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Polecaj historie

The subject of documentary
 0816634408, 2003028176, 0816634416

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., ,. ., ,,, .,·' •'· . uch b elie ved i n the necessity of acknowled1fi ng the impact of t he filtnmakc r's pr�sence. He chose to "generate rea lit y" racher tha n all ow it to u nf old p assiv ely befo re him.26 To th at e nd, R ouc h pushed p a rticipant obserVation to ne w l e vel s of inte.ractivit y; h e sa w the camera ·as a ''.psychoan alytic stim ul an t" cap able of precipitati ng acti on a nd cha racier revel ati on . � ouch' s role a s a key prec,;rso� to the c�nfe�si on al effusi ons of contemporary �ideo pra cti tione rs is explo_red in cha pter 13°. Herc it is most i m po rtani to re c all Rouch's rehabilitation of that most-di_s paraged docu­ mentary device, the voice-pvcr. As describ ed by c oun tless t ri,ics, the vo ice - over has. , in r ecent de- . . c ades , been de pl ored as dict ato r ia l, th e Voic e of G od; i t i mp ose s an om: n isc i eni:e·bes p eaki ng a p os _ iti on- of abs olute kno wl edg e . Cur rent not ions of k no wledge a s more prop e rly "p ar �ir011ed. In the sprin g (>f 1970, Cal cutta was gr ipped by a prolon ged season of conf ronta tion between Left a nd Right force s punctu a\ed by a ser ie s of ma ssive d emoostrations. Against this background, Satyaji t Ra y, the highly rega rded Bengali ·filmma k er whose inatte ntio n to poli ti cal i ssues h ad long gall ed his countr ymen, began sh ooti ng Pratidwandi (The Adver sar y). The fil m centered on the fortunes of the youn g, recently graduated Siddhar tha, wh ose i mmedi ate f u,ure , c louded by a tight job mark et an d family re ­ sponsibilitie s in the wake of his father's de ath, f ligbt and da rk spo ts."27 I ts channels-of i n f6rma ti on remai ned grossly underdeveloped; t he TV was more ro b e hea rd t han s een. Like the tele­ vision medium it critiques, Medium Cool uses tbe s oun · d track ro much . its political-.aesthetic a dvantage, de velopi n g a sound st rategy sui ted to aspira ti on,28 I nde ed, it is the s ound track that guarante es the tex t's anni­ hil ation oJ fi. ction and its suppl antatio n by history.: Once a ga in it is Br echt wh o has provided th e g uidep osts for an alysis. l n his sem inal essay "The Modern Thea tre ls the Epi c Thea tre," Brech t emphasized t he oeed for the " r adical separati on" of formal el emei1r s so . r that neithe music n or te xt nor sett ing would be degraded in the s er:vic e of a-hyp notic th eatr i cal exper ien ce. This "pr ocess of fusion e xte.nds �o t h e' . . spectator , wh o g_ers th rown into the. mel tirtg pot, t and b ecomes a passive · (s uff ering) parr of the total work of art."2 9 This "proc es$ of fusio nt as manifested i n th e cine ma's tr eauue,i t of �u cli tory eleme ncs, means th at the . s ound track is customa rily a s uppor t of the i magery through synchronous dialogue or "evocative" music used as mood eohanCement. In Medium Cool, ih e use of nondi e geric sound, that is, nonso urc c music and phonic sound whos e origi ns li e outside of th e fiction, as well as prorrac ted

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the si re n songs of all rep re se ntational forms ?) and the fina l credits roll, the once radio-dra b voice p ers ists, now cracking with emotion and dis belief. The p ol icemen arc grabbing and beating everyone in sight... People arc bei ng du bbed, and I mea n in tcchnicolor and 3·D ... Right in front of che nation, right in front of the entire narion, this is happening.

Thi s na rr ation i s sustaine d even a fter t he cre dits a re replac ed by black leader; the end of the ce lluloid st r ips c u ts off the voice at th.e ver,y moment of a ne ,vly forged awaren ess. I've ju st got o ut of being smashe d against the wall by the skin of my .teeth ... people are bein.gsm"shcd up against the wall and arc being hit by the police with clubs, and those are re.al n ightsticks, and people are really being hjc.

It i s the weight of this final testimony, is s uing from an unsee n sp ace, that ma r ks as de finitive the film's choice of the raw, re l ative ly unpr oc esse d mater ial of his to ry over the ma nufactu re d imager y of Hollywood fiction. It is a p ero ration of mixed function. In fo r ma l terms , it offers a fin al g ua r· antce of the sovereignty of the sound track, f ree d'from mere illu s t ra tion or teiteration. As an epiphany of consciousness regatding the wanton bru· tality of a repressive st.ace apparatus, this anonymous narration is proof of th e active subs titu tion of the fi ctional regime by pr im ary, historical s our ce mat er ial. Fo r in s tead of focu sing on the final th roes of a dawning social awa ren ess in rhe Ka t se lla s or Mor ton characters, Medium Cool c hooses to jettison the fabric a tion of cha racte r and diegesis altogether. By th e fil m's e nd, the s pecta to r has been prodded towar d a re cogni,tion of socia l force.s in conflict, much in keeping with the Brechtia n p re sc ription. Mo re over, the increasingly hor ta to ry cha ract er of the work s er ves to align it with th e didactici�m of the nonfiction t radition. It is the dis embodied plea o f rh e ext ra diegetic voice tha t provide.s the s pur to thi s re velation, not the agenci es of cha racter o r emplotm enr. In sum, the succes s of Medium Co o/ as innovative political art is an effect of it s su cc es s a s an act of deconst ruction-of filmic fictio n a nd of its elf as fictional film.

The Denial of Incorporation: Annihilating Fiction

Thus fa r the analy sis o f one film and its attempts to integrat e a n unea sy mixture of aesthe ti c , com mercial, and political concer ns has provided the fo cus of c ritic al inqui r y. Thi s analy sis bas atte mpted to sugg es t cer tain points of tangency with oth er politi ca lly motivated aesthetic thinking of this century, p r incip a lly that of Benoit Brecht, and to examine the var iety

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Her e Again." The song lin ks thi s local e wi th .ih e si te of ano ther l ess ccl e­ he me le e at Lincoln Park. Seve ral mea ning ef­ b raiory d em on stratio,i . tfects att end thi s sound/ i inage counter point. Th e spectato r is, in the first place, led to assume a simultaneity of events-che two dcmonsttations, b oth of th em " real" and uns taged-which joi ns them in a hist.or ical dia­ l o gue. Mor eo ver, the sen se of the hollowness of the refra in i s d ramatically heightened by, th e radical contradiction between the lyrics a nd the scenes of battl e rhar are th ei r vi sual counrerp art . qnc is led to r ecall th e genes is of a tun e that has b ecome a fi x tur e of Ame ric an poli tic al campaign s -th e da r k days of t .he depre ss ion when Fra nklin D. Roosev elt' s promi ses of renewal requi red melodi c support . Th rough We xler ' s strategic ,counter-· pointing of sound and image, a song built on a wish turns into a taunt, the more caustic for its n1oral insensitivity. Bu t it is the acou stic strate gy of the f ilm's conclusion that assures us of th e signifi c an ce of \Vexl er's valo rization of histor y ov er dicgesis, t h e an­ nihil ation of th e fictio nal domain previously clai med. K ats cll as and Eileen Horton are shown d rivi ng down a deserte d highway, pre sum ably in search of Hor tn's' err a nt son. Th e sound track is a continuous b ar rage of o n . t h e -scene r�porrage by a n astonishe d ne wsman, which issues, one gather s, f rom th e ca r radi o . (With the exceptio n of se ve ral b rief inter vals., th ere · h as.been no sync sound u sed du r ing the twent y mi nutes of screen time devoted to Eil een' s stree t odysse y.) From th e camera' s positi on, mounted on th e ca r's h ood, the face of first one then the ot ber of the fil m'.s centr al ch arac'ters is obfittraied by a wa. sh of re flec ted light on .th e wirid shield. This prefigu r ing of di ssoluti on is so on joined by a .fur ther di sr uption of na rr ative deco ru m-a brief aur �I fla�h-forward in which Horton' s death and KatsellaS's critiCal injury are announced in the form of a radi o news bull�ti n. Th e·a uditory fla sh-for ward forestalls su sp�n se; a stylized .;,on· rage sequence, reinforced by grating sound fragments , represents t he cr ash tha t foll o ws wi th a n equal di sregard for tragi c overtones. The cam er a zooms �ut in an jnexorable retreat' from the bu rning wreckage. Yet the sta tely recessi onal sho uld not b e con s tr i,ed as a sign of mourning f or th e fallen protagonis ts. The ca{llera sh rinks from t hei r li ttle stor y . . These two fic t ional subjects hav e been ab sorbed, bit by bit, into a bl eak l and sca pe of American t ragedy wh os e auth entici t y m o cks ficti on­ alized sorrciws. And all the whi l. e th e live newscaster continues, numbly de scribing th e carnage out side the convention center in g re at d et;iil. T he · reve rse zoo m cea ses . A pan·i o the ,right rev eals \Vcxl er hims elf, posed b e ­ hind a camera , now panning left to m eet the fi rst cam era' s gaze h ead- on. On e cam er a zooms.into th e black, re ctangul ar matt e b ox of th e oth er. Ev en as thi s a ct of ritl1al self-immolati on i s comple ted (a warni n g aga inst

