Chapter1 Cinema as Windows/ Frame

posted on 02 Oct 2011 16:11 by filmsick
Crucial in this respect is the dynamicS connecting the diegetic and the non- and extra-diegetic levels of the "world" of the film and how they intersect with the "world' of the spectator. The concept of diegesis (derived from the Greek "diegesis", meaning narration, report or argument, as opposed to "mimesis", meaning imitation, representation) was Originally used in narrative theory to distinguish between the particular time­ space continuum created by narration and everything outside it. For instance, jazz music in a nightclub scene is diegetic, when the film includes shots of the musician or band, whereas the background strings heard but not seen in a roman­ tic tete-a.-tete, are usually non-diegetic (i.e. referring to elements made mean­ ingful within the film but located outside its story world). p5Let us start with the similarities: first of all, the cinema as window and frame offers special, ocular access to an event (whether fictional or not) - usually a rectangular view that accommo­ dates the spectator's visual curiosity. Second, the (real) two-dimensional screen transforms in the act of looking into an (imaginary) three-dimensional space which seems to open up beyond the screen. And, third (real and metaphorical) distance from the events depicted in the film renders the act of looking safe for the specta­ tor, sheltered as s/he is by the darkness inside the auditorium. p14

the cinema as window and frame - the first of our seven modes ifbein8 (in the cinema/world) - is ocular-specular (Le. conditioned by optical access), transitive (one looks at some­ thing) and disembodied (the spectator maintains a safe distance). p14

one looks through a window, but one looks at a frame. p14

window (realist)
= loses sight of the framing rectangle as it denotes transparency
= directs the viewer to something behind or beyond itself
= window as a medium effaces itself completely and becomes invisible

essence of cinema in terms of its ability to record and reproduce reality and its phenomena, including aspects which are invisible to the naked human eye.

frame  (Formalsit / constructivist)
=  highlights the content of the (opaque) surface and its constructed nature, effectively implying composition and artificiality.
= draws attention both to the status of the arrangement as artifact and to the image support itself
= exhibits the medium in its material specificity.

distinct from everyday perception by means such as montage, framing or the absence of color and language

Renaissance ideal of art appreciation - marked by individual immersion and contemplation of the work as opposed to the collective and distracted experience of early cinema - requires distance and therefore framing

In closed films the audience is a victim, imposed on by the perfect coherence of the world on the screen . In open films the audience is a guest, invited into the film as an equal whose vision of reality is potentially the same as that of the director p17

Arnheim's conclusion is that cinema does not copy or imitate reality, but that it creates a world and a reality of its own : p21

Thus film, like the theater, provides a partial illusion. Up to a certain degree it gives the impression ofreal life [. . .J. On the other hand, it par­ takes strongly of the nature of a picture in a way that the stage never can . By the absence of colors, of three-dimensional depth, by being sharply limited by the margins on the screen, and so forth, film is most satisfacto­ rily denuded of its realism. It is always at one and the same time a flat picture post card and the scene of a living action. p21

The innate mental capacities of human beings to discern forms and to create patterns, to develop an inner organisation from outer sense perception are, according to Gestalt theory, the prerequisites for filling in such a "partial illu­ sion". It is the viewer's aptitude of creating a Gestalt (to assemble a number of disconnected sense impressions into a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts) that endows film with the status of art, but also what gives it realism p22

This position puts Arnheim firmly in the mainstream of theoreticians of the 1 920s and 1 930s who saw film's specificity and artistic merits not in its capabil­ ity to show the world outside, i.e. its purported realism, but rather in the dis­ tance between everyday perception and filmic perception . If film were to affect the spectator in the same way as a complete sensory encounter with the world, i.e. spatial, colorful and acoustic, then it could not be distinguished from reality itself and would amount to no more than its mechanical double. This duplica­ tion could not attain the status of art because art - this was the common argu­ ment of the time - presupposes active human involvement and cannot be generated by a machine. In this perspective, film as art depends on the creative intervention of an artist, with mechanical duplication merely serving as its means of production. For Arnheim (and others at the time) it was precisely the lack and absence (of color, of naturalistic sound, of three-dimensionality) that
posed the artistic challenge of the new medium . p22  ( ในสมัยหนึ่งภาพยนตร์ที่มีความเป็นศิลปะ จะต้องมีความแตกต่างจากสภาวะธรรมชาติโดยสมบูรณื ถ้าเมื่อใดก็ตามภพายนร์สามารถถ่ายทอดธรรมชาติได้ครบถ้วน มันจะกลายเป็นเพียงรุปแบบของการทำซ้ำธรรมชาติ ดังนั้นการที่มันขาวดำ ไม่มีมสี ไม่มีเสียง หรือมีเสียงแต่ง จึงเป็นสิ่งสำคัย ระยะห่างที่ผู้ขมมีต่อโลกในหนังกับโลกในความเป็นจริง จะเป็นตัวสร้างสรรค์สภาวะความเป็นศิลปะของมัน)

"Silent Beauty and Noisy Nonsense" Arnheim 1930’s - In his view, sound film was the result of an unacceptable compromise between two incompatible art forms (silent film and radio drama) p22

