L’art au-delà de l’homme: Antonioni et Vertov par Deleuze, entre création et découverte

Le cœur du cinéma, selon Gilles Deleuze, c’est la capacité de restaurer des vastes zones acentrées et décadrées (Deleuze 1983, 94), bien au-delà du tournant humain de l’expérience. En autres termes, le cinéma n’est rien d’autre que le soi-même de l’image, théorisé pour la première fois par Bergson dans le premier chapitre de Matière et mémoire. Il n’y a plus ni distance ni mimesis : le cinéma ne représente pas le réel à travers la fiction, mais coïncide avec la réalité, conçue comme un champ transcendantal et impersonnel d’images-mouvements. Cinéma et réalité ne diffèrent pas : l’univers devient, mieux, un metacinéma en soi (ibid., 88).

Dans ma présentation je propose de vérifier cette idée deleuzienne à travers la discussion de l’œuvre de deux réalisateurs : Dziga Vertov et Michelangelo Antonioni. Vertov réalise le programme matérialiste du bergsonisme, à travers une poétique caractérisée par un ciné-œil super-humain et un montage constructiviste axé sur le rythme et l’entre-deux : films comme La sixième partie du monde, L’homme à la caméra ou Le ciné-œil rejoignent effectivement un monde qui précède l’homme, c’est-à-dire le lieu des relations, des variations universelles qui se déroulent invisibles au-dessous des yeux humains (Vertov 1975, 139). Antonioni se concentre sur les champs vides, où l’homme est désormais disparu : dans ses films, comme par exemple L’eclisse, Il deserto rosso ou La notte, les paysages vides et abstraits semblent dominer les personnages, désorientés et silencieux. Les champs vides se constituent comme une réflexion sur le néant et l’abstrait, conditions de possibilité génétiques de la réalité : Antonioni recherche « l’image absolue » (Antonioni 2009, 61–62) de la réalité, qui coïncide avec un « blanc sur blanc » impossible à filmer, univers virtuel qui est en train de s’actualiser dans la réalité concrète.

Ce qui est intéressant, soi dans la poétique Antonioni que dans celle de Vertov, c’est, en général, le statut de l’art, c’est à dire la présence, dans l’acte artistique d’un élément créatif—la création du nouveau, l’actualisation d’un virtuel pré-individuel—et d’un élément ontologique—la découverte d’un univers caché, qui était déjà là, imperceptible. La stricte relation entre création et découverte, dans Vertov et Antonioni, devient fondamentale chez Deleuze pour la réflexion philosophique. Réaliser un film, inventer un concept ou découvrir une fonction, c’est créer le nouveau, mais aussi rejoindre et rendre visible un virtuel qui, existant, n’était pas (encore) perceptible : au bout de cette ambiguïté on trouve le cœur secret de la réflexion deleuzienne, axée autour de l’événement comme devenir imperceptible et de la question du monisme-pluralisme, où les différents plans avec leurs spécificités—concepts, affects/percepts et fonctifs—rejoignent l’indécidabilité (Deleuze et Guattari 1991, 206), en faisant résonner la voix de l’être, son univocité aussi bien que sa richesse. Ici faire de l’art ce n’est plus raconter soi-même, mais arracher la perception aux objets, en créant des affects et des percepts non humains, impersonnels, capables de transformer l’imperceptible en percipiendum (Deleuze et Guattari 1980, 345).

References

Antonioni, Michelangelo. 2009. Fare un film è per me vivere: Scritti sul cinema. Venice: Marsilio editori.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1983. Cinéma 1: L’image-mouvement. Paris: Editions de Minuit.

Deleuze, Gilles, et Félix Guattari. Mille Plateaux. Paris: Editions de Minuit.

—. 1991. Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? Paris: Editions de Minuit.

Vertov, Dziga. 1975. L’occhio della rivoluzione: Scritti dal 1922 al 1942. Milan: Mazzotta editore.

