Speaking Difference, Textual Cinema

A particular course for the future has been set. Over the next year, I will take on a shared residency with Toronto’s Gallery TPW and Images Festival. Under the mentorship of Kim Simon, Curator at TPW, and Pablo de Ocampo, Artistic Director at Images, two major sets of questions will guide my curiosities.

The first centres on text-based cinema, which is moving image work where the use of the written word is conceived as integral to the formation of meaning acquired through the cinematic experience.

The moving image and the written word are both time-based media in that their reception as works of art requires passage. This passage, though, is distinct: whereas the moving image’s presentation of time is a somewhat passive experience for the viewer, the written word requires active participation for every bit of its revelation. Further, language invites the creation of meaning on behalf of the viewer, whereas cinema is, practically and inevitably, much more dictatorial. As Pierre Machery notes in his Theory of Literary Production, reading is a form of production that separates the writer’s intent from the reader’s explication.

Exploring the possibilities inherent in the cinematic act of reading, I wonder: If text itself is put in motion, is it possible to read anew? What might reading anew entail? Could setting text in motion be one way to dislodge language’s clichés? Can cinema complicate basic understandings of language as a system of closed empiricism?

Following through with these conclusions, I will explore the possibility of speaking difference by examining the points of tension that become visible when the authority of language is recalculated. By looking to the limits of language, I will consider the logic(s) that assign meaning, paying particular attention to the potential for disruptions.

Exploring new and adequate ways of thinking (and speaking) of, about and for the world we live in, and our lives within it, I wonder: How does meaning operate? What semantic relationships should be preserved, and which can be discarded? What social, political and historical factors are operative in the theories we use to understand the world and each other? What role does the curator play in reifying or confronting hierarchies of knowledge?

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3 thoughts on “

  1. Randy says:

    Nice project. Just finished teaching a course ‘More than Words’ on text + image. Thinking a lot about the materiality of text, spoken word and embodiment. Our stars are aligned…

    • Randy! I wish I could have sat in on that class. The Images project was presented earlier this month as part of the festival. You can see it here. (One of the films in particular, Basma Alsharif’s piece, uses text like sculpture and reminds me quite a bit of Kika Thorne’s work actually.) Though I was looking for a disruption of the authority of text, what I found instead was a diffusion of the charge carried by images. All of the works I presented were about loss, but the screening itself balanced precariously between sadness and empowerment. It was as if the films, as a composition of text + images + sound, had not quite decided what their equivocations were.

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