Volume 5, Number 1 (January, 2008)
Author: Dr. Alan Cholodenko
This essay was first presented at “The Seduction of Reality,” the theory of photography panel mounted by The Bureau of Ideas at the Australian Centre for Photography as part of and something more, the thirtieth anniversary of the Centre, on September 18, 2004. It was originally published in Afterimage, Volume 32, Number 5 (March/April 2005). For more information visit www.vsw.org/afterimage. More recently, it was published in French under the title ‘De la photographie immobile? (Still Photography?)’, in CinémAnimationS, a special issue on animation of the French film journal CinémAction, number 123 (2007), edited by Pierre Floquet, published by Corlet Publications. It was also presented on DVD at Engaging Baudrillard, the United Kingdom’s first conference on Jean Baudrillard, at the University of Wales Swansea, September 2006. What is published here is the Swansea conference version. The DVD is also available in this issue of IJBS.
Death shadows, spectres, the photograph, as it does the cinema. That this is the case for the photograph is now a common understanding. I will come back to it. As for the cinema, death is inscribed there from its very advent, including in the first substantial account of it, Maxim Gorky’s of July 4, 1896, when he saw the Lumière Bros. films at the Nizhni-Novgorod fair in Russia. Gorky began his review with these extraordinary, and extraordinarily apt, words:
Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows. If you only knew how strange it is to be there. It is a world without sound, without colour. Everything there – the earth, the trees, the people, the water and the air – is dipped in monotonous grey. Grey rays of the sun across the grey sky, grey eyes in grey faces, and the leaves of the trees are ashen grey. It is not life but its shadow, it is not motion but its soundless spectre. Here I shall try to explain myself, lest I be suspected of madness or indulgence in symbolism. I was at Aumont’s and saw Lumière’s cinematograph – moving photography.1
Of course, Gorky’s characterization of the cinema as moving photography not only describes cinema but photography, but “negatively” as it were, as not moving. Building on Gorky’s description, Tom Gunning proposes in his essay “An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and The (In)credulous Spectator” that the “ur” attraction/shock/experience of cinema – the experience in and by which it demonstrates its powers to the spectator – is the sudden transformation, the “magical metamorphosis,” of what the first spectators were first presented with – the “all too familiar” still photographic image – into the all too strange mobile cinematographic image of living moving shadows of people and things. Quoting Gorky’s famous description of it – “Suddenly a strange flicker passes through the screen and the picture stirs to life”2 – Gunning sums up this process, what he calls “this cataclysmic event,” as “this still projection takes on motion, becomes endowed with animation, and it is this unbelievable moving image that so astounds”.3
Coming to photography through “cinema,” I was struck by the possibility that the term “still” may not have been used in front of the term “photography” until the advent of cinema – “moving photography.” I have in fact asked photography historians about this and neither do they know if it is so nor can they offer any other suggestion. I would add: a sign posted outside Aumont’s advertised the wonder produced by the Lumière cinématograph as Living Photography,4 meaning photography, i.e. still photography, was not only not moving but not living.
But the question is: is photography “still”? And a correlative one: “is photography photography still?”. I will try in this paper to offer some “answers” to these key questions, including mobilizing those already advanced by leading theorists of photography. And I will show in parallel a number of photographs, almost all of them by Jean Baudrillard – his parallel world of snapshots of image analogous to his snapshots of text, his fragments of image as of thought, informing this paper.
But here I need to add: not only do I come to photography through “cinema” – I would use the more common term “film” except of course it applies equally to photography, and this is not unimportant for my argument – I come to both photography and cinema through animation. And the question of the “still” is for me a question of animation, a question of motion and life. The Webster’s Dictionarydefinition of “animate” reads:
animate … v.t.… [< L. animatus, pp. of animare, to make alive, fill with breath < anima, air, soul]. l. to give life to; bring to life. 2. to make gay, energetic, or spirited. 3. to inspire. 4. to give motion to; put into action: as, the breeze animated the leaves.
