The Cinematic Threshold refers to the operational value of a set of techniques inherent to the filmic, and particular actions these techniques carry out within matter and our perception.
This bases the notion of the performance of cinema, not on a largely psychoanalytic model (cf. Christian Metz) but rather on a model invested in a multiplicitous space of capability- by this I mean an assemblage that works through a combination of the interpretive and the machinic. Thus developed is the notion of the subject formed by an assortment of forces both enunciative and machinic. By enunciative I mean textual, but also imageistic, habitual; narrative in the sense that even an appliance might be, in that it restricts program to a single sequence and function within the logic of capitalist consumption. Machinic forces are those that realize their effect outside of, or within the fabric of, a subject's interpretation. The machinic is to some extent invisible.

The setting up of this invisibility may be revealed through an interrogation of the instrumental qualities inherent in certain filmic techniques. There are analagous techniques of virtuality not limited to the purely cinematic which will also implemement these new degrees and kinds of subjectivity. But let's start with film...

"Movement has an essential relation to the imperceptible; it is by nature imperceptible. Perception can grasp movement only as the displacement of a moving body or the development of a form. Movements, becomings, in other words, pure relations of speed and slowness, pure affects, are below and above the threshold of perception. Doubtless, thresholds of perception are relative; there is always a threshold capable of grasping what eludes another: the eagle's eye... But the adequate threshold can in turn operate only as a function of a perceptible form and a perceived, discerned subject. So that movement in itself continues to occur elsewhere: if we serialize perception, the movement always takes place above the maximum threshold and below the minimum threshold, in expanding or contracting intervals (microintervals). Like the huge Japanese wrestlers whose advance is too slow and whose holds are too fast to see, so that what embraces are less wrestlers than the infinite slowness of the wait (what is going to happen?) and the infinite speed of the result (what happened?). What we must do is reach the photographic or cinematic threshold.."
Cinema 1, p280-1

Deleuze here uncovers a host of concerns; for example, the limits of an individual perception, the relation between speed, time and perception. This project is addressed as well by Walter Benjamin when he says
'The enlargement of a snapshot does not simply render more precise what in any case was visible, though unclear: it reveals entirely new structural formations of the subject.' -The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

The camera is an instrumentality that cuts out a bit of reality and reveals the unthought in it; similarly the moving section is one in the catalogue of filmic techniques that form an instrumental practice occurring in the evolution of cinema, an evolution that moves from the still image and POV to the moving image, to the moving POV/section, to finally a time image. The implications of this development of technology for the subject in relationship to power have been clarified by Jonathan Crary, who notes in reference to early camera technologies:

As a complex technique of power, it was a means of legislating for an observer what constituted perceptual 'truth', and it delineated a fixed set of relations to which an observer was made subject.

This begs the question of how power relationships decide a technology . Greg Lynn addresses this in comments from a recent virtually realized conference (published in print in ANY issue 10, 'mech in tecture') when he writes

There should be a distinction made between more fluid and supple relations of operation in space and time (abstract machines) and the mechanisms produced out of these relations (concrete assemblages). What is interesting is the argument that the diagram comes before the concrete machine: "techniques are selected by diagrams: for example, prison exists as a mechanism only when a new diagram, the disciplinary diagram, makes it cross 'the technical threshold'." The diagram is the social and cultural organization that makes technology possible.

Thus the threshold we are dealing with is one of both perception on a retinal level and perception, or configurations of the subject, on a more distributed plane. It also re-situates our question of the threshold back on the plane of the virtual, as this plane is where the abstract machine lodges its performance. The question is not here the chicken or the egg, but more, how do the two dynamically reconfigure each other- the technique working upon the diagram and vice versa. This brings us to the catalog of instrumentalities, filmic and otherwise.

Any catalog of instrumentalities will be of course incomplete, and should be viewed as highly provisional, and to some degree culturally relative. However what is at stake here is realizing the operative nature they carry, and not defining an essential set of techniques. With that stated, I would like to move from the optic/cinematic, to the computer and its spectrum of possibilities, and finally to look at the intersections between power and the computer's instrumental characteristics. Deleuze identifies numerous techniques which are germaine to this discussion, which I will apply to several films. These instrumentalities are ordered in a sequence that parallels the evolution of cinematic thresholds that Deleuze maps in his Cinema 1&2.

This is a quality diagrammatically exemplified by still photography. Not surprisingly, many representations of architecture adopt the pose as well- static views of buildings frozen, concretized in time (the absence of time). Exceptions might be animations (sic.), some renderings by Zaha Hadid, and the like; or the work of Boccioni- I am thinking in particular of The City Rises, but Boccioni's work in general has a concern with the intersection between time, perception, and technical instrumentaliteis (cf. Sanford Kwinter's recent analysis of the Stati d'Anime series in Assemblage).

