Continuing with the CATTt generator to arrive at a set of instructions for Electracy, these last set of instructional blog post will discuss material in David Company’s The Cinematic, an edited collection of essays, articles and narratives. The Cinematic draws attention to the opposing yet dependent relationship of film and photography. For this post, I would like to focus on one specific article that draws attention to montage, a concept that has been discussed and can be traced throughout both Julllien’s and Lacan’s works. The article, I will be placing much emphasis on in this post is entitled: “Photography as Cinema: La Jetee and the Redemptive Powers of Image” by Uriel Orlow. Still shots, when used in film, disposes the closed form of film and opens the space to something more. Films like Chris Marker’s La Jetee is a perfect examples of narrative space opening up to reveal the manipulation of cinematic space and time through still shots and montage. As Orlow states, “The unique, near-exclusive use of beautifully still shot photographic images presented as a film defies what is commonly understood to be the cinematic norm—movement, the kine of kinematography. Yet, La Jetee cannot be considered only in terms of the photography either, as it paradoxically reaffirms the cinematic with the photo-novel technique (montage)”-177. Orlow confirms what I gestured to earlier, that it is through the structure of montage that viewers are able to envision a narrative sequence through still photos. The montage allows for what would otherwise be fragmented images out of context to become fluid and congruent; however, the independence of each image is not forgotten. While the montage helps still photography enter into the discourse of the cinematic, its true structure and form—and individual image—is impossible to forget.
The photograph apart from film seeks to preserve time while film tries to represent it. “The photograph is thought to extract a moment form the flux of time. The cinematic image, whilst sharing with photography its chemical production as well as its claim to represent reality indexically, apparently does not stop and preserve a moment of time, but rather through the addition of movement, is considered to represent the very unfolding of time, thus giving the illusion of the same duration as our experiences.”—179. It is here that the complexities of the montage arise. It is through the collapsing of space and time, the re-use of various images that creates the illusion of originality, and the method of assemblage—the cut-frame approach to introducing the image into the narrative sequence, that allows for montage to work with this film. Orlow states that the most powerful aspect of the montage, beside its organization and juxtaposition of image, is its incorporation of the gap. The gap or interval between (the meaning, or time of) one image and another is not just the founding principle of narrative cinema but it is also the means to produce a qualitative leap or change, that is to insert a kind of revolutionary energy in film.—182.
Besides its significance to cinematic structure and narrative shift, the gap is also a metaphor for memory—the unconscious space—that may sometimes be realized though dreams. Lacan talks about the unconscious as this unattainable space, a space that is encroaching upon us without prompting. Like the transitory gap between two photos, it is a space we try to make sense of and bring into relation with the previous image or memory but it does not always comply. For Jullien’s text the gap emerges not within the unconscious but the opposing philosophy between Eastern and Western philosophy. Perhaps, a smaller microcosmic representation is the gap that appears through the binary opposing symbol of the yin yang duality. This space between or interval before the next stage (in this case from yin to yang) or the next paradigm (this movement from tendency to a causal history) is one that is explained and then cut down by the gap. Like Orlow states in the following quote, the gap presents us with many things, answers, and that which cannot be explained.
“The dialectical interplay between image and gap is, of course, very much analogous to a certain conception of memory, which presents us with as many images (from the past) as gaps.”—183
Instruction 1: Watch Chris Maker’s La Jetee and give detail as to how the film resembles a montage. Can you identify individual frames of images? If so, how does this differ from contemporary film, non- still shot film.