"A WAY OF SEEING WHAT CAN BE LOOKED AT:" VISUAL PERCEPTION IN AVANT-GARDE CINEMA
My project focuses on the struggle to showthe experience of human vision through the cinematic medium. As a starting point, it questions the long-standing assumption that the camera functions as a surrogate for human vision. What is it about the cinema that sets it apart from other modes of visual representation? Why have artists and scientists alike placed so much faith in its mimetic impulse, its affinity for the real? To assess the viability of cinematic vision, I focus on the films of American avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage. Brakhage's films try to reveal what is lost in 'normal' vision when our system makes heuristic assumptions about the world. He claims that knowledge trumps visual subjectivity when it comes to perception, that our system is designed to privilege what we know of objects rather than what we see in them. His films thus attempt to bypass hard-wired processes and show us what vision really 'looks like.' In presenting alternative kinds of seeing, his work radically reconceptualizes the paradigm of eye and camera and raises significant questions about artistic and scientific practices of vision.
SECTOR B: Art & Culture of Seeing
ADVISERS: Karen Beckman (CINE) | Gary Hatfield (PHIL)