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of fantasy, then, is a conservative . one insofar as it generates no new ca­ thexis or a lteration to disturb the psychic equilibrium as does ,he in1tojec­ tion of external s timuli.-The intrusion of the "real" demands some form of accommodation or topographical reordering tha, is a n expenditure in the p sychic economy. To quote Abraham and Torok: "Thus our formul ation goes back to the view that fantasy is in essence narcissistic: rather . than make an auack on the individual, it a ttempts to tran sform the world" (4). Jncorpor a tion is a particular kind of fa ntasy in which a loss of some magnitude (e.g., the de ath of a loved (me) is refused introjection or ac: cepta nce within the psychic system {"to a dmit the true mea ning of tha, loss ... would ma ke one different" (5)). Thus the fantasy of incorporation is both a refusal of introjection and ,he denial of a lacuna. Moreove r, this in ability to mourn or accept loss is figured as a failure of la nguage, the in ability of the subject 10 form words to fill the void. For a fantasy of in­ corporarion to occur, the loss nmst be "of such nature as to prohibit com­ munication,, (7). Abraham and Torok's description of ,he conditions th a, suppori a fantasy of incorporation suggests an intriguing parallel with the circum­ �tance.s under which the incorporation of history within a fictional text ta kes place. Just as fantasy was deemed an act of preserva tion intended to withstand the bs�-cult ural repre sentations and to the pote ntial role of d ocumentary film and video i n the establishme nt and a ss essment of public policy goa ls , including those of wa r and peace. Among the que sti o ns ro be expl o red are the following:

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• Wha t is th e cha r acter and function of st ereo1yping, particul arly in the ideologica l pressure cooker of· wartime? • What is th e,"teality effect" of documemary f ilm and video, and what rol e can these medi a form s play i n th� construction Or diss.lutiori of ste reotypical discourse? • On what histori cal gro unds ca n we·account for the ,irulenc e of th e anti-Japa nese rh etoric of Wotld War JI.America, and. i n what spci:if ic ways was it manifest? • H�w can the seizure of property a�d in�arcer.i tion of 12.0,000, Japanese Americans during those years be understood in teru1s of stereotypic;al discourse, and how have recent Asian American artists sought to rec oup rhei r losses through a reinscripti o n of personal memory and public history? • Is it possibl e to employ doc umentary techri'iqut'S withi n a mass media conrext to resist the effects of govcrnment·sponsored, ra­ cially based s tere otyping during war time? Wha t is th e politic a l importance of alternative media m.aklng · in che current media cnvir�mroent? '

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Know Your Enemy-Japan followed Capra'srule of.th umb (Let the enemy speak for himself) iii an exceptionally evocative manner. ... Beneath itsdazzling.surface imagery ... the mes­ sage was simple, conveyed in o stark metaphor ani;J a �trildng

visual image.The audienCe wa� told that the laf?Gneser e ­

sembled ..photographic prints offthesame negative.·· Visually. this was reinforcedby repeated scenes of a steel bar bei ng

hammered in a forge. :: . JohnW . Dower. WO'T without Mercy:Race an� Jbwer in thePacific War

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Once a lap, always. a lap . . . you cannot regenerate alap,

qonvert him CfDd,make him the some as a white mCln any more than you can rev..erse the laws of nature.

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John Ronldn. U.S. congressman, Mississippi

Here·s a verypersonal question: Have you killed alap s ol ­ dier today?

:: Openingnarration from WmDepartment tilm.. Misc. 1121

It is her e wicbin cbe donH1 in o f wartime stereotypes that we e ncQunter th e mo st di sturbing and dehuma nizing insta nces of cro ss-cu ltural rep­ rese nt ation, t he image s and rhe toric tbat mu st b e c onfr onte d if we are to determine their cau se and a v oid the i r recurren c e . Rathe r than devote myse lf to- s imply rep roducing the v irul ently rac i st c onstructions endemi c to Am eri ca's waging of war in rhe Pacific Uohn W . Dowe r's War without Mercy offers an exhaus tive ac count of the sav agery of the c onfli ct as fo ught and repr esented by both s ides), it seem s to me crucia l t o dig fu rther in ord er to th eor ize an unde rlying dynamic of the stere otype that c an ac­ co unt fo r a ll obsess ively vilifyi ng c ha ract erizatio ns of others. Japane se and Ame rican wartime exces ses can thus b e place d in a bro a der c onceptual frame work tha t e ng ender s unde rsta nding in additio n to strong e_m otional re sponse. Despite this conce r n for root cau s��,, the conctete features of the war· tim e en counter betwee n Jap an and the United States des er ve c are ful study. Do w er is a t pai ns to hi storicize the ra ce ha te s a nd war hate s that typified the Pac ific con fli ct and thus offer expl anation for the actions on both s ides . He argue s persuasive ly that the number of c asualti e s sust ained by the principa l combat ant nati o ns (aod by 9thcr A sian peoples such as rhe Chi ne se, Filipinos, and Indone sians), a s well as the shee r intensity of ha ­ tred expresse d towar d the en emy-civ ili an and soldier alike -are incom­ pr e hensible witho ut a grounding in bo.t h J�p a nese and A1�1e ri ca n soda I his tory. On the Americ a n side-to which I s hall confin e myself-Dow er narrate.s �he historical matrix chac pre pares the v.'.ay for wartirrie excesses: the legacy of nin e teenth-ce ntury evolutionism a nd its presumptions of r acial sup erio rity; a ce ntury of "Ye llow Peril" rhe toric iii re sp o nse to Chine se and Jap a nese immigr a tion; Orie ntal e xclusio n l aws a ild e nforc ed segr eg a tio ,i,by the mid-192os; limit a ti ons on land own ership by alien Japanese; and; at the l evel of popular c ultu re, a n intr ansig ent strain o f nativ ism resulti ng in a seri es of books a nd film s warning of J ap an ese ag ­ gres sion at home and abroad.' Thes e are just a few o f the signifi cant forc es or ev ents tha t were hi s toric a lly de te rmining (creati ng a c lim ate of so ci_ a l

