Sex Last Night chronicles the trip that takes the French artist and the American photographer Greg Sheppard from New York to California where they will get married – that is, if, in the course of the long journey, Calle manages to secure Sheppard’s reluctant agreement. Both travellers recorded their experience on separate handheld cameras, creating their own video journal. Images and voiceover comments are edited together to form a witty dual account of their voyage. Amongst the intriguing resonances with Fuses that this alternation of point-of-views creates are the series of shots of Sheppard driving. In obvious contrast with Schneemann’s experiment however, in this case the fusion of the material recorded by the couple further emphasises the disunion of their bodies: though Sheppard and Calle share the space of a car as well as numerous hotel rooms, the film is punctuated with morning shots of unmade, empty beds accompanied with Calle’s dead-pan report: ‘No sex last night’. When they finally get married and become lovers, it is a similar picture of an empty bed, but with the pillows brought together, that initially stands as evocation of their physical union. Calle’s propensity to blur the frontiers between fiction and reality and put her own private life on display is by no means unique. In an era characterised by what Baudrillard famously described as the absorption of the private sphere into the ‘ecstasy of communication’ typical of technologically advanced cultures, it has in fact already become a topos.35 As Mogensen comments: From the beginning of Sophie Calle’s career, sexual desire and concepts of woman in general have been central themes in her work. But Sophie Calle makes use of the evident artist’s subject in a way which is quite different to that of the feminist artists of the sixties and seventies, and her practice is closely linked to her cloudy mixture of fiction and reality.36 Together with Calle’s offbeat humour, the use of arbitrary sets of rules – in No Sex Last Night, the decision to have two video diaries recorded under the promise of complete honesty – is what allows her to maintain a distance, to keep the obscenity of the exposure of intimacy at bay, and it has come to typify her approach. Prefiguring the communication revolution brought about by the advent of digital electronics, her film also offers a witty comment on the rise of the new homo-technology which favours mediated forms of interaction. The sequence in which Calle and Sheppard eventually come close to revealing their ‘true’ feelings towards each other is thus both chilling and very funny: the two protagonists talk to each other while filming each other, only separated by the narrow space of a car seat, but with faces hidden behind their respective cameras

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Figure 10.2 Sophie Calle and Greg Shepard, No Sex Last Night, 1992.

(see Figures 10.2 and 10.3) – Sheppard, in particular, remains concealed almost throughout the discussion, appearing in Calle’s and our field of vision as a kind of video Cyclops, half man-half camera. Yet in spite of its contriving dispositif, and its emphasis on the disconnection that lies at the very heart of closeness, No Sex Last Night is by no means devoid of haptic pleasures. Calle makes a savvy use of video aesthetic, drawing on the effect of the low density of the video image to emphasise the material and tactile surface of the film and, by the same token, to playfully evoke the history of the cinema. No Sex Last Night is dotted with images that recall the experiments of the early avant-garde and hover at the border with abstraction: shots of the roads unravelling their abstract patterns across the screen, rayograph-like shots of falling snow, grainy stills and shots of road-signs that offer humorous comments on the

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Figure 10.3 Sophie Calle and Greg Shepard, No Sex Last Night, 1992.

moods and misfortunes of the couple, while also creating a visual contrast with deliberately obscure images. When the newly formed couple is filmed at night in the car, silhouettes are barely discernible, the outline of faces and bodies seemingly drawn out of a dark matter that threatens to engulf them at any moment. Similarly, throughout the film, the cruelty of the content of Sheppard’s and Calle’s accounts, whispered to their separate recording apparatus, is counterpointed by the tactile intimacy that the grain of the voices creates. What connects the two experiments described above – Scheemann’s 1960s daringly graphic erotic manifesto and Calle’s 1990s knowing play on revelation and concealment, metonymy and the withholding of visual information – is both the haptic quality of the moving image and the deliberate questioning of and resistance to a purely optical regime of the gaze. Both artists experiment with a tactile aesthetic in order to reclaim territories traditionally mapped out by patriarchal ideology and modes of representation. Between Fuses and No Sex Last Night, the gap is nonetheless vast. The contrast in the evocation of physical closeness is a telling indication of the deep changes that the ubiquitous presence of the electronic and digital apparatus in particular brings to human interaction.

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LOVE ENCODED: FROM SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF (FOR MARINE) (1992) TO A PRIVATE HAPPINESS (2003) At the same time as notions of hapticity and embodiment were opening film theory onto uncharted territories of corporeality and the moving image, we were entering the age of the internet and of virtual reality, with media theorists alternatively revelling in or deploring the potential obsolescence of our limited, sentient, flesh and bone body and with it, sensory experiences and physical love as we knew them.37 A similar, dual movement can be observed in artists’ practices:38 while the role of embodiment – of experience, knowledge and memory grounded in bodily senses – was coming to the fore anew in film and video art, so did the sense that the establishment of digital electronics as the main mode of communication brought with it not only the promise of freedom from the limitations of flesh, but also, as Sobchack puts it, the risk to ‘diffuse and/or disembody the lived body’s material and moral gravity’.39 Gary Hill’s 1992 installation piece, entitled Suspension of Disbelief (for Marine) beautifully encapsulates this particular moment. As in the works described so far, in Suspension of Disbelief, Hill uses the close-up to create a haptic evocation of two lovers’ bodies. Thirty monitors stripped of casings are placed side by side to form a beam suspended high between two walls. Black and white close-up shots of two naked bodies, one female, one male flicker across the screens. Originally, the camera had panned along the bodies, surveying them in an intimate and caressing way. As part of the installation however, the shots are broken down into a shimmering succession of discrete elements, fired across the line of monitors by a computer system, which allows each shot to linger for only an instant on a monitor, before it is moved along the beam of screens and replaced by images of the other body or by occasional blanks. The images are ceaselessly intertwined yet the bodies remain separated. In interview, Hill explained that the piece was inspired by the long-distance relation he had with his then lover.40 Footage for the male (Hill’s own) body was shot in Seattle, and footage of the female body was shot in New York. When I saw it, the piece triggered in my mind an unlikely comparison with a classic depiction of two lovers separated: Jean Vigo’s 1934 masterpiece L’Atalante. One of the film’s most daring (for the time) and evocative sequences depicts a young couple separated in space, yet connecting, and making love from a distance. The film shows the two lovers in their respective bedrooms, simultaneously awoken in the middle of the night by an irrepressible desire to be together. Both are shot

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in soft twilight, from various medium close-up angles, as they run their hands along their own bodies, feverishly trying to conjure up the physical presence of the loved one. The shots are shown to respond to each other, the two bodies brought together and connected across the body of the film by the alternate editing and a slight effect of superimposition, in a movement that prefigures the lovers’ later reunion in the same space/frame. On the contrary, in Suspension of Disbelief, the rapid editing, as well as the flow of the images subjected to the computer’s seemingly random flashing of images across the monitors, emphasises a sense of continuing disconnection. Lynne Cooke’s description of the work beautifully captures the combination of tactile intimacy and remoteness that the work produces: The camera has lingered lovingly on these nudes: it almost nuzzles the skin in probing their surfaces, delivering the body to the gaze with a heightened immediacy. Seldom, however, do the forms glide along the chain of monitors in a smooth, continuous flow: their passage is constantly interrupted, spliced, cut, relayed by means of a switching mechanism. [ . . . ] The bodies never blend, join, or fuse. The skin remains an impermeable boundary even when the body is fractured, its part overlaid and intersecting.41 Rather than the feeling of fluid subjectivity created in Schneemann’s Fuses, Hill’s Suspension of Disbelief elicits a sense of radical dis-anchoring. The overhead placement of the monitors, as well as the sense of homogeneous time of the flow of images, further emphasise the effect of ‘intangibility and ephemerality’ created by the work.42 On the one hand, Suspension ‘offers a sensuous paradigm for the ecstatic transcendence of the physicality of direct sexuality’,43 on the other hand it effectively conjures up the anxieties born out of the increasing sense of immateriality and groundlessness of the electronic age. Hill’s work comes with a title, with a story, with images of specific bodies – lovers’ bodies. But this data has been encoded, fed into a computer, abandoned to the machine’s self-sufficient algorithmic treatment. The intimacy of the imagery combines with the sheer rapidity and continuous flow of fragmentary data to form a forceful evocation of the rise of network systems as incisively summarised by Sobchack: ‘Narrative, history, and a centered (and central) investment in the human lived body and its mortality become atomized and dispersed across a system that constitutes temporality not as a coherent flow of mordantly conscious experience, but as the eruption of ephemeral desire and the transmission of random, unevaluated, and endless information’.44

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In Friedrich Kittler’s characteristic vision of the growth of media technology, the embodied dimension of perception and experience finally fades into irrelevance when (as with the computer system that autonomously determines the flow and combination of images in Gary Hill’s installation work, turning the lovers encounter into an electronic stream of endless permutations) ‘machines not only handle the transmission of addresses and data storage, but are also able, via mathematical algorithms, to control the processing of commands’.45 Mark Hansen’s critical reading of Kittler results in a more nuanced, and, in this context, more fertile concept of ‘mixed reality’ – a ‘fluid functional interpenetration of physical and virtual spaces’. Hansen writes: If, in a certain sense, mixed reality specifies how ‘media determine our situation’ (following Friedrich Kittler’s media-theoretical deepening of Foucault’s epistemo-transcendental historiography), it does so in a way that foregrounds, not (as in Kittler) the autonomy of the technical, but precisely the opposite: the irreducible bodily or analog basis of experience which, we must add, has always been conditioned by a technical dimension and has always occurred as a cofunctioning of embodiment with technics.46 Hansen’s exploration of reality, including virtual reality, as ‘mixed reality’, stems from Merleau-Ponty’s ontology of the flesh, and his notion of gap or e´ cart. This notion refers to the way we are, at one and the same time, enfolded in perception yet aware of our seeing and touching, and able to effect the ‘transduction between embodiment and specularity, the transduction that informs the emergence of the visual from primordial tactility’.47 For Hansen, if embodied perception remains the obligatory ground for the co-development of the human with technics it is because ‘technicity’ itself has always been part of the way we process sensory information – a process that entails a passage from the tactile to the visual. Envisaged in such a way, in Suspension of Disbelief and in L’Atalante, the video as well as the analog film images and their mode of organisation and presentation – whether as projected strips of images edited on celluloid, or as randomly selected bits of computerised data materialising on a series of screens – are there to activate the memory of touch. Contemporary to the formation of these memories, the machine becomes their cipher, technology in the service of an embodied, historically informed mode of remembrance, seeking to evoke an experience that, in any case, always challenges classical means of representation. As we have seen however, it is in the older medium of film that the promise of

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reunion is upheld. Hill’s images, in contrast, though born out of the electronic age’s pledge of instant and continuous connection, use new media to emphasise the sense of continual elusiveness and melancholic longing that characterises love in the computer age. Melancholy also infuses the world of classical film theory, confronted with the prospect of the disappearance, or of relegation to the museum, of its beloved object of study. For, as works like Hill’s also suggest, it is not only the human body that is at risk of losing its corpo-reality, but the body of film itself, encoded and dissolved through a multifarious network of distribution and reception. That the haptic techniques deployed in the works described in this paper depend on filmmaking and film viewing practices that might soon become obsolete, arguably renders them even more precious and ‘touching’. A hand craft approach such as Schneemann’s requires the possibility of manipulating and interfering directly with the film strip – a practice that cannot be reproduced in the digital format and will therefore disappear if/when the production of celluloid film ceases.48 As we already saw with Gary Hill’s use of moving images however, and as Laura U. Marks repeatedly emphasises in her writing on haptic visuality, whilst they lack the corporeal properties that render celluloid so treasurable, video and digital filmmaking offer their own, distinct haptic pleasures. Aptly described as ‘matter-and-colour’ films (films de mati`ere-et-couleur) by Jacques Aumont,49 the work of film and video maker Leighton Pierce is, in this context, exemplary. Pierce moved from film and video making to digital filmmaking in the late 1990s, though his subject matter remained unchanged, demonstrating a continuing predilection for the kind of close, domestic surroundings and events that are often associated with childhood or with personal memories. In his films (the word film taken here in its broad sense to encompass the whole of his corpus) these small spaces and fleeting moments of intimacy are explored in detail and transformed into wondrous, multisensory universes. In that sense, even if, in its most recent form, it is the conventional aesthetic boundaries of digital filmmaking that his work defies and radically expands, Pierce’s work recalls cinema’s early theorists (Siegfried Kracauer, Bela Bal´asz, Jean Epstein) revelling in the medium of the moving image’s unique faculty for re-enchanting the world. Furthermore, like Schneemann’s, Pierce’s filmmaking calls to mind the Merleau-Ponty-inspired writings of Sobchak and Marks, but in his work the notion of hapticity seemingly extends into a specifically digital rendering of corporeality and time, emphasising the continuous quality of the digital image (in contrast with analog film’s series of discrete frames).50

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Pierce shoots with a still digital camera, using long exposures to capture motion blur, and then weaves the shots together either seamlessly or with extended fades to black. The gliding movements of the camera, the combination of slow motion and blur, and the intensive work on smear effects and the slow mutation of the colour fields evoke a floating consciousness – Pierce creates dream-like visions but endows them with a highly sensual presence. A Private Happiness (2003, 10min.) evokes moments of intimacy between a woman and a man (Pierce himself?), or rather, the memory of these moments – for in the end, the man appears alone, his solitude a poignant contrast to the images of lovemaking that precede. The film starts with fluctuating shots of a young woman getting up in a bedroom in Manhattan, combing her hair, taking a shower. As the film lovingly and attentively recounts her gestures, time seems to suspend its course. The movement of her fingers combing through her hair leaves lighter traces on the surface of the image, and the way she later braids her hair echoes the way Pierce has woven together the shots that form the film. In spite of its urban setting, as in Schneemann’s Fuses and indeed most of Pierce’s own films, A Private Happiness includes images of the elemental – in this case wave-like sounds dominate the soundtrack, and water is present visually in the shower scene and in a later sequence of a visit to waterfalls. Daylight turns into nightlight and the film returns to the bedroom in New York where a couple is depicted making love. Pierce’s exquisite, haptic treatment of the image defeats the sense of voyeurism that the subject matter elicits, as does the film’s uncertain chronology, which grants the images the status of vivid memory traces. The lovers are enfolded into each other’s arms, into the texture of the film, and in its protracted spatio-temporal presence. Both Aumont and Raymond Bellour have eloquently talked of Pierce’s ability to move in and out of figuration, his capacity to tread the liminal space between the discernible and the indeterminate, as he dots the fluid substance of his images and sound track with transient moments of what Bellour calls ‘concr´etude’: images fleetingly crystallising out of the blurred field of vision.51 Such moments occur in A Private Happiness emphasising the preciousness of seemingly banal details: a brief vision of naked feet graciously poised, the shape of a pillow where the lover’s head once rested. As Aumont points out, differentiating it from artists’ work, as the work of a filmmaker, Pierce’s films and videos are best experienced in the darkened space of a cinema.52 Pierce’s work therefore both points to the aesthetic potential of the digital, and calls for viewing conditions that are now increasingly described as old-fashioned, even as they remain qualitatively unmatched. Plunged in darkness, and facing the expansive screen of a cinema, the spectator cannot help but lose

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him or herself on the surfaces and in the folds of bodies shot in close-up as if in a vast landscape: to abandon cinema-going in favour of alternative viewing modes is to relinquish access to a unique experience of film viewing as a haptic encounter. As Williams observes however, the loss could in some ways be a productive one: from touch screens to virtual grabbing, the emphasis is on new technologies as enhancing embodied perception rather than rendering it obsolete, and indeed, as potentially challenging the cinematic paradigm of dominant visuality with more tactile and interactive models.53 Williams raises doubts, however, as to new, interactive media’s capacity to generate the kind of intersubjective, reversible relation that characterises, for instance, consenting physical love, distinguishing it from pornography. In effect, to envisage interactive media in this context is to show the limits of a system that focuses almost solely on the ‘user’, thus failing to take into account what makes physical love a creative, unsettling and potentially subversive experience: the close encounter with an ‘other’ (of specific form, shape, race, genre or gender, number or age), with whom one enters in the kind of reciprocal, and always unpredictable, subject/object relation that tactility so neatly encapsulates (one cannot touch without being touched). Katherine Hayles’ description of how our proprioceptive sense (the sense that we inhabit our bodies) is affected by and affects our practice of new technologies holds a particular resonance here. In ‘The Materiality of Informatics’, Hayles emphasises how the ever lighter touch involved in manipulations (as when we use a keyboard and a word processor) manifests a more general trend towards the ‘decreasing friction of materiality’. This, she argues, extends to proprioception in virtual reality, when virtual objects offer no material resistance to the grasp of the user. ‘Proprioceptive sense flows out of the body to meet the artefact, but since there is no material object, it returns in a feedback loop that acts to dematerialize the body’.54 Though it is on the user’s losing the sense of his or her own body’s materiality that Hayles insists, what is missing here, by extension, is the sense of (partly unpredictable) reciprocity that tactile perception in particular entails, and that haptic visuality evokes: the ‘material resistance’ that one’s body effects at the same time as it encounters it – the sense of friction or resistance experienced when touching another body and being touched in response. These remarks are, of course, only valid at this stage of the technology’s development: the refinement of the technology on which the creation of VR interactive environments is predicated might well result in different modes of inscription and incorporation that fully take into account the effect of tactile reversibility.55 Hayles, however, casts her

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remarks within a wider framework – that of a generalised tendency towards the ‘lighter touch’, typical of a culture of intensified de-materialisation.56 The experience of watching a film is at once more and less immersive, more passive and more active than that of engaging with interactive media, for, as both Marks and Sobchack have emphasised, to have a haptic encounter with a film is to open up onto an unknown, to accept partly relinquishing one’s mastery over the image: it is for this reason, because of the way they draw on a fundamental facet of our experience of watching film, that haptic evocations of physical love on screen can be so affecting.