For me, not only is animation a form of cinema, cinema – all cinema – is a form of animation. To which I would now add: so too is photography. Photography –all photography, photography “as such” – is a form of animation. Which would allow me to put it the way I have put it before: not only is animation a form of film, film – all film – is a form of animation. This includes photography as a form of film. In fact, Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida has this to say:
I must name the attraction which makes it [the photograph] exist: an animation. The photograph itself is in no way animated (I do not believe in “lifelike” photographs), but it animates me: this is what creates every adventure.5
Jean Baudrillard for his part describes in “The Violence of The Image and The Violence Done to The Image”6 the way in which the photograph exemplifies the nature of the image to transmute and metamorphose, in other words, to (re)animate.
A second point regarding animation: for me, not only does animation have to do with bringing to life and motion, it has to do with bringing to death and nonmotion (not that the subject can be brought to either). So it has two aspects, for me inextricably commingled: the metamorphosis from the inanimate to the animate and the metamorphosis from the animate to the inanimate. If one wants to privilege film animation in terms of the former, photography animation beckons in terms of the latter. (Though I must forecast that for me the matter is far more complex than any simple either/or.)
So what kind (or kinds) of metamorphosis does the photograph as a form of animation effectuate? Here, I can only agree with the major theorists of photography who associate the photograph with death. For Walter Benjamin, “the camera – der Apparat – imparts to the instant an as it were posthumous shock”.7 André Bazin has his notions of the photograph as death mask, as “mummy complex,” stating “…photography does not create eternity, as art does, it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption”.8 Barthes declares what he seeks in the photograph taken of him to be “Death: Death is the eidos [i.e. appearance, constitutive nature, form] of that Photograph”,9 even as he makes death the eidosof the photograph. Baudrillard concurs with Barthes, saying:
This death or disappearance, which in the heroic age was the virtual death of the object, is always present, according to Barthes, at the anthropological heart of the image. The “punctum”…[is]…that figure of nothingness, absence and unreality…at the heart of the image which lends it its magic and its power…10
Eduardo Cadava for his part asserts: “Photography is a mode of bereavement. It speaks to us of mortification”.11
For me, as I stated at the outset, death shadows, spectres, the photograph. Death, in a word, animates the photograph. Granted this, I would here propose the extension of what I developed in my essay “The Crypt, The Haunted House, of Cinema” to photography, that is, the operation of what I call there as “ur” form/attraction of cinema the Cryptic Complex, composed of: the uncanny, the return of death as spectre, endless mourning and melancholia and cryptic incorporation.12 For me, the attraction, film and a fortiori animation are of the order of the uncanny, of the Cryptic Complex. This is true for photographic animation as it is for cinematographic animation: its “ur” form, if it could have an “ur” form, would be the spectre, if that could be an “ur” form, which by definition it/they can not. In this regard, I would link the photograph and the cinematograph with the graph and the gram, in terms of the graphematic figure of writing/drawing as trace, as spectre, key forms of what Jacques Derrida has called “the hauntological,” Derrida declaring “the logic of spectrality…inseparable from the very motif…of deconstruction…”.13 The hauntological haunts, disseminates, deconstructs the ontological, meaning, of course, that Bazin’s proposal of an ontology of the photographic image based on death, the “mummy complex,” founders, even on that very inscription (even as his elaboration of the photographic image in these very terms accords with the hauntological).
The life of the photograph as of cinema is lifedeath: at once the life of death and the death of life, life and death co-implicated inextricably, each haunting and cryptically incorporating the other, even as the photograph haunts and cryptically incorporates the world and the subject – photographer, viewer, analyst – in its lifedeath, making every analysis of it the ghost and crypt of an analysis. We could put it thus: every photo is an animate,
animated and animating “drive,” one moving at once forward and backward, as if every photo were a kind of side-view rear-view mirror on a vehicle in motion. Every photo is a leave-taking, a taking leave, of something that at the same time will not simply and totally leave. As Baudrillard writes:
…everything pivots upon the art of disappearance. But nevertheless, this process of disappearing has to leave some kind of trace, be this the site at which the other, the world or the object appears… Every photographed object is simply the trace left behind by the disappearance of everything else.14
The photo shows what takes leave of taking leave, of what remains/returns from the Other, from the radical Other: death.
