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228 The Collected Writings of Michael Snow RBE: In Rameau's Nephew, someone comments: "There is no doubt that technology is expressing and answering a human desire by working towards systems of greater and greater illusionism. It is easy to project this to arrive at stages of representation of absolutely convincing illusion till eventually the difference between subject and facsimile may be eradicated." The claim interests me for several reasons. For one thing, it is staunchly antimodernist in conviction. Modernists believed that there was an ontological gulf between an image and object that could never be overcome. And since they believed the "reality value" of an image was less than that of object, a work of art should strive to avoid becoming representation - avoid being an image and become an object instead. But the comment interests me, too, because it states something related to my previous comments. Among the striking devices of your recent photographic works are strategies which bring about the interpenetration of reality and the image. Thus some of your photographic works (e.g., Authorization or Red5 ) reveal that they were generated in a number of stages and that each stage involves the re-presentation of the previous. Thus, the production of images is shown to change the real, but this change then becomes the reality reformulated in the next image. The real becomes the image which then becomes the real. MS: The image in that section of Rameau's Nephew is a group of people seated in a moving bus. They stare ahead, at the fixed camera and at the spectator seated similarly , at the screen, and sometimes at sprays of tiny pinprick holes that appear in the film/image. The "voice-over" which (with no evident picture source) speaks the statement is male and lisps. What you quoted is a section, and the complete scene/statement is about six minutes long. There are several distinct claims on the spectators' attention and it all produces an interesting perhaps brain-hemisphere division . It seems to be difficult to follow the sense of the spoken statement (which is quite conventionally phrased) and see/think about the image at the same time. To make connections between the sound and picture or grasp them simultaneouslyalso seems difficult. Writing this made me think about the development of your own work. Both The Art of Worldly Wisdom and 1857 could be described as polyphonic. While in both, the sets of "lines" used cluster around autobiography or around death and destruction, the complexity of the choices (e.g., simultaneous references to different times) for spectator emphasis results in a very powerful and rewarding experience. I think this will be one of the most fruitful areas of cinematicinvestigation. I wouldn't say it's "wrong" to discuss modernist tenets with reference to film, but I have a feeling that if Clement Greenberg were asked what he thought of the movies he'd say, "Yes, films should be representational; after all there's no object involved, only an image." Citizen Kane would be one of his acquaintances. During the '60s, living in New York, I was frequently surprised at how little certain major American abstract artists could "apply" their aesthetic thinking to film. Their sense of it and ideas about it were "average." I wrote the statement you quoted for its use in the film, but separated it's an interesting subject. Talk about extraordinary verisimilitude is a part of many ancient writings , reemerges from the Renaissance on and, in our time, has been aimed at by 3D movies, Imax and holograms. Just to keep the speculation going: if "progress" continues , a scientific elite will continue to do the investigating and inventing and entertaining (the trip to the moon was a TV show) and the rest of the population, progeny of those who now spend twenty-three hours a day at their TV sets, may "participate" Michael Snow and Bruce Elder in Conversation 229 through wholly convincing representations which will perhaps bypass the sensorium and be inserted directly into the brain. Talk about an opiate. For its use in Rameau's Nephew, the futurity of the statement and its references to verisimilitude were set against other temporal/material layers in the hopes that it would make one "see through" the images as a particular representation, afilmic representation still very far from the "reality" it represents, a "reflection" of the spectator. RBE: A well-known frequently commented upon feature of your work is its concern with the...


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