CONCLUSION The renewed pertinence of filmmaking as well as theories that engage with phenomenological thought and issues of embodied consciousness partly stems from their crucial emphasis on the conditionality and reciprocity of being. The sense of reversibility, of being-in-the-world as being enfolded in the ‘flesh’ of the world, lies at the heart of Merleau-Ponty’s thought and of Marks’, Sobchack’s and Elder’s phenomenology inflected writings, as well as in the haptic work of many artists. This sense of reversibility manifests itself through ‘the overlap of sensory fields’ and in the ‘articulation of touch and sight’, and as Patrick Leconte points out, it is nowhere more evident than in the ‘meeting of the bodies, in their close embrace’.57 However, as historically determined, our consciousness and sense of beingin-the-world depend on the way we are culturally and technologically constituted as perceiving subject and perceived object. As Sobchack puts it: ‘relatively novel as materialities of human communication, photographic, cinematic, and electronic media have not only historically symbolized but also historically constituted a radical alteration of the forms of our culture’s previous temporal and spatial consciousness and of our bodily sense of existential “presence” to the world, to ourselves, and to others’.58 More acutely than any other form of encounter with the other, lovemaking encapsulates what is at stake in an intersubjective, reciprocal relation to the other. To explore the fundamental blurring of sensory and subject-object distinctions that such encounters entail has been and remains a challenge for both filmmaking and video art practices and film theory. This challenge was fuelled by the critique of traditional scopic models and the experimentation with haptic approaches, and is now infused with the need to respond to the advent of newer technologies, to

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interrogate further the meaning and importance of embodied experience. Within the context of the ‘material and technological crisis of the flesh’ arguably brought about by the age of digital imaging and electronic technology, the entwined bodies of lovers materialise on our screens as the poignant reminder of the vital need to touch and be touched.59

NOTES 1 Marks, Laura U., Touch. Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), p. xvi. ˇ zek, Slavoj, The Pervert’s Guide to the Cinema, 2006, 150 min. Ziˇ ˇ zek’s comments 2 Ziˇ are made in reference to Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966) and the scene where ˇ zek notes, Alma recounts a small orgy at the beach. The scene is successful, Ziˇ because Bergman resisted the temptation of the flashback, limiting himself to the ˇ zek is one of the foremost contemporary proponents of spoken account. That Ziˇ psychoanalytical film theory – a theory initially predicated on a critique of the gaze – is, of course, not irrelevant here: psychoanalysis has been repeatedly taken to task for its lack of concern for the material presence of film. In the case of the sequence concerned, it is important to note that more than the, rather hackneyed, content of Alma’s monologue, it is the sensual quality of the images and soundtrack – the inflections of the voice as well as the attention given to light and to textures (fabrics, skin and voice) in particular – that grant the scene its erotic charge. 3 Williams, Linda, Hard Core. Power, Pleasure, and the ‘Frenzy of the Visible’ (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 185. 4 Comolli, Jean-Louis, ‘Machines of the Visible’, in T. de Lauretis and S. Heath (eds), The Cinematic Apparatues (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1980), pp. 121–142. Williams, Linda, Screening Sex (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2008), p. 5. 5 Lapsley, Rob and Westlake, Michael, ‘From Casablanca to Pretty Woman: The Politics of Romance’, Screen, 33:1 (Spring 1992), pp. 27–49, p. 4. 6 Romantic, here, is understood in its broad, contemporary usage. In contrast, Bruce Elder refers to the Romantic tradition, as in the artistic and literary sense, as a movement that valued the ‘primal, vitalist corporeal sensation’ dismissed by the rationalists. Elder, Bruce, A Body of Vision: Representations of the Body in Recent Film and Poetry (Waterloo, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1998), pp. 3–5. 7 Lapsley and Westlake: From Casablanca, p. 28. 8 Williams: Screening Sex, p. 3. 9 Williams: Hard Core, p. 75. 10 Lapsley and Westlake: From Casablanca, p. 42. 11 Williams: Hard Core, p. 72.

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12 On this subject, Williams paraphrases Richard Corliss’ eloquent argument in ‘In Defense of the Dirty Movies’: ‘Sex is too important to be left to the sex industry’. Corliss, Richard, ‘In Defense of the Dirty Movies’, Time, 5 July 1999, p. 74. 13 Williams’ writings pan across a broad historical and cultural landscape, and accounts for the representation (or absence of representation) of a variety of sexual practices in popular and art house cinema. See in particular Williams: Screening Sex. 14 Elder, Bruce: A Body of Vision, p. 234. 15 As Williams emphasises: ‘pornography, as a genre, wants to be about sex. On close inspection, however, it always proves to be more about gender. The raw materials of sexual difference are dramatically at play in pornography, but they take on meaning because consumers already have gender: they have been engendered in discourse’. (Williams: Hard Core, p. 267). 16 Sobchack, Vivian, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and. Moving Image Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), p. 67. 17 Haug, Kate, ‘An Interview with Carolee Schneemann’, Wide Angle, 20:1 (1998), pp. 40–49, p. 45. 18 Susan Rubin Suleiman points out that in ‘When our Lips Speak Together’ indiff´erence seemingly describes love between women. Suleiman, Susan Rubin ‘(Re)writing the Body: The Politics and Poetics of Female Eroticism’ in The Female Body in Western Culture: Contemporary Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), pp. 7–29, p. 13. 19 Elder: A Body of Vision, p. 234. Elder’s exquisite description/discussion of Schneemann’s work forms a good example of a writing contaminated by its object, as proposed by Marks in her introduction to Touch quoted at the beginning of this article (Marks: Touch, p. xvi). See also Jennifer Baker’s brief discussion of Fuses, in The Tactile Eye. Touch and the Cinematic Experience (London: University of California Press, 2009), pp. 23–24, as well as the special issue of the Millenium Film Journal, released shortly after I completed this chapter: MFJ, 54 (Fall 2011). 20 Elder: A Body of Vision, p. 234. 21 Elder: A Body of Vision, p. 236. 22 Haug: ‘Interview’, p. 20. 23 Marks: Touch, p. 163. 24 Elder points out that ‘the narrativization of erotic experience almost always has the effect of making male orgasm the work’s organising telos’. Elder: A Body of Vision, p. 235. 25 Mogensen, Eva S., ‘True lies and false truths in the works of Sophie Calle’, available at http://www.christinawilson.net/template/t02.php?menuId=65&artsetId=2& articleId=253, [accessed 17 April 2012]. 26 Haug: ‘Interview’, p. 20. 27 In A Body of Vision, Bruce Elder elaborates on the common themes to be found in Schneemann’s work and the writings Luce Irigaray and H´el`ene Cixous in particular. Elder: A Body of Vision, pp. 145–149.

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28 Schneemann mentions, in particular, the work of the theorist who revolutionised film theory in the 1970s, Laura Mulvey: Fuses was being shown in London, 1968, 1969 through the early seventies when I lived there – as she [Laura Mulvey] began writing her film essays. Mulvey talked to me about the rupture Fuses made in pornography – how important Fuses was as an erotic vision. It was going to change the whole argument and discussion of filmic representation of sexuality and . . . then she couldn’t touch it! Mulvey has never mentioned my films. But perhaps it was a touchstone behind critical theory for Mulvey. We were there at the same time, at the same moment, in parallel. Haug: ‘Interview’, pp. 40–49, p. 28.

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The terminology used by Schneemann is interesting: the word ‘touch’ appears twice here, and points to what is at stake in the case of Fuses – a work that requires from its spectator an engagement that is at once intellectual and sensual. I am grateful to Laura Mulvey for her enlightening comments on this subject. Sobchack, Vivian, The Address of the Eye: Phenomenology and Film Experience, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 9–14; Sobchack: Carnal Thoughts, pp. 66–67. Marks: Touch, p. 151. Marks, Laura U., ‘Video Haptics and Erotics’, Screen, 39:4 (1998), pp. 331–347, p. 342. On processes of regulation and their internalisation, Foucault’s writing remains a key reference for both contemporary theoretical and artistic models, Foucault, Michel, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: The Will to Knowledge; Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure, Vol. 3: The Care of Self (London: Penguin [1976–1984] 1990 and 1992). See Horek, Tania and Kendall, Tina (eds), The New Extremism in Cinema (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011). See also Beugnet, Martine and Ezra, Elizabeth ‘Traces of the Modern – An Alternative History of the French Cinema’, Studies in French Cinema, tenth anniversary issue, 10:1 (April 2010), pp. 11–38. Baudrillard, Jean, The Ecstasy of Communication, trans. Schutze, Bernard and Caroline (New York: Semiotext(e), 1988). Mogensen: ‘True lies and false truths in the works of Sophie Calle’. Retracing the roots of the postmodern onslaught on the body Katherine Hayles quotes, amongst others, Baudrillard’s classic assertion that ‘[T]he human body, our body, seems superfluous in its proper expanse, in the complexity and multiplicity of its organs, of its tissues and functions’ as well as Arthur and Marilouise Kroker’s further extrapolations: ‘If today, there can be such an intense fascination with the fate of the body, might this not be because the body no longer exists?’ Hayles, Katherine N., ‘The Materiality of Informatics’, Configurations, 1:1 (Winter 1993), pp. 147–170, p. 148. For a discussion of shifting patterns and aesthetic trends in art cinema in relation to corporeality and the advent of the digital see Beugnet, Martine ‘The Wounded

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Screen’, in The New Extremism in Cinema, pp. 29–43. In art and mainstream cinema, the recourse to the conventions of the so-called genres of excess (pornography and horror in particular) bent on reminding us of the body’s material and mortal nature arguably serves to articulate certain anxieties with regards to the body and to corporeality as we move into the era of digital dematerialisation. Sobchack further emphasises: ‘The argument is that electronic space “reembodies” rather than “disembodies” us. Although, to a certain extent, this is true, the dominant cultural logic of the electronic tends to elide or devalue the bodies that we are in physical space – not only as they suffer in their flesh and mortality, but also as they ground such fantasies of reembodiment’. See Sobchack: Carnal Thoughts, p. 158. Hill, Gary, Interview, http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/multimedia/interactive features/11 1998 [accessed 10 May 2012]. Cooke, Lynne, ‘Re-embodiments in Alter Space’, in Gary Hill (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2000), pp. 135–148, pp. 136, 137. Cooke: ‘Re-embodiments in Alter Space’, p. 137. Cooke: ‘Re-embodiments in Alter Space’, p. 137. Sobchack: Carnal Thoughts, p. 155. Kittler, Friedrich, ‘Geschichte der Kommunikationsmedien’, in J. Huber and A.-M. M¨uller (eds), Raum und Verfahren (Frankfurt: Stroemfeld/Roter Stern, 1993). Hansen, Mark, Bodies in Code. Interfaces with Digital Media (New York: Routledge, 2006), pp. 8–9. Hansen: Bodies in Code, p. ix. On materialist filmmaking in the digital age, see Beugnet, Martine and Knowles, Kim ‘The Poetics and Politics of Obsolescence’ forthcoming in MIRAJ (2012). For many contemporary media theorists, however, such observations amount to little more than a nostalgic upholding of modes of experiencing film that smack of medium specificity and outdated, hierarchical ways of classifying images. See Wasson, Haidee, ‘Moving Images, Materiality, and the Aesthetics of Size’, in J. Marchessault and S. Lord (eds), Fluid Screens, Expanded Cinema (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), pp. 74–94, p. 75. Aumont, Jacques ‘Leighton Pierce, sur les bris´ees d’Epstein’, Cinema 05 (Spring 2003), pp. 56–68. On filmmaking and digital time, see Rodowick, David, The Virtual Life of Film (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), pp. 163–174. ´ Bellour, Raymond, Le Corps au Cin´ema: Hypnoses, Emotions, Animalit´es (Paris: P.O.L, 2009), p. 351. Aumont, ‘Leighton Pierce, sur les bris´ees d’Epstein’, p. 57. Williams: Screening Sex, pp. 308–311. Hayles: ‘The Materiality of Informatics’, p. 169, see also Hayles, Katherine N., ‘Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers’, October, 66, (Autumn 1993), pp. 69–91. Recent development in enhanced virtual reality effects include tactile resistance and feedback.

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56 For a critical discussion of interactivity, see Philip Rosen’s classic study, Change Mummified. Cinema, Historicity, Theory (Mineapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), pp. 333–349. 57 Leconte, Patrick, ‘L’entrexpression charnelle: Pour une lecture du Visible et l’invisible’, Bulletin d’analyse ph´enom´enologique 4, (2009) http://popups.ulg.ac.be/bap.htm, [accessed 5 May 2012], p. 1. 58 Sobchack, Vivian, ‘The Scene of the Screen: Envisioning Cinematic and Electronic ‘Presence’,” in J. Thorton Caldwell (ed.), Electronic Media and Technoculture (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2000), p. 137. 59 Towards the end of L’Atalante, barge conductor Jean (Jean Dast´e), rendered desperate by the absence of his beloved wife, dives into the water, where Juliette (Dita Parlo) appears to him, luminous and smiling. But the encounter with the virtual image of the lover is not enough, and the pain of separation expresses itself through Jean’s flesh and bone body: brought back aboard, Jean falls ill.