As Baudrillard states in Symbolic Exchange and Death, the model of all Others, the model exclusion, is “of the dead and of death”.15 The photo does not show death directly. Nothing could. It shows, Baudrillard says, “what remains of the Other when s/he isn’t there”.16 It shows what uncannily takes leave of death to return to the living, even as in its coming to appear, in its drawing forth, it is at the same time disappearing, withdrawing, taking leave, and vice versa. Here erupts the animatingexperience of: the attraction (the shock that simultaneously attracts and repels the viewer) that Gunning characterizes for cinema; Benjamin’s posthumous shock; Barthes’ punctum, his mourning and melancholy; Benjamin’s notion of aura (for Benjamin, variously, “the unique appearance of a distance, however close it may be”; breath; shadow; emanation, exhalation, to be inhaled); and Barthes’ notion of air (a distinctive impression of character or aspect), avatar of Benjamin’s notion of aura. It should be noted of these processes of animation that breath is there in the Webster’s Dictionary definition of animation as what animates; shadow, spectre, is key thematic of this essay; and magical emanation is used by both Barthes and Baudrillard to characterize the photograph.17
Or should I not say rather Benjamin’s second notion of aura, one which for me haunts his first. His two theories of aura are explicated by Samuel Weber in his essay “Mass Mediauras, or: Art, Aura and Media in the Work of Walter Benjamin.” If Benjamin’s first theory was linked to a unique, authentic origin “here and now,” his later theory, articulated in “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire,” is a radical revision/reversion of the first. For here, he proposes aura as leave-taking, for Weber “the singular leave-taking of the singular,” “no longer the other of reproduction and repetition but their most intimate effect”.18 Such leave-taking is given compelling instantiation for Weber in Baudelaire’s figure of the passante, the veiled widow in mourning who suddenly appears out of a crowd to the poet and as suddenly disappears into it, lost forever to him, her apparition for the poet a posthumous shock followed by a posthumous aftershock of mourning and melancholy. “Un éclair…puis la nuit!” The result of this reanimating encounter with death as seduction, as illusion, as spectre, is the posthumous poem itself, “A une passante”(“To the one who at once passes to come and comes to pass”) – who disappears to appear and appears to disappear.
Analogously, the photograph is the result of such an encounter, one akin to the soldier’s encounter with Death in the marketplace in the story “Death in Samarkand,” which Baudrillard retells in his book Seduction.19 Here, there is another double shock: in this case not only that of the soldier but that of Death itself, who had not expected an encounter with the soldier until his rendez-vous with him at Samarkand. So the photograph’s is a penultimate rendez-vous with Death, not the rendez-vous with Death at Samarkand itself. Every photograph is such a seductive rendez-vous, such a shocking rendez-vous, wounding the viewer multiply and perpetually. The photograph effects a metamorphosis, not only of the object but of the subject, including the photographer, as well as of everyday reality, making them
enter its realm, even despite themselves. The Zelig effect of seduction, of strange attraction. It makes them disappear, take leave, take leave of themselves, leads them astray, brings them and everyday “reality” to an end. Its end. Every photo is pivot, the point of the turn of seduction, of reversibility, dead point, blind spot, black hole, a cut-out opening onto illusion as “reality.” As Baudrillard says: “…illusion is not the opposite of reality but another more subtle reality which enwraps the former kind in the sign of its disappearance”.20
Every photo is taken from the perspective of the Other, the necrospective, what I call the “vanishing point of view.” Every photo is taken from, and takes the world and the subject to, the final point, the final point they can be taken to. Their disappearance, their absence, their end. In its. In its fatality. Its singularity. Here Baudrillard’s aptly “titled” Punto Final 1997
(final point, final punctum, final poignancy – poignancy being the pain of being pricked, wounded – the point of the seduction of reality).21 Here magic begins, the magical operation of reality’s disappearance for Baudrillard.22 Every photo is animated by death, by aura (as bright shadow), by punctum, by air, by the Cryptic Complex, by not only metamorphosis but anamorphosis, that side view, akin to what one sees in Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors
its anamorphotic skull seducing all the production and reproduction of the world of reality so confidently, masterfully, otherwise exhibited therein. In other words, every photo is fatal, including to itself.
