Filming Detroit IV
—for Joseph Cornell
“I decided I liked photography
in opposition to the cinema,
from which I nonetheless
failed to separate it.”
—Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida
Is Barthes cinephobic? Like Joseph Cornell? Mistrusting the hypnotic spell exerted by cinematic narrative?
When equating a film—with its story & interpretation, is the third meaning, the obtuse meaning, the surrealist meaning lost?
Barthe’s “obtuse meaning”—isn’t that what Cornell does? He has this lover’s discourse, this quarrel with “talkies” cinema as opposed to silent film & stills?
It seems to me to be that way with Cornell’s treatment of the early “talkie” film “”East of Borneo” (1936)—criss-cutting, condensing, removing the sound track. Changing the frame-speed to the silent film level when creating his surreal film “Rose Hobart” (1941).
That & the fact that Cornell spent so much of his life after “Rose Hobart” down in his NYC basement studio constructing his surreal “boxes”—which could very well remind one of movie stills—3D scenes from an ongoing surreal readymade film of his surreal “secret flix” (Jack Smith) imagination.
I see both “Rose Hobart” & Cornell’s boxes as example of Barthes’ “Writing Degree Zero”—in the sense that Barthes’ obtuse and/or third meaning concepts can be applied along the lines of “Filming Degree Zero.”