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Chapter 11

Art as Circuit Breaker: Surveillance Screens and Powers of Affect Patricia Pisters

One of the most salient characteristics of media culture today is its multiplication of screens and cameras in a network of surveillance tools.1 CCTV screens, satellite tracking grids, Sat Nav positioning on mobile displays, webcams and internet polling constitute a new kind of visual system, to the point where we can speak of a complete surveillance apparatus. Most of the literature on the topic considers surveillance in terms of its controlling power, and via questions of security and freedom. The most frequently invoked references are both Michel Foucault’s panopticon and Gilles Deleuze’s post-disciplinary update on Foucault’s perspective in ‘Postscript on Control Societies’. In this text, Deleuze argues that institutionally confined disciplinary regimes have been replaced by continuous control systems that have invaded every aspect of life.2 Strikingly, the discourses surrounding surveillance are usually connected to oppositional affects: a desire for security on the one hand, and the (paranoid) feeling of being persecuted on the other hand. In general, surveillance is connected to feelings of panic related to issues of control.3 In a conversation with Antonio Negri on the topic of control and becoming, Deleuze points out that in a control-based system, it is cybernetic machines and computers that control societies. However, Deleuze argues, ‘the machines don’t explain everything, you have to analyse the collective arrangements of which the machines are just one component’.4 In the same conversation, when asked about the political dimensions of the control society, Deleuze refers to artworks that can operate as ‘circuit breakers’: If you believe in the world you precipitate events, however inconspicuous, that elude control, you engender new space-times, however small 198

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their surface or volume. It’s what you call pietas. Our ability to resist control, or our submission to it, has to be assessed at the level of our every move.5 In this chapter, I will assess some of the registers of our ‘resistance or submission to control’ in multiple screen culture by looking at expressions of surveillance affects in recent cinema and contemporary art. Given that surveillance is now developing into a whole apparatus, an entire system or visual regime that includes the technologies implied as well as the disposition of the actors involved,6 I will argue its affects extend beyond the panic of being followed. Surveillance potentially offers other forms of ‘resistance’ exceeding familiar critiques of control. As I will show, the audiovisual artworks of Jill Magid, Andrea Arnold and Paula Albuquerque investigate different attitudes toward the watchful camera eye. By focusing on female artists, I want to suggest that, though not necessarily restricted to women, these interventions demonstrate a sensibility toward the intricate dimensions of the surveillance apparatus that may offer alternatives to the more dominant masculine discourses of control and freedom.

CONTROL AND FREEDOM: CONSPIRACY CINEMA AND PARANOID AFFECTS Since the early 1970s, and especially in the wake of the Watergate scandal, themes of surveillance, conspiracy and paranoia have frequently surfaced in Hollywood cinema. Political thrillers, such as The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974), The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) and All the President’s Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1976) are particularly good examples. According to Deleuze, the theme of surveillance is characteristic for the new type of Hollywood cinema, which he announces at the end of The Movement-Image; this theme has been a part of the cinematic repertoire for some time.7 In contemporary Hollywood cinema, surveillance is often related to Foucault’s analysis of Bentham’s panopticon and its disciplinary and self-disciplinary effects. George Orwell’s novel 1984, made into film by Michael Redford in 1984, is a clear example of the panoptic Big Brother discourse. Fortress (Stuart Gordon, 1993), for instance, presents quite literally a futuristic panoptic prison. Demolition Man (Marco Brambilla, 1993) and The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998) are other well-known Hollywood films that address the panoptic powers of surveillance cameras. In the 1990s, CCTV cameras as instruments of surveillance

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par excellence became increasingly coupled with networked computers, satellite tracking systems and all kinds of biometric identification technologies. Films such as Gattaca (Andrew Niccol, 1997), Enemy of the State (Tony Scott, 1998), and, more recently, Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002), Children of Men (Alfonso Cuar´on, 2006), as well as the television series 24 (FOX, since 2001) and The Last Enemy (BBC, 2008), all subscribe in various ways to the paranoid logic of terrorism and crime prevention and to conspiracy and totalitarian control. Many of these films relate to Deleuze’s elaboration on Foucault’s concept of ‘the disciplinary society’ and his extension of this concept expounding the idea of ‘the control society’. According to Deleuze, in the control society, individuals are no longer confined to particular spaces that discipline them, such as prisons, schools, hospitals, but they can move freely while nevertheless being constantly watched. All that an individual caught in the controlling powers of the panoptic or networked gaze can do, is move and think faster, run and outsmart the system – which (mostly male) protagonists in many surveillance films do, either more or less successfully. Such films employ highly adrenalised affects; they generate in the spectator fear, paranoia and a desire to fight or take flight (or both at the same time). However, as the scope of surveillance increases and develops into a ubiquitous apparatus, its effects and affects must be investigated in a larger cultural context. One way of attending to the complicity and complexity of ‘surveillance (and) cinema’ is by looking at the many ways in which contemporary cinema and artworks engage affectively on different scales with the multiple screens of the surveillance apparatus. Before doing so, I will turn to some of the public discussions on the topic. On the website of the BBC series The Last Enemy, a high tech conspiracy thriller set in the very near future, a section called ‘The Truth behind The Last Enemy’ presents current facts on surveillance: ‘Britain has about five million CCTV cameras’, ‘ID cards link your basic personal information to something uniquely yours – like the pattern of your iris, your face shape or your fingerprint’, ‘millions of children as young as 11 are to have their fingerprints taken and stored in a Government database’ and ‘The report of the Royal Academy of Engineering said that travel passes, supermarket loyalty cards and mobile phones could be used to track individuals’ every move’.8 In addition to series details and statistical reportage, the BBC site also includes videotaped discussions with Benedict Cumberbatch (the actor who plays mathematical genius Stephen Ezard in the series, whose suspicions about a government surveillance conspiracy are

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discovered to be true) discussing his character, and arguing that in the call for more security and control there is laziness in the belief it’s only the guilty who have something to lose; the innocent have nothing to hide. Too many of the perils of a surveillance society seem abstract, a load of ‘what ifs’ that will never have much bearing on most of our lives. Yet the innocent do have something to hide – their privacy, and it is linked with dignity.9 One of the site readers (Nick) comments: That’s it? I care more about stopping people being robbed and attacked on the streets than about whether some anonymous bureaucrat can check my driver’s license record or my health records. In fact I feel no sense of a loss of a dignity at all those kinds of checks, it’s when I’m a victim of crime that I feel a loss of dignity. The dilution of habeas corpus/freedom of speech etc. is an entirely different matter of course.10 Where exactly this dilution begins, however, is difficult to establish, and The Last Enemy is precisely a visionary and cautionary tale about the dilemma of freedom and control and the price paid for security and protection. In her extended discussion of these impasses of contemporary media, Wendy Chun addresses the possible relation between the two dominant positions of freedom and control. Giving special attention to the racial and sexual dimensions of webcam culture and other surveillance technologies, she concludes: We still play a role in the creation of our machines and their languages, and through our technologies – through our always compromised using – we can imagine and move toward a different future. [ . . . ] To face this future and seize the democratic potential of fiber optic networks, we must reject current understandings of freedom that make it into a gated community writ large. We must explore the democratic potential of communication technologies – a potential that stems from our vulnerabilities rather than our control.11 Chun calls for breaking away from the dominant implications of a surveillance culture that move only between protecting freedom by a controlling gaze and escaping the limitations that this controlling gaze imposes. Both positions can only lead to paranoid affects of distrust and fear. Chun proposes instead that we

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take into account our vulnerabilities and encourages us to explore more fully the democratic potential which our surveillance technologies yield.

RELATIONALITY OF SURVEILLANCE In a similar vein, Matthew Fuller calls for new approaches to surveillance culture. Influenced by the work of Guattari (and to a lesser extent, of Deleuze) he develops a media ecological approach towards the collective arrangements in which our surveillance screens are entangled. Fuller proposes to consider webcams and CCTV circuits not as single media apparatuses for study, but instead as ‘elements’ involved in ‘dimensions of relationality’. In this conception, the combinatorial arrangement of relations ‘provide[s] a means toward describing, actuating, or multiplying the powers of an element within a composition’. Furthermore, any media elements such as cameras, screens or software are a part of a ‘potentially infinite set of axes, or more accurately, axiometric forces, that compose the element’.12 Here, the notion of moveable scale, something akin to a temporary, selected view from an infinite camera zoom, offers for the purpose of analysis, ‘a certain perspectival optic by which dimensions of relationality and other scales may be “read”’.13 Fuller’s approach allows for literally shifting the focus to the different elements involved, which may be ‘as diverse as practices, institutions, atomical structures, weather patterns, linguistic formations, protocols, transport infrastructures, a glance’.14 Fuller mentions three dimensions of relationality that correspond with different modes of surveillance: notorious abuse, generalised chilling and surveillance as production. In the first kind, abusive forms of surveillance, command, control, communication and intelligence are all considered different scales of totalitarianism. Generalised chilling relates to ongoing, networked modes of inhabiting surveillance, scaled to the level of the individual’s conforming to ‘norms, affordances, and expectations’ in the awareness of constant surveillance.15 In his understanding of surveillance as production, Fuller differs from Foucault; subjects produced by surveillance are not only ‘disciplined’ or moulded. Surveillance technologies can be disobeyed or rebelled against, as it will become clear in the discussion of a number of artistic interventions, to which I turn in the remainder of this chapter. As Fuller argues, in such diverse scaled dimensions of relationalities, it is possible to describe the ‘bit parts’ of surveilled communities, as well as the primary compositional elements within surveillance systems, as ‘flecks of identity’:

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This is what at its scalar levels control sees, an informational token of conformity or infraction. An element, cluster or concatenation of data, flecks of identity – a number, a sample, a document, a racial categorization – are features that identify the bearer as belonging to particular scalar positions and relations. Such flecks are processed in ways that make them resolvable, contradictory, that make them bear – given certain forms of interpretation – certain values, deprecations or openings, and are made useable.16 Contrary to the all-seeing panoptic eye, the controlling eye depends less on seeing than on socio-algorithmic processes: ‘date, time, location, status, speed, choice, amount, accomplices’ can all form a pattern that allows perspectival mobilisation of data as evidence.17 Chun and Fuller provide important insights for moving us beyond usual discussions of conspiracy and paranoid fear to address surveillance discourses. Although these discourses and the films that express them in one way or another are important – communicating timely questions of power and control – it is also clear that we need alternative circuits of perception in order to be able to locate other forms of complicity and resistance. Artistic interventions can be considered as particularly scaled dimensions of relationalities that address our surveillance brain-screens on an affective level and change our perspectives on power and control. This is in line with the conceptual strength and nuance of more recent affect theory, which indicates ‘power’ as a multilayered concept. In her book Deleuze and the Cinemas of Performance, Elena del R´ıo differentiates two kinds of power: a controlling power (pouvoir, usually associated with the paranoid affects of surveillance as indicated above) and a more molecular power (puissance, which allows a variety of forces and affects).18 With surveillance, both these powers have to be taken into account as the relationship between the object and the subject of surveillance becomes more complex and engages in different dimensions of relationality. In the next sections, I will focus on dimensions of affect to investigate the powers of surveillance as puissance.

AFFECTIVE AESTHETICS OF SURVEILLANCE SCREENS IN RED ROAD The film Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006) focuses on a surveillance officer working for Glasgow’s City Eye control room. The film provides a different take on the surveilling gaze and on the affective dimensions of this aspect of

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contemporary screen culture. Red Road is the first film of a more recent Dogma project, initiated by Lars von Trier’s Zentropa films, entitled The Advance Party. For the project, three filmmakers were invited to make their first feature based on the same set of characters, played by the same actors while employing three entirely different narratives, styles and universes. Arnold’s film explicitly addresses contemporary surveillance culture. As she explains in an interview: I’ve been looking at doing something about CCTV because in Britain we have 20 per cent of the world’s cameras on our tiny island – that’s a lot of cameras, and they’ve been increasing gradually over the years. I often looked at the cameras and wondered who’s behind them, who’s watching, what does it mean. [ . . . ] If you live in London or Glasgow or any big city in the UK, you’re caught on camera 300 times a day.19 Explaining the background of the film, Arnold is questioning the scale of ‘generalized chilling’, the individual awareness of the surveillance apparatus. We often see the protagonist Jackie (Kate Dickie), a local police officer, behind her multiple screen video wall with images of the city of Glasgow. Although Arnold did use one real CCTV camera during production, most images that make up the wall are shot by handheld digital video cameras and are meticulously choreographed, distributed and edited across the multiple screens to give them their typical real-time aesthetics of continuity and simultaneity. Another important aesthetic aspect of the film is that the images are rather fuzzy and grainy. As indicated by Fuller, in contrast to the suggestions of panoptic discourse, the eye is not the most important or even most useful tool for distinguishing, deciphering and assessing the ‘flecks of identities’ caught up in surveillance media. These images, because of their diffused and blurry quality, are better described as affection-images. They have haptic or tactile qualities, in which the eye is less engaged with mastering the image and more often searching, questioning, ‘touching’ the surface of it, with less certainty than has been usually associated with the controlling gaze and the omnipotent Eye.20 The first images of Red Road emphasise these tactile qualities. We see several blurred CCTV images on TV monitors in close-up (accompanied by an equally blurry soundtrack), followed by a medium shot that reveals the multiple screens from a distance. Then we see a close-up of a pair of rubbing hands and another close-up of eyes looking at the screens. Before we see Jackie and realise that these hands and eyes belong to her, we watch just those hands, rubbing, touching a display and wrestling a joystick to zoom in on particular images: a man taking his

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old dog for a walk, a cleaning lady dancing to her iPod music. We also can see this as habitual recognition, the daily routine of a police officer observing the city to protect its people. Jackie’s smile indicates that she feels somehow connected to these people on the screens, a friendly though aloof engagement that connotes a different kind of affective dimension to the surveillance apparatus than we are used to imagining. Soon, Jackie’s routine is interrupted: a quite different scene appears on the video wall: a woman running away, chased by a man. Jackie makes a phone call, performing her standard protocols for interpreting the ‘flecks of identity’ on her screens. However, just when she moves to report the incident, she realises that she was falsely alarmed: it was just a game; the man and woman make out against a wall. At this point Jackie’s body language becomes pronounced. As she leans backwards in her chair, her left hand tensely stretches on her desk, while her right hand caresses the joystick that operates the cameras. When the man throws his head backwards at his climactic moment, she catches a glimpse of his face. Jackie’s eyes dilate; her body freezes. She zooms in on his face. Overwhelmed, she leaves her station, asks one of her colleagues for a smoke (‘I thought you’d quit’, he says in surprise) and runs outside to light up. From this moment on, the film explores an extremely rich array of affects ranging from the most basic emotions to the most complex and ethical ones. Jackie’s habitual work of tracking the screens and taking action when necessary is shattered. The man’s appearance onscreen overwhelms her with emotions that seem to be sexually charged, but which are clearly also mixed with other feelings and memories. Both the performance and body language of the actor in close-ups and the haptic quality of the unsharp CCTV images evoke this intense level of affect. Only a few minutes later, a first cycle of resonances and feedbacks begins to unfold in the narrative. Jackie starts to look for the dimensions of relationality of the man’s image, trying to connect him to other patterns and cues. First, she looks through her cameras and screens, selecting images that only relate to him (and, as a consequence, neglecting her role of attending to many others). She zooms in, follows the man, and discovers what he does, where he lives. In her own apartment, she looks for an old newspaper article that identifies the man as a murderer, Clyde Henderson, and by making calls in her capacity of a CCTV officer, she finds out he was released from prison. She then abandons her safe position in the control room to follow him in his neighbourhood and visit him in his flat on Red Road (see Fig. 11.1). With respect to surveillance affects, it is important to note that Red Road offers a different perspective on the surveillance genre in cinema: by presenting

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Figure 11.1 Andrea Arnold, Red Road, 2006.

the point of view of a surveillance officer and by dramatising a personal and emotional engagement with a ‘fleck of identity’ on her surveillance screen, the dominant fight or flight circuit is broken and new dimensions are added.

