Slobodan Trajković, artist and scholar. Three: On Moving Pictures.

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Unveiling Face 2nd part, S. Trajković, 2012.

Here, we wrap up our presentation of Slobodan Trajković’s book Embodiment*, with the last of the three excerpts –

On Moving Pictures:

Just as our psychological and mental state is subject to constant changes, so the pictures that we create are subject to constant transition and transformation. Their development expresses a natural process of the evolution of our consciousness concerning the events that represent our intellect. And pictures that follow in succession express not only our subjectivity and experiential beings, but through imagination project our consciousness into new personal and social spaces, on the path to new insights and experiences. Regardless of how heterogeneous and mutually irreducible to specific wholes that motion is, the creation of a succession of pictures is an always possible, immanent, and achievable imperative. Through this succession of pictures, we develop a constant need for a new sight, for they do not sublimate only that which is possible but also organize our predisposition in relation to what is to follow. Thus Deleuze thought about Foucault’s ideas, explaining how they were first social before they became technical. For, those thoughts are “human technology”, which functions “as a permanent cause, directing assemblages or mechanisms that execute their relations, creating an effect that expands through society”. [1]

Thinking, we deal with moving pictures, recalling what we have seen, adding to what we are looking at now, beset with the thought that it is what we were looking for but did not find because we did not connect the pictures (or thoughts as sights) in regular order. That is why we shall repeatedly mention the necessity of “watching the watched” not as a subjective recognition of the general, but as a continual renewal of the cycle of observation of the one who is watching and that which is being watched in order to reach the right coupling.

And watching pictures in a movie from the very spot occupied by the camera constitutes a regime of creating a new subjectivity. That subjectivity is now created in the satisfaction of the consumer society, mass culture, in the vision of observation of bourgeois capitalism, in the endless number of pictures. Walter Benjamin saw that as a paradigm, as creating a situation for analysing the space of cultural formation in society. The example of watching through the window, when we are not creating a movie but are watching moving pictures, shows the necessity of subjective linking with a scene in order to establish their meaning. If anything special happens while we watch, we shall be able to discover their deeper meaning and find out about the essence of that event by rewinding the “roll of film” in order to recall their order of appearance. In the same way, we shall link moving pictures in a scene that they develop in a movie, even though we know that it is the result of editing of attractions which “lead to a unique ideal – from their individual necessity towards a common value, as an attraction”.

[2] Although a movie is a false image of motion, it represents life’s experiences in the most adequate way. “The history of cinematography is a long paean to martyrdom”,[3] says Deleuze.

In music, as in language and painting, we do not listen to, nor do we continually watch, that which is directly presented, but focus our attention on the whole of what a particular construction develops. For example, speaking, we do not create poetry but communicate, explaining the phenomenon that we are dealing with. That is why in poetry language appears more directly, revealing not only its fullness by means of stylistic figures but also through our view of reality. It is the same when we listen to a bassoon as an instrument playing music, we listen to the music that it creates and not to its manner of producing sound. Also, if a picture is a skeleton to which colour is applied, as Malevich described it resorting to a picturesque image, then we certainly watch the “body” that they created through their union, and not them individually. Thereby we say that the situation in which a cinematographic work finds itself is not just its mechanical apparatus, the sum total of static pictures on a celluloid tape, but a union of all the elements of music, theatre, painting and literature, including the most essential one – the discourse of the artist expressing himself within the framework of economic, cultural and social conditioning.

Creating a position by intersecting media, they create mutual coherence, which serves the meaning that the artist is striving for. Therefore, reviewing the process in this way, we see that a celluloid tape contains a sum total of photographs created by the imprint of light on the emulsion of the negative. Through their chemical preservation, followed by optical projection, we create pictures which contain, apart from photography, sound and a narrative. Today, the technology being more developed, light imprints on silver nitrate or chloride no longer retain their original use, because the digital code now has primacy over them. Thereby the technology has made it possible for moving pictures to be present in computers, telephones and street cameras, which are now means serving man’s survival.

A movie is made up of a series of photographs that are projected onto a screen by optical means in order to create an illusion of reality. Owing to our retina, which is capable of preserving the light of a previous picture for a fraction of a second and thus link (blend) it with the one just coming in, we do not see a black frame of static pictures but the creation of the illusion of continual motion. Due to its reproductive character, film is both an art and an industry. As an art form, it represents the most powerful means of creating a consensus in society, as well as the greatest source of entertainment. Through its technology of creation, the ideal that man had always aspired to attain – to make anew what he has already made – was achieved. As Benjamin notes in the text “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, having taken over power, the working class established another system of art production. It was in this spirit that Eisenstein made his first four films, “all four dealing with the same Red theme: class struggle. The struggle of the oppressed for bread, justice, freedom, for self-conscience, self-government”,[4] whereby film showed that in its being it reflects the society that it originates from, but also influences it in its turn.

A film is shown in a cinema hall, and that is a place where it rules supreme. That hall is not a gallery or a concert stage or a theatre stage, and all of the above are in darkness. Inside a hall, film not only reigns proclaiming its body but also develops an institution in the culture of society. At the same time, other segments of film, video and television would have a different fate, close to the situation of  “the homeless”,[5] or as it is popularly said, it will find its own site specific. Then the video format will be shown under all favourable and unfavourable conditions, and television will be available everywhere as the creation of a new collective habit of communication, as a new phenomenon in the formation and exploration of social consciousness.

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*Slobodan Trajković, Embodiment, 2005-2015 Works and Events, Cicero Belgrade, 2017.

Copyright © 2017 by Slobodan Trajković

This book can be purchased privately by enquiring at s.trajkovic@btinternet.com

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[1] Kate Linker, “Cinema and Space(s) in the Art of Judith Barry”, in: Moving Images, Edited by Omar Kholeif, Whitechapel Gallery and The MIT Press, London, 2015, p. 60.

[2] S. M. Ajzenštajn [S. M. Eisenstein], “Montaža atrakcija [Editing of Attractions]”, Montaža atrakcija [Editing of Attractions], Nolit, Belgrade, 1964, p. 29.

[3] Žil Delez [Gilles Deleuze], “Predgovor [Foreword]”, Pokretne slike [Moving Pictures], Izdavačka knjižarnica Zorana Stojanovića, Sremski Karlovci, Novi Sad, 1998, p. 5.

[4] S. M. Ajzenštajn [Eisenstein], Dušan Makavejev, “Uvod [Introduction]”, Montaža atrakcija [Editing Attractions], Nolit, Belgrade, 1964, p. 11.

[5] The term “homelessness” is used by Andrew V. Uroskie, having borrowed it from Rosalind Krauss, who used it to explain the position of contemporary sculpture in space. Uroskie sees the position of a moving picture (video) inside the institutions and discourses of contemporary art in the same way. Using the form of the video, artists saw a chance to leave behind galleries and museums as institutions and venues of their presentation. See: Andrew V. Uroskie, Between the Black Box and White Cube: Expanded Cinema and Postwar Art, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2014, pp. 233–235.

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