Slowness as a Pure Form af Time: Tsai Ming-Liang’s Stray Dogs

In recent years, the term “slow cinema,” often circulated simply as a buzzword for a trend of global art cinema, has been theorised in more sophisticated ways. Despite the differences in their focuses, the recent theories of slow cinema have a common tendency to highlight how slow cinema, by slowing down the pace of life and restoring the supposedly insignificant details of life, challenges the accelerated pace of global capitalism and thereby renders the viewing subject more contemplative. While this form of challenge is significant, however, it runs the risk of endorsing the neoliberal packaging of slow life. Is slow cinema now subsumed under the economy of global cinema, albeit under its niche market? Would it be possible to rethink the notion of slow cinema in a way that undoes neoliberal economy and at the same time creates a new mode of affective life?

This paper retheorises slow cinema by resituating Deleuze’s philosophy of cinema in the context of his theory of the three syntheses of time, as well as in the historical context of neoliberalism. In this retheorisation, I show how the limitations of recent discourses on slow cinema can be attributed to their exclusive reliance on the Bergsonian second synthesis of time and how slow cinema at its most radical can be theorised as a type of time-image characterised by the Nietzschean third synthesis of time or its pure form of time. In this alternative theory of slow cinema, I would argue, slowness is no longer regarded as the degree to which the plenitude of life is restored, but rather as that to which time returns the power of becoming and dissolves the homeostasis of life. In this sense, slow cinema ceases to serve the neoliberal valorisation of affective life and instead produces, in Deleuze’s terms, a pure form of time that can bring affective life beyond (or below) this valorisation. From this perspective, I also argue how Malaysian Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang’s recent film Stray Dogs (2013) radicalises this power of slowness. By comparing an impoverished family’s and an upper-middle-class family’s slow life, the film debunks the packaged “mainstream” slow cinema and, instead, suggests alternative images of slowness in a way that resituates Glauber Rocha’s aesthetic of hunger in the context of neoliberalism. This alternative slowness is especially embodied in the impoverished family members’ instinctual bodily attitudes, such as those of sleeping, eating, urinating, and weeping, as they are shown in excessively extended durations. This excess enables slowness to break with the second synthesis of time and, instead, to constitute a pure form of time that forces the viewer to cross the limit of neoliberal governmentality against the now “mainstream” slow cinema’s tendency to compel the viewer to “contemplate” life in its economic sense.

References

Deleuze, Gilles. 1989. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. London: Athlone.

—. 1994. Difference and Repetition. Translated by Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lazzarato, Maurizio. 2015. Governing by Debt. Translated by Joshua David Jordan. South Pasadena, CA: Semiotext(e).

Lim, Song Hwee. 2014. Tsai Ming-liang and a Cinema of Slowness. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Rocha, Glauber. 1997. “An Aesthetic of Hunger.” In New Latin American Cinema, edited by Michael T. Martin, 2 vols., 1:59–61. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Schoonover, Karl. 2012. “Wastrels of Time: Slow Cinema’s Laboring Body, the Political Spectator, and the Queer.” Framework 53 (1): 65–78.

Durations of Knowing: Towards Attentive Anthropological Filmmaking

To elaborate a critique on the affiliation between anthropological filmmaking and the colonial projects of the West, we attempt to shift the attention from the conditions of representation to the questioning of the role representation plays in the techniques of power and domination. Our contribution will try to provide some examples that allow representation to be moved to a secondary position of importance and that highlight nonrepresentational features of film practice that still allow for a critical perspective.

Anthropological film and image production can be characterised (1) as a practice of perceiving and recording visible forms of doing and (2) as being in a direct relationship to knowledge on both sides of a recording device. One might say that such films are knowledge records. One of the general characteristics of film is duration; thus, anthropological films might be said to present durational knowledge. Our contribution will discuss the relationship between film practice and practices of understanding and comprehension as determined by two qualities: duration and attention.

