It is known that for his hand-painted films, Stan Brakhage preferred to use Indian ink. In contrast to black images, white ones are rarefied.
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They reflect and radiate. They stimulate the retina. White is light beyond the zero point. There is something inaccessible in a white image; it dematerialises things. In the cinema a beam of white light on a white screen results in the illumination of the audience, which puts them in a state of permanent alertness.
Although both black and white projected photograms make their presence felt by the absence of an image, whereby the invisible becomes the visible expression of an experience that can only be conveyed in the form of an idea, their registers are different. In film, black acts as a counter-image, the space in which something that cannot or can no longer be lit directly is depicted.
Black usually has something to do with the inadequacy of the image, the difficult relationship between image and memory. The term black-out unites the two aspects: the darkening or disappearance of the image and a deficiency of consciousness. If the black image in a film is usually a mental space, the white always remains anchored in the perceptual space. Whereas black stands for underlit, white stands for overlit. The term white-out refers to the experience you can have in polar regions where as a consequence of excessive light the ground and the air are sometimes indistinguishable from each other.binciolehydfi.ml
Differentiation and outlines are no longer possible. The fact that there are so few audiovisual works containing sequences of white images is due to two factors.
First of all a technical element of editing involving continuity. Black is the natural substrate for the genesis of the film image and is therefore also the logical basis on which to fall back in the case of any malfunction. A second factor concerns the acoustic image, above all the fact that white does not make sound as free as black does. In contrast to white, black encourages looking inwards.
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Experiences in the dark arouse that which lies dormant inside us. Black is oceanic. When the black avoids the senses it is because it creates its own space, an auditory space in which resonance occupies a central position. Conversely, white creates more of a sound without memory.
This eleven-minute long, quite narrative-based sound collage kaleidoscopically depicts the varied impressions an unknown protagonist has to digest in the course of a weekend in an anonymous metropolis. In its associative, highly concentrated acoustic images we hear scraps of conversation, a typewriter, the roaring of a racing car, blaring factory sirens, marching soldiers and suchlike.
This work was created using the then innovative technology of optical sound film, which enabled short excerpts of sound to be edited together. There is such a thing as the synergy of the senses. When you see a vase shatter in a silent film, it evokes an inner auditory image. We know from silent films at their peak, in the late twenties, that the highly developed visual language was able to evoke an acoustic counter-space in the mind.
The appearance of sound films a few years later signified a return to the start: filmed theatre in which sound and image were related like Siamese twins. What makes Wochenende interesting as a sound play or sound film is that Ruttman used comparable editing techniques for the sound as he had two years previously for the picture in Symphonie einer Grossstadt.
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His sound montage is so very striking because it does not have to take on the unequal competition of the image. Sixty years later came a radically different experience: Stan Brakhage makes music marks on mainly black strips of film. His films aim for an inner vision. The picture is almost all black and is only sporadically interrupted by short, colourful images almost like a dream sequence. Since the musical excerpts are spread out and there is quite a lot of flexibility in the composition itself, silence also becomes an important ingredient. Passage Through: a Ritual is a tough ride for the viewer because he is kept in a permanent state of anticipation and tension.
However, the experience is more than worth the trouble, because only very few films explore so subliminally the resonance between the image and its absence and sound. The blackness of the image and the silence in the music open up the senses. What the blackness here sets free is above all sonority, timbre.
One person who expresses very well the position timbre occupies in music is Jean-Luc Nancy. It is on the level of the sensory, and perception. According to Nancy, the timbre resonates with and in the whole range of the sensory registers. The resonance is simultaneously that of a sonorous body for itself and that of the sonority in a listening body that, itself, sounds while listening 10 , which aptly describes the experience you have in a cinema watching A Passage Through: a Ritual.
There is not only the sound. The experience of visual deprivation means that the sparse images that appear also resonate in their turn as part of this whole. They are images that gain a lasting after-image, an echo.
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This too is modern cinema, meaning the balance of power between the author and the actor, behind and in front of the camera. I have no more images to give it. I no longer know where we are, in which story we became lost. The use of the intermediate space or hiatus , which Deleuze sees as characteristic of modern cinema, is something Duras does to the full between the visual and acoustic images, so that the textual component occupies a privileged position.
Il le retire en le justifiant. It removes it by justifying it. That which text reveals, the Image places and displaces. That which the Image configures, the Text disfigures.
That which the one envisages, the other dis-envisages. That which the one paints, the other unpaints. But this itself, their thing and their common cause, this clearly oscillates between the two in a space as thin as a leaf: the text on the front and the image on the back, or vice image -versa text. Loss, absence and memory can no longer be externalised in a traditional image, something recognisable to which one can relate. The images in the first part the ocean seen from a hotel window, a silent man, etc.
The progressive increase in the number of strips of black film means that in the end these figurative havens disappear too. A number of musical qualities are compositionally important to the voice, just as they are to the image and its absence : the interval, the cadence, silence, tonality, resonance, etc. But it reaches out towards this image, which only exists potentially, and finds only in me, in the second montage that occurs between seeing, hearing, memory and desire, the site of its completion.
Two more recent, and in subject and treatment strikingly different, examples of an internalised space brought about by the use of black images are worth a short mention here. Her Gaza installation, in a four-minute video loop, shows the open sky, filmed with the camera perpendicular to the ground, across which pass regular low-altitude flights by Israeli military helicopters. These images are alternated with short black passages. Gaza is projected onto a screen fixed to the ceiling so that the viewers find themselves in the same position of impotence in the face of ongoing terrorisation as the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.
The transitions from image to black and back again are done with fades.
In this loop installation, the dissolves do not in the traditional sense represent the transition from one place to another or one time to another, but a permanent state of deadlock. In the black passages you hear the hubbub of the Palestinians as they search through the rubble of their bombed homes. The alternation of black and the open sky, where the sound of the helicopters is an emphatic presence, creates a tense atmosphere.
The end of an attack is never a relief, it is just the moment you can start to be afraid again. Sansour connects the unthinkable aspect of the event with the black image, especially with the auditory mental space onto which the black image opens. The ear turns more inwards, the eye outwards. Sansour indicates how the Palestinian impasse leads to an impasse in representation.
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