Directed by Arthur Angel

Produced by Jim Thompson

Written by Arthur Angel and Jim Thompson


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I will be transforming the purpose of this blog from notes and quotes and thoughts on theory to my artistic practice and methodology blog. It is now officially my PhD blog .. more on that later.



Mulvey uses psychoanalysis to assert that fascination with film, and taking pleasure in watching film, is reinforced by pre-existing patterns of fascination already at work within the individual and the social conditions that have moulded him.


She asserts that sexual difference is socially constructed and interpreted (the status quo being hetero-sexuality), and that this interpretation controls images, erotic ways of looking and spectacle.

“Psychoanalytic theory is thus appropriated here as a weapon.”

Mulvey’s aim with this article is to subvert the ordinary persons enjoyment in the experience of the cinema and turn it back on them as a reflection of the dominant ideology and therefore a tool of oppression used on those who do not fit the traditional. hetero-normative structure of society. This essay is a landmark in the ideological theorisation of the arts circa 1975.

Phallocentrism depends on the image of the castrated woman to give it meaning.

What is phallocentrism?

The woman’s lack of a phallus gives the phallus symbolic presence and meaning. The woman symbolises ‘the’ castration threat (lack of phallus) (assuming that there really is a castration threat). Mulvey then makes an enigmatic comment about the woman raising her child into the ‘Symbolic’. This is then the end of the woman’s meaning. She takes her place in memory; signifying maternal plenitude and lack of penis. The woman can exist only relation to castration and cannot transcend it. The woman is bearer of meaning; not maker of meaning. This is the central tenet of feminist film theory as it applies to the Classical Hollywood cinema.

“Alternative cinema must start specifically by reacting against these obssessions and assumptions.” Radical cinema is by definition a counterpoint to the classical cinema’s aesthetic. The classical cinema is underpinned by the erotic. Erotic pleasure is coded into the classical system and concurrently into the language of the dominant patriarchal order. Mulvey states that she intends to destroy this pleasure through analysis of it. To expose it is to wake up the spectator from their phantasy dream. Her goal:

” … to make way for a total negation of the ease and plenitude of the narrative fiction film.”


To take pleasure in looking. Children engage in voyeuristic activities. They seek to make sure of the private and unknown/forbidden: curiosity. The active instinct of the human being being needs to be delineated from narcissistic pleasure and behaviour. Mulvey is invoking Freud to assert that these childhood formations are the origin of pleasure in looking. It can be seen here that at the extreme, these formative behaviours could result in perversions, peeping toms and even serial murderers: it is the objectification and eroticisation of the other (that which is forbidden) that could lead to such outcomes. Mulvey asserts that the cinema feeds this desire; it is a re imagining of the childhood curiosity for that which is private and unknown for the adult. The spectator engages in an illusion of looking in on a private world. Furthermore, in the classical system, emphasis is placed on the human form. Scale, space and stories are all anthropomorphic. This is synonymous with Lacan’s mirror phase of the child, wherein, the child recognises his own image in the mirror. The child’s recognition of his image precedes the development of his motor skills and so the child assumes that the image in the mirror is somehow more complete. Visa-vi the adult in the cinema is recalling this insecurity and interpreting it as a nostalgia; a type of pleasure. Self-awareness and looking are intertwined.

What is Mulvey’s new language of desire? With claims such as these Mulvey has to also produce the alternative.





Quote taken from Hjorth, L. 2007 ed., Waiting for Immediacy Catalogue, Yonsei University: Seoul.

“It is as if the storing, just like the whimsical nature of digital media that can so easily be deleted, is not necessarily for the actual return and reviewing. It is not about leaving a trace in the world like analogue photography, but instead it is about the process of affect that marks the moment by a series of gestures. Click, view and store – that is the experience of everyday life to a theatre of spectres that haunt the hangover of visuality. In the 21st century, the visual is overruled by haptic as an experience and sense of place. This is the dance of waiting … for immediacy.”

Immediacy is about capturing and celebrating the moment. It is ritualistic. It is not meant to be stored as historical artefact or proof of life – or perhaps in some ways as proof of identity on social media. It is about focussing all phenomenological possibilities into one distilled click and capture. A phenomenological focus. A focus on things-as-idealised there and then. These moments therefore must necessarily be connected to our desires and forward projections of how we see ourselves in the world. They are world-affirming.

In my recent mobile video practice I have for various vague reasons decided to work on things out-of-focus. Perhaps I could pitch my video practice as anti-immediate?

In reference to Douglas Gomery’s ‘The Hollywood Studio System: 1930 – 1949’ and questions such as: ‘does mass culture give the people what they want, or convince them to want what they get?’ I have drawn on Post-Modern analysis and history to collate some thoughts:

From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy –

“The later nineteenth century is the age of modernity as an achieved reality, where science and technology, including networks of mass communication and transportation, reshape human perceptions. There is no clear distinction, then, between the natural and the artificial in experience {…} A consequence of modernism is what postmodernists might refer to as de-realisation.  De-realisation affects both the subjects and the objects of experience, such that their sense of identity, constancy, and substance is upset or dissolved {…} Kierkegaard, for example, describes modern society as a network of relations in which individuals are levelled into an abstract phantom known as ‘the public’. The modern public, in contrast to ancient and medieval communities, is a creation of the press, which is the only instrument capable of holding together the mass of unreal individuals ‘who never are and never can be united in an actual situation or organisation’. In this sense, society has become a realisation of abstract thought, held together by an artificial and all – pervasive medium speaking for everyone and for no one.”

Quotes taken from Kierkegaard, Soren; 1846, The Present Age, Alexander Dru (trans.), New York: Harper & Row, 1962.

The essay film – something to do with the personal. A view; an experiment; a meditation.

It is not necessarily only reflective or self-conscious in style as Contempt (Godard) might be considered.

The American Heritage dictionary: “A short literary composition on a single subject, usually presenting the personal views of the author.”

The essay tracks a persons thoughts as they follow lines of reasoning to undo a mental knot. It is also the medium by which the thinking takes place. It facilitates the reasoning. An alternative to Socratic dialogues for instance.

“Readers must feel included in a true conversation, allowed to follow the rough mental processes of contradiction and digression and yet aware of a formal shapeliness developing underneath.” (Lopate)

The definite qualities of the essay-film as according to Lopate:

1) must have words in the form of dialogue or text (the corollary would be that any visual medium – a political poster or an ad – could be taken as an essay)
2) Must represent a single voice – or take the appearance of a single voice.
3) The text must represent the author’s attempt to work out some reasoned line of discourse on a problem.
4) The text must impart more than information. It must represent a strong personal point of view. There is a difference here between journalistic and essayistic.
5) The overall language of the text needs to be as eloquent and as interesting as possible. Lopate suggests a cultural standard to bare when reasoning in discourse.

” … a Markerian nostalgia for the escaping present, and a melancholy over the inherently receding reality of photographed images.”

This sense of time and awareness of the inadequacy of mechanical reproduction of time allows Marker to project an ‘historical understanding onto otherwise bland or neutral footage.”

In Sunless recollecting and rewriting an inextricably linked.

Sunless suggests some form of prophecy for a new age of communication, technology and globalisation – which to a large extent is true of Marker’s vision – though the personal, essayistic form inspired by such works seems never to have arrived.

A personal vision does not equate to a personal view.

The camera as a device for recording thoughts: it has a tendency to provide its own thoughts. That is, there are always unintended and accidental consequences of the recording and re-ordering of time and space. This is the foundation to the topic of cinema as a machine for thinking as a topic for discussion.

There is a hint in all this toward the matter of the autonomy of cinema and film form.