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pressure s an d limit.s within which subseque n r racist m anifest ati ons ar ose). Any search for the bas is of stereotyping mu st, however, move beyond such a bistoricizirig account. · We might b egin this searc h for the fund amental source and rec ur rent . ·psycho so cial functions of ster eotyping wi th the crawl th at intr od uces th·e · . Gui( Cri sis TV Project's-Manu{actr,ring the Ene,.,j,. There the prod ucers offer a s erie s of de fi nition s of th e ste r eotyp e, pieces of a di agno sis that might ser ve to cxpl�in th e action s a nd b ehavior s th at ace the subjec-t of what follows. A St ereotype is a projecti ve de . vice used to make it easy to . beh ave toward '. people in social!y f�.nction al Ways.· . . . You call a p· eoplc �barbarians" ... or you call a group �criOlinals" if you · cy and beh ave towards chem in all otherwanr to suspend just laws o( decen wi se ci:imin�I way. .' This is a fur1c;tion foi coping wirh threats, fo r ic justifi es both dismissing and brutalizing th ese groups. · · 1Wo imp-Ortant point.s deser ve som e dis·cussion : fi r st, the notion of "projectiVe de vice"; seconcf, ·the assumption o[ a "sbci al function"' for the stereotype. Proj ection is a psychological ier m for the attrib ution of object; traits attach ed to the stere otyp internal sta tes to a ri e x terna . liz ed . ed och er a rc s a id to origi n ate within th e p s_ y c he of th( self. Th e othe r is thu s a'kirid of screen or mi r ror for one>s intern alized id e aliz ations, bot h g9od and·ba d:This featur e of t he aef nition lie s f irm ly within the realm of i psy c hoana lysis and will be disc u sse d f urther hereafte r. Th e sec ond point-the soci al ut ility of the stereotype -s u ggests that ster eory-ping can serv e d est ruc tive social e nds when "mana ged" by a po· li tic al par ty, nation -stat e, or sub cultuie. T he h atred mobiliz ed th ro ugh recourse to ste reotype · c an fuel violent or discriminatory a cts by one group . aga in st_ a nothe_r on the ba si s of th e latter's (putativ ely) shared character· i stics or physi cal traits. Whil e this d efinition leaves unst ated the questi on of intention (is this so ci a l functio n ci rcumst antia l or th e prod uct of a con · s pinrcy?), it docs at lea st begin to c ompr(h end the criti ca' I features of- stere o· typic al di s course within a.fram ework of cause and effe ct. It is wort hwhile to exami n e t he phenomen on of stere ocyping in even fine r detail. \Y/e mighr-return to Dow er's book to purs ue our s earch for a dee p er u n·d erstandi ng of the stercSs ible to see wart ime ste re otyping a s th e mani­ fe station of a s hare d and he avily reinf orc e d pe rc eption of a thr ea t to na tion a l inte grity. A cruc ia l dis tinction-,hat be t we en the p athological a nd no npathologic al p ersona lity i s equ ally pertin ent to our dis cu ssion; the former (person or state) r em ains "con sis tently a ggressiv e toward th e r eal people a n d obj ects t.0 which the ste re otypic al re present ations corr e­ sp ond ...(while) the l atter is abl e to r epress the aggre ssi on and deal with people as in div idua l s." " A st ate of war evinces a kind of c ultura l patholo � gy, a gene ra l in ability (or unwilli ngne ss) to tr e at peopl e of an o the r dc. s ig·. nation as individuals. . The blindnes s c au s ed by this s tereotyping dynamic ca n b e exte nded t othe rs who m ay s har e one 's own stat e citiz enship, a fact disc overed by t h e two -third s of the inter ne d Japanes e Ame ric an s who were born i n the Unit e d S tates .I n the wor ds of Gener al John L. DcWin, hea d of the \Ves t Coa st De fense Command: "A Jap's a Jap .... h makes no differ ence

whether be is a� Ameri�an citiz.cn or not.... r don't want any of

them.... There is n o way to d etermine their loya lty." 12 What is at stake is the co nt rol o f one;s world,this tim e u nde rs tood a t the lev el n ot o f infantile pe rsona lity form a tion but of gl obal politics. That which is identifi ed as the source of t hreat- n amely, the en emy beco mes the well spring of a ll t ha t is evil, the obj ect of cultu ra lly s ha _re d proj ection. It i s into thi s s e tting of deep_ly ro ot e d em o tion tha t we mu st n o w pl ace the do cumentary film, without dou bt the most effect iv e·t ool for m ass prorection e ve r de vis ed.

Documentary Film: Tool for Mass Projection Thephotographic image is the object itself. the object freed from the condjtions oftime andspace that govern it. Nomat­ ter howfuzzy, distorted. or discolored, no matterhow'lacking

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in documentaryvalue the image maybe. it shares . by virtue of the ve,yprocess of its becoming. the being of the model of . which i t is the ·reproduction: it is the.model. :: AndreBazin,··The Ontologyof thePhotographic Image"

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The photograph . . . .becomes meaningful in ce.ttain transac· tions and has reql effects. but ... cannot refer or be referred . t o a pr-photographic reality os t o a truth . . . .we have to see is lbe result of specific Oilcl, in eve,y that everyphotograph . . sense, significant distortions which rehder its relation to any prfor reality dtieply problematic and raise the question of the determining /e,rel of._the materi� appar:;,tus and of the practices within which photographytakes place.

social

:: John TC;l99, TheBurden of Representation ':".

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In h is autobi og raphy, Th-e Nam.e ahove the Title, Fran k Cap ra describ es hi s reaction to a first vi ewi ng of Len i Riefenstabl's Triumph ofthe Wil l . In h i s w ords, "Sa tan couldn't h ave devi se d a more blood- chill ing supcr­ spe ctacle....I sat al one an d _pondered.J-Jo,�· could I mount a coun te r ­ . _atta ck agai nst Tri11mJ1h ofthe \Viii ... ?"13 It sh ould come as no surprise that three te rms coal esce in this prelude to Capris discussi on of his own strategi es /or wa rtim e do cume· nrary fil.;,·production -th e d emoni c, spec­ tacle,.a nd wa r . It was he, noted American p opulist a nd o�e of Hollywood's premi er sto ryt e llers, who was tapped by General Ge orge C. M arsh all ro expl ai n to Ame ric an soldiers; c i tizens, and alli es "Why We Fight" i n a se­ rie s of se ven fearure-l ength doc·u menta ry film s. In' hi s effo r t t o make "ih e ­ b e st dam ned docu mentary films eve r made" (his p°romis e-to Marsh all), Capra se ems to hav e in tuit ed John Tagg' s pronouncemem "Ever y ph oto­ graph is th e resu lt of spe cific and, in every sense, signif i cant distor tions," We might ext rap olate on Tagg's dictum to say th at eve. ry docu­ men tary film or vid eotape is th e res�lt of a·ie�gthy series of s el ections (instances of the maker's interventions thal ar e constitutive)-from th e .choice of lens, film stock, caOJ.era posiriOn, and di s tance to ch oices su r ­ counding sound recording and mixing tec.hnici�es, editing srr.ircgie.s, aod. musical and narrational a�cor.npanime�t.14 No documentary image is in­ n ocent; it is 1nistaken for it s ref erent (that which exi s ted b e fo re th e l ens at some other time and pl ace) at our coll e c tive p er il. Cap ra k new ab out th e malleabil ity of th e imag e a nd ev en mo re about editi n g, the power of as­ so ciation. He g�ve pr oof of h is acu men in 'l'he Battle of China as h e joined ne wsreel_image s· of Japa nes e p)an es f ring_ on a n A mer ican gu nb oat to a i nar rated d. escription.of the attack of "th e b o od-craze d Japs." T hese i m - . l ages of an ai r attack-i ndisti n gu ishable from so many others -i nstan tly

