Girl Chewing Gum

In Girl Chewing Gum (John Smith, 1976) a set of stage directions works as a pivot for the actions of the people, vehicles and camera operator in the film. It’s a straightforward conceit: the actions were filmed first and the descriptions added afterwards, but because they’re announced as directions the words appear to precede and cause the actions. Observer and observed approach one another and, in a fictional frame, appear to meet and superimpose themselves one over the other. The gestures of observer and observed direct one another entirely. One exists wholly to facilitate the other, which in turn exists wholly in the service of the first. In their reciprocal regard they fill one another to capacity.

The video brings the prospect of excess to the discourse of looking. If the look and the looked-at fulfill one another entirely – if they meet directly, eye to eye – they cancel one another out. If the director weren’t shouting directions the passers-by would have nothing to respond to, and if the passers-by weren't responding the director would have nothing to direct. The circle closes itself. We could call the whole thing off, and nothing would lack.

In Takahiko Iimura’s Observer/Observed/Observer the circle closes more tightly still. Quite unlike Girl Chewing Gum which tussles with the minutiae of everyday detail, Observer pares down represented matter to the very minimum, as though we are seeing behind the scenes of representation: we see the construction of the act of looking itself, and nothing besides. Matter – the stuff of everyday life – fogs the prospect of pure excess.

Encuestas Para Latinos


Comments are closed.