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90 The Collected Writings of Michael Snow JDC: You shot six hours of film. What sort of decisions were involved in cutting it down to three? MS: There were parts that were repeated. I shot the first section twice, for instance. And there were a couple of sections that just didn't work. One of the things that didn't work was that originally I planned a section about half an hour long with the people who were the crew there and it's synchronized sound and various things happened. In a way I was a little hesitant about it, but it's really interesting in itself. But as you can imagine it was totally destructive to the whole thing of having that landscape to yourself. It just had to go, after I saw the whole thing together. JDC: There seemed to be pieces in Region Centrale, particularly near the end, where the camera was being moved withoutthe usual programming or dialling. MS: Yes, when it holds on the sun for a while, and in the piece with the moon. JDC: It wasn't all a matter of letting the machine get on with what you'd originally worked out. MS: It's just a rotation thing, with playing, so itjerks around. JDC: Why the breaks, the X's, in Region Centrale! MS: The film's in constant motion. The X fixes the screen. It transfers the movement in a different way each time it comes up. It's another kind of motion that's a kind of referral to yourself. Obviously it's also a functional way to get from sequence to sequence because I couldn't make it totally continuous anyway, it was really impossible . And it's a title, a reminder of the central region - the whole thing is about being in the middle of this - the camera and the spectator. But first of all it wasjust something that would hold the screen. The diagonals seemed to be the best way to fix it - so there's no feeling of anything passing through or whatever. Sometimes I wonder if other people see the things that it does, but it's really fantastic - the shifts and falls and sinkings and things like that. That also happens to the building you're in too, the whole place seems to be sinking or swinging. JDC: Does your new film emphasize the frame in the way you've been emphasizing it in your other films? MS: The other films were trying to make a kind of equivalence of the whole field - so that everything has absolutely equal importance. But I'm now putting the emphasis on the people. With all the other ones I was trying to make the whole field work and I am in this in a way, but it's a different thing, it's more as if they're in relief or something - the people stand out from the rest of the field. In the other films there was a centre of interest - there's a direction but the whole field's moving. So youcan look anywhere on the screen and it's all of equal importance, although it varies from situation to situation. It's necessary, to get back to painting, it's the same sort of thing as in a portrait; the head is the most important part but if you're a painter the upper left-hand corner isjust as important, because it's a painting. On the other hand you can give a relative degree of emphasis to all the elements, and the emphasis that I'm giving in this one is the kind of emphasis you get-1don't mean this in terms of quality in Rembrandt or something like that where the head stands out so much more from the ground. I'm really working with that kind of space, as opposed to a more modern sense of space. The thing is really eighteenth century in a lot of ways. It's Rameau's Nephew by Diderot. The Camera and the Spectator 91 JDC: In A Casing Shelved it looked as if you were interested in the way description can transform an audience's response to a given visual piece. There were presumably other concerns. MS: One of the things I wanted to do there was make the motion a result of the sound. That was like the germ idea. That coupled with a habit of looking at things and wondering...


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