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on a cco unt of the narra tion that bla nkets them, both bes tiality an d madne ss (two of the ,ir ch�typa l· attrib�t es of A mer'ica's war time othe r). Ti me and a gai n, Ca pra mobiliz e s words and imag e s to r ein force pre va ilin g stereo types, both g oo d a nd b a d. Tbe Chine s e a llie s, "sponta ­ neously driven by an �pie impulse," emb ark on "a Hometic journey ... thirty-million people movi ng we stward ... w estward to fre edo m" in an e ffo rt to eva de Ja panes e coas ta l encr o ach1ne nt, ev o king the we st ward expan sionis m of Amer ica itse lf. When the Chinese blow up rh e dikes that hold b ack the Ye ll ow River, the Jap ane s e invade rs a re shown bea ting a watery re treat, thus ca lli ng·ro \Ve .stern min ds a b.iblical refere nr an d an act of divin e re tri�ution-· the d rowni ng of the Egyptian pha ra oh and his men a s they pursued Mo s es an d the children of Israel acro s s th e Re d Sea . Images of Chinese l a b or processes are chara c teristica lly collective aod p a­ tiently painstaki ng (pulling a ba rge upstr eam by hand, childre n breaking d own ro cks with tiny h amme rs), while the a rc hiva l images chosen to rep­ re s ent the Ja p an� se show them to be vicious a n d aggressive (sho uting th eir cel e brant "banzai," be atin g or ba yoneti ng the he lpl e ss). Even the Disney ani mati on t hat pr ovides graphic rep re sentation of t r(>-Op mo ve ments b ears a stere ot ypic a l cha rg e; Chi ne s e activity is deno te d by w hite arrow s, the Jap ane se by black. Through.thes e va rious ac ts of appropriation, the Asia n allies te mporarily become w hite . Th e case of the Disney graphic s in t he Cap ra films offers apt illust ra­ tion of the poten tial for ide ologic a l in flection f or e ven the mo st benig n filtn ic elements. Wha t c. o uld be more emp ir ically docu men ta tivc than a chart of tro op mo vement? And .ye t opportunities fo r color ing and conn o­ ta tio n a bou nd. J n a mann er t(! which the his tory of the African A meric� n expe rience b ears tragic wit nes s, blac kness in Western culcuxe ha s be e n fr eighte d with no tion s o f evil a nd tur.pi tudc. On the b asis of a near­ sublimin a l c olor c ontras t, Ca pra is a ble to ca st the Chinese a n d Japane s e as ins ta nt h ero and villain. Such n1ome ms of gra phic illustration c an b e c olo r ed in a number of o the r ways as well, for, e xam ple, thr o ugh the us e of musica l accompahimem, festive or forebodi ng according t o the d esire d · emotion al impact. What app ear s to be a straightforwa rd prese ntation of fac tual mater ia l ca n, i n fact, be strl.> ngly if subtly 'i'n fl ecied by auth oriai choic es c alcul ate d to s.way audiences. At a ti me of consen sua l acti on, when the e nemy. is c lea dy demarcat e d a nd the li nes d ra w n, films tha� ra lly statistics toward ap a rgu ment or re­ c on textua lize d ocume ntary foot age retrie ve d fro m ma ny s ource s (in clud­ ing the e nCJ!lYl can m obilize � pe rsua sive forc e of stagg er ing pr oportion. If we, a s in dividua ls or na tions, be lieoe that the· newsreel i ma ge is a lways neutr al, that the document c aitnot lie, Or even if we receive no encour age• ev oke,

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within our culture to quesrion the status of e very image as truth, we b ecome subject co a p er suasive for ce c apabl e of overtu rni ng some of our ·· · m os.t b asic ethical pri ncip es. l I h ave w ritten els ewhere ab out the s ev ecal function s that d efine the do cum entary rilm- th e p reservatio nal, t he.per suasive, th e ·expressive, an d th e a nalytical.15 A t certai n mo ment s and in the h and s of par ticular prac titione rs, one or t he ocher of th ese func tio ns' may b e de cisi vely. foreg ro unde d. For th e hi s tori c al and id eol o gical_ re as ons discussed e ar­ lier, wani me docum enta ry films p roduce d by c ombatant na tions were h ea vily weighte d i n the dire ction of persuasion. Th e sp eci f ic ch aracter of th at pe rsuasiveness-i ts goals and m e thods-. vari ed. The Japane s� a nd Ameri c an documents fe atured i n these festival scre enings off er ample evi­ d ence of tha t variabili ty. C er tai n Briti sh war films exemplify an approach to p ersu asion u nlik e t hos e of ei the r th e Japane se or A mericans. The bulk of B ritish wartime do cu mentar y films feature p ersu asiv e tac­ ti cs quite at (>dd s wi th thei r Am erican ally's i nteres t in d efin ing the en em y, ., ·f oc usi ng instead on produci ng wanime paeans to English stoicism and r esili enc e . Films such as Listen to Britain (1942)- and Fires Were Started (1943)- tw o re mark able works by Humphrey .J e_ nnings -ccleb rate th e commonCulture and cohesiveness of Britain at war. In J.,isten to Britairi, com posi t iona l ch oice s (on e m emor able imag e-s oldier s, silhouett ed agai n st th e ev ening sky, guarding th e Bri tish coastli ne ), pictuce e d iti ng, · an d th e cceati on of soun d bridges all h elp t o orch estrate a visiol) of a na­ tio n, un mark ed by cl ass o r gender divisions, fighci ng as one. Th ere arc alm ost no di rec t re fe rences to the German menace, al t hou gh it is tl-i c un­ imaged Luftw aff e-:for _th e moment h eld at bay by th e RAF-th at prompts rep eated gla n«,s sky.ward. Instead the fil m cel eb rates Br tain's proud pas t i an d its sheer i nd o mi t ability, echoed i n th e citle of anoth er of J ennings' s waccim e docume ntaries, London Can Take It (x940). Big Ben, the BBC blanke ting th e glob e wi th it s wac c overage, the dome of Sai nt Paul's-these a re th e audi ovi sual icons around which Jenni ngs rall ies rnass suppon. : No matter the concrete manifestation of rh e natiOnal imperative to ­ wa rd warti me p ersllasion, however, cinema�and the do cumentary fil m form mo st of all-r emains a tool of gr e at p otency .Thi s was know n to the natio ns a t w ar ia \Vorld \Var IT; i t wa s also k n own so me y ear s ,b efoce to V. I. Le ni n, whose maxim "The cinema is for us cbe most important of all che art s" is a stacement about the power of the mo cion pi ct ure to solidify nat i ona l id enti t y and.move g reat numb ers of peopl e tow ard s tace go al s, All of the filmmaking prac tices allude d to here-th e Sovi et efforts of the t wenti e s, th e G ecmao, Briti sh, Japane se, a nd Ameri cao pro paganda fil ms of the thi rti es and fortie s -are i ncon cei vable outsid e of state authority and ment

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guidan ce. These s ocial vi sions proj ected tc) millions by cinem atic means are , in ev er y c ase, cu t to th e cl oth of gov ernment policy . They explain, they c e le bra te, they p redict, they inculpate. And they do so in a manner tha t maximiz e s their p ersu as iv e force while lea ving little space for counte r­ instances or dissent. The war time d ocumen tary film c an thus be s een as an idea l dom a in of stereotypic al disc ou rse. Thes e a rc the films that, i n the ir appropri ation of appar. ently e vid enti ary imag es ( ar .chiva l foota ge, newsree ls, shots of the recogn izable a nd the eve ryday), c an ra lly mas s support and i nspire joint · action.S ounds a nd images p roj ecte d in the da rk can tap pop�lar memory through biblica l re fe re oces or a musica l phrase ; the most tr easure d v a lue s of America n cu lt ure, in stan tly ev oke d by shot s of child ren a t play or the Was hingto n Monume nt, c an be made to s ee m the direct t arge ts of e nemy attac k. Re sponses-e licited on the spot, freque ntly by rec ou rse to "real" i,nagc s -can be sh aped a nd int ensifie d by the c anny filmma ke r, the n har ­ ness e d to wa r time a ims. War time conse nsu s on ly fue ls the fi re tha t b urns . a ga inst the deba s ed othe r. It is worthwhile to explor e some rep re senta­ tions o f the Ja p anese produ ce d in war time Amer ica in g rea ter de rail.

