Reassembling Components, Hybridizing the Human and the Machine: Cross-disciplining Expanded Cinema and the Possibilities for a Discourse of Interfacing

Reassembling Components, Hybridizing the Human and the Machine: Cross-disciplining Expanded Cinema and the Possibilities for a Discourse of Interfacing

Jihoon Kim

New Media, Art-Science and Contemporary Art:
Towards a Hybrid Discourse?

Submission date: July, 2011
Accepted date: September, 2011
Published in: November, 2011

저자는 Expanded cinema가 최근에 와서 주목을 받기 시작한다는 것을 들면서, 여기에 digitally expanded cinema영역이 추가되었다고 이야기한다. 그는 작업들을 비교하면서 이들이 apparatus theory와 어떻게 연결되는지 추적하고, Ponty의 현상학, embodiment과 연결되는지 연구한다. Apparatus theory와 INTERFACE 개념을 접합하는 지점이 활용도가 높다. 

나에게 중요한 것은, 이 작업들 모두가 in terms of movement, 나와 거의 동일한데 – 이것이 PM과의 차이점이 무엇이냐는 점이다. 내가 찾을 수 있는 obvious difference는 그들은 site/object-specific하지는 않다는 점이다. 전혀. 이것을 어찌 연결할 것인지 생각해 봐라. 

During the last decade, attention to expanded cinema of the 1960s and 70s has grown dramatically both by institutions concerned with new media art (NMA), and by museums concerned with mainstream contemporary art (MCA). While commonly highlighting those
practices that had long been marginal in the histories of cinema and contemporary art, these two worlds have resemble.

EVIDENCES : One type of exhibitions were held by several MCA museums in North
America and Europe, including Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art 1964-1977 (Whitney Museum, New York, 2001), X-Screen: Film Installations and Actions in the 1960s and 1970s (MUMOK, Vienna, 2003-2004), and Expanded Cinema: Activating
the Space of Perception (Tate Modern, London, 2009). These events highlighted filmmakers who had been labeled as US/UK/Austrian avant-garde (Sitney, 2002; Rees, 2008; Halle et al., 2008) in the history of experimental cinema, as well as the artists who have made works in film or video but designed primarily for gallery exhibition since the advent of Minimalism and Conceptual art, eg, Dan Graham, Bruce Nauman and Richard Serra. In privileging these two categories of expanded cinema, the exhibitions excluded a third category, namely, diverse currents of «digitally expanded cinema» (Shaw, 2002), which can be interpreted as the heirs to Gene Youngblood’s seminal definition of expanded cinema as “art-as-technology” (Youngblood, 1970).

저자의 분류에 의하면 Expanded cinema작업은 filmmakers / artists 두 종류이고, 최근에 Digitally expanded cinema가 추가되었다. 

Such work has been a mainstay of exhibitions at NMA festivals such as Ars Electronica (Linz) and  Transmediale (Berlin), and was featured by ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, in its landmark exhibition, Future Cinema, 2003, resulting in an extensive, scholarly volume (Shaw et al., 2003). These three bodies of expanded cinema reflect the different ways in which institutions champion, discipline and historicize the extreme diversity and heterogeneity of non-conventional film and video.

이렇게 NMA / MCA는 다소 분류되어서 진행중이다 .

For instance, filmmakers such as Paul Sharits, McCall and Takahiko Iimura elaborated on film installations beyond the standardized formation of the cinematic apparatus, which is composed of the single-screen, the immediate positioning of the viewer in front of the screen, the viewer’s sedentariness and the concealment of the projector as the originator of spectacles. They foregrounded the three-dimensional space and materiality of Minimalist sculpture, channeling it into the exploration of cinema’s spatial parameters and material components in a theatrical context. Their avant-garde expanded cinema works contrast with the “artists film and video” (Walley, 2008; Connolly, 2010) installations of Nauman, Graham, and more recently, Douglas Gordon, Stan Douglas and others, whose modes of production and distribution often focus on using cinema to reflect on the concerns of painting, sculpture, or performance art. This distinction may run the risk of blocking the possibilities for a hybrid discourse that offers insights into the intersection of art, science, and technology, and for a more diverse and robust historiography of the systems of art that have envisioned the hybridization of humans and machines since the wake of the post-industrial society.

크게 두 종류로 나뉘는데, cinematic apparatus에 도전하는 작업들. 이것들은 Apparatus theory와 연결된다. 두번째는 artist video로서, more like fine art context안의 작업들이다 .

To overcome this schism, I will analyze two expanded cinema works produced in the domain of British avant-garde cinema and compare them with two interactive digital installations categorized as “digitally expanded cinema” using a refreshed understanding of the term interface.

이게 본 논문에서 가장 활용도 높은 부분 how to apply the notion of INTERFACE to digitally expanded cinema.

Chiefly triggered by the increasing dominance of media studies, the term denotes the boundaries between components of a machine or between humans and machines. In the first sense, interface entails the encounter and exchange between lements constituting a medium, or between two or more distinct media components.

In the second sense, it points to complex layers of sensory, perceptual and psychological behaviours that act upon and are acted upon by the media.

