Sunday, November 28, 2010

History: Digital and Analog

I happen to spend one very long evening at a screening of some of the Harun Farockis' work. The post-screening discussion returned to several reoccurring themes, i.e. operational image, materiality of the image, and of course the only other filmmaker mentioned, Godard. Cinema as historiograph, image as memory, digital vs. analog are among questions raised by both, Farocki and Godard. Since we have been thinking Godard for the past couple of months, here is a link to a brief interview with Farocki:

It is impossible to not think of those very same questions (image as history, the materiality of the image, history of cinema) when watching Godard's 'Éloge de l’amour'.

'The image, sir, alone capable of denying nothingness, is also a gaze of nothingness on us'. 

Is this to say that although cinema has the potential to write history, our history is also being written in the present as we are watching the image? And if this distinction between past and present is so uncertain, then why this clear visual division among images in the film? I felt Godard's choice to make the very, and deliberately so, obvious turns from the subtlties of black and white cinema to stark digital were somewhat alienating. I guess, there is no Godard without Brecht. And if so, the reason for such a choice  must lie not (only) in the reading of image content, the story time as past or present, but maybe also in the material qualities of the image, i.e. our relationship to the digital vs. analog, and the meanings that arise from processing different kinds of images. When I am watching the blue rocks in orange waters I struggle connecting those images to the 'story', yet I do think of the photographic vs. manipulated, image as history, cinema as 'fiction' and as 'reality'.


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