Some Antecedents (of the screen based image)

Anthea Hamilton


Imagine the medieval flatness of the world. What was it like to believe you could fall off the edge of the Earth? Land and sea were an excessively felt surface; meaning flowed with staunch vertically and one dare not think of the horizon.


Starring several of Rohmer’s players who animate their characters by virtue of being seen elsewhere Perceval le Gallois generates itself; characters narrate their own action and operate under layered language on the screen: English subtitles on a French film about a Welsh knight: a set of inwardly dynamic movements late-70's medieval style. The film’s 1978 release coincided with changes in US copyright law and the death (through media-saturation) of disco. In the 1970’s recycling became scientifically possible and set into motion the feedback loop of cultural sampling with disco as its soundtrack. Disco could have only occurred at this point in time: a marriage of social and technical advancements: paths of immigration, synthesizers and political activism met in Lower Brooklyn and allowed the glam politicisation of the self. Derided for being without intellectual and moral rigour, Disco is deceptively robust dealing through the power of ambiguity.


A move towards the exotic: In the Noh and Kabuki theatre of Japan principles of Zen are physically manifested by the highly trained actor, there is no point at which mastery of the art is declared and teaching happens by visual imitation not theory, at best a feeling of rightness can be formed according to kata.


Then there is Venice, dazzlingly complex, gothic and clichéd it absorbs everything and in turn renders it impotent. Consider the image versus its material skin; this here is the might of the image’s gesture folding like the carved rococo skin of a Venetian palazzo. This democratic field for the visual, which should be a fertile ground, becomes hard surface as meaning slides off the surface of the image.


Think always of Antonin Artaud’s call for the ‘physical knowledge of images’.[1] Sometimes I understand this term, sometimes not. In the moments of comprehension (sensitivity) there is an awareness of the multitude of unfathomable spatial dimensions and images attain a materiality independent from representation declassifying the filmic parameters of x, y, z + time (velocity).


The prowess of the image consumes me and language is interrupted, thoughts come in the staccato beat of the Noh chant via the four-to-the-floor of progressive disco. The pleasure of looking at the root of desire is counterbalanced by precise facts that constitute the image, for example a geographical or historical location.


The practical employment the soundstage populated by stylised props, CGI animation, awesomely beautiful bodies, vision-mixers, pop concerts, live performance, Disco, Venice and Kabuki form surfaces for the image to occur in and by eschewing realism the force of the image’s physicality rushes to the forefront with a radical theatricality.


[1] ‘No More Masterpieces’, Antonin Artaud, The Theatre and It’s Double, circa 1926


Some Antecedents (of the screen based image) was curated by Anthea Hamilton as part of the ‘Flatness: Cinema after the Internet’ thematic programme for Oberhausen Short Film Festival 2013.