Viewed together, both  meanings embedded in the term interface underline more than the constitutive heterogeneity and plurality of a technological media; more significantly, they imply that neither a medium as such, nor its effects on the user, are reduced to the total sum of its separate elements. Interface, then, draws us towards an array of relational aspects that stitch those elements together and thereby forge a circuit of intersection between the user and the artwork. Joanna Drucker (2011) neatly summarizes the two dimensions of “interfacing” or interfaciality”, the interfacing between heterogeneous elements constituting the operation of media, and the interfacing between the operative media and the viewer/user, as  follows: “Interface […] has to be theorized as an environment in which varied behaviors of embodied and situated persons will be enabled differently according to its many affordances” (p. 12, emphasis added). 이부분이 아주 맘에 든다.

These two dimensions of interfacing are not exclusively applied to a field of computational design known as HCI (Human-Computer Interface), or to the artworks and artifacts based on computer-based hardware and software. Drucker’s definition of the interface indeed
echoes the concept of the cinematic apparatus, which was developed by a major thread of film theory developed in the 1970s and early 80s, later known as theapparatus theory.” According to such leading theorists as Jean-Louis Baudry (1986a, 1986b), Christian Metz (1982) and Stephen Heath (1981), the cinematic apparatus is not a transparent and reified technology, but a multifaceted construct in which its viewer’s particular system of identification with the look of the camera and the film image is determined culturally and ideologically by the material and symbolic relations between its components: that is, both the movie theater’s arrangement of its elements (the viewer’s fixed seating in front of the screen, the projection of the image onto the screen as the central point of perspective and the theatre’s darkened environment) and the system of continuity editing contribute to the construction of the idealist spectator whose unified and disembodied viewpoint is positioned as the center of the film’s illusory spectacle in passive and regressive ways. On Heath’s account, this all-perceiving subject appears inasmuch as “the specificity of the specific codes can be seen to be connected with certain traits of a matter of expression
or the combination of matters, derives from the particular nature of the technico-sensorial unity” (Heath, 1981, p. 223, emphasis added).

Apparatus Theory에서는 cinema의 형식적 구성요소들이 어떻게 viewing position, disembodied viewpoints 등에 영향을 미치는지, culturally, ideologically 연구하는 학문이다. 

Heath envisaged “new cinemas” as ways of deconstructing the “technico-sensorial unity” of the dominant cinematic apparatus, and of the transcendental subject it mentally produces, through the“redistribution in specific conjunctures of the operation of cinema, the redeployments of limits” (Heath, 1981, p. 243-44). The strategies of avant-garde cinema in the 1970s and 80s, including the British structural/materialist film lead by Malcolm Le Grice and Peter Gidal, aimed at “redistributing” or “redeploying” the material components of the dominant cinematic apparatus in order for the viewer to be conscious both of the material processes of film production and of his viewing practice (Gidal, 1976).

The British “expanded cinema” experiments altered the viewing situation of the dominant cinematic apparatus through the devices of multi-screen and multi-projection, often coupled with the installation of the equipments inside the gallery walls for the spectator’s perambulatory, multi-perspectival viewing. In doing so, they invoked “film as a counter-illusory event that takes place in the real time of the spectator” (Rees, 2009, p. 63). The experiments’ underlying spectatorship resembles Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s notion of a primordial subjectivity that has relation with the world in its embodied, material perception (Merleau-Ponty, 1962). Although both the “apparatus theory” and the discourses of structural/materialist film did not delve into phenomenology (and instead depended upon psychoanalytic concepts such as suture and identification), their common emphasis on the conscious subject who is attentive to his act of perception vis-à-vis the operation of the cinematic apparatus, brings to the fore the inseparability of the viewer’s vision from his body and his corporeal immersion in his changing environment (Iles, 2001). 이 부분들 활용해라.

These two phenomenological precepts have actually been what various new media art experiments have undertaken through developing different viewing interfaces than the screen interface of previous media, including multi-screen, multi-projection and immersive ones (Hansen, 2004, 2006). Based on this correspondence, I will demonstrate how the two dimensions of interfacing are at play in both the avant-garde mode and digital modes of expanded cinema practice. My conclusion suggests how these correspondences contribute to a renewed understanding of the concept of apparatus in hybrid manner. 

이 argument를 증명하기 위해서 tate modern의 Expanded cinema exhibition을 사례로 든다.

Steve Farrer’s The Machine (1978-88) The Machine is interesting in terms of its media-archaeological reference. But more importantly, this work is not ensconced within the convention of panoramic interface that immerses the viewer in the flow of visual stimuli. Instead, the continuously moving camera projector prevents the viewer from being immersed in the image space, as it undermines a stable perceptual identification with the
image.재미있는 점은 이것이 media archeology적으로  panorama를 계승하고 있음에도 불구하고 오히려- panorama와는 반대로- immersion을 저해하는 방식으로 고안되었다는 것이다. 