BRINGING THE SYSTEM CLOSER A similar deliberate breakthrough recurs in the works of artists like Jill Magid and Paula Albuquerque.21 On her website, Jill Magid states, ‘I bring things that are far away closer to my body’.22 Magid has investigated the surveillance apparatus in several art projects by fully entering the system. In 2004, she spent 31 days in Liverpool for the project Evidence Locker. During that time, she developed a close relationship with City Watch, the surveillance office of the Liverpool Police and City Council.23 The idea behind the project was to use the 242 public surveillance cameras of the city as her film crew. Wearing a bright red trench coat (see Fig. 11.2), she called the officers on duty informing them about the details of her whereabouts and asked them to film her in particular poses and to guide her through the city with her eyes closed. The CCTV images were then selected,

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Figure 11.2 Jill Magid, ‘Control Room’ (Evidence Locker), 2004.

manipulated and edited by Magid herself. In order to gain access to the footage, she had to submit 31 ‘Subject Access Request Forms’, which she composed as though they were letters to a lover, where ‘You’ indicated both the camera and the officer on duty. As a ‘third party witness’, any visitor to the project’s website can receive these letters one by one in their private e-mailbox, together with a daily clip of surveillance footage. One such letter, dating from the beginning of the project, reads: Sunday, February 1, 2004 Day 4 Dear Observer, I met you today. I came to your office. You had been informed of my arrival. [...] You marked a path on my map. I followed it. I got tea at Caf´e Nero and wrote a postcard. You watched me, from two angles, when I did this. You followed me through the centre of town, on the streets without cars. I walked circles around your feet and your neck got stuck. It was funny to see you following me. You constantly moved to meet me.24

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Figure 11.3 Paula Albuquerque, GMT minus 5, 2009.

The intimate, aesthetic and affective dimensions of the surveillance apparatus are addressed here. Magid’s work does not break down the system, but rather bends it, subtly altering or adding affective dimensions to an otherwise impersonal mechanism. Paula Albuquerque investigates surveillance screens in a different manner.25 She frequently uses widely available webcam material, altering the images by zooming in, slowing down and adding ambient sounds (street noises, amplified sounds of recording devices). In GMT Minus 5, a five-minute short film, we see webcam images of two women behind the counter in a New York bar. They are in bikinis, killing time by doing each other’s make-up (see Fig. 11.3), answering the phone and helping a customer (in a thick winter coat). The images are in fact just CCTV-images found on the web. These images make us wonder, why are the women wearing bikinis? How long are their working days? One immediately feels these images are ‘coloured’ by another look going beyond the eye of the webcam. Here again, the images are grainy and haptic, slowed down. The soundtrack is just as ‘fuzzy’ and tactile. Soft ambient street sounds are audible first; a bird can be heard. In the film’s second part, the sound becomes more ominous,

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threatening almost, while the girls are standing behind the counter, waiting. In the last part of GMT Minus 5, the images change into extreme close-ups and violins enter the sound mix – and the images acquire an affective sensual force. What this short film makes clear is that somebody, probably from a different time zone than New York City’s GMT-5, has been watching these images, appropriating them as real-time images. The surveillance images are touched by Paula Albuquerque’s eyes; she gives them back in a critical and poetic altered state.

BOTH SIDES OF THE CAMERA: FROM PEEPING TOMS TO SENSING ALICES The possibility of resisting the power (as pouvoir) of the panoptic gaze through artistic practices which can change our perception has already been argued by Deleuze. Taking this line of argument further, Fuller mentions three concrete strategies of resistance: evasion, overload and noncompressibility. While evading or dropping out of the webcam spectrum might not be as easy as it seems (Fuller mentions projects like Spot the Cam, which maps surveillance cameras), overloading the system can be quite an effective tool of resistance that tests the thresholds of surveillance systems. Elaborating the last strategy of resistance, noncompressibility, Fuller draws on Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizomatic structures that resist the reduction of complexity into simple characteristics and misplaced concreteness. I therefore see GMT Minus 5, Red Road and Evidence Locker as circuit breakers exploring the disruptive advantage of surveillance systems by showing their noncompressibility on an affective level. Arnold, Magid and Albuquerque point out the power (as puissance) of the tactile and affective qualities of surveillance images, which goes against the grain of the all-seeing omnipotent pouvoir ascribed to contemporary surveillance screens. The three artists address the manifold relations between individual feelings, protocol-governed behaviour and social demands, and the multiple screens that mediate directly but asymmetrically between those dimensions. Presenting perspectives from both sides of the camera is another element common in Red Road, Evidence Locker and another project by Albuquerque, Split Recognition (2010). In Red Road, Jackie leaves her place behind the camera and enters the space in front of it; the affective qualities of Arnold’s camera take over (making sure she is captured by the cameras when she leaves Clyde’s apartment in distress, Jackie even uses the cameras to attain her later revenge). Jill Magid

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in turn sometimes leaves the streets and visits the police officers on duty in their office, looks at the images from their perspective, and addresses them intimately in her letters. In one letter, she describes a small incident on her way back from a visit to the control room. Three young boys walk towards her and pull her bag. She calls the CCTV officer to ask if he saw it, not because she felt scared or threatened, but to see if they got it as a picture for her project. The officer did not notice it initially, but when reviewing the images, he does, and promises to find them. Magid’s plea, ‘Please don’t worry about it, they were just being bratty’, has no effect. She is asked to file a witness report. The boys are identified. Magid’s heart sinks; she is reluctant to file the report. Then the CCTV officer proposes to show what happened to her. She writes: I saw what you saw, and I could see what you meant. It did look obvious from your window. Like they had planned the whole thing. I could not recall anymore what happened, not even which arm the bag had been on; it all got muddled. I filled out your forms and you drove me home, in that yellow van you film the city with.26 For her part, Paula Albuquerque usually searches for found webcam footage from behind her computer, perusing different time zones. In Split Recognition (2010), she uses the webcam to capture herself walking around Amsterdam; the footage is screened live on her mobile phone. Because of the time lag, she sometimes disappears between the transmission and reality: an experience of virtual vanishing. In Albuquerque’s work, webcam aesthetics becomes an exploration of the power of the image and its temporal and ontological dimensions. Red Road, Evidence Locker, GMT Minus 5 and Split Recognition show that art as circuit breaker is not an entirely clear, simple or ideal counterforce. Occupying both sides of the camera, changing positions between observing and being observed, they problematise the complex and confusing affects of surveillance, and arguably of contemporary visual culture at large. In one of her last letters, Jill Magid confesses her affective relation to City Watch to one of her observers: Friday, February 27, 2004 Day 30 Dear Observer, Then you – the most powerful you – surprised me: So about this artwork of yours [ . . . ] I thought you had not remembered. I realized then, that before

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I had arrived, you simply had approved me. You let me come here blankly, with an ambiguous identity, and I got to make one myself. And You, You with capital Y. You who walks for me. You who I trust completely [ . . . ] Things come out to you slowly, not all at once, and still not everything. About the red coat, about the letters, about the spaces I am in when you are not around. You wanted to ask a million things. You are nervous, scared for those above you. This city is unique and you want it protected. [ . . . ] And I tell you, hurting the city’s reputation is not my intention. Neither is it to judge what you do. Let others do that. I tell you: I did not critique your system; I made love to it. You blushed.27 Making the surveillance camera blush by admitting an affective relationship to it is what Jackie, Jill and Paula pursue. They are no longer voyeuristic Peeping Toms, exploiting (or being exploited by) the panoptic power of the gaze.28 Embodying and expressing the ambiguous affective powers of the surveillance apparatus, we might instead call them ‘Sensing Alices’, the ones who guide us through the surveillance adventures of contemporary multiple screen culture. Rather than taking on an impossible task of overturning the system, they provide the (micropolitical) urge to confront a surveillance cameras, to (literally) re-view simplistic interpretations of flecks of identity, simply because they have offered us, with feminine sensibility, alternative experiences of the surveillance system, touching our brain screens imperceptibly, directly.

NOTES 1 This chapter is a shorter and slightly altered version of chapter four of Pisters, Patricia, The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Filmphilosophy of Digital Screen Culture (Stanford University Press, 2012). 2 Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Sheridan, Alan (trans.) (New York, 1979); Deleuze, Gilles, ‘Postscript on control societies’, Joughin, Martin (trans), in T. Levin, U. Frohne and P. Weibel (eds), Ctrl Space: Rhetorics of

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Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother (Cambridge, Mass., 2002), pp. 317–321. See also the online journal Surveillance and Society, available at http://www.surveillanceand-society.org [accessed 17 April 2012]. Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong, Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (Cambridge, Mass., 2006). Deleuze, Gilles, ‘Control and becoming’, in Negotiations 1972–1990, Joughin, Martin (trans), (New York, 1995), p. 175. Deleuze: ‘Control’, p. 176. I am making here an analogy with the cinematographic apparatus, which was developed in the 1970s to indicate the relation between the technological dispositive of cinema (camera, projector, screen, theatre), the spectator and the images on screen in relation to reality. See Jean-Louis Baudry, ‘Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus’ and ‘The Apparatus: Metapsychological Approaches to the Impression of Reality in Cinema’ in Philip Rosen (ed.) Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), pp. 286–318. Deleuze, Gilles, The Movement-Image (London, 1989), p. 210. BBC website, available http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/lastenemy [accessed 17 April 2012]. Keeping Up with the Future’ on The Last Enemy, available at http://www.bbc. co.uk/drama/lastenemy/welcome.shtml [accessed 10 May 2012]. Last Enemy: ‘Keeping’. Chun: Control, p. 297. Fuller, Matthew, Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture (Cambridge, Mass., 2005), p. 131. Fuller: Media, p. 132. Fuller: Media, p. 132. Fuller: Media, p. 147. Fuller: Media, p. 148. Fuller: Media, p. 149. del R´ıo, Elena, Deleuze and the Cinemas of Performance (Edinburgh, 2008), p. 9. Del Rio refers here to the work of Deleuze on Spinoza as discussed in Brian Massumi, ‘The Autonomy of Affect’, in Paul Patton, ed. Deleuze, a Critical Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), pp. 217–239. Andrea Arnold in an interview by Michael Joshua Rowin, ‘Reverse Shot 26’, available at http://209.68.60.26/article/interview andrea arnold [accessed 10 May 2012]. See Laura U. Marks’s elaborate description of haptic visuality in The Skin of the Film (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), pp. 170–193. The larger framework of Surveillance Art as ‘circuit breakers’ is important to take in to consideration here but falls out of the scope of this paper. See: ‘Surveillance Art’, available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance art [accessed 17 April 2011]. Magid, Jill, available at http://www.jillmagid.net/ [accessed 17 April 2011].

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23 Magid, Jill, ‘Evidence Locker’, available at http://jillmagid.net/EvidenceLocker.php [accessed 17 April 2011]. 24 Magid: ‘Evidence Locker’, Letter 4, available at http://jillmagid.net/Evidence Locker.php, received in personal mail 28 July 2008. 25 Paula Albuquerque’s available at http://www.concrete-dok.net/index.html [accessed 17 April 2011]. 26 Magid: ‘Evidence Locker’, Letter 15. 27 Magid: ‘Evidence Locker’, Letter 30. 28 This is not to say voyeurism is no longer an issue or that the voyeur is always in control. Michael Powel’s Peeping Tom (1959), often seen as an allegory of the psychoanalytic conception of the cinematographic apparatus, is a case in point. At the end of the film, murderous voyeurism turns into masochistic identification with his victims, when the main character Mark Lewis (Karlheinz B¨ohm) throws himself onto the blade of the tripod of his own camera.

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Chapter 12

Shattered Images and Desiring Matter A Dialogue between Hito Steyerl and Domitilla Olivieri

When the television screen is smashed, when the traces of travelling images are recorded and imagined, when the material realities of memories, videos and sounds are shattered, transformed and re-formed, then the forces, fears and desires of matter emerge. In art theory, film studies and visual studies, the terminology for the material facets of images and film is rich (e.g. the apparatus, medium specificity, the object of a medium specific analysis). In a broad sense, these different theoretical frameworks – albeit carrying diverse implications – emphasise how films and videos operate, what they are made of, and how their mechanisms and technologies produce effects and affects on bodies. It is in these a/effects, as well as in how they are produced, that the feminist potential of art and video projects such as those of Hito Steyerl resides. This potential lies in the interconnection between politics and aesthetics, where it is possible to critically identify cultural and social power relations, to reveal processes of inclusion and exclusion, to address the multiple dimensions of difference, and, eventually, to produce change. In addition, it is from a space of interactions and encounters that this dialogue emerges: from the interdisciplinary and nomadic locations of the two authors. Hito Steyerl is an artist, filmmaker and scholar working at the crossroads of experimental cinema, documentary and video art. In her works, she deploys the tools of postcolonial and feminist critiques to address, manipulate, trace and re-create stories, events, images and sounds. Her material spans from popular culture to historical traumas, from current events to biographical experiences, from digital video to archival footage. Domitilla Olivieri’s work is situated across visual anthropology, semiotics, documentary film studies and gender studies. 214

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With a background in ethnomusicology and a research practice in feminist documentary-making and visual arts, she approaches Steyerl’s work from an interdisciplinary perspective to explore how the artistic and the theoretical are deeply intertwined. In this text the issues of materiality and the digital archive, of truth and documentary representation, of silence and the gaps between what is made visible and what is left invisible, are addressed by transiting through several of Steyerl’s works. Domitilla Olivieri: In your work you are particularly aware of and interested in exploring the processes and implications of the specific materiality of various media. Some of the clips and images you use in these works have been travelling and have therefore been transformed and re-encoded. I am thinking here, for example, of your video Lovely Andrea.1 In this video, several sequences can be considered as examples of ‘travelling images’. Specifically, these are the clip of the Twin Towers from the 2002 Spiderman trailer, the footage of the Spiderman and Spider-woman cartoons,2 the image of Andrea Wolf, the photos from war prisoner camps, and, of course, the search for and meta-reflection on the very bondage picture that drives your film. Such images not only travel in space and time, acquiring different meanings in different contexts, but their very material base is transformed (e.g. from analogue film to VHS, from data bytes uploaded and downloaded on the internet to digital video and DVD). I am interested in knowing more about your understanding of materiality in film and video. Hito Steyerl: I have been extremely invested in the material base of various images lately. For instance, I smashed a large LCD TV screen and recorded that act on HDV. The screen is cracked just enough so the matrix would break but still show an abstract image of its destruction, which is actually quite beautiful. In any case, the resulting image is much more interesting than any actual TV programme. So this is about revealing the LCD matrix of the TV screen. The matrix is the base of the image, yet remains invisible itself unless destroyed. Obviously then, it does not ‘work’ anymore. It is on strike. This is one reason why the work is called Strike. There are a few aspects in this piece which relate to affect – apart, of course, from the initial pleasure in smashing that thing in the first place. All TVs would look so much better smashed up! One other context is the term ‘strike work’, which was coined in the early Soviet Union to refer to ‘super-productive, enthusiastic’ labour. The word udarnik, which was used to refer to a hyper-productive worker who exceeded all

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Figure 12.1 Strike, Hito Steyerl (2010). Smashed LCD TV, HDV single channel video, 1min.

production quotas, was also often translated as ‘shock worker’. This term resonates with the contemporary reality of artistic labour. Shock labour nowadays is still super-productive, enthusiastic, jubilantly self-exploitative, and now also additionally refers to the sensual dimension of shock – as for example ‘in shock and awe’. This strike work thrives on destruction as a source of productivity. So I think that Strike is also about making strike work as a form of artistic labour visible, not only the matrix. It is both liberating and destructive, both abstract and concrete, both affective and completely totalitarian. There is another interesting aspect to this. Usually, the image abstracts from its object and leaves it behind. It empties out the object and makes it potentially redundant. The image obliterates the object. But, destroying the image (in this case the TV image) paradoxically brings back the object. That is, as its image is destroyed, the TV becomes an object again. The TV is returned to its material, not representational, existence. D.O.: I would like to elaborate further on this issue of materiality in connection to contemporary reality and some recent theoretical works. When evoking the materiality of images, I refer specifically to what can be seen as a recent shift in several interdisciplinary studies of film and filmic images in the last decade. The focus of works such as those of Laura Marks3 and Vivian Sobchack,4 Mary Ann Doane,5 David Rodowick6 and W.J.T. Mitchell,7 to name but a few, could

