THOUGHT, ACTION AND IMAGINATION
By Manu Yáñez
Translated by Adrian Martin
The following essay on audiovisual criticism, which I first delivered as a paper at the Audiovisual Essay: Practice and Theory International Workshop in Frankfurt in November 2013, is divided into three parts. The first of these, which I have titled “Dialectics of the Audiovisual Essay”, will focus on the exploration of a series of theoretical approaches – taken from the works of the philosopher Walter Benjamin and the art historian Georges Didi-Huberman – that, in my opinion, trace a certain horizon of possibilities for audiovisual criticism.
Then, in the second part, titled “The Technological Factor”, I will establish a chronology with which to try to understand the technological context from which audiovisual critique has emerged, and how that context has given shape to the interests and the idiosyncrasies of this new criticism. And finally, in the third part, entitled “In Search of Limits”, I try to articulate a response to one of the questions that resonates with particular intensity in the emerging practice of visual essays: is there a point or a border at which the audiovisual essay ceases to be film criticism?
As a further preliminary note, I would like to emphasise that what follows is marked by an air of uncertainty, and by a great number of intuitions – a consequence of the fact that audiovisual criticism seems to be still going through a period of construction, of embryonic development; and it is precisely this, on the other hand, that makes this a fascinating situation, one very open to the formulation of questions and hypotheses, as well as fertile in relation to its possibilities.
Dialectics of the Video-Essay
I would like to begin with a fairly well-known quotation from the great French critic André Bazin, in which the founder of Cahiers du cinéma reflected upon the role of the film critic. It is a quotation, by the way, made famous when François Truffaut used it in the preface to the anthology of Bazin’s texts titled The Cinema of Cruelty. Bazin said the following:
The critic’s function is not to present a nonexistent truth on a silver platter, but to prolong to the maximum the shock of the work of art on the intelligence and sensibility of his readers.[1. Cited by François Truffaut, ‘Introduction’, The Cinema of Cruelty: The Cinema of Cruelty: From Buñuel to Hitchcock (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013).]
In this lucid statement – which, in my opinion, all film critics should recite every morning upon waking – I am keen to highlight the dialectical vision offered by Bazin of the reader of film criticism: an individual whom the critic should stimulate at an intellectual level, but also on the level of sensibility. Could we also accommodate in Bazin’s idea – his appeal to sensibility, referring to the emotional world of the reader/spectator – a further step: why not extrapolate that he was referring equally to the sensory realm of this same reader/spectator? Might not the conquest of the sensory constitute one of the goals of film criticism?
A response to this hypothesis can be formulated by reviewing some helpful episodes in the history of film criticism, where we can find clear examples showing that this drive towards sensory stimulation has always existed – even if, until quite recently, it was content to articulate this sensory approach using exuberant prose and poetic sensuality: let us say that the art of written suggestion prevailed.
An art that was perfectly palpable in the methodical – and sometimes equivocal – approximations by Bazin of Chaplin’s gags; or in Manny Farber’s and Patricia Patterson’s approach to Martin Scorsese’s formal artifices in Taxi Driver (a famous article published in Film Comment magazine); or again in the work of Nicole Brenez in France or Kent Jones in North America, related to the concept of cinematographic physicality.
However, with the arrival of the audiovisual essay, the sensory realm moves to occupy a position in critical discourse that is no longer only accessory, but clearly privileged. Thus is broken the hierarchy that placed sensibility as the minor sibling of intellect in critical labour. With the levelling of this dichotomy, there arise other dialectics which, potentially, can enrich the landscape of criticism. To begin with, I believe that the emergence of the sensory as a critical tool can open a door for the interrogation of the dialectic formed between certainty and uncertainty.
Historically, film criticism has been afflicted by a certain overdose of sureness. In critical texts – and even more in academia – certainty and conviction have been perceived as certifying traits of quality: a practice that, in populist territory, has led to the caricaturing of criticism as a matter of giving scores, ‘rotten tomatoes’ or ‘thumbs up’! However, doubts have always been present, circling the minds of those critics who resist the siren call of ultra-dogmatic criticism. A fine example can be seen in the work of Carlos Losilla – also, a presenter at the Frankfurt event at which I gave my paper[2. See Carlos Losilla, ‘The Absent Image, The Invisible Narrative’, The Audiovisual Essay: Practice and Theory of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, September 2014. Online at: https://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/audiovisualessay/frankfurt-papers/carlos-losilla/.] – a critic who has turned doubt and self-interrogation into veritable tools of critical thinking, and upon them built a rhetoric, based on the use of the first-person, that is clearly at cross-purposes with the critical orthodoxy.
