Parc Mont-Royal attempts to show how cinema evidentiates the relationship between the observer, the observed and the gaze. Such notions as scopophilia, gaze, visual pleasure and voyeurism remained as critical issues on film scolarship. My video piece comments on how the technology of cinema has modified not only our notions about the gaze, but also the gaze in itself. As the experience of cinema is mainly constructed around framing and frame speed, our expectations revolve mainly around these two formal devices. What happen when we receive visual information through different uses of these two formal devices?. I decided to address these issues working with an industry standard, (100 feet of film, just under 3 minutes, is the length for a small spool of 16mm film). I shot only one 16mm spool, and through this given standard/restraint, an exercise of economy became an idiosyncratic form to understand the issue of gaze through the measurement of a material length. I was filming, along with Daïchi Saïto, what seemed to be just a random and meaningless event at the Mont-Royal Park, on a sunny summer morning. Later on, as we were watching the footage, I noticed a peculiar moment hidden in the footage, which could it go easily unnoticed for most people, however, that moment stuck with me. I foregrounded and manipulated that moment precisely through reframing and changing the speed. It make me questioned my notions of framing, time and the gaze, but most importantly, got me thinking about how perception and cinema apparatus folds around the present moment through the gaze.
Lacan’s theory of the gaze describes the processes involved in the self-reflective gaze. I see myself seeing, and/or, I see myself being observed. Lacan’s formulation of the gaze entails that our perception is modified because we realized that we are being observed. This visual transaction places the subject under observation, causing the subject to experience themselves as an object that is seen. Lacan says “The spectacle of the world, in this sense, appears to us as all-seeing. The world is all-seeing, but it is not exhibitionistic-it does not provoke our gaze. When it begins to provoke it, the feeling of strangeness begins too” (Lacan, 1964). I find similarities among the processes described by Lacan and the film viewing experience, specifically, the visual transaction of the observer and the observed, particularly in terms of objectification process, and the unattainable object of desire in which we become under a gaze. Thus, that space between the screen and the spectator stands as a primordial resource to investigate our subjectivity and perception. With my video piece, Parc Mont-Royal, I’m not attempting to offer a conclusive opinion on these matters, instead, I imagine my work as a piece that causes our perception to shift it out of phase. I do believe that our interpretation of images doesn’t function autonomously. Images reflect our mediation, our relation to other images, the past and the present. Parc Mont-Royal is not going to be ever finished. It needs the interpretation of the observer. As we intersect with this video piece in a specific historical moment, it provides a point of purchase on the human experience of the gaze.
Lacan, Jacques. “The Split between the Eye and the Gaze,”(1964). In The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton (1978). P 75.