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possibly be read as a renewed interest in the materiality of audiovisual objects. I would suggest an understanding of this multifaceted shift as a politically aware approach that looks at the very matter of films and images: their visible qualities as well as their invisible specificities. At once, and most crucially, such approaches are not at all a return to a somewhat deterministic perspective that sprang from the so-called ‘medium specificity’ framework, permeating film studies in the 1960s– 1970s. What matters here, and what I see as a point of connection with your work, is that these studies pay attention to the social and cultural life of film and of images. More importantly, they do so by remembering materiality in the name of a broader focus on geopolitical, historical, cultural and economical issues. I would like to know more about how you make sense, in theory and in practice, of the ‘travelling’ of images in different contexts, and across various technologies. How do you work with the travelling and shifting of the materiality of images? H.S.: I have worked a lot on the materiality of images recently. My last work, In Free Fall, is explicitly based on exploring the material support of images: in the form of DVDs. The work starts off at an airport in the Californian desert. Planes are stored in times of economic crisis; it is too expensive to keep them flying. If they are old, they get dismantled for secondhand parts, or simply crashed up for aluminium, which is then shipped off to China. Because the airport is so close to Hollywood, there is also another possibility of recycling these aircrafts. They are simply blown up in Hollywood disaster movie scenes and used as sites of catastrophe and crash. So I had a strange fantasy: what if a plane was pulled out of circulation because of an economic crash. Next it would be blown up for a Hollywood movie in a huge crash explosion, and the debris collected and shipped to China. There, the aluminium would be melted down and applied on DVDs which need a reflexive layer for the laser beam to be able to read them. And then, in a last step – the pirated version of the film in which the plane is blown up in the first place is printed on the recycled DVD. So – in a strange loop – the film which shows the destruction of the plane would be printed somehow on its remains. The DVD would at the same time represent the destruction of the plane, while on a material level performing its resurrection into something else. While the image content is about destruction, the image support is about production. Both are intimately linked. And so the materials that carry images would keep circulating, from image content (exploding plane) to image matter (recycled DVD). Obviously this

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Figure 12.2 In Free Fall, Hito Steyerl (2010). HDV single channel video, 32 min.

whole economy occurs in an extremely dense affective environment. Airplanes are invested with both extreme fear and exhilaration, soaked with panicked sweat of crashing and simultaneously intimately connected to sexuality and feelings of liberation. Remember that 1970s sexually explicit novel: Fear of Flying?8 In airplanes, carnal desire morphs into anxiety. Now obviously, post 9/11 aviationrelated fear is even intensified. Planes are places where the most basic instincts are barely masked by shopping bags from the duty-free perfume store, soothed by muzak and disaffected by flight attendants’ bullying. Some lines from the work are quoted below. Arranged as recyclings: collages of found lines and a Freudian slip I made myself while reading the comment, combined with Michael Jackson base lines from YouTube and grainy AVI images of the melting down of airplane debris to be recast as DVDs. Matter lives on in different forms Matter loves on Matter lives on in different forms (It is so recyclable) Matter loves Matter lives Matter loves Matter lives on Matter continues to exist in different forms.

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Figure 12.3 In Free Fall, Hito Steyerl (2010). HDV single channel video, 32 min.

The affect of matter morphing in and out of images transcends human emotions as well as the very restricted realm of life. It is kinetic, gravitational, fluid. D.O.: Talking about the affective dimension of images and of materiality when discussing your work Strike, you also connect material existence to a conception of the ‘non-representational’. It seems to me that you very often choose to work with images, objects and sounds which, although found in and borrowed from very different locations and sources, all share a certain relation to what could be called popular culture: pop music, Hollywood movies, TV screens, cartoons and so on. In a dialogue with Rosi Braidotti, during the Impakt festival in 2008, you referred to the idea of an archive of popular culture as a collective, real and imaginary locus where images, affects and memories are ‘stored’ to be accessed, reused and resignified.9 I would like to know more about this idea of the collective imaginary as a popular visual archive and your relation to the material as well as affective elements therein. H.S.: The digital archive is nowadays charged with affect as it requires active user participation. Users upload, rip, remix and share existing materials. The existing configuration of digital archives is thus very much shaped by a labour of love with respect to audiovisual material, in certain cases also by a labour of hate. This archive stores not only sounds and images, but also the affects implied in putting them there in the first place. This is a very neutral remark – these affects

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can obviously be channelled or exploited by anybody, be commodified or quickly turn into digital mobbing, and the rule of rumour and viral hate campaigns. But all these affective movements are registered within these archives. Awfully, the internet does not forget anything. D.O.: These unforgiving digital archives contain memory and affect as well as a multiplicity of images and sounds: pieces of pop culture, private footages, music video clips, memories of war, fragments of blockbuster films, documentary records and the like. Whether we can (or want to) draw a clear line between factual documents, affective traces and fictional materials, surely this array of elements finds its place from the archives of digital memory into your work. In your projects, I see an interplay between elements of popular imagination and the issues of documentary and truth. You cross and interconnect a multiplicity of genres, technologies and media, thus creating works which are hybrid, complex and difficult to label or define. If we can happily and critically disregard any labelling concern, the very use of documentary images and techniques alongside so-called fictional elements is nonetheless worth addressing further. Firstly, it can be argued that contemporary documentary forms can be understood as intrinsically and productively animated by that constant doubt about reality and image,10 truth and (the impossibility of) representation. Along these lines, you seem to make this ‘documentary uncertainty’11 the matter of your work. Secondly, and more precisely, some of the very images that are most explicitly connected with facts and truths are – in TV news, in internet videos and in old and found footages – often so blurred and pixelled, or moved and outof-focus that, you argue, they could be considered post-representational. Such images seem to not clearly present their contents and therefore they possibly point the attention to the very question of what becomes visible, re-presentable, and how. Consequently, taking into account both the issue of documentary truth and the materiality of these blurred images, it could be maintained that you imply the following question: is it precisely because such images are so blurred and in-visible that we speak of their truth? In other words, what I am curious about is your conception of the non-representational. H.S.: I believe there is a level of unmistakable truth to representation. All representation is documentary, on the level of its material configuration. It is a mystification to believe that digital images are copied without loss or transformation. They show in many cases the traces of the routes they take, of the circulation

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they undergo, but also of the material constellation of forces that produces and propels them into circulation. This can partly be reconstructed by investigating the material structure of the representation: so that it becomes a documentary image of its own conditions of production. The same goes of course for analogue representations. This level of truth is not representational, since the codec or the lens are usually not the content of the image – the subject depicted – but determine its specific mode of representation. It is pre- or non-representational and is underlying every representational image as the condition of its existence. Only in this way is it possible to really speak about truth in respect to any representation, even though as you say one should not underestimate the representational value of the documentary either. Things and events – or some aspects of them – do get represented, however incomplete and fragmentary. In many cases this provides extremely important evidence. A grainy photograph of a large group of people posing for the camera, in a field, with trees in the background, taken from quite a distance is the last trace of existence of a person we almost desperately tried to trace for a project (The Building, 2009). Ernst Samuely was supposed to have joined a Jewish partisan unit after having escaped from a concentration camp called Nisko. Unfortunately all faces on the photo, which supposedly shows this unit, are blurred. And there is no trace of him after this point in time. Maybe this proves that it does not matter if this person or another is shown in this picture. That resistance goes beyond any individual. But it does not present the evidence we were hoping for, either. D.O.: Later in this interview, I would like to come back to the specific issue of visibility and invisibility which is at stake in your last example. However, I would like to connect this understanding of the ‘non-representational’ with the question of (documentary) truth. In the article ‘Documentarism as Politics of Truth’,12 in which you are dialoguing with Georges Didi-Huberman, Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin, you wrote about the ‘moments of truth’, which arise from, are present in, or are triggered by certain images. It seems to me that, in your work, these ‘moments of truth’, flashes where the real ‘takes place in an in-between space’,13 appear or become somehow perceivable in the very moment such images or objects are lost and re-found, or are dispersed, recycled, destroyed and virtually or materially smashed. It is in this sense that I see a connection between your work on the visual archive, truth and the materiality of images, and what Trinh T. Minh-ha has called, in different contexts, the gap, the space in-between or the interval.14

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H.S.: What you say about the interval sounds great – but you would have to elaborate on this a bit for me to be able to engage with it. Maybe it is interesting to note that affect, too, according to Bergson and Deleuze, arises in the interval between action and reaction, in a zone of indeterminacy. D.O.: It is indeed this zone of indeterminacy that I would like to connect with the concept of the interval. Earlier in this interview, you referred to the pleasure in smashing the LCD TV screen (Strike, 2010) and to the space that is opened in that break. Reflecting on Samuely’s photograph for The Building (2009) project, you elaborated on how that image becomes a vital trace that is undeniably there, but also argued for the importance of what is lost within it. These are fissures, gaps, spaces that open in the in-between zone, the zone between action and reaction, the interval where materiality demands attention and affects become perceivable. This is where Trinh’s concept finds a resonance in your work. Having examined materiality, truth and representation, attention to (multi)sensoriality might provide an additional multilayered lens to discuss your work. One important element I see implicitly underlying your analysis of (documentary) representations as well as most of your videos and installations, is a deconstruction of the certainties conventionally connected to vision. Namely, in my understanding, your approach to images, the digital archive and the process of filmmaking itself engages with a critical perspective on visuality.15 You refer to Jacques Ranci`ere and the aesthetic regimes when discussing visibilities and invisibilities,16 and I have already mentioned a possible reading of your use of pixelled or blurred images, which mobilises the non-seeing, the non-visible. It could be argued that you are also directly engaging with invisibility when, for example, you deal with the issue of censorship in Lovely Andrea. At this point, what I find interesting is the possibility of taking a step further, thus connecting the issue of visibility/invisibility to a renewed approach to the senses. And this is where I consider the ‘interval’ a useful conceptual tool to explore alternative understandings of sensoriality. If senses are understood as being deeply connected with the production of meaning and knowledge, then to focus on alternative perceptual modalities is to focus on alternative ways in which meanings, and therefore representations, are produced. In light of these reflections, I would like to propose that it is in the cracks between what is (not) visible, that other senses have to be engaged in order to produce meaning. To acknowledge the invisible is, therefore, a call for a synaesthetic endeavour, an

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engagement of all the senses. I am interested in knowing what is your take on (in)visibility and (multi)sensoriality. H.S.: Perhaps it would make sense to consider the soundtrack of my works. It seems a crucial element to me in structuring the work, sometimes more than the images. Music and song provide sometimes commentary, and always affective tonality and a rhythm to the work. It is also more often than not found music, which relates in one way or another to the content discussed. Also silence. I think the element of destruction might also play a role in this. The sound of crushing, beating, smashing. The repetitive sound of chiselling away at the plaster of a huge facade. Planes crashing. The Berlin Wall being pounded on by hundreds of small hammers. There is rhythm in violence and the potential to unleash and release the stored energy of objects and commodities. Secondly, there is an emphasis on the dynamics of movement in editing. I am an avid proponent of movement images, because they capture a dynamics inherent in the content – but in a non-representational way. Or maybe in a mode which is both representational and non-representational at the same time. Maybe this is the interval you are talking about. This connects to what Dziga Vertov wrote about the interval as a montage principle: the attractions and repulsions between shots. The gravitation between them, the magnetism, the affinity, the libidinous pull of takes towards each other. But also their disagreement and disharmony, their falling out with each other. Perhaps this can be detected by other senses than the visual, perhaps even by the senses which relate to balance and orientation, rhythm and the relation of the body to the world.

NOTES 1 Steyerl, Hito, Lovely Andrea (2007), 30 min. Lovely Andrea departs from the search of a bondage photo of the artist that was taken in Tokyo 30 years earlier. From this main story several other reflections depart in multiple directions: the ropes of bondage and self-suspension connect with Spiderman and internet networks, the Twin Towers and war violence connect with the material life of images and their uses and abuses, the story of the artist becomes the story of her Japanese interpreter and vice-versa, the name of Andrea Wolf – murdered because considered member of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) – becomes the nickname of the bondage model, the secrecy of the porno industry echoes the issue of what is made visible and why, of what can be filmed and how. In Lovely Andrea bondage becomes a metaphor of censorship and desire, control and independence, masters and servants, shame and power, subjection and global connections.

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2 Respectively produced and first broadcast in the late 1960s and late 1970s by Marvel Comics Group. 3 Marks, Laura, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2000). 4 Sobchack, Vivian C., Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004). 5 Doane, Mary Ann, ‘The Indexical and the Concept of Medium Specificity’, Differences: a Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 18:1 (2007), pp. 128–152. 6 Rodowick, David N., The Virtual Life of Film (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2007). 7 Mitchell, W.J.T., ‘There Are No Visual Media’, Journal of Visual Culture, 4:2 (2005), pp. 257–266. 8 Jong, Erica, Fear of Flying (New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1973). 9 Impakt festival, 11 May 2009, Utrecht, the Netherlands. 10 For a discussion on this tension or paradox in documentary film, see, for example: Bruzzi, Stella, New Documentary (London and New York: Routledge, 2006). 11 Steyerl, Hito, ‘Documentary Uncertainty’, A Prior, 15 (2007). Online. Available at http://www.aprior.org/articles/28 (31 March 2011) [accessed 17 April 2012]. 12 Steyerl, Hito, ‘Documentarism as Politics of Truth’, transversal (2003). Online. Available http://eipcp.net/transversal/1003/steyerl2/en (31 March 2011) [accessed 17 April 2012]. 13 Steyerl: ‘Documentarism as Politics of Truth’. 14 See for example, Trinh, T. Minh-Ha, Framer Framed (New York: Routledge, 1992); Cinema Interval (New York: Routledge, 1999); or The Digital Film Event (New York: Routledge, 2005). 15 A critical approach to visuality is here intended as that theoretical move that pays attention to the interconnections between vision and power. In short, first, it entails recognising the privileged relation the visual has with reality, facts and that ‘real’ experience of the world. Mieke Bal, for example, summarises the interconnection between vision and truth very convincingly when she writes that ‘sight establishes a particular subject-relation to reality in which the visual aspect of an object is considered to be a property of the object itself’ (‘Visual Essentialism and the Object of Visual Culture’, Journal of Visual Culture, 2:1 (2003), p. 14). Conversely, Bal argues, other senses, such as touch and hearing ‘are associated with the subjective relation between subject and object’ (idem). The second aspect to consider in order to critically reflect on this interrelation between the visual and objectivity is the very process of knowing and of knowledge production. From Foucault to Haraway, many theorists have convincingly elaborated upon the entanglements of vision, knowledge and power, and their implications. Accordingly, it follows that seeing is always already culturally specific and that it is a process that organises and determines what is made visible and what is left invisible

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16 Jacques Ranci`ere has recently described the importance of these structures of seeing and knowing as the ‘distribution of the sensible. According to him, the political component of any aesthetic endeavour is precisely located in the way in which certain aesthetic regimes enable certain visibilities or articulations and disable others’. In Steyerl: ‘Documentary Uncertainty’, A Prior, 15 (2007).

