Hispanic Theatre, Film, and Performance Art (Fall 2018)
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This week we touched on a very peculiar philosophical string. For much of how we understand the world comes from this ancient mathematical principle, A=A, being applied to metaphysics and other more practical philosophies. This principle has been understood as an a priori concept, in the sense that it is true outside of human experience (or it is intrinsic to the human experience and as such it is a natural property of that experience). It is no coincidence that this principle is destabilized in the chapter of our course titled: “Image, Subconscious, absurd, The Absurd”.
In Buñuel’s short film Un chien andalou, we see that our perceptions of A=A can be very mistaken, as in A=B but B≠A. We are outside going inside, but we are led outside again. What is turns out to not be without ceasing to be the initial is. We are both inside and out. This idea of inside/out is also explored in Simerka’s “The construction of the liminal subject”. In this text the inside/out is paralleled with the subject/object distinction. Performance artists have to grapple with being objects and subjects at the same time in the context of having multiple identities (with different and opposing meanings, colonized and colonizer) trapped in one subject. Or, one could say, multiple subjects in one object, the subject. This text moved another idea as well, queerness≠queerness, rather it is the context that gives rise to the difference between the left side (queerness in the united states) and the right side (queerness in the Latin world). How can I criticize the US imperialism while criticizing the homophobia of the Latin world? How can I queer on two levels without reducing my queerness? These are some questions raised by the liminal subject.
When all meaning comes from context, A=A will only be an abstraction that stands apart from both A’s. The first A is contextually separated from the second A by this = sign.
This week we tackled on the whole concept on false perception. As our sensory details were pushed to the limit in Un Chien andalou by the use of metaphoric images, lines, and background music, we were forced to go deeper into our minds and try to figure out what the original intentions of the director were in making the film.
But questions arise of ‘Are we actually interpreting the film in the right way? or Are we actually overthinking something so simple?’ In many cases, film critiques or audiences sometime gives meaning to the movie after it’s production due to it’s popularity. A categorization through genre is made by the audience as well. However, when making a true ‘Absurd’ product it would not make sense to even have a genre, since absurdness such as ‘Dada’ is supposed to have no strict genre. Therefor it would be presumptuous to even think and categorize a product. In the end, each viewer has their own right and to justify what they see and feel.
The absurd artistic short film Un Chien Andalou uses the principles of metonymy and synecdoche to surprise its viewers. In accordance with the Kuleshov effect, the viewers of this film infer a complete scene even with just a partial shot. For example, when normal viewers see a door, we imagine it’s leading into and out of a place. However, in the film we find discover in the next couple of scene sequences that the door only leads out, then out again. The nonlinear, unreal use of setting almost evokes a sense of the creepy and perturbing.
Another example is where the man, who was introduced as almost androgynous, and who is punished by another man, starts sexually harassing the main woman. In this sequence of scenes random objects appear and disappear, such as a piano and bleeding animals. She escapes through a doorway and he appears on the other side of the door, with ants in the palm of his hand. These sequences of events are only otherwordly to the extent that we infer the movie is going to show reality in the way we understand it. Playing with viewers expectations and then delivering a different product helps startles the viewer, as well as allows them to understand deeper concepts such as emotions, which can’t really be narrated through a sequence of events.
I don’t know the point of this movie, but I’d say at least a drive of it is about expressing a nonlinear, emotional experience. And one method by which the movie evokes emotions is by not delivering reality, which only happens because of the viewers expectations and inferences.
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