Reality and its Shadow. A Short Film by by Jacopo Benci.
What do we watch? An escape from a cocoon, a
strip-tease (with the accent on the second syllable), or a form of rebirth. Or
are all ironised, all resisting our attempts at totality, resisting the
imposition of a totalising narrative.
Scratched black painted wood. Nature transformed
into culture but no longer beautiful. Both the texture and the occult message
it carries are something we return to throughout the main sequence; this
texture is repeated throughout in the colouring and quality of the clothes and
other materials featured. This aspect is also foregrounded in sound, in the
eerie presence of rasping sounds, the scraping of rough textures (the treatment
of sound echoes the treatment of the image); rebarbative, slightly
uncomfortable yet interesting (evoking an uncanny 'negative' pleasure).
Denial of 'nice' sounds, of an overall 'nice'
sound quality, as of 'nice' materials, yet such is the set, the bare boards, of
a theatre (and this piece is performed on an actual stage as well as being
presented as a framed image-stage). Neither is there a 'nice' aestheticised,
stereotypically attractive, body presented as the course layers are peeled-off,
this 'tease' offers not an
imaginary (fantasy body) but an actual body. In this, the advertised
world, this especially is difficult
to do; to show the female form in a form that can resist the received frames
offered by (sexual) fantasy and advertising. This video achieves this: and so
redeems or answers (responds to the question of) Tarkovsky's use of 'the
rolling female' in his films - his
gender representations being open to question regarding dominant female stereotypes (or myths)
most particularly as used in existentialist-themed films (in Wenders too) -
such actions deem the spectator male, and world as his domain. Beyond simple
sexual fantasy and the self-stultifying recognition in the mirror of
Slow slide up or down. A fallen world. A
person falling - or rising - and how do we tell? Slow-motion
fall and strip; a second dimension of narrative: the unclothing (first was the
movement across as a figurative rise or fall). Unclothing a temporal dimension
regarding the ambiguity of forwards or backwards. Is it a slow-motion rewind of
a film that we watch, where time goes backwards? Again there is an essential ambiguity,
suggestion (or aporia). In which case
(the first part of the film is the reversal of a person getting dressed)
both segments are in a relation of repetition; we have, in the final part, a
variation not a reversal. Other the genre clash (of the two parts) complement
one another, the motion in one genre is completed, that is reversed, in the
other. Coda in real time.
Meaning? Obviously. Adorno and resistance
through aesthetic discomfort; base for questioning. Otherwise put (for we are
on stage); a Brechtian alienation effect. The unnaturalness of art (and beauty,
'niceness', comes from nature) as art's true subject. The meaning (or politics
of content, form and expression) comes after.
Copyright, Peter Nesteruk, 2003.