Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Instruction 5: Fetish, Photography, Film, and the Shi(bido):

-----"Film is more capable of playing on fetishism, photography more capable of itself becoming a fetish"


A realization of lost, A sense of longing

I want to make an attempt to synthesis the three texts we have read as a class with the notion of fetish. In his article, Christian Metz describes the fetish as a dual functioning term. In one way, he refers to fetish as being "related to death through the terms of castration and fear, to the off- frame in terms of the look, glance, or gaze"—128. On the same page, but in a different conversation, Metz states that the fetish "alludes to the contagious place of lack and it is equivalent to the penis in Freud's castration complex as the primordial displacement of the look aimed at replacing an absence by a presence". The place of semblance or perhaps synthesis with at least Metz's text and Lacan’s text is the "gaze". The gaze, as Metz describes, seems to suggest more about the subject, spectator, looking to obtain something, which may presumably conflict with Lacan's notion of gaze which deals more with awareness of constitution being projected on the subject. 

More specifically, I think Metz's idea of gaze as a part of fetish relates to the notion of lost, longing, and fear of losing—nostalgia. With this idea, Metz states that the fetish occurs in photography and film differently. Film activates fetishism while photography simply becomes fetish (object). However, the photo is only potentially fetish when recognition of absence and longing occurs, which Metz compares to the image of a dead loved one. But it is not only the capturing of the subject, the person in the picture, that suggest a death, but also, the fact that the spectator does not know the scene, the environment, or the circumstance the encapsulates the individual or event in the image. His/her range of vision is limited as he/she can only see what is in the frame—not what is outside of it. Unlike film, which sequences frames, it gives the illusion that the viewer knows what happens prior to and after the frame has passed out of view.  

I want to return to this idea of nostalgia, which in my opinion relates more to what Lacan suggests about desire.  Metz states that the spectator, when viewing a photograph and not knowing what happens off frame, is more likely to assume or imagine a setting, a narrative—to invent that which may have never been.  By doing so, the spectator shows that he/she wishes to gain access to the world that has been cut off—castrated from view. There is a desire from the spectator to gain access to more than what the photo has to offer. I think, in a way the spectator's desire to glean more about the time the photo freezes and the narrative it may be concealing leads the spectator to make assumptions—to arrive at a sense of acknowledgement but accept his/her limited view. Because the image stimulates a sort of drive towards understanding, acceptance, and connection, the photo can become fetish as it occupies the space for which the spectator can never have access to and what he/she is afraid of losing. 

Instruction 5: Find an photo, could be a family portrait or a picture of an object that you unexplainably adore. Write a 100 word response as to why you cherish this image.

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