'"This ls the Enemy" (n the aut u mn o f J942, t he Museu m of Mode rn Art in Ne w York exhib­ ited two hund red w ar poster s from a mong. the thousands s ubmitted to a campa ig n driv e spea rheaded hy Artists for Victory, a coa lition of tw enty­ six ans organizations de dicated to patriotic s ervice. The images wer e rneant to illustrate one of several·war slogans, among them "Dclivt:r Us fro m Evil," "Buy More Wa r Bond s," "Loos e Talk Sinks Ships," "Victory Starts He re," and-the most s a lien t of all for our p urpos es "This Is the Enemy." Of tbe handfu l of po s ters fea ture d in Life magazi ne's co verag e of the exhibition (De ce mber �J, J942), there is a nota ble difference betw een the charac ter of the reprcscnra tio,rs of the E uropean a s a ga in st the Asia n enemy. Fou r o f the six "This Is the Enemy" ima g es de pic t Nazi violence a nd sacri lege : a d agg e r ed ba nd smashi ng tbxough the stain ed gla ss of a c hurch wind o w or de se cra ti�g an Amer ic an {fag. In the mo st hor rific of the m, the super imposed fac e of Hitler overs ees a rav aged landsc ap e. In the bac kg ro und, flames lick o ver a chuxch spire; the fore gr ound is litter ed with cor pses. Chie f a mong the dead is a wom an, pie rced thro ugh the heart, her body res ting a ga inst a plaqu e that rea ds "G od Ble ss Our Hom e," H er life­ less han d is held by a hyst erica )ly c ryi ng child who sit s up to his wai st in a pool of blood. The evils a ssoci ated with the Nazi ene my are for c efully in-

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vok ed: c r uelty, antago nism to cheri shed val ues of church and famil y , mass ho micide . Th e two examples o f.J ap a nese. "This Is the Ene my" JX?Sters pro vid e, h owe ve r, a c on si d erabl e c o ntrast to the Ger ma n; t_h e y are b o th mor e ex­ plici t in their d e picti on of enemy a t r!)Ci tics and cl early racia lly driv e,1. Whil e the E u r op e an n emesi s may be fig ure d a.s a d efiler o f th e sac re d, the Japanese are "ochered,. with far grea(er vehemeoce.16 Jn one p share te lev ision sp ace with Ted Turner or Arsenio Ha ll. The Deep Dish TV Ne two rk simply exp ande d on the P ape r Tiger ins igh, by renting s atellite time and beaming th eir prog ra ms to bun· dreds of down li nks acr oss Amer i ca. \Vith ,he Gulf C risis T V Pro jec t, me dia activ ist s to ok o n a co ncre te cha llenge: to produc e a politica l c o; mter discour se on the same 1igbt sch ed· u le a s th e "big b oys." I t took thif!y years fo r Jap anese Amer ic an artists of

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to re -create th ei r his tories; those dying beneath a h ail of niissil es c ould no t afford the wait. M ore th an thre e h undred pu blic-access cabl e stati ons ac ross the c ou nr ry cook th e f eed froin t he Pr oject; thir t y PBS s ta tions bro adcast tbe ser ies, often with mult ipl e repeats . It i s es tima ted co have rea che d 40 pe rc.ent of th e total audi e. nce for public . b road casting (itself a,n admittedly small s lice of th e TV pi e). C a nada's Vis ion TV, Channe l Four i n the U nited Kin gd om_, SBC Aust ralian TV, an d nati onal tel e vision iit D ub'aiall broadcast the Gulf Crisis p rograms . It i s necessar y ro say that . despire th ese bro adcas ts, the wa r was still fought, and thousan ds still died. But every pr ogram that cas t s d ou bt on th e wi sd om of this and e ve ry war, ever y e xpose of ign or ance or complacen cy, aff ects the fragile ba lance of s upp or t for th e de pl oyin ent' of billion-dollar mi ssil e s a nd the enda nge r ­ ment of lluman lives. . I won't ha ve much•to sa y ab out the pr ograms th e mselves, alth ough -th e e pi s ode entitled Manufacturing tl,e Enemy m ade clear that the racism i n cvi4 en ce agai nst Anib·A me ricans i n ihe r99os had its regre t tabl e an te­ ced ent s in 'the Japanese A met'ican i nternment ca mps fifty years before. It i s my conte nti on th at the m os t important thi n g ab out th e Gulf C ris is TV Project is che_ fact of its exi s tence . I n rh e m edia-cha rge d gl. oba l cnyi ron­ ment we now s hare, alte rnative voi ces and vision$ ar:e o ur best insurance for su rvival. An d _ the pri ce of tha t insura n ce is the creation and supp ort of m edia'g'r oups de vo ted to the cri ti que and thoroughgoi ng inqu i ry of public p olicy. Thi s means that no na ti onal televi si on c ulture can afford to exist s ol ely for profit or state -guid ed ed ucati on . If we acc ept Lou is Al thusser' s n oti on that any cu lt ural or ed ucati ona l ins tit ution fun ctions withi n late capi talism as a kind of "id e ological st ate appa ratus,". we migh t the n say that a mi nim u m of telev ision cha nnel time an d space must be sys tem atically d e voted w programmin g that functi ons with a degree of auton omy-outsid e of, if not entirely beyon d, the s way of state contr ol. S uch an i nitiative .c an neve r of c ou rse be mandated �fom ab ove; it requites the collaborative effor ts of independent maker s . But these a rtis ts an d c ul­ tura l _worke rs c anno t h ope co succeed i n th e tedious, frequently unreward­ i n g task of nerworki ng·and downs c ale. pro duction with out a degree of public s uppo rt. And therein lies rh e internal contradict ion . Alternative visions an d soci al critiques ca n mai nta in their i n teg ri t y on ly if the y arc allo wed c o exis t a pa r:t, but no capital-intensiv e . operation suCh as tel ev ision prod uc ­ tion can survive without access to the to ols or the airwaves. The initiative chat will allow al ternative me dia to flouri sh in marker-d r iven economi es fro m the United States to Eu rop e, Asia , and Afric a mu s t begi n with pu\>­ lic awareness. The es tablishment and safeguardi ng of a c ulture of dissent

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in any nation is rh e s ures t hedg e aga i nst th e viol ation of human dignity or the wh olesa le co nd emnation of a peopl e on the basi s of r ac e or class o r ge nder. Fifty years hav e been required to beg.i n the h eali ng of h atre ds that raged ac rSS th e Pacific, binding American· and Japa nese alike in a c orrosi ve dyn amic of racial stereotyp e. Atonem ent for all the d eaths aod all the lib er ti es l osr b egins by guarding agai n st any futu re reena ctmen ts. Alternative cultural ve hicl es might have allow ed the thousands of Jap anese A meric ans in terne d to s pe ak rather than be spoken for; certainly, more cros s-cultural t raffic in the days b efo re th e war would have nar row ed th e gulf tha t separate d th e I sse i a nd Ni se i f rom their neighbors. Wha t I am calling for is nothing l ess tha n the syst ematic imple menta· tion of cou nt erstcreo typing, the un fixing of image s, th e embrac e of, rather th an rec oiling fro m, difference . Althugh we in dee d stere otyp e as a mea n s 10 confi rm o ur control of th e world, we need not d o s o i n a p athological ma n ner , un abl e to differentiate i n any meaningful way among th e men and wmen who share u r pl ane t. \Ve need not sp en d a nother fifty y ears recoveri ng from the next onslaught of "warri ng i mages."

