Video ergo cogito

DR-MabuseThe second group of texts, gathered together under the sober ensign ‘Video and Cinema,’ thus takes this first bend within the thinking process. Philippe Dubois interrogates video, around Fritz Lang’s film, The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse, as a blind gaze, in everything it has of the non-artistic, as a technical condition enabling a total and Orwellian global panopticism. In displaying everything it becomes an empty device, signals that there is at the same time everything and nothing to see. ‘Through exacerbated voyeurism, it renders the gaze pornographic. Through the paranoia of its all-seeing character, it opens up to the dissolution of every consistency of thought and being. Video: being seen, not thinking, ceasing to exist. Video ergo non sum.’

The continuation of this second part historically retraces the emergence of video and subsequently its ‘correspondences’ with cinema. How, at the beginning of the 1970s, it sparked a keen interest, a Utopian promise of a new connection to a liberated art, a fantasy of an absolute integration of video within cinema, before lapsing into the disenchantment of this dream and becoming aware of its eminently different nature to cinema. It becomes something set off to one side, aware of the distance which separates it from its ‘big brother.’  We also read in another text a non-exhaustive but more detailed synthesis of these relationships between cinema and video. How the former prefigures the dawning of the latter in experimenting the techniques and effects it would appropriate, how cinema directors have attempted the fusion of the two systems to offer, in the 1970s and 1980s, hybrid works, and how, finally, video, after having attempted to find for itself an intrinsic legitimacy with strongly marked boundaries, little by little acknowledged its links to cinema, demonstrating a strong cinemaphilia, or even cine-obsession.

The whole of the third part can be seen as a study of the ideal case, as a long illustration of what could be the links between video and cinema, which embrace each other through the acts and the thought processes of a single person, Jean-Luc Godard (see below).

The book then begins its final transversal journey, in integrating the gallery-related world of contemporary art. How video has interrogated the limits of art before integrating and melting into it, how it has allowed it to be the medium which leads two distant worlds to meet up, how it has enabled cinema to leave the dark auditoria to integrate the exhibition rooms and offer the spectator a new look, another relationship with the screen and with the image. After presenting several works, the book closes its journey with two visual artists who have integrated video into their art, Victor Burgin and Wyn Geleynse.

Godard and video, existential quest for an image-being

The four texts devoted to the Franco-Swiss film director each take on a different perspective to illustrate the same life, art and thinking trajectory. An evolution between a modern cinema, young, occasionally immediate and naïve, of the 1960s, where Godard already interrogates cinema, but with the codes which are specific to it, and the 1980s, where art is made as the fruit of fierce existential questions, where nothing is any longer so simple, where life and what represents it give birth painfully, after an almost mystical quest. Philippe Dubois thus analyses the film director’s relationship with painting, with the concept of maternity and the desire to create, in orchestrating a magnificent parallel between the pregnant women and the virgin canvas on which a film is little by little born. He also looks at Godard’s writing, a cursed and ambiguous part of his oeuvre, which leads as far as the ‘video-script,’ a video which goes hand in hand with the creation of a film and which, as its name indicates, replaces the traditional film screenplay. ‘Video thinks what cinema creates.’

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