Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Image and the Spasms

"A lot of our thinking on vision is guided by three axioms that were introduced in the 1960s and '70s and consolidated in teh 1980s. They are that the look is violent, that images are ideologically mystifying, and that politically engaged artists and theorists must expose this violence and undo this mystification. I have never been comfortable with this account of vision or of art..." - Kaja Silverman (in an interview with George Baker in Art Forum, February 2010)

I would add to that the kind of discussion Silverman is talking about - though often insightful - tend to make the "image" something much more stable than how I think of it, much more stable than the "spasms" of the works I brought up in the Lady Gaga post below. To me the spasms suggest something of the mobility of the image.

I was interested in reading Kate Durbin's comment to the last Gaga-post, saying that Gaga had supposedly set out to alter Beyonce's image with the video:

"It seems critical that it is Beyonce who is having the intense spasms in the hotel room and not Gaga, since Beyonce is the one, pop culturally, who has the more fixed image (also, the racialized image). Gaga said the video was supposed to change the way that people viewed Beyonce, and that is not a video about Gaga."

I'm just going to re-iterate something that Kate implies here. The conventional way of looking at the "image" is as something inherently stabilizing, fixing; and with this view, the conventional approach to undoing someone's "image" is to reveal the "real" person "beneath" the image, usually a more complex, more sexual (what has been repressed to create the stable image is of course the old unconscious) self, just as boring.

But Gaga's attempt to ruin Beyonce's "fixed image" is to approach the image itself, to approach Beyonce as image, to insert spasms into that image, to find the movement in the supposed stability of the image. That is, not to attempt to undo the image, but to focus on the medium of the image; to treat her even *more* as image. I think that's pretty interesting.

(Maybe James can put in some stuff about Deleuze's ideas about film.)


Blogger Cory said...

I would say violence is ubiquitous in the making-generation and reception-of images, and that Gaga's attempt at ruination would be more interesting if the ruination were more an accidental consequence of the extraction of the essence of-i'm not talking about Gaga anymore, really-Beyonce, which implies a process that oscillates, like the image through different modes of violence-made in that vibration-through negativity and positivity in such away as to make the distinction difficult.

7:54 AM  

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