Re: [Frameworks] Film's rupture

From: David Tetzlaff <>
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2011 19:20:13 -0400

> The original request did seem to be asking for literal breaks or abrasions, though.

An issue with this query is what theoretical difference there is, if any, between 'literal' rupture of the physical medium, and_representations_ of rupture of the physical medium. Is it one thing to see a film print that has been (intentionally or not) scratched, burned, cut, sliced, colored, whatever - and another thing to see a print (or digital projection) of a work that was made using raw materials that were ruptured? If a photograph of a thing is not the thing, so a print made from an 'original' with a projector burn-hole would be a _picture_ of a burn-hole, no? And once we're dealing with reproductions, does it make that much of a difference how the representation of the rupture was created, whether there is some 'authentic' material rupture somewhere in the first place or just an effective simulation -- e.g. the flash frames in 'Fight Club'?

It would seem from the examples cited that reproductions or representations of material rupture would be subject to the usual spectra of difference in moving picture works - a more 'realistic' representation of the image moving off frame (Say 'Film in which there appears...) to a more stylized representation of the image moving off-frame (a Tex Avery type cartoon gag...). Since exactly what differences along these spectra mean in general, and what significance they carry, remain a subject of eternal debate, so too it would seem they ought to be engaged with the more specific imagery of 'visual rupture,' rather than collapsed or the category simply assumed to be some sort of unified type.

However, it seems to me that representations/evocations/etc. of material rupture are common enough that one could talk about in semiotic terms, as coded symbols, their interpretations governed by a set of conventions...

The question of 'Breathless' really engages several larger issues, the first being 'when does an edit call attention to itself as a physical cut?' Obviously, the answer is context dependent. What may have appeared as rupture to most viewers in 1960 might be utterly unremarkable to a contemporary audience.

One example of a (reproduced) materiality is 'Meshes of the Afternoon' which appears to have been assembled on a single roll with visible lap glue-splices, rather than A/B rolled to produce clean edit breaks - (which strikes me as out of tune with the general aesthetic of the piece and I have never imagined to represent any kind of considered artistic choice...).

Finally, for representations of 'material rupture' in narrative films, I think we would have to consider not only ruptures in the (imagined) celluloid, but in other mediums that are represented as intervening between the diegesis and the spectator: the image as TV set turning off or changing channels, as VCR scanning forward and back ('Cache', 'Funny Games') and so on.

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Received on Tue Apr 19 2011 - 16:20:28 CDT