For me, the spectre of the photograph is akin to the archaic, Homeric eidolon, a term Barthes names without explication in its own right, en passante, as it were, in Camera Lucida, rather calling that eidolon “the Spectrum of the Photograph, because this word retains, through its root, a relation to ‘spectacle’ and adds to it that rather terrible thing which is there in every photograph: the return of the dead”.23 Even as for me his Spectrum makes the eidolon (spectre) the eidos of the photograph for him, itraises the spectre in and of my Cryptic Complex. But let us explore this further. Eidolon, Jean-Pierre Vernant tells us, means double.24 The eidolon comes in three forms. The spectre as eidolon is named psuchè. It is the simulacral figure that leaves the body upon its death to wander as flitting shade in the darkness of the underworld, of Hades. It is the same as Gorky’s spectre of cinema that wanders the Kingdom of Shadows, which is likewise Hades. Psuchèhas a Latin equivalent: anima, which gives us animation. Here, at the “origin” of animation, psuchè as spectral, simulacral eidolon – as, says Vernant, “a breath, a wisp of smoke, a shadow, …” – animates, including for me Benjamin’s, Barthes’ and Baudrillard’s “core” notions of the photograph, spectring, and exorcising with its apparition, its trompe l’oeil, its nothingness, all forms of ontology, including of itself, most notably Plato’s reversal and ontologizing of the Homeric psuchè as soul, inherited in the Latin anima (air, breath, soul, spirit, mind) and in the soul of Christianity. (Bazin’s ontology, too, as I mentioned earlier). In other words, animation – as what I call the animatic (the condition of at once possibility and impossibility of animation as pure presence) – is of the order of the Homeric eidolon, of the double, the spectre, psuchè – of at once this world and “an inaccessible elsewhere.” In such a “light,” psychology would be the “science” (séance!) of the double, of spectres – of psuchai – and every photograph a double exposure.
Every photo is a spectre and a corpse, a haunted chamber and a crypt, each inextricably commingled in the other, doubled like the double aspect of the funerary remembrance of the dead in the Homeric age – the psuchè of the dead one and the dead one’s gravestone in the cemetery. Every photo is a chamber both clear/lucid and obscure, neither simply clear/lucid nor obscure, at the same time.
The “life of its own” of the photograph is also that of the object – lifedeath – marking not just the duel between the photograph and the object
but their complicity, their collusion. Lifedeath is not simply still. While there is always something inanimate in animation, that inanimate is not simply inanimate either.25 There is always some animation in it. One could say: the still life is life still.
We would say that the cinematograph ghosts the photograph, and the photograph the cinematograph, each the spectre and the corpse, the haunted house/chamber and crypt, of the other. Though Gorky does not explicitly put it this way, his description of what he apprehended at Aumont’s – those “grey,” “soundless” spectres – can be so read. (Of course, one meaning of “still” is soundless, silent, mute.)
Here, we turn to Barthes’ essay “The Third Meaning: Research notes on some Eisenstein stills.” Barthes’ film still as third meaning of film26 – what lies between the “purely animate” and the “purely inanimate” – faces for me at once toward the photographic and the cinematographic, enwraping, enshrouding, spectring and encrypting both, a third for me “nonmeaning” generalizable as the still, the still as the in between, as at once the inanimation of animation and the animation of inanimation – as the animatic, the condition of possibility and at the same time impossibility of at once pure animation (pure motion, pure metamorphosis, pure becoming) and pure inanimation (pure nonmotion, pure nonmetamorphosis, pure nonbecoming). This animatic could be called suspended animation.
