Showed Echo at Ffloc on multiscreens on Tuesday, also to a very nice lady from a gallery (won’t use real names.)

Very interesting discussion because mixture of photographers and film people. Beginning to be a real dialogue about spectatorship. All the issues of what happens when people are not in a cinema beginning to be raised again. Why should people hang around for a story?

The issue of post cinema raising its head. Interestingly I think it really is true that the piece is nostalgic for the cinema and is saying that the cinema experience is dead, yet the gallery may not be the place for post cinema because although it has a communal aspect, this is fragmented in a way more than the cinematic audience, who at least are together although separate. Maybe Echo is also post dramatic, because it’s nostalgic for theatre too, and what theatre offers. Maybe, as one contributor said, it’s fine if it is a ruin, and empty, and it speaks if no one is there and people just come and go. However, this is definitely an unintentional meaning and one which does come from discourse, not from speech.

The other issues raised were a) why is it in costume – and I think this relates to the use of allegory to tell modern stories – if you reduce the distance, you no longer have the allegorical ability, although this may be a cheap effect, it does allow compression of time, and b) can you have Brechtian effect and immersion at the same time. Whilst this needed a lot more time than the discussion allowed, and I think I did bandy the Brecht term around a bit, I would go with Brecht’s own thoughts that with time, the tools of the V effect must change because they themselves get tired, and what must be aimed for is the politicisation which makes the individual aware of their alienation and educated about how to change that situation. Whilst I feel that this is one of the failings of E & N because I come from a hystericised and not deeply politicised position, at least it is proto political and does challenge the audience in a kind of deus ex machina way, to think about what they should do, and to go away and wonder about politics, so I think in some ways the mixture between engagement/emmersion/empathy, even, and interaction and defamiliarisation, is Brechtian, (especially early Brechtian) and I would compare it a bit with the allegory in The Life of Galileo where Galileo’s relationship with the inquisition stands for the modern scientist’s relationship with the state, and Echo’s relationship with Hera stands for our relationships to a technocratic state who doesn’t seem to hear us. However, I’m less politicised, and a criticism would be that it’s more like Mrs Dalloway having her party whilst the 1st world war goes on. We might feel better, but the war goes on…

I did find it a bit astonishing that there is such hostility to narrative from those who seem to have it. This seems to go back to some kind of puritanism from way back. I’m not sure whether I’ve guaged this right. It probably means I’ve framed something wrong, but it’s really weird how narrative and visuality seem to fight each other. Anyway, it maybe something about spectatorship and choice again, and be a Brechtian element.

Coral Houtman © 2012-2024