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Chapter 13

Mucosal Monsters Patricia MacCormack

˙ awski’s film Possession This essay will present a brief analysis of Andrzej Zul (1981) in convergence with the work of Luce Irigaray. It will suggest female desire can create monsters that, through the parabolic configuration and ultimate collapse of the transcendental mystical with the carnal, offer enveloping and unfurling configurations of pleasure beyond phallologocentrism. Extending this exploration, it will insinuate spectatorship as mucosal, and the screen as the angelic-monstrous, which, through transforming from signifying to mystifying, creates a mucosal ethical relation with the spectator. Proposing to conceive of configurations of pleasure as ‘parabolic’, I hold that difference is not oppositional, neither directionally nor spatially, but each element is, at any point upon the parabola, in a unique and particular relation with the other. Various vectors can be traced through the parabola, so that points are infinitely relational, not simply based on their balanced equivalent point on the alternate trajectory. Most important, along with relation, infinite continuance of the trajectory occurs, so there is no subjugation of line as consistency to point as signifying essence. I further repudiate an understanding of difference as oppositional in offering the concept of ‘mucosal spectatorship’. Spectator theory proposed upon the premise of dialectic relation, be it passive observer and active signifying image, or sadistic gaze and penetrated form, requires a configuration of opposition. It presumes both the spectator and the image are defined by a transcendental content, thus the experiences and affects of the image-spectator relation are determined. However, I argue that the relation between image and spectator is always contingent, not simply based on the immanent moment of the event of the spectatorial experience, but also the indeterminacy of each element – image and subject. While both are volatile, metamorphic and not present as containing essence unto themselves, their nature is expressed as a capacity to 226

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affect and be affected by the other purely as a result of the relation itself. Irigaray describes the consistency of relation as mucosal. Mucous refers to textures, viscosities and expressive matter associated with femininity – indefinable, neither liquid nor solid, but transformative. To think of mucosal spectatorship offers a feminist way out of traditional gaze theory based on viewing that claims to recognise the image as something able to be deferred to presignified objects and functions. Mucosal spectatorship implies the spectator’s ethical responsibility is to be open to the creative intimacy of mucosal relations, that is open to transformation without intent. The spectatorial event is sticky, irresistible but possibly risky, jubilant because it offers and requires loss of signifying systems but remains adamantly material and thus ‘real’ in its liberating effects. Irigaray states: ‘Perhaps the visible needs the tangible but this need is not reciprocal’.1 She directs us away from the visible as the singular, demarcated, comprehensible plane, phallic because images are constituted as solid objects, objectified through the phall-ocular gaze. The phallus is apprehensible through demarcation of form as solid, extending to subjectivity as rigid and recognition or repudiation of images via a dialectic of opposition. The distance between ‘I’ and ‘the outside’, quickened into the differed other maintained by observation, collapses through Irigaray’s formulation of mucous as feminine carnal interaction. Historically, monsters have been the objects of knowledge, of analysis and of study rather than the creators of ‘their’ own subjectivities.2 The motive for studying monsters is to place that which resists established possibilities of knowledge into phallologocentric structures, and hence to control that which proves that social structures are arbitrary.3 Canguilhem and Foucault are the most prevalent theorists of these reconsiderations of teratology, being a subjective compulsion toward power as much as an objective science. Their ideas are further contextualised in the work of corporeal feminism, especially that of Braidotti.4 Essentially, monsters are able to emerge as perceptible as failures or aberrant versions of the dominant. Women have long been the objects of monster studies, of scientific, psychoanalytic and philosophical treatises. The uterus is now available synthetically, while men still rage against women who abort. Women no longer own the monstrosity that is their reproductivity, it is owned by science and the religious right, in spite of cloning technology rendering women virtually parthenogenic. In cinema studies, numerous film theorists have highlighted the two tendencies in film to either align the woman with the monster or have her abducted and coveted by it.5 Both demand the woman being saved by the hero to restore her place in phallic regimes, which is not equivalent to but less than the male. Most

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importantly, the desire to know the monster alleviates its power to induce fear and wonder. Because women’s desire is this in-between, it shares much with the great icon of the in-between: the anomaly, the monster. Female sexual organs as simultaneously a sign of castration and monstrous wound resist the singular – they are more than one, but less than the one of the phallus. The most influential example of this expression of female corporeality as a carnal morphology of difference comes with Irigaray’s model of the two lips. If the two lips, always touching and touched, neither alone nor subsumed by the other, the same but entirely unique, configure a model of anti-phallic excess and pleasure, then the matter of connectivity is the mucous. Irigaray writes: ‘The mucous, in fact, is experienced from within. In the prenatal and loving night known by both sexes. But it is far more important in setting up the intimacy of bodily perception and its threshold for women’.6 For Irigaray the body does not occupy a threshold but is threshold. Its meaning emerges as perception, antagonistic to essence or ontology. The morphology of the two lips is not an atrophied externally observable structure but a metamorphic plane. Mucous is the consistency of that plane. It is a viscosity which is animal, vegetal, celestial, belonging to worlds not exclusive to the human constituted by the phallic, but by the human’s excesses and oppositions. Irigaray offers ‘the flesh of the rose petal. Sensation of the mucous regenerated [ . . . ] somewhere between blood, sap and the not yet of efflorescence’.7 The rose petal’s resonance with female genitalia is clear in its multi-labial form where each petal is divisible and indivisible from the next. The petals are membranes and their shiny appearance belies their subtly furred texture. Woman’s sexual fluid as mucosal is a monstrosity – it is not delineated, not well defined and not present (only) at the time of orgasm. Women’s desire, like monsters themselves, is literally slimy. Monsters are not particular taxonomical teratologies. They are, rather, aberrations – the multiple, the metamorphic, the hybrid, the in-between, that which is without genealogy or genesis and whose destinies are unpredictable. They are both germinal and excessive, not yet formed and teeming with over-formed incomprehensible elements. How can we affirm female difference without essentialising woman? How can we affirm female sexuality independent of complementing or fitting in with male sexuality? How can we think a mucosal philosophy? These questions are ˙ awski’s film Possession. Possession is the story of Anna (Isabelle negotiated in Zul Adjani) whose sexuality is suffocated by both her husband Mark (Sam Neil) and her lover Heinrich (Heinz Bennett). As a response to this double oppression Anna becomes ‘pregnant’ and, in a Parisian metro tunnel, howlingly gives ‘birth’

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to a messy fluid viscosity of blood and white fluid. In excess of form, the liquefied state of this ‘phenomenon’ is blood, white fluid which could be semen, pus or sap. Any relation with it is inherently inflective and enveloping. Anna puts this amorphous fluid mass in a rented flat and slowly through the film this mass develops through larval stages from blob to vegetal entity, to tentacled creature, and eventually it ends up as the double of her husband. At its early stage Anna is involved with a formless form, with which her carnal unions could only constitute an enveloping, a multi-invagination rather than phallo-penetration. Anna’s female sexual slime literally evolves into another form of person, a double but with noth˙ awski extends the satisfaction ing in common with the primary male. Here Zul women get from animals and other non-human lovers in innumerable monster movies, such as the various King Kongs and Beauty and the Beasts. Like Anna’s seething, foaming lover, women’s sexuality is undefined, amorphous, unreliable, mobile and pliable. This is not necessarily descriptive of women’s pleasure, but it describes the way it is yet to be conceived. ‘Already constructed theoretical language does not speak of the mucous. The mucous remains a remainder, producer of delirium, of dereliction, of wounds, sometimes of exhaustion’.8 In this film the unbound desire of a woman literally becomes externalised and materialises as monster. The monster is the object of adoration and aberration – this describes precisely the situation of women and female sexuality in our culture and in this film. The monster evokes fascination and disgust.9 In the film Anna shows disgust, not at herself, but at the rigidity of phallocentric male sexual paradigms. Those who uphold these paradigms show disgust at the monster lover she has created. Monsters are not spectacles to be observed, exiled or rectified. Possession’s mucosal monster is sticky as it reflects its inextricability from those who encounter it and its viscosity reflects female sexual fluid. Its shiny viscosity is a mirror for facilitating immersion. Anna’s monster is born of woman and is inhuman because woman is traditionally incapable of fulfilling tenets of humanity evaluated as equivalent to masculinity. This is the offspring within this world, posing not a threat of invasion but acting as an expression of woman invading her own sexuality. The observer of Anna’s relationship must make a decision between observation as ‘othering’ and participation through revolutions in perception as a means of emphasising wonder over control. Teras refers not to the monster, but to its verb-affect. Monsters are not unto themselves and thus not self-authorised. Authority, authorial intent and authorisation are only present from the desires of the observer to penetrate this m´enage with regimented recognition or immersion. Where Anna and the creature create a two-within-as-one, the spectator

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is ‘the third’ that may take their relation, the image and the screen itself, as events of desire which are mucosal, a relation of opening to infinity, not distance, objectivity and othering. Ethical monsters must be ‘the third’ – the observer without distance, a collapse of distance that is also within the monstrous configuration. We as the observing third are ethical to the extent that we refuse to claim to know and thus speak the reality of the other. In this silent observation we open to the voluminous absence of discourse within mucosity. We are cut off from molar perception10 of the monster as thing (or too much thing, or nothing). We create and are created as a liminal relation itself, no longer two forms in a dialectic structure, but one enveloping matter. Irigaray sees woman’s ethics precisely as ‘an opening of and to another threshold’.11 Deleuze’s explication of Spinozan ethics presents common notions. ‘In short a common notion is the representation of a composition between two or more bodies, and a unity of this composition [ . . . ] For when we encounter a body that agrees with ours we experience an affect or feeling of joy-passion, although we do not adequately know what it has in common with us [ . . . ]’.12 Crucial to Spinoza and Deleuze’s definition of ethics borne of common notions is that each element or entity does not come to the relation already fixed in their qualities which will therefore either be or not be clearly commensurable with the other. Deleuze emphasises that a defining element of the experiencing of affects of joy comes from an encounter even when we do not (or cannot) know the commonality from which the affects arise. Joy, for Irigaray, incarnates as jouissance, but jouissance is not a qualified state. It is joy without bifurcated elements. Terror and wonder, love and fear are indistinguishable. Jouissance is binarised in phallic perception that takes it as horrific from a masculine perspective, but equally as a fetishised coveted state belonging only and enviably to the observed woman. We must think carefully on what is meant in Spinoza by ‘commonality’. Refining this ethic, commonality can be interpreted not as resemblance but by the openness of each element to experiencing the other as self and thus self as other. ‘Now rejecting this way of defining by kind and specific difference’, explains Deleuze: Spinoza suggests a completely different way, linked to common notions; being will be defined by their capacity for being affected, by the affections of which they are capable, the excitations to which they react, those by which they are unaffected, and those which exceed their capacity and make them ill or cause them to die. In this way one will obtain a classification of beings by their power.13

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Defining, signifying, classifying and placing into a hierarchy certain kinds of subjects is an act which is based not on the quality or essence of an entity, but by the powers which constitute the capacity to define. The history of teratology has been a history of powers of expression in mechanising and controlling taxonomical structures. Monster ontology manifests the truth of the aberrant in order to affirm the shift of the ‘normal’ from a cultural, arbitrary category to an idealised natural phenomenon. Enriching ethical encounters are also expressions of power. ‘A manifest truth’, writes Foucault, is disappearing not when it is replaced by another one that is fresher or sharper but when one begins to detect the very conditions that made it seem manifest; the familiarities that served as its support, the darknesses that brought about its clarity, and all those far away things that secretly sustained it and made it ‘go without saying’.14 Affective expressions which elicit joy and novel passions emerge through each entity’s capacity to act and be affective not as what they are but that they are. By virtue of openness to the alterity of the other, commonality is reduced to the majestic but simple notion of openness itself. Feminist ethics’ emphasising the open is also always enfolding, closed in the mucosal pressure of the between. The outside then becomes intimate and the debt to the wonder it affords is (without economy or measure) love. Encounters are not conditionally based on pre-conceived definitions of the other to which one comes. This would mean the other is experienced before the event of experience and thus the other as a singularity is denied its specificity. This encounter with the pre-conceived is rather a reification of self through confirmation of opposition or commonality based on structures that by their very definition cannot locate two entities without one subsuming the other through exertions of the power to define. Ethical encounters are encounters of both affectivity and liberty. Alterity and openness, relinquishing reliance on pre-existent signifiers to become lost in the flows of affectivity, are essential to ethical encounters. Alterity of other catalyses alterity of self. Simultaneously, commonality is not recognised through identical resemblance, but by a common intensity which is present but not necessarily transparent in its meaning or capacity for apprehension. If we include desire as an integral part of the ethical configuration, alterity is seductive because it is not complementary in its opposition. This would affirm sameness of self to self. Difference is desirable because it is difference which cannot be subsumed, because it is mobile as a protean experience, rather than a position

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Figure 13.1 What is (the) becoming/union/proliferation of these two? Andrzej ˙ Zuławski, Possession, 1981.

occupied and defined by the other. Desire is neither dialectic nor reiterative of self and other. It is an event upon which we can only reflect fleetingly and which cannot be repeated nor predicted. Ethical desire cannot operate in the positioning of two entities aware of themselves as closed subjects. Irigaray’s is a more abstracted form of Spinozan ethics. For her, the woman’s ethic would define affective common notions as the act of enveloping itself, where enveloping is the entity rather than a mode by which two entities create a third. As spectators, tactically, we begin as the third but have already committed to a mucosal participation. Affectivity is enough and indefinable, just as woman’s, or feminine, enveloping is always the two within one in the configuration of the two lips, always and already touching. The consistency of the two within one and the singular formed of a plane occupied by enveloped multiplicities is a libidinal model, which can be first approached with the two lips as a refined material abstract-anatomical operation/activation. Anna’s creation explores the relationship between a feminine, fluid sexuality and modern monsters – hybrid, animal, vegetal and molecular unnatural participations, devolved subjectivity, techno and viral-selves. Anna’s self-made lover shifts through many metamorphoses. The most interesting is the male body, with which she has sex in a relatively ‘normal’ missionary way. But the head of the monster at this time is formed of many tentacles. The tentacles may appear as multiple phallic symbols, yet they do not have their functions pre-signified.

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We see her having sex with the thing, and we hear she has had sex with it way before it had a body or head. Which leads to the question ‘what does she do with it? What is this sexuality?’ More correctly, we ask ‘what is (the) becoming/union/proliferation of these two?’ (see Figure 13.1). It is emphatically sexual, but entirely extricated from any hetero or even perverse paradigms. It is like female sexuality itself, unformed, incomplete, unpredictable, but nonetheless desirable for what it can do that is not laid out in pre-established sexual acts or paradigms. Unleashed female sexuality here is not purely symbolically, but actively and materially, monstrous. The flesh as fold itself is a fluid inflection, blurring and mucosal. This resists the risk in creating yet another binary from the mechanics of fluids versus solids. The word ‘mucosal’ describes the fluids emergent of and from the vulva which connect the vulva’s folds with themselves and blur demarcations of externality. The prevalence of the visual, the solid, the demarcated, the relegated, the known, the phantasy of objectivity ablate and atrophy fluidity, connectivity, accountable subjectivity, thought, the multisensorial and a form of speech which is not through the language of the same/one. In the fold, alterity is encountered within the self, through the other, and the other encounters the self in ways the self cannot autonomously express. The in-between-ness of Anna’s and the monster’s bodies, their relation as an in-between-ness, and especially in-between-ness in gender and finitude, creates an open space, a pure potentiality of feminine desire. ‘The mucous refers to an inbetween medium. And because it is in-between the mucous remains (associated with the) unfinished, the in-finite.’15 Numerous films show us the identity of the be-between as threateningly monstrous – the witch child, both woman and girl, both na¨ıve and too knowing, and the vampire woman.16 Anna is doubled as mother and wife but antithetical to Mary and Mary Magdalene. When she is in her blue Virgin Mary dress, it is usually unbuttoned, but here she is reluctant to be touched in a traditional way. When she is sexualised, her form of desire, perhaps like Magdalene’s desire for Christ, is neither necessarily sexual nor non-sexual, but exists along another line altogether. The ecclesiastic theme asks questions, such as what is faith and what is chance? Faith is the belief in something one cannot believe in logically. Faith is belief in the unseeable and unknowable but nonetheless that which affects reality adamantly. Faith in the female role is the faith of which Anna speaks. She must choose between faith in her plight as a mother and a wife, directly mirroring the faith in Christianity which demands the same, or chance. Chance is the becoming to faith’s being. Faith is in the word without speaker, thus acquiescence without mediation or mucosal relation. Ziarek writes: ‘The contrast between the saying