This would be akin to Barthes’ characterization of the photograph as Sleeping Beauty.27 (I wonder: does she dream of eidola?) In this undecidable figure of the still as at once animate and inanimate, we see the photograph marked as weird hybrid of at once an instant of time, a small duration of time – for me, the still of duration, as in something is still going on—and time frozen, time removed from time – the still of petrification, of cryogenization – the freeze-frame. It is telling that this frozen instant is capable of being released in time as a movie, for which it serves as virtual seed, even as the movie, as actualization of that seed, is virtually exchangeable with that seed.28 If a movie is a syntagma of photographs (the actualized animation of its virtual animation), a photograph is a paradigmatic movie (the virtualized animation of its actual animation). Here I refer the reader to Baudrillard’s
Le Touquet 1995, a photograph for me “littorally” ghosted by and ghosting Chris Marker’s 1962 film animation La Jetée, a “ghost” movie made of freeze-frames, of “stills-in-motion,” just like every movie.
So two points must be made here: first, for me, Barthes’ film still is the photograph, making the photograph thereby anything but “simple.” Second, I do not agree with Barthes that “The photograph itself is in no way animated”.29 Its animation is that of the still as we have thought it here, as that which lies between the still of nonmotion and the still of motion, commingling them inextricably: the still as motion non-motion – both moving and not moving, neither simply moving nor simply not moving, at the same time; the still as lifedeath – both alive and dead, neither simply alive nor simply dead, at the same time.
I draw support for this position in Baudrillard’s declaration: “Genuine stillness is not the immobility of a static body, but the stillness of a weight on the end of a pendulum that has barely stopped swinging and is still vibrating imperceptibly”.30 Such for me would be the “strange stasis” of the photograph, a phrase Barthes uses in writing of the photograph in Camera Lucida,31 but that, unlike Barthes, for me marks a stasis, “an arrest,” that would be anything but pure stasis, pure arrest. Indeed, Barthes’ “strange stasis” finds uncanny resonance in Baudrillard’s theorizing of the photograph as operating as strange attractor of chaos theory,32 a theorization reflected in Baudrillard’s characterization here of “genuine stillness.”
But what of photography now? Digital photography? Is it photography still? If the work of photography is the via negativa, the work of the negative,33 the work of digital photography would be the denegating of the negative, but not in any aufhebung, any dialectical transcending and synthesis, rather in a transdescending. In other words, if the first order of photography is the hauntological and the second the ontological, for me the third is the oncological, “pure,” cancerous positivity – the order of digital “photography.” The oncology of the photographic image is an oncology of neither photography as photography nor the image as image. For in the wake of the cinematization of reality
the “photographization” of reality, the virtualization of reality, we have arguably passed from aura as singular leave-taking of the singular, from what I call homonymically auragin (so spelled, since Benjamin’s second theory of aura spectres all origin as non-originary origin, as singular leave taking of the origin of “itself”), to photosynthesis – computer animation (the reanimation of the world by the computer).34
Cinematography, photography, image, reality and the subject enter their pure and empty, hyper forms with virtual reality, necessitating a quotation mark around each. When they pass into virtual reality – from fragment to fractal, from media to immedia, from afterimage to after(the)image – they pass from what one might call “the spectre, the hell, of the Other” (which can be enchanting, playful, no doubt) to “the spectre, the hell, of the Same”.35 They take leave not from but of the Other, are an anything-but-singular leave-taking of the anything-but-singular. As Baudrillard writes: “He who has no shadow is merely the shadow of himself”.36
Unless, of course, virtual reality (and its mass immedia) is but the hyperreal, metastatic, viral, fractal, clonal avatar of the ecstatic, metamorphotic, vital life of Seduction, of Illusion, of Evil, of radical irreconcilability, of aura so reconceptualized – an hypothesis by definition unverifiable.
In the wake of which singular hypothesis this essay, and I, take our leave.
About the Author
Dr. Alan Cholodenko is Honorary Associate of the Department of Art History and Theory, University of Sydney, Australia.
1 – Maxim Gorky quoted in Colin Harding and Simon Popple. In The Kingdom of Shadows. London: Cygnus Arts, 1996:5.
2 – Maxim Gorky quoted in Tom Gunning, “An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and The (In)credulous Spectator,” Art and Text 34, Spring 1989:34.
< 3 – Ibid.:35.
4 – This information is in Jay Leyda. Kino. New York: Collier Books, 1960:20.
5 – Roland Barthes. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard. London: Jonathan Cape, 1982:20.