Contrary to identifying the practices of understanding as constructing an immediate concept of a real temporal event, we will attempt to outline some characteristics of durational knowledge. We will rely on the concept of duration as a qualitative multiplicity elaborated by Bergson and Deleuze. According to them, multiplicity is heterogeneous and continuous, inexpressible in a unified manner. What is most important about knowledge as multiplicity is that it does not resemble the result of its implementation, and what is most important about film as a multiplicity is that it does not resemble what was filmed. For Deleuze, conditioned practices are empirical and individuated while the condition of this individuation will be different from the former, and thus impersonal and pre-individual. This allows us to say that knowledge and film practices are not representations of reality, rather they are a differential element of the reality without identity, they are virtualities.

While singling out virtualities, anthropological film also follows corporeal events. It attends a situation, a thing, or a subject. Attention is an event of following and of creation of relation, meaning that one pays attention to the others’ attention. Relations of attention are intensive, so they can hardly be accumulated and measured, but they can be described by their degree of power. We will present these two notions based on our own film work and compare them with the speculative use of images by French sociologist of science Roger Caillois.

Web: https://vimeo.com/97414289 (Password: 123)

On the Concept of Creal: Ethical Promises of a non-Teleological Creative Universal

The French novel Paridaiza (De Miranda 2008a) describes a totalitarian digital duplication of our planet. A small group of rebels subverts the hedonistic-fascist system in which millions of players are imprisoned. The liberators implant a virus within the code of the immersive world in the form of a disruptive signifier. Five combined letters function as the grain of sand in the gears: “Créel,” a portmanteau for créé-réel, “created-real”—therefore “Creal” in English. In a simultaneous essay on Deleuze (De Miranda 2008b), republished in English (De Miranda 2013), the generic term “Creal” qualifies the kind of non-anthropocentric and non-teleological universal proposed by modern process ontologies: “Creal” designates what Deleuze and Guattari (1994) called the “chaosmos” or “plane of immanence,” what Bergson ([1911] 2007) called “duration,” “creative evolution,” or “life,” and what Whitehead ([1929] 1976) called “creativity process,” adding that “creativity is the universal of universals characterizing the ultimate fact.” Castoriadis (1986), faithful to the Pre-Socratic tradition, spoke of the dual unity of “Chaos/Cosmos” (and “Physis/Nomos”) in a two-sided cosmology.

The Creal is not teleological, as it tends to explode in all possible (and virtual) directions. The Creal might be historically post-anthropocentric (coming after Descartes and Hegel), yet it is ontologically pre-anthropocentric and constantly ante-historical (there is an analogy between the Creal and what science today calls dark energy). According to Creal ontologies, humans cannot be said to create fully: they edit, “institutionalise,” coordinate, direct, channel, co-realise, or shape a small portion of Creal. Creal is the dynamic differential core of the flesh of the world, “such stuff as dreams are made on” (Shakespeare, The Tempest 4.1). The less I act or control, the more I am creal—this was the main finding of the surrealists (Alquié 1965). As long as we posit an absolute that is defined as a non-Protagorean and non-teleological constant renewing, we become less inebriated with our overestimated human power to create.

This paper will show how most Creal-cosmologies tend to defend an “agonal” (or agonistic) conception of creation, at the risk of inoculating an essentialised notion of eternal struggle in their ontology. Henri Bergson ([1946] 1992) spoke of cosmic creation as an emotive machine that produces worlds and gods via a constant combat of spirit against matter; for him, the Creal is an “immense efflorescence of unpredictable novelty,” and the Real is the solidified and somewhat zombified side of life. Deleuze and Guattari (1987) spoke of “esprit de corps” as the spirit of seditious plural bodies that constantly decode the binary Real. A world is an agonistic compound of Creal and Real: it is a “creorder” (Nitzan and Bichler 2009).