The turn of the projector defies any totalized control of the image from the viewer’s side, thereby drawing their attention to their own acts of perception such as moving about the screen, in contrast to other moving image installations whose engulfing interface does “not seek to increase perceptual awareness of the body but rather to reduce it” (Bishop, 2005, p. 11). Through his embodied involvement in the decentralized rotation of the camera-projector, the viewer is then able to be conscious of the two “interfacial” aspects of the cinematic apparatus: first, the heterogeneity and specificity of each of its components (the camera, the image and the projector), which is made visible by Farrar’s transformation and recombination of them; and second, the degree to which they are organically aligned in its dominant mode to produce its perceptual and psychic subject effect.

Simon Penny’s Fugitive series. In Penny’s automated system, the image ultimately eludes our visual control, thus demonstrating that our immediate visual experience does not conform to a disembodied, continuous, stable visual field. Following the logic of Mark B.N. Hansen, the phenomenological assumption of the relation between the body and its surrounding space serves as a connective tissue between these two works, despite differences in modes of production and contexts of reception (Hansen, 2006, pp.53-66). Similarly, Penny’s observations on his Fugitive series can be applied equally to Farrer’s non-conventional projection system: 이 어휘 활용 가능 “The illusion is broken by the ongoing dynamics of the user. The central continuity of conventional virtual worlds is the stability of the virtual architecture. In Fugitive, the central continuity is that of the users’ embodied temporality” (Penny, 2004).

두 작업 모두 강제적으로 관객의 embodiment를 강화한다. 몸을 움직이지 않고는 몰 수 없는. image에 immerse할 수 없다. 이것을 통해서 apparatus를 인식하게 하는 것이다. 이 부분은 movement나 관객의 embodied body 등등이 나와 동일한데. PM과의 차이점??

Along with Farrar, the Tate Modern’s exhibition spotlighted Lis Rhodes’ Light Music (1975). This film employs two projectors that throw light simultaneously across a room filled with smoke. Here the spectator’s single viewpoint established by the standard
theatrical setting is disrupted, and the beams dissecting the room are equally important as the imagery – patterns of black-and-white bars of varying degrees. Like Farrer’s The Machine, Rhodes explores the extent to which the projection of the moving image in cinema is inextricably tied to the viewer’s embodied perception and thus translated into their experience of the three-dimensional space. As Lisa Le Feuvre notes, “This work is designed for the audience to move away from the position of a static viewer, to move in and out of the screening. This creates a set of social relations against the definition of traditional film – the film becomes a collective event where the audience is invited to make interventions into the work itself” (Le Feuvre, 1999).이런 부분은 완전히 동일한 견해.

Yet what makes this work distinct from Farrer’s experiment is the way in which the soundtrack and images are simultaneously generated: that is, the black and white horizontal and vertical lines of the images were printed onto the audio track of the film so that they literally generate the soundtrack. In this sense, Rhodes can be seen as one of many filmmakers and video artists, including Vasulkas, Nam June Paik and Guy Sherwin, who have experimented with a synthetic relation between sound and image. Indeed, avant-garde practices across experimental film, video art and contemporary digital media art historically have employed electronic devices to generate variation in visual imagery corresponding or discordant with, sonic or musical modulation. Of contemporary digital examples, Ryoji Ikeda’s Test Pattern (2008-present) series can be compared to Light Music not simply because of its presentation of barcode-like abstract imagery synchronized with explosive noise, but because of its exploration of “the relationship between critical points of device performance and the threshold of human perception” (Ikeda, 2008). In Ikeda’s work, “the velocity of the moving images is ultra-fast, some hundreds of frames per second, providing a totally immersive and powerful experience” (Ikeda, 2008), and we realize that this experience is shared by the viewers of Light Music in different material and technical  configurations. If the former draws the viewer’s perceptual attention to the processes of the real-time computer interface which encodes digital information into the sensible audiovisual signal patterns, then the latter encourages the viewer to see the interfacial nature of the cinematic apparatus by opening up three intervals between its components: between the filmstrip and the audiovisual image, between the image and the projector and between the projector and the screen.
These brief comparisons between Farrer’s and Rhodes’ avantgarde expanded cinema and the “digitally expanded cinema” works of Penny and Ikeda illustrate that the two key interfacial aspects theorized offer new insights into the concept of apparatus in film theory and critical media studies. Viewing the cinematic apparatus through the prism of interface offers a fresh look at the transition from film to electronic and digital media, as well as the opportunity to set up a comparative dialogue between the accounts of the active spectator that art history, cinema studies and media studies have developed
on their own. Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, for instance, has had a great influence on three theoretical views on expanded cinema: minimalist and post-minimalist art criticism, film theory about the corporeality of film experience and new media theory focusing on the user’s embodied experience. These three strands, however, have remained exclusive from one another, therefore deepening the gap between cinema, contemporary art, and digital art. 당면 문제..

Aided by historical research, a hybrid discourse on the interfacial aspects of the expanded cinema from the proto-digital age to the digital era will be expected to bridge this gap. I propose that it can accomplish this by characterizing the various alternatives to the standardized cinematic apparatus as intermedial interfaces. Such an analysis will indicate the ways in which expanded cinema practices, in response to the technological innovations inside and outside the cinema, transform each of the cinematic components and change combinations between them in order to construct expanded space-time coordinates and indeterminate, dynamic forms of spectatorship.

 

 

 

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