6 – Jean Baudrillard. “The Violence of The Image and The Violence Done to The Image,” in Baudrillard West of The Dateline. Victoria Grace, Heather Worth and Laurence Simmons (Editors). Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press, 2003:180.
7 – Benjamin quoted in Samuel Weber, “Mass Mediauras, or: Art, Aura and Media in the Work of Walter Benjamin”. Mass Mediauras: Form, Technics, Media. Alan Cholodenko (Editor). Sydney/Stanford: Power Publications/Stanford University Press, 1996:98.
8 – André Bazin. “The Ontology of the Photographic Image”. What is Cinema? Translated by Hugh Gray. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967:14.
9 – Roland Barthes. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard. London: Jonathan Cape, 1982:15.
10 – Jean Baudrillard. “For Illusion Isn’t The Opposite of Reality…”. In Photographies 1985-1998Germany: Hatje Cantz Publishers, 1999:139.
11 – Eduardo Cadava. “Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History,” in Fugitive Images: From Photography to Video. Patrice Petro (Editor). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995:224.
12 – Alan Cholodenko. “The Crypt, The Haunted House, of Cinema”. Cultural Studies Review, Volume 10, Number 2 (September 2004:107). Given that that whole essay is a meditation after Derrida on the corpse and the crypt, the spectre and the haunted house, in the case of cinema, I ask the reader to consult it as I cannot here provide the kind of elaboration of its terms, processes and logics I would wish, of the spectre; of cryptic incorporation, including that of the world and the subject in the crypt, the haunted house, of cinema, and vice versa; of spectrography, cryptography and thanatography; of spectatorship and of analysis as spectreship, etc. – all of which can and need to be transposed to the thinking of photography.
13 – Jacques Derrida. Specters of Marx. Translated by Peggy Kamuf. New York: Routledge, 1994:178, n3. For Derrida, that logic “is at work, most often explicitly, in all the essays published over the last 20 years…”. (Ibid.) On the graph as writing thought after Derrida, see my “Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or The Framing of Animation,” in The Illusion of Life: Essays on Animation, ed. Alan Cholodenko (Sydney: Power Publications in association with the Australian Film Commission, 1991). On the graph as drawing, including thought after Derrida, see my “The Illusion of The Beginning: A Theory of Drawing and Animation,” in Afterimage, Volume 28, Number 1 (July/August 2000).
14 – Jean Baudrillard. “The Art of Disappearance,” in Jean Baudrillard, Art and Artefact. Nicholas Zurbrugg (Editor). London: Sage Publications, 1997:28.
15 – Jean Baudrillard. Symbolic Exchange and Death. London: Sage Publications, 1993:126.
16 – Jean Baudrillard, “It is The Object Which Thinks Us…”. In Photographies 1985-1998. Germany: Hatje-Cantz, 1999:147.
17 – Roland Barthes. Camera Lucida Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard. London: Jonathan Cape, 1982:80 and 88; Jean Baudrillard. Fragments. London: Routledge, 2004:89.
18 – Samuel Weber. Mass Mediauras: Form, Technics, Media. Alan Cholodenko (Editor). Sydney/Stanford: Power Publications/Stanford University Press, 1996:104.
19 – Jean Baudrillard. Seduction. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.
20 – Jean Baudrillard. “For Illusion Isn’t The Opposite of Reality…”. In Photographies 1985-1998. Germany: Hatje-Cantz, 1999:131.
21 – This point is also marked in these words of Barthes in Camera Lucida, p. 91: “That the Photograph is ‘modern’, mingled with our noisiest everyday life, does not keep it from having an enigmatic point of inactuality, a strange stasis, the stasis of an arrest…”
22 – Jean Baudrillard. “Photography, or Light-Writing: Literalness of the Image,” Impossible Exchange. London: Verso, 2001:140.
23 – Roland Barthes. Camera Lucida Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard. London: Jonathan Cape, 1982:9.
24 – Jean-Pierre Vernant, Mortals and Immortals. Froma I. Zeitlin (Editor). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991. The treatment of eidolon and psuchè and occasional quotes are drawn from Chapter 10.
