Emily McMehen

Article

Title

The Mirror, the Lens and the Monster

Synopsis

The Mirror, The Lens and The Monster is an investigation into cinema and subjectivity. Its key propositions are:

The spectator of cinema is a discrete subject, as opposed to a member of an audience or general spectatorship. Using Rancière's text, The Emancipated Spectator (2009), I propose that the experience of the cinematic is distinct other media as a result of a particular agency that is afforded to the spectator by the conditions of its viewing.

The 'cinementis' is a third entity that exists autonomously of both viewer and author, and operates through a linguistic 'tongue' and a system of intents. Vivian Sobchack and Daniel Frampton both extend the conditions for subjectivity to include the potential for a cinematic subject. The becoming third subject (cine-mentis) is awarded a greater scope of agency by the relief from contingency on the narrative order.

The cine-mentis communicates through the cinematic tongue, in an innately un-reasoning manner, with a territory of the subconscious (distinct from the Superego/Ego/I complex). I refer to this territory as the curious monster. The cinematic subject communicates with the viewer through a language of otherwise unrepresentable signs that do not belong to the standard semiotic register. Christian Metz and Gilles Deleuze both propose models of semiotic syntax belonging to the moving image, and both provide a framework to address the problem of unrepresentability as an essential aspect of the experience of cinema.

The thesis is an extension of my practical research into non-linear and non-narrative methods of filmmaking and contemporary art, and strives to identify that affective element that is unique to the cinematic, and is used to acute effect in contemporary art practices. Harun Farocki, Paulette Phillips, Douglas Gordon, David Lynch, Michael Haneke and Andrei Tarkovsky are artists and filmmakers who extend the boundaries of the cinematic.