“What Is Left of the Cinematic Apparatus, or Why We Should Retain (and Return to) It” Thomas Elsaesser Recherches sémiotiques / Semiotic Inquiry, vol. 31, 2011, p. 33-44.

“What Is Left of the Cinematic Apparatus, or Why We Should Retain (and Return to) It”

Thomas Elsaesser

Recherches sémiotiques / Semiotic Inquiry, vol. 31, 2011, p. 33-44.

Two essays by Jean-Louis Baudry that originally appeared in French, but were subsequently – and to great effect – published in English are such classic texts. Both theidea of a ‘basic apparatus’ and of a corresponding psychic dispositif received intense theoretical elaborations in the 1970s thanks to the writings of Thierry Kuntzel, Christian Metz, Stephen Heath, and Daniel Dayan, among others1. In the Anglo-Saxon world, ‘apparatus theory’ became also known as Screen theory’, after the journal that promoted it most actively, or as ‘suture theory’, for its explanation of how the spectator identifies with or is bound into the cinematic process2. (33)

around 2000 inspired my own turn from film history to media archaeology, (34)

In short : rather than dismissing apparatus theory by pointing out that it relied on theories and borrowed from authorities that had become discredited in their own fields, such as Saussurean linguistics, Lacanian psychoanalysis and Althusserian Marxism, one should remember its immense fertility and productivity, precisely because it seemed like such an impressive synthesis of impossibly divergent intellectual paradigms. A quick reminder of what were the major conceptual moves that made up the cinematic apparatus : the enforcement of the laws of Renaissance perspective; the Cartesian mind-body split; the fixed geometrical arrangement of the three main elements : screen, projector, spectator; and finally, the metaphoric association of this arrangement with Freud’s (or Lacan’s) concept of mis-recognition, a founding moment of psychic identity, and philosophical analogy with Plato’s parable of the cave, a founding moment of Western idealism. (34)

By contrast, the accumulating historical evidence of how the cinema emerged tended to suggest more haphazard,(무계획적인) but also more experimental, exploratory and pragmatic processes at work that eventually led to the cinema as we know it. Even if one granted that the cinema was ‘invented’ several times and in different places almost simultaneously, there was little in this history confirming the determinism underpinning Baudry’s ideological critique of the cinema’s illusionism. Insteadthe tight geometrical arrangement typical for cinema projection, which was said to be responsible for film becoming a predominantly narrative medium, which in turn predicated the ‘subject-positioning’ of thespectator, seemed more a challenging theoretical construct than a satisfying historical explanation, since so much evidence pointed in the opposite direction.

즉, Baudry의 논리보다는, projection의 geometrical arrangement in cinema가 이 매체를 predominantly narrative media로 규정하고, 관객을 subjust-positioning 했다는 논리가 더 설득력이 있어보인다. 

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