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and the said as the disjunction between jouissance and being, drive and signifier [ . . . ] another figuration of the sensible transcendental, bringing together the antithetical figures of the angel and the mucous [ . . . ] as a marker of jouissance ethical saying would be a passage between the anarchic diachrony of the past that has never been present and the infinite future of becoming’.17 Faith adheres to tradition without knowing why, accepting without questioning. Chance is accepting unbound possibility, questioning but not predicting an answer. Anna is forced to choose between faith in heterosexuality or the chance of something else through unbinding desire. Faith is phallic sexuality; chance is monster sex, sex in transit, nomadic sex. Anna’s monster is her lover, but it is never itself a ‘thing’, it keeps changing, transforming. Its mucosal expression says much with the opening of its labial seduction, mouth, amorphous genitals which traverse its entire form, but nothing is said. Anna doesn’t care; it is chance which offers her a lover that will never set down a sexual narrative. Carnal mucosity in Irigaray makes this monster angelic. ‘The angel is what passes through the envelope or envelopes from one end to the other, postponing every deadline, revising every decision, undoing the very idea of repetition [ . . . ] They are not unconnected with sex [ . . . ] it is as if the angel were the figural version of a sexual being not yet incarnate.’18 Anna creates and explores her mucosal monster beyond a love object toward becoming an angel of passage. She, like us, sees it only in half light, but it is always enough in that it is tactile and viscous, teasing and exploiting the viscosity of the eye. The eye is seeing beyond its capacities of recognition, exposing the visual as a protean fleshly matter without form and laying bare the ‘image’ as a mucosal skein. Just as Irigaray associates the mucosal with angels, and I have offered Anna’s monster as angel, so we can think of the screen as a form of angelic mediator. Lorraine emphasises Irigaray’s angels are ‘angels of passage’19 and in relation to the eye shutting off to see with the body, flesh and touch Vasseleu suggests: ‘The blink maintains the eye as mucous as a latency which, while not of the visible, resuscitates the eye as a body passage’.20 We blink at the incoherent screen, not to believe our eyes posit an option toward a revolutionary turn to belief without recognition, or blindness to connectivity with the event of the image where the dialectic compulsion of distance and the phallic eye against the smooth screen is maintained. ‘From beyond’ writes Irigaray ‘the angel returns with inaudible or unheard of words in the here and now. Like an inscription written in invisible ink on a fragment of the body, skin, membrane, veil, colourless and unreadable until it interacts with the right substance, the matching body’.21 Anna in her monster lover and we, with(in) the screen, trail

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the unreadable text-ured flesh of unrepresentable but no less perceptible mucosal fold. The image is without form, colour, script until we become angelic with it or allow the angelic mucosal rapture to take us away, not toward a register which privileges flesh or touch (as Irigaray has been criticised for doing), but which collapses with us only when we have opened our spectatorial selves as porous matter we do not recognise. Irigaray attempts to collapse touch with vision rather than see one as antagonistic to the other in quality and value. Further, she does not posit touch as only a feminine version of perception or even an independent sense from vision.22 This is not to suggest that the invisible is revealed, that there will come a moment of transcendental recognition through resonance and relation as identification. In her reading of Merleau-Ponty, Irigaray warns against any exploration of invisibility as the perceivable event beyond risking recognition, in a phallic specular mechanisation, ‘wanting to appropriate the invisible’.23 For each image, each frame and flicker, the spectatorial self adapts to the specificity and molecular intensity of the image, and we are neither independent from nor dependent on its content to register meaning and/as pleasure. The image, like mucous itself, is not a visible plane but a sticky blurred envelopment, and each inflection of the envelope opening out and folding in creates a new plane of relation of spectatorial pleasure. We are not differentiated from image or screen. Thus we can no longer know what parts are us, what parts the image, and hence we no longer know who we are or what the screen represents or reflects in a scopto-phallic regime. This is the ultimate and unanswerable question of Possession. We see the image through mucosal filter, seeing in a mucosal way that refuses demarcation and apprehension and, most importantly, relation through opposition, ‘a look that is too close to make use of a certain perspective, of discrimination, distance or mastery’.24 Concepts such as ‘mucosal spectatorship’, ‘the angelic image’, ‘the screen as passage’, offer an ethics of difference which exploits the pleasures of cinema art as they allow us to succumb and give ourselves to the experience of the image without sight and the self without subject.

NOTES 1 Irigaray, Luce, An Ethics of Sexual Difference, trans. Burke, Carolyn and Gill, Gillian C. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), p. 135. 2 For example in 1831, Cambridge University Professor of Medicine W. Clark wrote a treatise based on transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. Clark commented on the fascination monsters elicit: ‘Of late years no subject has more incessantly occupied the labours of learned continental Anatomists than the investigation

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of the steps by which the rudimentary organs of embryos advance to their perfect form’. Clark, W., A Case of Human Monstrosity. Folio (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1831). For an elaboration of modes and purposes of teratological ontologies and their paradigmatic shift in contemporary culture see Cohen, Jeffrey, ‘Monster Culture (Seven Theses)’, in J. Cohen (ed.), Monster Theory: Reading Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), pp. 3–25 and MacCormack, Patricia, ‘Perversion: Transgressive Sexuality and Becoming-monster’, Thirdspace, 3:2 (2004), available at http://www.thirdspace.ca/journal/article/viewArticle/ maccormack [accessed 10 May 2012]. 3 This system is deconstructed through the work of Canguilhem and his analysis of Comte and Broussais. Canguilhem states: ‘To define the abnormal as too much or too little is to recognise the normative character of the so-called normal state. This normal or physiological state is no longer simply a disposition which can be revealed and explained as fact, but a manifestation of an attachment of some value. When B´egin defines the normal state as one where “the organs function with all the regularity and uniformity of which they are capable”, we cannot fail to recognise that, despite Broussais’s horror of all ontology, an ideal of perfection soars over this attempt at a positive definition.’ See Canguilhem, Georges, ‘The Death of Man, or Exhaustion of Cogito?’ trans. Porter, Catherine in G. Gutting, (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Foucault (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 76–77. 4 Braidotti, Rosi, ‘Mothers, Monsters and Machines’, in Nomadic Subjects. Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994). Following from Mary Douglas and Julia Kristeva’s use of Douglas in the formation of theories of the abject, Braidotti goes so far as to suggest one of the more positive means of becoming is that of monster, something popular culture already demands of its ‘radicals’. (See Douglas, Mary, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concept of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge and Keegan and Paul, 1966), especially her section on Leviticus, and Kristeva, Julia, Powers of Horror: An Essay in Abjection, trans. Roudiez, Leon (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982).) Although Braidotti focuses her argument on the monstrosities of the historical past versus the modern monstrosity of science, her insistence on monstrosity as a site of wonder and of horror is an important axis in any definition of monsters. Even if modern scientists are seen as monsters in their determined drive to see further, pathologise more rigidly and adhere normality to the integrity of an organism, they are themselves enough of an object of wonder for Braidotti to include them in her argument. The axis of wonder/horror is integral to monstrosity as a, if not the, primary site of ambiguity. 5 Presented particularly in Williams, Linda, ‘When the Woman Looks’, in M. Doane, P. Mellencamp and L. Williams (eds), Re-Vision: Essays in Feminist Film Criticism (Los Angeles: University Publications of America, 1984), pp. 67–82 and Creed, Barbara, The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (London: Routledge, 1993).

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6 Irigaray: Ethics, p. 93. 7 Irigaray, Ethics, p. 166. 8 Irigaray, Luce, To Speak is Never Neutral, trans. Schwab, Gail (London: Athlone, 2002), p. 244. 9 See note 6. 10 In their work, Deleuze and Guattari oppose molarity to molecularity in reference to both the structures of entities and modes of apprehension. The molar describes the discrete, completed and demarcated entity, while the molecular is constituted by assemblages, fields and swarming qualities. The molecular refers to form as movement with qualitative metamorphic operations, rather than to the recognisability of the repeatable form of the molar entity. 11 Irigaray, Ethics, p. 212. 12 Deleuze, Gilles, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, trans. Hurley, Robert (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1988), pp. 55–56. 13 Deleuze: Spinoza, p. 45. 14 Foucault, Michel, Power, trans. Hurley, Robert and others. (London: Penguin, 1994), p. 447. 15 Mulder, Anne-Claire, Divine Flesh, Embodied Word: Incarnation as a Hermeneutical Key to a Feminist Theologian’s Reading of Luce Irigaray’s Work (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006), p. 239. 16 From earliest cinema examples can be offered, and I resist citing any in particular as, in excess of narrative occupied by monster as character, these fabulations are affective toward a spectatorial ethics by virtue of what they do rather than what they are. Any film that presents the ambiguities, hybridities and seduction toward making pacts and forming packs irresistible to how we perceive, whether in a traditional horror film or other kind of spectatorially mucosal film, can present (but not represent) monstrous seduction. 17 Ziarek, Ewa Plonowska, Ethics of Dissensus: Postmodernity, Feminism, and the Politics of Radical Democracy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), p. 171. 18 Irigaray, Luce, ‘Sexual Difference’, trans Hand, S`ean in M. Whitford (ed.), The Irigaray Reader (London: Blackwell, 1992), p. 173. 19 Lorraine, Tamsin, Irigaray and Deleuze: Experiments in Visceral Philosophy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), p. 227. 20 Vasseleu, Cathryn, Textures of Light: Vision and Touch in Irigaray, Levinas, and Merleau-Ponty (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 70. 21 Irigaray, Luce, Sex and Genealogies, trans. Gill, Gillian C. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 36. 22 Irigaray, Ethics, p. 157. 23 Irigaray, Ethics, p. 153. 24 Irigaray, Ethics, p. 153.

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Name Index A Private Happiness, 190 Ahmed, Sara, 17n25, 75, 87n12, n14, 100n15, 101n28 Ahtila, Eija-Liisa, 10, 89–97, 99n1, n2, 100n8, 101n21 Albuquerque, Paula, 199, 206, 208–210, 213n25 Arnold, Andrea, 199, 204, 206, 209, 212n19 Azoulay, Ariella, 46, 53n26 Babcock, Barbara, 5, 16n17 Baker, Josephine, 164, 171n27–n30, 194n19 Bakthin, Mikhail, 5, 17n19, 158, 159, 161, 169n1 Bal, Mieke, 16n15, 91–92, 100n3, 100n10, 100n11, 101n24, 224n15 Balnakiel, 112–113, 114 Barker, Jennifer, 16n14, 133–134, 139n14–n15, 142n62–n65, 143n72 Barthes, Roland, 4, 16n12, 46, 50, 53n24, 74, 86n2 Bauman, Zygmunt, 39n4 Baumgarten, Alexander, 15n2, 145 Bazin, Andr´e, 122, 126, 127, 138n8, n9 Belting, Hans, 74, 79, 86n6, 88n28 Berlant, Lauren, 17n25, 101n20 Blind Light, 106–108 Boltanski, Luc, 22, 39n5 Braidotti, Rosi, 219, 227, 236n4 Brennan, Teresa, 16n15, 104, 116n5, 116n6 Cage, John, 45, 52n21 Calle, Sophie, 182–185, 194n25, 195n36 Canguilhem, Georges, 227, 236n3 Chion, Michel, 15n6, 16n13, 51n9, 52n11, 52n20 Classen, Constance, 15n4, 122, 125, 138n5–n7, 139n20, 140n23, 140n24, 149, 157n14, 167, 172n34 Comolli, Jean-Louis, 176, 193n4 Corbin, Alain, 147, 157n8 Creed, Barbara, 236n5

de Andrade, Oswald, 165, 171n32 del R´ıo, Elena, 16, 203, 212n18 Deleuze, Gilles, 49, 51n1, 53n30, 100n8, 100n9, 156n2, 181, 198, 211n2, 212n4, 212n7 Doane, Mary Ann, 52n17, 52n19, 101n22, 216, 224n5, 236n5 Douglas, Mary, 5, 17n19, 236n4 Elder, Bruce, 16n14, 160, 177–179, 181, 192, 193n6, 194n14, 194n19, 194n20, 194n21, 194n24, 194n27 Ettinger, Bracha, 8, 9, 24–27, 29, 31–39, 39n1, 39n3, 40n8–n11, n13–n18, 40n21, 40n22, 41n23, 41n24 Eurydice, 24–26, 32 Evidence Locker, 206, 207, 209, 210, 213n23, n24, n26, n27 Feelings are Facts, 107, 108 Foster, Hal, 3–4, 16n10, 109, 117n20 Foucault, Michel, 31, 33, 163, 170n22, 171n24, 195n33, 198–200, 202, 211n2, 224n15, 227, 231, 237n14 Freud, Sigmund, 25, 31, 33–35, 37, 50, 53n32, 147 Fuses, 178–183, 185, 187, 190, 194n19, 195n28 Gluckman, Max, 5, 16n18 GMT Minus 5, 208–210 Gormley, Antony, 106, 108, 109, 116 Guattari, F´elix, 49, 53n30, 62–63, 68n13, n14, 156n2, 202, 209, 237n10 Hansen, Mark, 73, 75, 79, 88n29, n31, n42, 188, 196n46, n47 Hill, Gary, 186–189, 196n40 Howes, David, 15, 122, 125, 138n5–n7, 139n20, 140n23, n24, 148–150, 157n9, n15, 172n34 In Free Fall, 217–219 Intended Consequences, 48–50

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Irigaray, Luce, 14, 178, 194n27, 226–228, 230, 232, 234, 235, 235n1, 237n6–8, 237n11, 237n18, 237n21–24 Isaak, Jo Anna, 16n16, 169n7, 169n8 Jones, Grace, 163, 171n26 Jules-Rosette, Bennetta, 164, 171n27–30 Kristeva, Julia, 39n2, 236n4 L’Atalante, 186, 188, 197n59 Lacan, Jacques, 23, 25, 31, 33, 34, 37, 38 Like Water for Chocolate, 124, 139n16 Love is a Treasure, 10, 89, 90, 93–99, 99n1 Lovely Andrea, 215, 222, 223n1 Magid, Jill, 199, 206–210, 212n22, 213n23, 213n24, 213n26, 213n27 Massumi, Brian, 40n14, 62, 68n12, 69n17–n19, n21, n22, n27, 73, 75, 78, 87n22–n24, 88n26, 91, 100n6, n7, 101n17, 154, 155, 157n20, n21, n23, n24, 167, 168, 169n5, 172n40, 212n18 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 123, 139n11–n13, 181, 188, 189, 192, 235 Mutu, Wangechi, 12, 158, 159, 161–169, 170n17–n19, 171n26, n31, 172n33 Nancy, Jean-Luc, 15n7 No Sex Last Night, 182–185 Orpheus, 33, 37, 38 Paasonen, Susanna, 76, 87n15, 100n4 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, 11, 116n3, 121, 138n1, 138n2 Pierce, Leighton, 189–190 Pollock, Griselda, 6, 8, 16n11, 21, 39n1, 39n7, 40n16, 40n18, 43 Possession, 14, 226, 228, 229, 232, 235 Prince, Dawn, 54–56, 58, 64, 68n1, 68n2