At this point, I believe that the relevant question runs as follows: can the visual essay help the critic reflect the state of relative uncertainty in which she or he works? On a superficial level, the answer would seem to be: no. Audiovisual critics have the ability to prove their arguments in an empirical way. Their insights into the geometry of a frame, the duration of a shot or the recurring use of a formal strategy by one or more directors can be demonstrated, thanks to the citation of various fragments from one or many films. At this level, the critic can reduce uncertainty to a minimal level, as has been demonstrated by the work – of a decidedly didactic nature – by visual essayists such as Matt Zoller Seitz or Kevin B. Lee.[3. Also see the essay at this website by Kevin B. Lee, ‘On The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots’, The Audiovisual Essay: Practice and Theory of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, September 2014. Online at: https://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/audiovisualessay/reflections/intransition-1-3/kevin-b-lee/.]
However, there is another current of essayists who prefer to work with more abstract or poetic discourses – audiovisual critics unafraid of hermeticism, who prefer suggestion to evidence, or intuition to certainty (I shall henceforth refer to these critics as the intuitive-essayists). Within this stream, we find the majority of such works published in the Spanish on-line magazines Transit: Cine y otros desvíos and Cineuà, or the pieces made by American critic-filmmaker Gina Telaroli.
Looking more closely at the visual essays of this latter group, it is particularly intriguing to note the way in which they articulate the connections between different fragments of an auteur’s work, or between films by several auteurs – connections that, while occasionally seeming too obvious, can end up becoming markedly opaque or cryptic. In any case, the remarkable thing is that, to a greater or lesser extent, these works propose a quite unorthodox dialectic between the different times of past and present: here, I am referring to the relation between images from the past and images of the present from where the former are observed.
In film criticism, as in art history in general, the concept of causality has been made the solid backbone of the narrative of the past: with the intention of writing an easily comprehensible history, it opts for the construction of linear accounts, in which the relations between ‘masters’ and their supposed heirs are presented as indisputable facts, irrefutable ‘blood ties’. And it is precisely against such a conception of art history that Georges Didi-Huberman places himself in his book Before Time: Art History and the Anachronism of Images – in which this art historian borrows some fundamental principles of thought from Walter Benjamin. For example, in relation to the concept of the dialectical image suggested by Benjamin, Didi-Huberman proposes the following:
The dialectical model – in the non-Hegelian sense that Benjamin gives it here – should make us renounce all oriented history: there is no ‘line of progress’, only omni-directional series, bifurcating rhizomes.[4. Georges Didi-Huberman, Imágenes pese a todo: memoria visual del Holocausto (Barcelona: Editorial Paidós, 2004). Translation into English by Adrian Martin.]
So this means that the past – history – is something that is in perpetual motion, something that is rewritten, restarted in each new present. And I have the impression that the work of the intuitive-essayists is involved, consciously or not, with this idea of a history in motion. An idea that is particularly visible in the use of split screens, especially when there is no explanatory voice-over. In sharing the same frame, the dialogue between different images – two or more – becomes more complex, more ambiguous, than when it is neatly presented within a written text.
On the one hand, the correspondence between two images, or between two films, can seem obvious, thanks to the audiovisual evidence; however, the nature of that correspondence, the dialogue between the images, can be shrouded in uncertainty. Is this a ‘transmission’ between Master and Disciple, and thus a hereditary gifting? Or are we witnessing, rather, a less direct link: perhaps a recurrence encouraged by similar social contexts, or maybe even similar responses to the same formal problem? Here, it may be necessary to point out that I am not presenting this terrain of ambiguous relationships as something entirely new; in fact, it is very present in works like Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma, or in most of the film-essays by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. However, I believe that we need to assess the assimilation of this new conception of art history by audiovisual critique.
To go on with the study of this terrain of historical ambiguity, I would like to dwell on the dreamlike, almost phantasmagorical aura that is embodied in so many of the audiovisual essays that draw my attention. This is an issue that Didi-Huberman also highlights in Benjamin’s work on art history:
It is not history to imagine ‘returning to the past’ to collect its facts and its knowledge. The movement is far more complex, more dialectical: it is made up of leaps, which must ceaselessly conform to the essential tension of things, of times, and of the psyche itself. Since this phenomenology concerns memory (…) it should not surprise us to see the same historicity constituted, in Benjamin’s work, as a dialectic between the conscious and the unconscious: in a dialectic of sleeping and dreaming, between dreaming and waking.[5. Ibid.]