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Lost, i,ost, Lost: Mekos os Essayist

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"Lost,·Lost, Lost: · Mekas as Essayist," o riginally writt en fo r Da vid E.. }tlme s's e dit ed collectio11 To Free the Cinema: Jonas Mckas and the New York Undergrou,,d in 1992, offers an exte nde d a11alysis ofth e e ssay film as a rnod e of aut o biographical practic.c that c ombine s self-exqminatii,n wjth a d ee ply engag ed 011iward gaze, coupling, in f o 11nding essayist Michel d e M?'ntaigne's wo·rds, "the tneas,!re of sight" with •·· t he measure of things." Taking Jo nas Me kas's m onume ntal Lost, Lost, Lost (1949-75) as case·study, the chapte r situates this wnonica l avant-ga rde film (and, by ext ension, th e e ssayistic film s ofG odard, Marker, and oth e rs) in rela­ 1 tion to the documentary tradJticJ11 s histo. rictll concer.n (or the expressive p o tential o(the medi11m (e.g., tke work of Ve rt o v, Vigo, 811ii11.el, and the elirly lve ns).. Th e chapt er bridges the gap b etwee11 fil mm�king that focus ed o n the subjectivity of social a ct ors joined in struggl e, d ominant i>rthe 1960s and 1970s, and ihe first.-p e rs o n, for ms that deve/of,ed in the i98os and 1990s .. This ch a pter bridges.a noth er gap as well-the ga p be­ twee n notions o fs o cial si,bjectivity tha t a ni,nate the first /Jart o fthe book and th e int.e rest in iheo. r.izing the subiect pursued in Part. II . Andsothe opinion I give is to declare the measure of my sir].ht, .not the measure of.tlµngs.

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Montaigne,Essays.

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mergeRealityand Sell. to come up with the third thing. ::

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Io the conclu sion of a remarkably perceptive review of Jona s Mekas's Lo st, L ost, Lost appearing soon after the film's 1976 release, Alan Williams s uggests a relationship between the autobiographica l project

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this, the fi rst vo lume of Diaries, Notes_, and Sketches, an d "the spi r ic of Mo nt aigne a n.d se lf-e xamination.�' In s The wor k addressed h ere t akes as it-s obj ect the int rinsi c pl ura lity of a a nd re -presenrs that expe ­ self tha t llves, d es ires, feels pa in and pl ea sur e r ienc e in a dy na mic, histo rici zed f rame work. Thi s is th e work tha t st a ge s a subj e ctivity th at exc ee ds the diff erence oi a stu ltifying bi nar ism -or, for tha t matcer, of Fre ud's tr ip artite psychic top o graphy. With out ques tion,·. thi s attenti o n to diffe rences h as unde rwr itten a n outpo uring of cultu rally res ist an t work in the 1980s. It h as b een th e pl ace of t he essayistic-1h e "ne w" or hi stor icizi n g a utobiography in film an d vid eo -to ta k e up thi s ques tion of differenc e a t its source, at the level of th e subj e ct. It i s Ba rthes who s e su mma ry diagn osis takes most tre nch an tly, thi s despite his abhorrenc e fo r the de ­ fin itive sta tem en t ("the fear of not �e ing abl e r o ·re si st the last word").27 "Wh en we sp eak co day of a divided subj ect," writes Banhcs , "it is never t o ack nowle dge his simpl e con tradicti ons, her double p ostul ai:i< ms, ere.;

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it is a diffraction which is in ten�ed, a dispersion of energy i o which th ere remains neither a central core nor a structure of meaning: I am not con­ tradictoty, I am dispers ed."211 It is in th e direction of this diffraction that the essayistic is poised;-it is_work whos e vitality and politi cal effica cy will ,continue the media hocizori for some time to come. . '. co illumine .

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Filling Up the Hole in the Real: Death and Mourning in Contemporary Documentary Film and Video

Firs t presented at Visible Evidence JII (Harvard, 1995), "Filling Up the Hole in the Real" propo se s that the film or video work can, through its memorializa.tion of loss, fu nction as a work of rrfourning that i s also and profoundly a,z instance of sel f - inscription. Wit/, such work, the self that is con structe d tends to b e a conditional one, figured as i t is against a gro,md of irreparable loss. In various writings of Freud and particularly Lacan, death is figured as a negativity,, a discursiv.e void, which can be partially and progres sively worked through, if not resolved, at the level of langullge or imagery, a line of thought that has long been applied.to the study of literature and painting. TnsJ,ired by a· number of remarkable films and tape s of the 1980s and l99os that treat the death-of a ioved one or. ev en the self (the k ey historical point of refer enc e, as in Blue/1994}, Tongues Untied /1989/, Silverl ake Life: The.View from Here/1993/, qr Fast Tr ip, Long Drop [1993/, is no doubt the A IDS e />idemic), I look at how a work of mourning can be enacted thro11gh constructions of sound a11d imag e. It i s noteworthy that the ce ntral film examin ed in this cont ext is Shoah, which, more than any other, illilstrate s the impossibility of any­ thin g lik e a "success ful" act of mo11rn in g. For in tlie face of staggering, . ef,ochal loss, art can only hope to signify the limits of its healing power s . Ifyou

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look ve.ry cruefully c;rt the shots of the actual explo·

sion when the SC.teen js white. in the middle of the screen is

a small . . . boiling black crea for, oh, maybe ten or ftfteen fram es. That little boiling black areais �here the heat from the first atomic bomb burneda hole through the film in the camera. It was sobot, and it focused so intensely on the film in the camera gate. the motion picture cameragate. thcrt it a c ­ tually burned a hole through the negc;rtive. And you can hold �P the negcrtfre and actually look at this-this extraordinc.ry

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physico.l imprint of the first atomic bomb on that . . . . piece 'of motion picture film. . . . lJJ. many ways. it's th e ultimate Dlovie. It's actuallya hole in the fiJm. It's not just an image on the emulsion; it's· actually a hole in the film. :: fop. Els e ,direct�r, on footage used in TheDayalter 1iWty

' Now1 in the d ays foll owing the fiftieth annivers ary of Hiro shima and Na gasaki, it seems appropri ate to · bcgin this di scus sio n of the docum entary · · repres emation of death with this referenc e to the filming of ihe first nucl ear . detonation at Tr initysite,J.uly 16, 1945.1 In the moment of The D after ay . Trin.ity t9 which Else refer s, the absolute un represcnta.bility of death i s . phys ically, materi ally realized. T he terrifying powe( unleashed by the blast •. . .. . is m; ssiv� reiease of energy. has caused ;he film st�ck itself to.C(>mbu st. .Th ·' ., is fi gurabl e only as a s hee r neg ativity, comniensura ble not to the bl ack ' le . a/ler. f.o und ronounceme nt scarcely sounds innocent. lt is no wonder

that in th e midst of a book devotc.d ptimarily to th e i ntecto gation of th e Griersonian re alist docu m�ntary projecc, Bria n Wi nston i ncl udes a ch ap­ ter on the work of Len i Ri efens tahl.1� Winston is concerned to tr ace the· e ffects of " offici al '.'· or state -s pons nger acqu ain tanc e with: t he medimn. Jam e son dee m s vide o " the r ichest all e g orical and hermen eutic vehicle" for ch e cu rrent cul tural hegemoi,y and calls exp erimemal-vide o "rigorously cot ermi·nous wi th p oscmoderni sm itself as a historical p erio d.... the art