25 – See my Introduction to The Illusion of Life: Essays on Animation, ed. Alan Cholodenko (Sydney: Power Publications in association with the Australian Film Commission, 1991:28-29), where I write that our three deaths – the one which precedes us, the one which awaits us and the one which lives with us – suggests for animation something profound:
…animation always has something of the inanimate about it, that it is a certain inanimateness that both allows and disallows animation. Animation therefore could never be only animation. It is both and neither animation and nonanimation at the same time. And this would suggest that in a sense the “uncanny” is never not with us, for it would mark the always already returned of the ghost, the zombie, the dead in us – lifedeath. Animation – the simultaneous bringing of death to life and life to death – not only a mode of film (and film a mode of it) but the very medium within which all, including film, “comes to be.” The animatic apparatus – apparatus which suspends distinctive oppositions, including that of the animate versus the inanimate – apparatus of the “uncanny”.
26 – Roland Barthes. “The Third Meaning: Research notes on some Eisenstein stills”. Image-Music-Text. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977:66-67.
27 – Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard. London: Jonathan Cape, 1982:91. Insofar as Barthes postulates the princess falling asleep in Sleeping Beauty as “mythic prototype” of “the Tableau Vivant,” it seems strange he ignores the vivantin that tableau.
28 – See Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989:74.
29 – What Barthes means in this context by “I do not believe in ‘lifelike’ photographs”, which I quoted earlier, is a mystery to me.
30 – Jean Baudrillard, “For Illusion Isn’t The Opposite of Reality…”. In Photographies 1985-1998:135. Here we intersect with Baudrillard’s writings on the object in terms of chaos theory and quantum theory. While the words I have just quoted relate especially to his writings on the strange attractor of chaos theory as well as to quantum theory, in terms of the object of the latter, see, for example, his The Vital Illusion, ed. Julia Witwer (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000:54), as well as pages 76-77, where he states:
…never has science postulated, even as science fiction, that things discover us at the same time that we discover them, according to an inexorable reversibility. We always thought that things were passively waiting to be discovered… But it is not so. At the moment when the subject discovers the object – whether it is an “Indian” or a virus – the object makes a reversible, but never innocent, discovery of the subject. More – it is actually a sort of invention of the subject by the invented object.
[…] It is as if we had torn the object from its opaque and inoffensive stillness, from its indifference, from the deep secret where it was asleep. Today the object wakes up and reacts, determined to keep its secret alive. This duel engaged in by the subject and the object means the loss of the subject’s hegemonic position: the object becomes the horizon of the subject’s disappearance.
It should be noted that he uses the words “stillness” and “asleep,” recalling Sleeping Beauty. I call the process Baudrillard describes “Bugs Bunny’s revenge,” incarnated in Bugs’ “Of course, you realize, this means war” – the revenge for me of the animatic. As for Derrida, the process of turning on is never not operating simultaneously in its doubled implication of on as well as against as the very operation of deconstruction “itself,” a process never delimited to the subject – a process never not of the world.
31 – Roland Barthes. Camera Lucida Reflections on Photography. Translated by Richard Howard. London: Jonathan Cape, 1982:91 (See note 21).
32 – See in this regard his “The Art of Disappearance,” in Jean Baudrillard, Art and Artefact:30, and his “It is The Object Which Thinks Us…,” p. 150.
33 – Baudrillard uses the terms “apophany” and “apophatic” to characterize it, in “Photography, or Light-Writing: Literalness of The Image,” Impossible Exchange:140 and 142.
34 – The use of the term “photosynthesis” in this way is Baudrillard’s in “Aesthetic Illusion and Virtual Reality,” in Jean Baudrillard, Art and Artefact, p. 20. On the reanimation by digital animation of cinema and traditional animation film, see my “‘OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR’: The Virtual Reality of Jurassic Park and Jean Baudrillard,” in Jean Baudrillard, Art and Artefact. The Jurassic Park essay was reprinted in International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Volume 2, Number 1, January 2005:
35 – See Jean Baudrillard. “The Hell of The Same”, in The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena. London: Verso, 1993.
36 – Jean Baudrillard. Fragments. New York: Routledge, 2004:103.