This last dialectic of which Didi-Huberman speaks – dreaming and waking – alludes to a particular state of ‘light sleeping’ in which intuition seems to be in command of reason. In this state of semi-consciousness, images and reflections circulate in a playful manner, free of dogmas and rigid theories. In fact, I have the impression that, in the work of the intuitive-essayists, images and films almost never tend to function as examples or illustrations of a preconceived theory; rather, they always have their own voice, which the critic can relate freely to others, without fearing the rupture of some established model. As Didi-Huberman again points out in relation to Benjamin, it is in the invocation of historical images that we find the ultimate expression of imagination.
If, for Benjamin, the image constitutes the ‘originary phenomenon of history’, then imagination, according to him, designates something other than simple, subjective fantasy: ‘Imagination is not fantasy … Imagination is a faculty (…) that perceives secret and intimate relations between things, their correspondences and analogies’. Imagination, that editor par excellence, dismantles the continuity of things with the aim of making structural ‘elective affinities’ emerge.[6. Ibid.]
‘Elective affinities’: the uncertainty as to their very nature (as I previously indicated) is what the audiovisual critic fearlessly sets out to reveal. An uncertainty that, moreover – and this is crucial – is expressed in the visual essay without undue rhetorical exertion … as is often the case in written criticism. In audiovisual critique, as Cristina Álvarez López has remarked in an article in the journal Frames, images and their uncertainty are invoked, not evoked.[7. Cristina Álvarez López, ‘Double Lives, Second Chances’, Frames Cinema Journal Special Issue: “Film and Moving Image Studies Re-Born Digital?”, 1.1, July 2012. Guest-edited by Catherine Grant.Online at: http://framescinemajournal.com/article/double-lives-second-chances/.]
And so now to invoke, at last, some images, I would like to present a piece that, in my opinion, brings together most of the issues discussed so far. It is an audiovisual essay titled Double Lives, Second Chances, made by Cristina Álvarez and originally published in Transit;[8. ‘Dobles vidas, segundas oportunidades’, Transit. Cine y otros desvíos, August 12, 2011. Online at: http://cinentransit.com/inland-veronica/.] it meditates on the relation between the films The Double Life of Véronique (1991) by Krzysztof Kieślowski and Inland Empire (2006) by David Lynch.
Double Lives, Second Chances (Cristina Álvarez López, 2011)
In addition to the issues that I mentioned earlier, Álvarez López’s’s video essay contains a number of features common to most of the audiovisual pieces that attract me. In addition to not using a voice-over (although there is an accompanying text that completes this particular analysis), such video essays tend to eschew dialogue scenes, in favor of studying characters in the act of walking, running, shouting, climbing stairs, or remaining stolid within paralysing situations.
While preparing this essay, I sensed in many of these essays a kind of systematic interest in filmic physicality, almost an obsession with the principles of the ‘cinema of the body’. A phenomenon that, ultimately, led me to think that, perhaps, the true ‘blood brothers’ of our audiovisual critics are not so much the film-essay auteurs, but rather those ‘filmmakers of the body’ including John Cassavetes, Monte Hellman, Philippe Garrel, Abel Ferrara and Claire Denis, among others. In the same way that these great filmmakers of physicality use the bodies of their actors to elaborate sensual, enigmatic discourses, audiovisual critics use film images to meditate – in a particular condition of uncertainty – upon a series of concepts that cruise with the unconscious of cinema. Thus, on the one hand, we have filmmakers (‘physical’ filmmakers) haunted by fugitive bodies; and, on the other hand, we have critics (audiovisual and intuitive) haunted by images that resist fully revealing their mysteries.
This link between filmmakers of the body and audiovisual critics is reflected in the issues raised by Gina Telaroli in the text accompanying her intriguing visual essay Physical Instincts, published on the website Moving Image Source.[9. Gina Telaroli, ‘Physical Instincts: The phantom limbs of Dead Ringers’, Moving Image Source, January 20, 2012. Online at: http://www.movingimagesource.us/articles/physical-instincts-20120120.] This essay takes, as the pretext for its argument, the central themes of David Cronenberg’s film Dead Ringers (1988): duality, ‘love-sickness’ (or psychosis), and the mystery of the flesh. As well, in her accompanying text, Telaroli proposes a connection between the dialectics of thought/action and mind/body which, according to her, in the audiovisual essay context, undergo a process of equalisation – as we have seen already happen with the dialectic of intellect/sensibility:
Every gesture […] is the tracing of a phantom thought through the air. Of course, as Cronenberg and monster movies show, it’s usually the body that thinks before the mind. So with a found-footage, montage-movie, I found myself with the same issues of any shit-grade horror filmmaker collapsing traditional hierarchies of thought/action, mind/body, inside/outside, in which the latter is nothing but a symbol of the former. To abolish psychology, to abolish the subordination of body to the dictates of the mind, of morality, of narrative, just means showing the image, the body, as speaking for nothing but itself.