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form pa r exce lle nce of la te c apit alism."29 The gro unds for such a state ­ ment, in dee d, for the entire ty of the a rgum ent, are sha ky. Jam es on beg in s poo rly by c onflating arti s ts' v ide o and co mme rcial televi sion as the me di­ u m's "twi n n1anifesr a t ions." He g o e s on to sugge st, in a ma nner scandal­ ems to those who have bee n wri t ing on the subject for twenty ye ars , that t here is li ttle ex tant v ide o the ory bu t o ffers video 's alle ged "struc tu ial e xclus i on o f mem o ry" as a foun da t iona l in sight. Crit ic s such as Ray mond Bc ll our, Ma ureen Turi m, Marita Sturken, and Er ika Suderburg wou ld reply that memory a nd its vi cis situde s pro vide the grou nd on whic h s ome of video 's most profo un d media tions have been figur e d.JO Jam eson t he­ ma t izes video as tied up with the m as te r trope o f "p syc hic fragme ntation" (the best term for "what a ils u s to day"). Wholly shorn o f re fere ntial an­ chora ge, v ide o is cl a imed to be constitut ionally incap able of po ssessing doc umentar y value . M·orcover, at its co r e, v ideo is alle ged to short - circuit tradi t ional inte rpretive appr o ac hes, Now reference and reality dis.appe ar altogethe r, and even me aning the signifi ed is problcmati ied. We arc left with thar pure and r�mdom play of significrs chat we c.all postmoderoism, which no longer produces roonu1t1en­ tal works of t he modernist type but ceaselessly reshuffles the fragments o f preexistent texts, the bu ilding blocks of. older cultural and social production, in some new and heightened bricolage ... such is the logic of po stmodern­ ism in g�neral, which fo1ds some of its srro11gest and most original, authentic fo rms in the new art of experimental vidco.J• While t his c haracter iza t ion he lps ma ke co here nt Ja me son's own project-to terricor ia lize pos tm odern theo ry-it obscures a g rea t de al more. Ja me so n's tota lizing cla ims hav e little to ()ffer us as.we. interrogate t he r adi cal ambi valence of cu rren t vide o practices' confr onta t ion with hist orica l rep rese ntati on. Yes, many of the ontologi cal, epistemologic al, a nd textual stan dards famili ar from the cinem a a -nd who lly c ri t ical f or t he docum entary proj ec t-have bee n destabiliz ed by ·the el ectr on ic media. But more salien t for u nderstanding v ideo in its epist emi c m omen t a re the hinge ide as of a mbiva lence, o f vacillat ion, undecidability, s plit belie f . In the ·face of certainty, v ide o int roduces not a bs o lute unc ertainty ( i .e., fragm entati on w rit la rge r but rat her mut abili ty, s kepticis m, p erhaps eve a b emuse d agnos tic ism In a slightly differ en t re g is ter, Zygmunt Ba uman ha s nominate v ideo as the po stm o dern medium of c hoice for its re la ti on to the proble m­ ati c of ident ity . Al t houg h l que s ti on the v alue of any an d all glo c harac te rizati on s o f me dia f or ms , Baum an's account has t he advantag of referr ing less t o t he medium's int r insic fea t ures than to it s ma t and functions ; hi s c once rn i s for videotape as a substrate of di scurs ivity

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sy nc with the c urren t mom enr. Whac's mo re, Bauman cqooses to set video . ag ainst i ts photog ra phic f oreb ear a nd i n so doi ng h as some-thi ng to s ay about th e co nve rgence of m od ernist con·ce rns with t hose of the documen­ tary pr oject .

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If the modern "pro bl em of identit y"' was how to cons tru ct an i�emiry a n d · keep it s. oU d and stable, the postmodern ... problem Of iden tity" is primaril y how to avoid fixation and keep the options opcq. In the case of id en tity, as in other c.ises� th e catchword of modern ity was "'creation"; th e catchword of p osrmode rnit y is "rec ycling." Or one may say that i{ the " medi a which wa:;; che mes.sage" of moderr\ity was the ph otogr aphic paper {think of releritles.s ly s-w.el li ng family albums, tracin g page b y yel lo wi n g page the $l ow accretio n of i rreversible at1d non-eras.able identity-yi eldi ng eve nts). the ulti matel y postmodern mediu m is che videot ape {emi nen tly erasable �n� reu sable, cal· culaced 1\0t to hold any thing forever, admitting tod ay's events solel)' on con­ dicioi1 of effaci ng yesterda y' s on es, oozing the mess age o f' u.rli\'ersal " until· · furthcr-noticenes:s" of C\'tryihing de�med worthy o(recordini)- The m ai n ide ntity-bound anxiet y of modern times was t.h e \.\lorry about durability; it is the concern with co m miun eiu- avoidance toda· y . Mod ernit y built in s_teel and": ' , concrete; postmodern ity-i n bio-de grad able pl:.iscic.31

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In acco rd wi th mod e rnism, th e d o cuni entar y id ea has d ep en ded o n p re s­ •· er vation, d u rabili ty, c ap tu re. I n p ost mod ernity, vi_d eot ap e , no tab le for its ub iq uity, endl ess receptivity, and epheme rality, s eems far less s u ited t9 d ocwnentary's aggressive as sc.niveness. Whil e I am intrig u ed by Bau m an's ca n ny pronounc em ents, I have. littl e inte rest in pa(Sing ou t video's in herem properties, a modern is t gam· bi t after all. I am mo re co nc ern ed to analyze the w ays that som e current applic atio n s of digital and el ec tro n ic medi a have ser ved 10 u n dercut the mastery model endemi c to the docum en t;iry projec t, a mod el I h ave ch ar· ::, acte riz ed as de eply ra tion alist. There i s in this a kirid of historical i rony giv en rhat· thcs c countermod ern is t applicatio n s h ave evolved withi n the ve r y Cfl!Cible of sci ence. Furthe rmore, i n contrast to Jam eson, who offers exp erim ental video as die emblem of p sychic fr agm en tatio n and h ence o .f­ our c urrent pl ight, I am inte rested in new media practi ces that, in the ir re pre se ntati on of th e r eal, und ercut certai n ty o/ any so rt {e v en the cer· tainty of thcmatization), casting the viewer/participant a{J rift in an oce an of possibili ty . I am iraci ng a movenient from th e streamlining of v isi oo toward a si ngul ar truth {the id ent ifiably mod erni st documentary proj ec t) to the ombrace of ambi val enc e, multipl e, even co ntrad icto r y, b e li ef. . Despite my attention to these specific applications of digita l media, I am n ot, as I have s tre.sse d, claimi n g that the re is anylhi n g in tr insi c c o digi_t al m edi a that prom otes ske pticism. The mos t commerci al us es of this t ech n ol o gy wo rk i n the oppo si te di re c tion , for exampl e , th rou gh the use of