Yet, precisely because of their intrinsic agonism, Creal-cosmologies contain a clear ethical promise. Here, the rationale shall be Lacanian, following a study (De Miranda 2007) of Lacan’s Ethics of Psychoanalysis (1997): to be sustainable a structure, an order, and a discourse all need a totemic absolute situated at the invisible core of the chain of signifiers. The invisible universal around which realities are constructed maintains their cohesion as an axis mundi. If we accept this to be true, we realise that postmodern attempts to construct durable worlds or communities without an explicit contractual absolute contain a formal fallacy and a political risk. It might be that the only way for polities to avoid the menace of totalitarianisms is to agree by a global social contract on an absolute that shall take the place of less plural and less democratic absolutes. I argue that, logically, creation is the only absolute that can constantly self-destroy and systematically recreate the respect for alterity. The Creal is an ethical absolute, not a scientific one. It can be understood as an open common ground to overcome the general devaluation of postmodernism, the over-evaluation of capital-humanism, and the menace of imperialistic state religions.

In De Miranda’s L’Art d’être libres au temps des automates (the art of freedom in the era of automatons) (2010), an essay on the philosophy of the digital, the term “ordination” defines the form of agency that humans can deploy to order and actualise a zone of Creal. The growing computational protocolisation of societies are not necessarily a threat, and we must continue to facilitate the self-empowerment of “people to come” with active digital literacy. Humans are “ropes over an abyss,” as Nietzsche (1974) said, bridges between Creal and coordinating machines. Our contemporary equivocal position in the middle of a chaotic universal, on one side, and an algorithmic universal, on the other, is our ethical chance: by identifying neither with the Creal nor with any ordered world, we maintain a position as arbitrators in agonal societies. To conclude, I shall propose that “agonistic pluralism,” a political theory inspired by Hannah Arendt ([1958] 1998), might be the most compatible with the Creal hypothesis. As Chantal Mouffe (2000) writes: “While we desire an end to conflict, if we want people to be free we must always allow for the possibility that conflict may appear and to provide an arena where differences can be confronted. The democratic process should supply that arena.” Perhaps, once we remember with Nietzsche, Lacan, Spinoza (Deleuze 1988), or Sade (Lacan 1989) that conflict is but the anthropocentric perceptive on the perpetual and multiple Creal becoming, we might become immature enough to abandon the paradigm of agony and replace it with a Heraclitean idea of childish creative play: “Eternity is a child playing, playing checkers. The kingdom belongs to a child” (Heraclitus quoted in Levenson and Westphal 1994). However, politics are not made by children …

References

Alquié, Ferdinand. 1965. The Philosophy of Surrealism. Translated by Bernard Waldrop. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Arendt, Hannah. (1958) 1998. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bergson, Henri. (1911) 2007. Creative Evolution. Translated by Arthur Mitchell. New York: Macmillan.

—. (1946) 1992. The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics. Translated by Mabelle L. Andison. New York: Citadel Press.

Castoriadis, Cornelius. 1986. Crossroads in the Labyrinth. Translated by Kate Soper and Martin H. Ryle. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1988. Spinoza: Practical Philosophy. Translated by Robert Hurley. San Francisco, CA: City Light Books.

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

—. 1994. What Is Philosophy? Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New York: Columbia University Press.

De Miranda, Luis. 2007. Peut-on jouir du Capitalisme? Lacan avec Heidegger et Marx. Paris: Punctum.

—. 2008a. Paridaiza. Paris: Plon.

—. 2008b. Une vie nouvelle est-elle possible? Deleuze et les lignes. Paris: Nous.

—. 2010. L’Art d’être libres au temps des automates. Paris: Max Milo.

—. 2013. “Is a New Life Possible? Deleuze and the Lines.” Deleuze Studies 7 (1): 106–52.

Lacan, Jacques. 1989. “Kant with Sade.” Translated by James Swenson. October 51, 55–104.

—. 1997. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1950–1960. Translated by Dennis Porter. London: Norton.

Levenson, Carl Avren, and Jonathan Westphal. 1994. Reality. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Mouffe, Chantal. 2000. The Democratic Paradox. London: Verso.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1974. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Translated by R. J. Hollingdale. London: Penguin.

Nitzan, Jonathan, and Shimshon Bichler. 2009. Capital as Power: A Study of Order and Creorder. New York: Routledge.

Whitehead, Alfred North. (1929) 1978. Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. Edited by David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne. Corrected ed. New York: Free Press.