Filming Detroit III

Filming Detroit III
—for Joseph Cornell

“The emphatic truth—
of gesture in the important
moments of life”

Language seems to go thru a dark passage to beauty but the creative act of the filmic itself seems to find a way. Since we’ve been forced to see movies as “talkies” rather than “silent” stills (boxes)—is it any wonder that the filmic should be so rare?

A few flashes come from Cornell’s work—perhaps elsewhere? Not much though—so that one might have to say that the “filmic” doesn’t exist—there’s only “talkie” cinematic language, cinematic narrative, cinematic dialog, cinematic plots, cinematic acting, cinematic direction.

The cinematic isn’t the same as the silent surrealist filmic—it’s as far removed from the filmic as the novelistic is from the novel. Can one write & exist in the novelistic—while not writing novels?

Paradoxically, the filmic doesn’t seem to be able to be grasped while its happening, in the movement, in its “motion picture” state—but only as artifact, the “still.” Perhaps Cornell sensed this after “Rose Hobart”—and concentrated on his surreal boxes after that? 

After Miss Dali acted out her bitch-scene tipping over the projector & then complaining that Cornell had telepathically stolen the same “Rose Hobart” idea for a film from him, well…can one blame Cornell from concentrating on surreal box-art after that?

What is a still? A photo from a film? Something from the pages of Cahiers du cinema? Pictures in a textbook? A department store catalog? A pornographic picture from “My Baby Is Black”?

What if the so-called obtuse filmic lies not in movement or catalogs of picture books or porno? What if a diegetic horizon is needed to “freeze-frame” & configure the filmic mobility theoretically as a framework for a presentational unfolding combining the stills with a story (diegesis) so that a new “third obtuse meaning” is born from the lower depths?

In some ways this has already happened with graphic novels & comix. Such innovations represent the “still-shot” as filmic when “doubled” within a series of frames not necessarily arranged horizontally but rather vertically. As with this Crazy Kat cartoon. Notice it’s vertical storytelling schematic.

The last “still” of Krazy Kat in the pond offers us the inside-story as a fragment of the whole vertical narrative. In this shot the center of gravity is no longer between horizontal frames of other stills but rather “inside the shot”—the accentuation of the last fragment expands the absurdity of the whole story..

This vertical “diegesis-complexity” lies with accentuation within the fragment—as Cornell does with his vertical boxes composed of various “frames.” Each box has a vertical reality of articulation—as opposed to the cinematic horizontal narrative effect. 

Cornell’s vertical filmic narrative is at once parodic & absurd. The obtuse or third meaning isn’t “a specimen chemically extracted from the substance of the film,” but rather “a trace of supercilious bits, hints, clues” experienced in a “stop-action” still-shot.

The “stop-action” still-shot is the fragment of a second text whose existence never exceeds the fragment. Both film & still find themselves in a palimpsest relationship without being on top of each other or extracted from each other. There’s a surreal co-existence of images—doing their Cornell box-thing.

The “still” throws off the constraint of cinematic time—as with Cornell’s boxes which are aesthetically as well as technically & theoretically like a silent text or screenplay that’s not committed to logico-temporal order while readymade time is free.

The “still,” Cornell’s boxes, institute a readymade reading at once both instantaneous & vertical—what happens when this happens? 

Cornell’s boxes as well as his “Rose Hobart”—perform a vertical mutation of filming degree zero. But what is that?

Collage of Detroit’s Lee Plaza Hotel
—“Detroit’s Beautiful,
Horrible Decline,” Time

Once one of the most luxurious residential hotels in Detroit, Lee Plaza closed in the 1990s.,29307,1882089,00.html#ixzz24wxyHTDk

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