For Eisenstein, the frame as the boundary of the image and the depicted object stand in a productive tension to each other: "The position of the camera represents the materialization of the conflict between the organizing lOgiC of the director and the inert logic of the phenomenon in collision, producing the dia­ lectic of the camera angle." p 23"

cutting out a piece ofreality by means ofthe lens" Eisenstien  p24

A long take or sequence shot, because its framing is solely determined by the scale and orienta­ tion of the human body and its visual sense, means for Eisenstein a "cage" as it is incapable of representing the historical forces (implicit in the Marxist-Leninist lOgiC of history) that exceeds any aesthetics derived from the individual ' s stand­ point. p25

for Eisenstein, the shot is a cell, and just like a living organism, it is a self-contained part that nonetheless fulfills a specific function within a larger whole: "The shot is by no means a montage element. The shot is montage cell. [. . .] What then character­ ises montage and, consequently, its embryo , the shot? Collision . Conflict between two neighbouring fragments. p25,

Eisenstein assumed that certain stimuli, in this case shots or scenes, elicit certain responses in the specta­ tor which can be investigated scientifically and reproduced at will. A film aims at "influencing this audience in the desired direction through a series of calcu­ lated pressures on its psyche".25 Such statements make it clear that Eisenstein was by no means interested in a mimetic reproduction of reality, but rather in the constructivist constitution of a distinctive experience which can only be imparted through artistic means, themselves based on "scientific" principles, and inflected toward a particular purpose: p26

Already the quotation above suggests that, for Bazin, realism is always a question of being grounded not only in a perceptual but also in a spe­ cific social reality. In other words, realism for Bazin is not so much a style that one can apply or an effect induced in the spectator, but rather an attitude or stance that the film-maker adopts vis-a.-vis his material: p29

This idea of reality as an "inseperable whole" is used by Bazin repeatedly and means that the things embraced by a film - the "fact", as Bazin calls it - possess an ontological unity which film has to respect. The smallest unit of filmic con­ struction is therefore not the shot or the scene (as Eisenstein or analytical montage would have it) , a technical quantity derived from production, but the "fact", a given and pre-existing element which overrides technique and techno­ logy. For Bazin, cutting was not forbidden, but in contrast to montage theories the meaning of a film does not arise from a collision and cohesion of elements , but from the ontological presence of the things themselves ("reality conceived as a whole") filtered through the film-maker's sensibility ("a consciousness dis­ posed to see things as a whole") . A conventional (non-neorealist) film creates things and facts, while a neorealist film subordinates itselfto these. Ideally, it isa window on a given reality or a specific milieu p30 -31ในทางตรงกันข้ามโลกนีโอเรียลลิสต์ของบาแซง ไม่อาจรับเอาบางเยี้ยวส่วนของมองทาจมาใช้ได้ ในหนังแบบนี้ เราไม่สามารถตีความแยกชิ้นส่วนหานัยยะ เราต้องรับเอาinseprable whole ทุกส่วนทั้งหมดที่แยกไม่ได้ ในแนวคิดนี่เราไม่ได้ห้ามการตัดต่อ แต่สิ่งที่สำคัญไม่ใช่การสร้างความจริงจากชอตย่อยๆ แต่มันคือการปล่อยให้เราได้เห็น 'ข้อเท็จจริง '(facts) ที่มีความหมายสมบูรณืในตัวมันเอง โดยผ่านการคัดกรองจากตัวศิลปินอีกชั้นหนึ่ง

 Bazin compares traditional Realism with bricks produced for the specific
purpose of building a bridge, whereas Neorealism resembles more readily the boulders in a river: one can use them to cross the river but they were not made specifically for this purpose. Consequently, their "stony reality" will not be altered by their use: p31
บาแซงบอกว่า traditional realism เปรียยเสมือนอิฐสำหรับสร้างบ้าน แต่ neorealism เปรียบเสมือนศิลาในหแม่น้ำ ซึ่งผู้คนอาจจะเพียงใช้มันเพื่อข้ามแม่น้ำก็ได้ หรือสร้างบ้านก็ได้ หากมันไม่ได้มีขึ้นเพียงเพือวัตถุประสงค์ใดวัตถุประสงคืหนึ่งเพียงอย่างเดียว มันมีอยู่เพื่อตัวมัน (inseperable whole ?-กูเอง)ความจริงของกอ้นหิน เป็นสิ่งที่ผู้ใช้ไม่สามารถเปลี่ยนแปลงได้ (เดาว่ามันต้านการpropaganda เพราะมันมาหลังสงคราม)

Bordwell argues that, for most directors, treating the frame as window does not have any kind ofpre-determined ideolOgical or symbolic function; its purpose is to make the spectator understand a story's temporal unfolding through the organization of space and the compositional constellation of the characters . In this context deep space and depth of field make it possible for difef rent image planes to be played off against one another, or for a person in the background to gain par­ ticular dramatic importance when the "normal" hierarchy is inverted

It was especially in the 1 980s that film theory, focusing more insist­ ently in the wake of feminism on the role of the spectator and recipient, began to situate cinema firmly within broader tendencies of consumerism and advert­ ising, seeing it as part of an individualized service industry oriented toward images as commodities . Besides acting as a window onto the real world, cinema - as display window onto the world of commodities - helps to "virtualize" this world, making it stand for something else, whatever this "else" might be, while opening up the spectator to desire and fantasy.45 Here the metaphor of the window, in the sense of contemplating an external reality from a safe distance, converges or morphs into that of the mirror, as the display of imaginary objects reflects back on a desiring subject, enticing him/her into phantasmagoric pro­
jection and illusory acquisition/appropriation. A lOgical step is to align the cin­ ematic experience with "window shopping", making the imagined spaces of consumer-oriented films overlap with the real, though equally image-conscious spaces of the shopping malls, where multiplex cinemas seamlessly extend the experience of consumption, blending shopping, tourism and the taste of the exotic. p 33