In response to this last claim by Telaroli, we might wonder how audiovisual critics can enable images to ‘speak for themselves’. One recurring option (that I have already mentioned) is to not compromise the image-discourse by using dialogue from the films – dialogue that is often banished to the periphery of audiovisual critique. We should also consider how the intuitive-essayists, who at heart usually reserve a precious dose of nostalgia for the ‘old criticism’, prefer to keep words for the written texts that accompany their visual essays. In the images, action prevails, the sensory impetus of gestures – thus reclaiming their role in critical discourse, alongside and equal to the thought/mind duo.
The Technological Factor
In the second part of my essay, I will focus on the impact that the new relations established between contemporary spectators and cinematic images has had on film criticism: a relation profoundly marked by the shock wave of the digital revolution. So, for example, if we track the habits and customs of the ‘new cinephilia’, we will observe that – for better or for worse – watching films on our computer screens has become a common practice. A practice that – after the assaults signaled by the arrival of television and then video – seems to have definitively dispossessed the cinematic image of its ‘sacred’ dimension. With the pantheon of ‘communal experience’ vanquished, the filmic image today shares the computer screen with every kind of archive and malleable format. This is an environment in which films become particularly vulnerable to the manipulative impulses of spectator and critic.
In relation to this new status of the image, I would like to cite a reflection offered by the Italian theorist and academic Francesco Casetti, in a paper titled ‘European Cinema and Postmodernism’, delivered in 2005 in the context of the 1st International Congress of Contemporary European Cinema organised by Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. In his paper, Casetti proposed that the position of the spectator in relation to films had undergone several mutations throughout the 20th century. First, it went from seeing to owning – a paradigm shift mostly brought about by the arrival of home video. And then, owning gave way to accessing, with reference to the access of cinephile spectators to those Internet communities devoted to the exchange of films.
Thus, from the fetishistic possession of the dispositif and its images, we pass to a re-socialisation of the cinephilic experience – thanks to the free sharing of films in digital formats. Ultimately, in this sequence of distinctive terms describing the spectator of each era, I believe that the proliferation of audiovisual critique demands the baptism of a new mode of interaction with images: a concept capable of grasping the re-editing impulse and the interrogation of images that characterise the audiovisual critic. My proposal is that the new operative word should be examining – to describe an action that includes the study, questioning, and finally manipulation of images.
At this point – given that the chronology of the relation with images implicates all spectators, and not just critics – I would like to briefly mention a series of small, digital devices, made mostly by devoted cinephiles, which, in their simplicity, could be considered elementary precursors of the visual essay. First, we have GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format): those brief animations created from just a few frames that – among their other uses, from slapstick humour to pornography – have helped particularly keen cinephiles to capture and distil some of the significant moments of their favorite films.
A process of image-subtraction from the narrative flow, a manipulation of tempo and looping that denotes a fetishistic appropriation of images which (in my opinion) continue to dwell in the unconscious of most audiovisual critics. As a small sample, I would invite you to visit the following pages from the Tumblr titled “IF WE DON’T, REMEMBER ME” in order to experience some particularly brilliant GIFs.
