Thursday, October 27, 2005

Blow Up, Blow Out, and Converse

To continue with the thread on these three films, I wanted to mention Fredric Jameson's brief discussion of the films in his book The Geopolitical Aesthetic (which I like more each time I crack it open). Making an observation similar to the one Brian made in his comment about artistry/craftsmanship, Jameson writes: "At any rate, although both Blow Out and The Conversation retain the referent around which Antonioni's film turned for more problematically (was there really a murder in the first place?), the shift from the visual to the auditory has the (very postmodern) effect of annulling Antonioni's Heideggerian and metaphysical dimension, since it can no longer offer some bewildering Bazinian field of Being for desperate inspection. Not unsurprisingly, this occultation of the 'question of Being' now leaves the text fungible and open to all the manipulations the corporate world can muster. The artist-photographer of the Antonioni film, who still secured the philosoopher's art function although he earned a living by shooting fashion models, here gives way to technicians for sale to the highest bidder" (20). Jameson goes on to point out that in the two American films, the protagonists' spaces are destroyed and the strewn reels of sound equipment are an "auto-referential" marker of their own destruction--tools of reproduction deprived of their ability as soon as they become agents & adornments in the destrcution of these sound labs. (I don't remember this occurrence clearly in Blow Out, but it's true for The Conversation.) In Blow-Up, meanwhile, Hemmings' apartment is torn apart but it's not as if his photographs are thrown about as a sign of technological decay (because, according to Jameson, their very function would not be denied in the process as it would with the ruined audiotape). Unless of course I'm misremembering and there are photographs everywhere in Hemmings' place ...

But these three films aren't the only members of such a club as this--as Filipe pointed out in the comments previously, Deep Red (which I need to see again) should be included. Jameson also talks about Edward Yang's The Terrorizer in conjunction with Blow-Up. In that film it's not so much about the questions an image prompts (and the truths it might conceal in plain sight) but rather the very possibility of capturing some ephemeral truthfulness in a photograph. (It would be as though Hemmings in Blow-Up saw the murder first but wasn't sure if his photograph could capture it.) There were a few gasps in the crowd at MoMA when the giant photocollage of the Eurasian woman revealed itself.

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