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digita l co mpo sitin g te chnique s to retou ch, color c orrect, even add new de­ tails to rhe mise -en-scCne of commercial morion pictures, alway s with the inte ntion of a seam less · resu lt. Illus ion rather than cr itique is the defining ai m of digital tools su ch as the Quante! Domino sy stem, a sophisticate d a nd ver y cos tly de vice t_ hat mo biliz e s s cien ce in the s ervic e of se a mless­ nes s. In Quante l's e ghth e dition of The Digital Fact Book, u n der "e rro r i de tecti on , co n ceal men t and corre ction ," the following can be fo und: No means o f d igital recording is perfect.Uotli mag1tetic rape and disks suffer from a few marginal recording areas where recording and rep lay is difficuJt or cvCn impossible. How ever the errors C...l"' n be detected and some action ukcn for a remedy by concealment or correction.The former attempts to hide.the problem by making it not so noticeable whcre3S the lacter actually corrects the error so that perfect data is Output. .l3 The presu mption is that "perfect data" p roduce sea m less produ ct, providin g motion picture producers with alternacive s to re shooting sceoes, la bor ious ly dressi n g sets, or hi r ing la r ge number s o f extra s (n ow tha t a han df ul of extr as ca n be digitally duplic ate d a d infinit um).\Ve a re bac k to the p er fectibility of th e vis ual apparatu s ii la Ve r tov, b ut fa r from "laying bare the de vice," a s the Russ ia n fo rm . a lists callcq>for, pe r fection is defin ed a s invisibility, obf uscation.The mome nt of critique is n ot ably absen t. The goal of su ch digit al samplin g ·sy s tems , then, is tr anspa ren cy, the ability t o si m ulat e the look o f fil m i n all it s photoche m ical fidelity 10 the p rofil mic. Much of the d es ig n and re fi nement o f such sy stems has foc used on th.is goal, as illustra ted in a pa s sage fro m Film in the Digit.al Age, pu blished by Qua n te ! Ltd.for its cli entclc: "Study of the spatial and dynam ic resolu tion of fil m has b een an e ss ential p ar t of ar riving at a s ui t ­ able digital s ampli ng fo rmat.... mea n in g that the digital syst em , film­ ro-film is e ffective ly uanspa rcn t not only for scene de tail b ut al so for the 'filmic' k;o k."34 The s_ ame can b e said for the c om•ersion of analog to -digital signa ls for te levi sion b roadca st. Ana log m ater ial is co nve r ted t o. dig jtal (with 16 m m, 35 mm or 70 nun fil m , if. necessa ry, b eing tra nsferre d to hig h-q uality D2 cap e stock); and corre ctions a re made or new mate rial in trodu ced in the digital for mat be fore the r econver sion tc> analog.In a manner a nalo gou s to the sam plin g applicatio n fo r fe at ure fil ms , the int e,it here i s to "faithfu lly re co nst ruct the o rigin al ana logu e sig nal."35 The rhetoric of transparen cy suffus es the Quante ! manuals. For the Domino system to be tra,ispare11t it is not necessary.to produce �rn output negative which matches the original in terms o f abso lute density, but it must match the dynamic range of the tegio 11 to be printed .36

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It is a prime requiremen t that the use of Domino shou ld be transparent t o the printed result-with input and output image.s matchi n g so - input dy­ 1 n�mic range muse 1�atch output dynamic range...l The �Xposure control provides all th :.H is necessary for 1.ransparent opera­ tion .frI the ra te at which a single pbo tographic_image liquefies a nd c ongea ls i nto another. Lines of gender and generati on no lon g er hold sway; the tr auma s of Reeve s's ow n child­ hoo d are ev oke d and ye t sup er se de d a nd tra nsmuted u nder hi s me dit ativ e g az e. Through hypn o tic narration (Reev es's own voicin gs), th e ovecl ay of diver se, often haun ting mu sical phrases, an d the fluid inter mingling of im­ ageS, Reeves ushers his audience into a "liminal zone,n a space of heighten ed re c eptivity. Reeve s's is a worldview a ligne d with Ze n. Buddhist p rin ciple s more

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In Daniel Reeves's Ob�sive Bee-0nii11g, a single

family photo liquefies and congeals into� crossing lines of gender and generati on. Reprinted with permission.

than rationalist ones. He suggests that the genetic rnacerial that becomes "us� is but one registe r of our being; we are th e source and temporary containe r of counrless other beings to whom we arc linked and thus i n som e measure responsible. To chc strains of th e Moscow Liturgic Choir and over a liquid array of morphed visages captured from tattered family albums, Reeves intones the following near 1h e end of Obsessive Becoming:

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If J raise my hand to the light, I earl se� my dead mother in the palm. I sec the way I spring from her in every moment. I see her foc.e. I sec her face before she Was borf'I and her face before her father was born. They mOvc together in every momem like a garland of water. And like wr iting on water that c.innOt be hel d, they are always becoming, forever moving, forever entwined. Here we a re far f rom the g en e al ogica l mo de ls dea r 1,; s cience th at trace here dity as linea r an d ir re ver sible. Moder nism, for its par t, ha s giv en us t he e ugen ics o f textb oo ks an d clin ics, irrevoca bly bo;rnd ti> drea ms of racia l p u rit y. Ree ve s show s us the cyclkal n a ture of becom in g and re - . becom ing, doing so most dra ma_ ti ca lly 'through the plasticity of his digi­ tized portraitures. ln Obsessive Becoming as in Bauman's characteriza· ti on of vide otape as post m o der ni st m ediu m, the self is le ss the re positor y o f sov ere ig n ide n tity t_h an th e sir e of a n endle ss re cycli ng, a surf ace "cal­ culate d no t t o hold a nything fo re ver." If some man ne r of ra dic al doubt is eng en de re d re g ardi ng a bsolutis t notion s of tr u th or kno wle dge, the deepe r cha llen ge is le ve led a t the ontol ogical sta t us of t he imag e an d of the self that is the image 's source. Jim Cam pbell, traine d as an electr ical en ginee r at MIT, is n ow am on g the most accom plis he d make r s o f digital in terac tive art. He is s omething o f a bricoleur, us in g an ar ra y o f m a teria ls b o;h s trange anc:l fa m ili ar, recy­ cled a nd custo m enginee re d·: fr o m weathered family photo graph s., a ch eap Ti nie x p ock et watch, a nd a buck e tfu l of salt to ul trasonic sensci�s, se l f-. des igned com puter programs, an d cust om el ectronics . But the re al sub­ s t anc e· of Cam pb ell's installa tions i s ideas yie lde d th r ough a pa rti c ipant's i nt era ction with the work oo di splay. These ideas are often inch oate; th ey a re ab out,the self in r elat io n io ti me , mem o ry, and desire . .But fo r _th e p res: ent pu rposes, Campbell's o euvre is n ota ble fo r th e wa y in wb. i ch de vic es irreduc ibly scientific in th ei r pro venance are u sed tO thwart'tbe rationali s t a n demand princ iples so often a-tt r ibuted t o m odernisin, d.efy· ing the "hum . for factual su s te nance" once des cr ibe d by Richter. The impac t o f Cam pbell's wo rk is en tirely bou nd up with its intera c­ tive c h ara c ter. If, as h asbeen sugge ste d here, m o de r n is,;, has enge nde re d a search for aurhOr itativc discourses and passive reCipients, arc tailored co tha t mode l has prov e d a dep t at creating work s of gr ea t originality an d force tha t n everthe le ss func tion as one -way c ondu its rather than re cipro · ca l c onversations .' Ar t is in this sense yet an othe r va ria nt of the log os as asser riv� disc ou rse with the listening component repressed. In its inter­ ac t ivity, Ca mpbell's work unde r m i nes the hie rarc hica l ch aract er of tradi­ tional art; it requi r es the participation of che viewe r to create its m�aning. I n Digital Watch (1991), Campbell c rea tes a wa rp of t ime an d sp ace_ i nto which th e pa rti c ip ant e mers. One bla ck-and-white video c amera, '

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moun ted a t riglit angl es to a fifty-inch rea r-pr ojection video mon itor, ca pture s a small pocke t watch ticking i n exora bly forw a r.d. The dosed­ circ uit displ ay of t he m uch- enla rged watch face dominates t he screen . As the-participant approaches the scr. �cn, a second video ·camera mo�nied :itop the monitor· introduces one's own image· into the scene in re al . ti me at th e edges of the project e d ima ge, b ut with ·a five -s ec ond del ay for the po rt ion of th e frame o verl apping the wat,;h fa ce (tha nl s to Ca mpb ell's· .· a lgo rit hmi c conco ctions}: Th e pa rticipant's del aye d self-i mag e h as t_h� ap­ pea_rance of cin ematic ste p prin tin g; Campb ell's custom electroJ]ics stutter · human m�vcment �r. the . preci s e nue of the sweep of the watc�ti;s second · b and. Ente ring the space of the installa ti on , the i nt eractive p a rticipant i s .. ° pro pelled irfro·the bre ach, forced t o confro nt a b