- “The dead know only one thing: It’s better to be alive.” Full Metal Jacket (1987) (http://iwdrm.tumblr.com/post/8960688061)
- “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The Shining (1980) (http://iwdrm.tumblr.com/post/5339836317)
- “I am the creator of a television show that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions. … Then who am I? … You’re the star.” The Truman Show (1998) (http://iwdrm.tumblr.com/post/6115224870)
- “Yes, we’re men. Men is what we are.” Fight Club (1999) (http://iwdrm.tumblr.com/post/41436659343)
- “I wonder if it remembers me.” The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) (http://iwdrm.tumblr.com/post/11141324316)
The above linked-to GIFs suggest a form of fetishism associated with a certain pop lightness. And this leads us to another version of digital, cinephile found footage work known as the illustrated song – a practice invented by the Spanish critic Roberto Amaba, consisting of accompanying the lyrics of a pop/rock song with images from films that allude to the song’s text. Such exercises could be considered anecdotal, cinephilic games, ‘insider’ stuff; however, it is undeniable that they allow us to reveal something special: from the iconographic dimension of cinema, to the anachronistic possibilities of audiovisual collage. To demonstrate this, I would like to show one of these illustrated songs, made on the basis of Richard Hawley’s Tonight the Streets are Ours:
Canciones ilustradas – “Tonight the Streets Are Ours” (Song by Richard Hawley) (4:57 min) Video by Roberto Amaba, 2013
At this stage, I would like to momentarily pause on the idea of the examination and manipulation of images by audiovisual critics, in order to highlight an aesthetic confluence that is not without a somewhat paradoxical connotation. It is that, from a digital vantage point, some visual essays (especially those made by the more experimental intuitive-critics) have ended up communicating on an aesthetic level with an eminently analogical practice: I am referring to the ‘cinema without a camera’ trend, the great spokespersons for which would be such auteurs as Stan Brakhage and Peter Tscherkassky. Some audiovisual critics have used digital technology – using devices like fades, slow motion or superimposition – to excavate the lost materiality of images. It is a plastic investigation that becomes particularly relevant once the essayist enters the labyrinths of the digital image.
We find an excellent example of this trend in the audiovisual essay titled Digital Destinies, in which Gina Telaroli deconstructs the digital substrate of Michael Mann’s film Public Enemies (2009). This piece also works as the perfect bridge between the first and the third parts of my paper. On the one hand, the essay, which (as you will see) is very close to avant-garde cinema, celebrates its mystery, posing as a riddle what Telaroli also asks in the text accompanying her audiovisual piece. Her question reads as follows:
A movie shot with a Sony PMW-EX1 camera, compressed and transferred to DVD, and played on a Philips 42PF9996/37 LCD HDTV. One scene from that movie recorded with a Blackberry Curve four different times, each time zoomed in a bit more. Four different videos imported into Final Cut Pro 6, superimposed on top of each other, compressed and exported to Quicktime, and finally uploaded to Vimeo. And what remains? Well, what was there to begin with?[10. Gina Telaroli, Digital Destinies (12:11 min), MUBI Notebook, April 18, 2012. Online at: : http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/amuse-gueule-1-digital-destinies. Also online at: http://grtela.tumblr.com/DD. Video online at: https://vimeo.com/40274459.]
And then, on the other hand Telaroli’s video essay Digital Destinies clearly confronts us with the issue that I will try to answer in the next section of this talk: is there a ‘point of no return’ where the audiovisual essay ceases to be a film critique, abandoning its analytic dimension so as to lose itself in a sea of artistic creation?
In Search of Limits
To tackle this question, it seems appropriate to insist on the distinction between two streams of work that demarcate different categories of visual essay – a distinction I briefly mentioned earlier in this paper. Thus, we have, on the one hand, a type of visual essay characterised by a didactic impulse – explanatory and highly discursive. The greatest exponents of this trend would be essayists such as Matt Zoller Seitz and Kevin B. Lee; cinematic antecedents would range from Martin Scorsese’s cinephilic documentaries to Richard Schickel’s long career as a documentary maker.
And then, on the other hand, we have the second category of essayists, those I have named intuitive-essayists, whose antecedents (beyond the connection I have already pointed out to the ‘filmmakers of the body’) could include a TV series such as Cinéastes de notre temps, or the work of directors like Chris Marker, Jean-Luc Godard, Mathias Müller, Thom Andersen … In this classification, I should make clear that the question I have posed about the limits of audiovisual critique applies specifically to my second category, the intuitive-essayists.
But what are these limits, do they really exist? If we refer back to a seminal essay written by Oscar Wilde in 1890, titled ‘The Critic as Artist’ the answer would probably be: no! In this work, Wilde proposes a radically heterodox identity for the critic. For him, the critic is not restricted to the interpretation and evaluation of someone else’s work. Criticism is neither balanced, nor rational, nor even sincere – rather, it is essentially creative. In a fragment of this text – structured as a dialogue between two London dandies of the time – Gilbert, Wilde’s alter ego, declares:
For it is the critical faculty that invents fresh forms. The tendency of creation is to repeat itself. It is to the critical instinct that we owe each new school that springs up, each new mould that art finds ready to its hand.[11. Oscar Wilde, ‘The Critic as Artist (1890)’, Oscar Wilde Online. Online at: http://www.wilde-online.info/the-critic-as-artist-page12.html.]