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Pulmonary Space, 110, 111 Ranci`ere, Jacques, 15n7, 144, 156n1, 222, 225n16 Red Road, 203–206, 209, 210 Scent of Mystery , 127 Schneemann, Carolee, 178–180, 182, 183, 187, 189, 190, 194n17, 194n19, 194n27, 195n28 Seremetakis, C. Nadia, 88n30, 88n40, 125, 131, 140n25, 142n59 Serres, Michel, 102, 103, 107, 108, 116, 116n1, 117n12, 117n13, 117n16 Sobchack, Vivian, 4, 6, 11–13, 15n8, 16n9, 16n13, 18n25, 18n27, 121, 138n10, 139n14–n16, 166–168, 169n5, 172n37, 172n39, 178, 181, 186, 187, 192, 194n16, 195n30, 196n39, 196n44, 197n58, 216, 224n4 Sontag, Susan, 97, 101n23 Spence, Jo, 25, 39n6 Spinoza, Baruch, 91, 154, 212n18, 230 Stoler, Ann Laura, 5, 170n22 Strike, 215, 216, 219 S¨uskind, Patrick, 10, 11, 103, 116n3, 117n8, 121, 122, 124, 125, 128, 137, 138n1, 138n3, 139n21, 142n55 Suspension of Disbelief (for Marine), 186 Teller, Juergen, 10, 73, 74, 76, 79–85, 88n33, 88n36 The House, 89–98, 99n2 Tykwer, Tom, 11, 121, 122, 128, 131, 132, 136, 137 Whitehead, Alfred North, 55, 58, 60, 63, 65, 67, 68n3–n5, 69n24, 69n25, 69n33 Williams, Linda, 175–177, 191, 193n3, 193n4, 193n8, 193n9, 193n11, 194n12, 194n13, 194n15, 196n53, 236n5 ˇ zek, Slavoj, 51n5, 175, 177, 193n2 Ziˇ ˙ Zuławski, Andrzej, 14, 226, 232

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abject, 73, 80, 182, 236n4 aesthetics, 1–4, 6–9, 15n2, 34, 36, 39, 90, 91, 94, 97, 99, 102, 103, 105, 109, 111, 116, 144, 145, 147–150, 154, 160, 169, 177, 181, 182, 203, 204, 210, 214; aesthetic apprehension, 3, 15n2; aesthetic experience, 4, 7, 14, 49, 77, 145, 159, 165, 168; aesthetic materialism, 109; The Anti-Aesthetic, 3, 16n10 affect, 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 14, 32, 59, 61, 63, 64, 73, 75–79, 83, 85, 89, 90–94, 97–99, 100n14, 103–105, 109, 114, 115, 146, 154–156, 178, 198, 203, 205, 215, 219, 220, 222, 227, 230; affective dynamics, 1, 79; affective force, 3, 63, 90; affective powers, 10, 11, 211; affective tonality, 12, 55, 56, 60, 166, 223; atmospheric affects, 102–116; powers of, 198–211 aisthesis, 3, 15n8 animal, 7, 9, 55, 58, 59, 62, 64, 66, 67, 122, 140n22, 146, 161, 164, 228, 229, 232 anthropophag´ıa, 164, 171n31 archive, 24–26, 31, 215, 219–222 art, 1–10, 13, 14, 29, 32, 35, 36, 38, 39n1, 53n29, 60, 62, 80, 90, 95, 96, 99, 103, 106, 107, 109, 111, 115, 144, 149, 158–160, 164–166, 169, 169n2, 181, 182, 186, 192, 195n38, 198, 199, 206, 210, 214, 235; art history, 144; artistic practice, 6, 7, 14, 38, 91, 180, 209 assemblage, 61, 164, 166, 237n10 body, 2, 4–7, 10–14, 17n21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 32, 40n20, 46, 54, 56, 62, 64, 73–85, 91, 102, 104, 105, 108, 109, 112, 115, 124, 128, 133, 146, 148, 149, 158–164, 168, 176–181, 186, 187, 189, 191, 195n37, 197n59, 205, 206, 228, 230, 232–234; black female body, 5, 12, 158, 163; female body, 5–7, 14, 44, 80, 177, 186; gendered body, 12, 24, 158; grotesque body, 159, 160, 161; monstrous body, 13 Camera Lucida, 46, 53n24

cannibalism, 165, 168: Cannibalist Manifesto, 165, 171n32; metaphorical cannibalism, 165; sensory cannibalism, 165–168 capitalism, 23, 151; capitalist culture, 91; capitalist system, 150; consumer capitalism, 151 carnal, 4, 5, 218, 226–229, 234; carnal aesthetics, 1–3; carnal thoughts, 4, 16n13, 18n27, 139n14, 169n5, 194n16, 195n30, 196n39, 196n44, 224n4 carnival, 159, 160, 164, 168, 171n31; carnivalesque, the, 158–160, 164, 165, 168; carnivalisation, 12, 159, 168 castration, 32, 34, 228 cinema, 4, 11, 14, 44, 45, 52n11, 89, 93, 95, 96, 98, 99, 111, 112, 121–124, 126–130, 138, 138n8, 144, 175, 176, 178, 181, 182, 184, 189–191, 194n13, 195n38, 199, 200, 205, 214, 227, 235, 237n16 co-enaesthesia, 3, 167, 168 co-enaesthetic, 11 deconstruction, 122, 160, 222 desire, 5, 23, 24, 31, 33, 38, 39, 63, 85, 92, 103, 138n8, 158, 166, 175, 180, 186, 187, 198, 200, 214, 218, 223n1, 228–234; female desire, 14, 226, 233 difference, 7, 9, 12, 14, 21–23, 30, 31, 35, 37, 38, 39n2, 55, 61, 75, 84, 91, 178, 194n15, 214, 226, 228, 230, 231, 235; categories of difference, 1; difference as oppositional, 14, 226; embodied difference, 3; sexual difference, 14, 21–24, 38, 39n2, 194 documentary, 44, 48, 49, 96, 115, 214, 215, 220, 221, 222, 224n10 embodiment, 4, 5, 15n8, 90, 108, 167, 181, 186, 188 emotion, 12, 75, 77, 79, 90–94, 98, 136, 137, 147, 154–156, 205, 219

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Subject Index

erotic, 13, 31, 34, 122, 162, 182, 185, 193n2, 194n24 ethical relation, 14, 46, 226 ethics, 1, 6, 8, 9, 33, 51, 91, 144, 145, 149, 150, 154, 155, 230–232, 235, 237n16 excess, 12, 13, 56, 57, 61, 64, 79, 80, 110, 154, 158, 164, 175, 182, 196n38, 228, 229, 237n16 fascinance, 34, 35, 39 fashion, 5, 10, 21, 59, 73, 74, 79, 80–85, 86n7, n8, 103, 171n28; fashion advertising, 80, 85; fashion photography, 10, 73–76, 84, 85, 86n8 feeling, 9, 15n2, 73, 77, 78, 84, 91, 93, 94, 96, 105, 113, 124, 130, 131, 135, 137, 150, 162, 178, 183, 187, 198, 205, 209, 218, 230 feminine, the, 23, 32, 34, 36–38 feminism, 2, 7, 21–23, 75, 180, 227 film studies, 3, 181, 214, 217 gaze, the, 25, 27, 31, 34, 38, 39, 164, 185, 193n2, 211; ‘the male gaze’, 14 gender studies, 1, 74, 214 genocide, 22, 25, 27, 44 grotesque, the, 6, 12, 73, 158–162, 164, 165, 168, 169n2; the grotesque body, 159, 160, 161; the racial grotesque, 161 haptic, 134, 175, 177, 180, 181, 182, 184, 186, 189–192, 204, 205, 208; ‘haptic visuality’, 84, 88n41, 189, 191, 212n20; ‘the haptic’, 11, 185, 189, 192, 205 holocaust, 22, 29 image, 4, 6, 10, 14, 25–27, 29, 33, 34, 42, 44–50, 53n29, 73–76, 78–85, 88n41, 89, 91, 97, 106, 109, 111, 115, 122, 130, 154, 155, 158, 161, 163, 164, 176, 184–186, 189, 190, 192, 204, 205, 210, 215–217, 220–222, 226, 227, 230, 234, 235; materiality of images, 14, 216, 217, 221; moving image, 11, 46, 111, 176, 185, 186, 189 imagery, 9, 10, 13, 73, 74, 80, 85, 93, 96, 97, 100n14, 130, 132, 162, 164, 165, 187; transgressive imagery, 5–6, 12, 158, 164 imaginary, 27, 29, 33, 134, 147, 148, 158, 219 immersion, 108, 109, 113, 116, 117n18, 167, 181, 229; immersive, 3, 106, 109–111, 115, 192 installation art, 7, 13 intervention, 1, 2, 7, 13, 50, 160, 199; artistic intervention, 1, 202, 203; feminist intervention, 1, 2 jouissance, 230, 234



241

knowledge, 5, 10, 12, 13, 15n2, 42, 49, 75, 84, 107, 108, 123, 144–151, 154, 159, 181, 186, 222, 224n15, 227 machine, 63, 64, 115, 187, 188, 198 matrixial, 29–36, 38, 39, 39n1, 40n20 media, 1, 8, 9, 13, 42, 44, 74, 76, 78, 79, 84, 90, 91, 99, 109, 110, 145, 161, 186, 188, 189, 191, 192, 198, 201, 202, 204, 215, 220; media studies, 1, 74, 91; new media, 79, 84, 189 memory, 7, 8, 12, 27, 32, 35, 38, 39, 79, 82, 84, 85, 93, 113, 123, 125, 130–132, 136, 138, 142n55, n60, 147, 152, 154, 155, 182, 186, 188, 189, 190, 205, 214, 219, 220 metramorphosis, 30–31 monster, 226–234, 235n2, 236n4, 237n16 movement, 4–7, 9, 21, 23, 29, 46, 48, 52n21, n23, 54, 56, 57–64, 67, 76, 84, 85, 91, 106–108, 111, 115, 123, 133–134, 139n14, 142n66, 160, 168, 176, 177, 186, 187, 190, 193n6, 220, 223, 237n10 multisensory culture, 144–156 multisensory experience, 153, 167 music, 42–44, 48–50, 52n21, 111, 137, 148, 155, 176, 180, 205, 219, 220, 223 non-human, 9, 56, 66, 160, 161, 229 odour, 103, 105, 107, 122, 124, 125, 127–130, 133, 134, 137, 138, 141n40, n41, 142n49, 146, 147, 149–152, 166; see also smell, scent oedipal, 21, 22, 33 ‘olfactory unconscious’, 12, 154 perception, 1–3, 6, 7, 9–14, 15n8, 43, 44, 49, 55, 65–67, 73–79, 84, 85, 89, 90, 92, 97, 98, 102, 103, 105, 107–109, 112, 123, 128–132, 136, 145, 146, 148, 149, 155, 159, 165–169, 176, 179, 180, 188, 191, 203, 209, 228, 229, 230, 235; perceptual modalities, 1, 6, 7, 11, 17n21, 222; politics of, 3, 7, 13 performance, 3, 44, 49, 77, 79, 84, 160, 164, 180, 205; performative acts, 100n14, 160; performative medium, 159 phenomenology, 43, 106, 107, 109, 112, 113, 129, 192 photography, 7, 38, 42, 44, 46, 48, 74, 83; digital photography, 9, 50; fashion photography, 5, 73–76, 81, 84, 85; press photography, 44 pleasure: 8, 12, 23, 24, 49, 50, 83, 145, 147–152, 162, 176, 178, 184, 189, 215, 222, 226, 228, 229, 235; female pleasure, 5, 14

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242



Carnal Aesthetics

pornography, 26, 80, 170n14, 175–178, 182, 191, 194n15, 196n38 psychoanalysis, 21, 36, 146, 193n2 queer, 7, 22, 23 representation: 5–9, 11–14, 74, 77–79, 81, 85, 90, 91, 93, 98, 99, 103, 111, 115, 131, 138n8, 158–160, 162–165, 168, 170n14, 176–178, 180–182, 185, 188, 194n13, 215, 216, 220, 221, 222, 230; ‘object of representation’, 10, 11, 102; (self)representation, 7; (self-)representation, 168; representational strategies, 1, 8 rhythm, 7, 8, 29, 47–50, 56, 58, 59, 104, 180, 223 scent, 11, 103, 105, 121–131, 133–137, 141n40, n44, 152, 153, 155; see also smell, odour scopophilia, 38 semiotics, 73, 74, 76, 214 sensation, 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 45, 62, 76, 77, 79, 83, 85, 102, 103, 105, 107–109, 113, 115, 130, 136, 141n41, 145, 148, 158, 159, 166–169, 178, 193n6, 228 senses, the, 2, 3, 11, 12, 44, 84, 103, 116, 121, 123–125, 129, 130, 132, 134, 138, 145–152, 159, 167, 168, 172n34, 181, 222, 223; anthropology of the senses, 3, 167, 172; hierarchy of, 3, 12, 158, 159, 167; proximal senses, 4, 6, 144, 145, 148–150, 152–154, 166; sense memory, 12, 85, 130–132; sensory imagination, 12, 130, 132; the five senses, 3, 159, 167 sensorial experience, 1, 10, 12, 102: alternative sensorial modalities, 2; in different cultures, 147, 148, 159, 167, 172n35; sensorial experiencing, 1; sensorial perception, 11; sensoriality, 1, 222; sensorium, 3, 7, 13, 84, 102, 126, 133, 138, 158–159, 167–169; sensory domains, 12, 125; sensory experience, 12, 126, 131, 149,155, 159, 172n35, 186 sexuality, 1, 7, 13, 25, 34, 35, 136, 147, 163, 177, 181, 182, 187, 218, 228, 229, 232, 233, 234 silence, 8, 9, 44–48, 50, 125, 215, 223 smell, 1, 6, 10–12, 29, 54, 102–105, 121–138, 139n22, 140n22, n33, 141n41, 142n49, n60, n69, 144–156, 166, 167, 172n35, 178; and cinema, 11; commodification of, 12; see also scent, odour

sound, 1, 4, 7–9, 29, 42–51, 58, 64, 94, 97, 98, 104, 107, 111–114, 116, 126, 134, 136, 137, 138n8, 148, 167, 176, 178, 190, 208, 209, 214, 219, 220, 222, 223; and listening, 44, 47, 48, 49 spectatorship, 4, 14, 181, 226; mucosal spectatorship, 226, 227, 235; spectator, 4, 8, 10–12, 14, 35, 46, 49, 106, 109, 123, 167, 175, 177, 181, 190, 195n28, 200, 212n6, 226, 227, 229, 232 stereotype, 61, 62, 122, 160, 162, 164, 168, 170n17 subjectivity, 9, 21, 23, 25, 30, 31, 32, 35, 36, 63, 90, 178, 180, 187, 227, 232, 233 surveillance, 6, 13–14, 25, 42, 198–211, 212n21 synaesthesia, 3, 123, 127, 129, 139n11, n13, 141n47, n49, 142n50, n51, 167, 172n38 tactile, 82, 111, 124, 126, 130, 166, 175, 176, 180, 181, 184, 185, 187, 188, 191, 196n55, 204, 208, 209, 234 tactility, 83–85, 178, 188, 191 temporality, 21, 46, 47, 49, 187 touch, 6, 11, 13, 23, 35, 64, 83, 104, 124, 129, 138n8, 144, 145, 149, 159, 166, 167, 172n35, 178, 188, 191, 192, 195n28, 224n15, 234, 235 trace, 11, 14, 25, 26, 28, 32, 33, 78, 103, 106, 111, 116, 190, 214, 220–222, 226 transgression, 5, 6, 17n20, 94, 158 trauma, 2, 6, 7–9, 11, 21–22, 29, 32, 35, 36, 38, 43, 47, 49–51, 96, 98, 214 unconscious, 12, 21, 23, 26, 28, 33, 34, 77, 103, 104, 124, 147, 154 violence, 8, 23, 25, 26, 38, 44, 48, 50, 95, 164, 166, 223, 223n1 vision, 3, 11, 13, 25, 28, 35, 42, 43, 49–51, 55, 84, 88n41, 107, 108, 115, 122, 123, 128–131, 133, 134, 136, 137, 139n22, 140n22, 142n69, 144, 145, 148, 149, 159, 167, 180–182, 184, 188, 190, 222, 224n15, 235 visual, the, 3, 6, 11, 12, 25, 31, 36, 42–46, 50, 81, 82, 84, 104, 159, 166, 167, 188, 221, 223, 224n15, 233, 234 visual culture, 1, 91, 144, 149, 157n25, 170n14, 210 visuality, 12, 84, 88n41, 166, 177, 181, 189, 191, 212n20, 222, 224n15 voyeurism, 26, 190, 213n28