This idea of critique as the driving force behind the renewal of art hands the critic not only an enormous responsibility, but also a radical freedom. A freedom that allows her or him to look at the past with eyes permanently fixed on the future, on the ways that are yet to exist. An idea that is linked with one of the pillars of the thought of famous historian Jules Michelet, whose motto “every historical era dreams its successor” helped Walter Benjamin to forge his conception of the art historian as a prophet, a creator capable of projecting an image of future art. So how could we possibly fix limits on that task?
Going on with Wilde, the provocateur par excellence, it is worth paying some attention to his conception of criticism as an essentially independent or autonomous exercise. For Wilde, the work under analysis should never assume a limit-status for the critic; rather, it should serve as the starting point for creation. Thus, the mission of the critic should be to create, starting from the friction between his own subjective sensibility, and his knowledge of the work being analysed. As Gilbert (whom we have already met) returns to assert:
Criticism is no more to be judged by any low standard of imitation or resemblance than is the work of poet or sculptor. The critic occupies the same relation to the work of art that he criticises as the artist does to the visible world of form and colour, or the unseen world of passion and of thought. He does not even require for the perfection of his art the finest materials. (…) To an artist so creative as the critic, what does subject-matter signify? No more and no less than it does to the novelist and the painter. Like them, he can find his motives everywhere. Treatment is the test. There is nothing that has not in it suggestion or challenge.
And yet, despite all these rousing calls to freedom, my own opinion is that – aside from the necessarily creative aspect of audiovisual critique – there should be some guidelines that help us ensure the prevalence of the analytical basis of visual essays – a minimum level of understanding. I am aware that these variables – degree of understanding, existence of an analytic basis – are fairly abstract, and always relative to the knowledge of every spectator; nonetheless, there are simple ways to work in the direction of optimising these factors.
I am referring, for example, to the mention or listing of sources that are visually cited in an essay; and also to the use of texts that can complement the analytical sense of the piece. In this regard, it is crucial to take heed of the warning that Adrian Martin makes in his article in Frames magazine titled “In So Many Words”. He states:
When audiovisual collages leave text behind entirely, I find that they quickly run the risk of becoming merely cryptic, a wash of poesis that has not quite yet managed to fashion itself into the musculature of a real cine-poem.[12. Adrian Martin, “In So Many Words’, Frames Cinema Journal Special Issue: “Film and Moving Image Studies Re-Born Digital?”, 1.1, July 2012. Guest-edited by Catherine Grant.: http://framescinemajournal.com/article/in-so-many-words/]
And now, to conclude, I would like to leave you with a final example of what I think audiovisual critique can aspire to. It is an essay titled Genius Loci – the ‘spirit of place’. It was published in Transit, and focused on images from Richard Linklater’s film Before Sunrise (1995).[13. Genius loci”, el espíritu del lugar (4:38 min) by José Manuel López and Covadonga G. Lahera. Transit, July 23, 2013. Online at:. http://cinentransit.com/genius-loci-el-espiritu-del-lugar/. Also online at: http://vimeo.com/70781949.] The piece, which is devoted to exploring the empty spaces through which the protagonists have already passed, poses an extension of the film’s reflection on the fleetingness of time, and on the nature of its spaces. Shrouded by the phantasmagorical aura that Walter Benjamin evoked; able to prolong, within the spectator, the film’s shock, as André Bazin required; and, at the same time, creative and autonomous, as Oscar Wilde demanded – this video essay shows us the imaginative value of audiovisual criticism.
“Genius loci”, el espíritu del lugar by José Manuel López and Covadonga G. Lahera. Transit, July 23, 2013. Online at: http://cinentransit.com/genius-loci-el-espiritu-del-lugar/.
Translation by Adrian Martin. Edited by Catherine Grant
This article has been double blind peer-reviewed
Manu Yáñez, ‘Thought, Action and Imagination’, [Frankfurt Papers] The Audiovisual Essay: Practice and Theory of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, September, 2014. Online at: https://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/audiovisualessay/frankfurt-papers/manu-yanez/.
Manu Yáñez Murillo is a film critic based in Barcelona. He writes for many publications including Fotogramas, Diari ARA, Otros Cines, Rockdelux, Film Comment and Transit: cine y otros desvíos. He is editor of the book collection La mirada americana, cincuenta años de Film Comment (2012).