A curious example of the pose in film can be found in Gus van Sant's My Own Private Idaho.
I use this example knowing that it is not entirely within the theoretical limitations Deleuze identifies with the pose, however, it is so intriguing I can't resist. In this film, during certain moments of sexual tension, the film denies specular pleasure to the viewer by immersing us in a series of 'poses'. Van Sant uses these poses with intent, unlike the internet which gives us a series of poses because of current technical limitation. The theoretical intent is of course, completely at odds in these examples but the result is somewhat the same. There is a distancing from presence, and as Deleuze notes, the development of a modern theory of montage depends on the idea that cinema has moved beyond this manner of involving us in motion.
"In fact, to recompose movement with eternal poses or with immobile sections comes to the same thing: in both cases, one misses the movement because one constructs a whole, one assumes that all is given, whilst movement only occurs if the whole is neither given nor giveable.' p7, Cinema 1

In the case of My Own Private Idaho, these scenes turn the condition of sexuality on screen on its head, by virtue of their rhythmic and enunciative value within the film; in fact it is interesting exactly because these scenes function as time images, even though Deleuze relegates the pose to the beginning of the evolution of cinema.

Deleuze notes in Cinema 2 that
'... depth of field creates a certain type of direct time-image that can be defined by memory, virtual regions of past... This would be less a function of reality than a function of remembering, of temporalization: not exactly a recollection but 'an invitation to recollect...'-- p109

This notion of depth of field could be linked to painting: like Piero Della Francesca's Flagellation or Velasquez' las Meninas. Counter to it one might posit Uccello's Battle of San Romano as an example of the lateral activation of a visual field. One could also discuss Tarkovski here at length in his explicit use of slow pans across Bruegel's painting Hunters in the Snow in the film Solaris; a lateral cinematic move over a painting that operates primarily through depth of field. Using any of these examples as an oppositional strategy would be a mistake. The point here is that a timing has occured which involves the viewer as a more active participant both perceptually and enunciatively in the space the film creates. This is a technique which intersects tangentially with the interpretive and the narrative in the way that it brings duration into play using the memory explicitly.

2.3 THE EMPTY SET is a technique akin in a way to silence in a musical composition (or an absolute volume/noise) where the screen dissolves utterly into a color. There is an abstract element to this, in fact, which replaces the interpretive in the pose shot; this abstract or sensate realm is where the empty set locates its operative nature. In the opening sequence of Bergman's Persona for example, when our POV dives into the projector's arcing light, thus dissolving the screen in an intensity; such a move exposes in both an enunciative and an instrumental manner the apparatus of the film. As well, Kieslowski uses this technique of the empty set in a more expressionistic manner when in Blue his lead character experiences fugue states- moments of intense anguish and inspiration when she recalls the recent death of her family, or suddenly and cathartically hears the continuation of a symphony she is writing , in lieu of her dead husband. This intensity of darkness, of blue on the screen, is matched with brief passages from the symphony. They do not occcupy the role of transition, but take us both deeper into the experience of the character, and place us out of the filmic- thus problematizing the filmic experience in a sublime, or blissful manner (cf. Pellegrino D'Acierno, Roland Barthes).

Similarly, in the shot used as moving section, which begins to activate the POV of the camera; the shot understood as '...a mobile section, that is, a temporal perspective or a modulation.' Deleuze quotes Epstein: '...For the perspective of the outside he substitutes the perspective of the inside, a multiple perspective, shimmering, sinuous, variable and contractile, like the hair of a Hygrometer.' (One thinks immediately of Roberto Matta's multiperspectival deep space, in works like The Vertigo of Eros.)
Filmically there is a parallel in the travelling tracking shots in Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, which reveal different realities as they transparently pass through architectural boundaries, poches; the intensities of violence swathed in white in the bathroom, in contrast to those in red, or green in the dining room or kitchen. Placing the characters in differently colored yet identical costumes as the pan passes through each architectural boundary is a revealing of the apparatus. For instance; the upward tracking in the opening shot, revealing the scaffolding of the set, emerging from the city set's underbelly to the muted growlings of the packs of wild dogs that populate its back alleys.

Another travelling shot of great interest is the closing scene of The Passenger, which (and I am indebted to Pellegrino D'Acierno's analysis of this shot) sets up a series of limits- the window grate, for instance; and brings us into the climactic scene with perhaps, certain expectations; then lets us see, first, only Nicholson's feet, then, as we enter third person completely and our attention wanders out of the room, through the window, we pass through the barrier of the window and barely notice the gunshot behind us as we transgress this limit and move out into the court beyond. This shot is interesting as well because of it's out of field characteristics, but I mention it here as an example of a focusing of our attention in the way that our POV/character is established in the shot, then transformed, in the course of a movement.

As we see in this travelling shot, the out of field can play a particular role in focusing our attention. As Antonioni uses it in The Passenger, and in Blowup or L'Aventtura, we find that certain rhythms and expectations are set up which take us out of an absentminded apprehension of a narrative sequence in the film, and put us into a state of bliss.This sublime condition of perception/attention is of great interest in the extension of the analysis of the virtually operative in cinema out to other disciplines. Deleuze illustrates:

'In one case, the out of field designates that which exists elsewhere, to one side or around; in the other case the out of field testifies to a more disturbing presence, one which cannot even be said to exist, but rather insist or subsist....the further duration descends into the system like a spider- the more effectively the out of field fulfills its other function which is that of introducing the transspatial and the spiritual into the system which is never perfectly closed.' p17, Cinema 1

In the game Marathon (and also when one surfs the Net using Netscape,) the out of frame is a constant operative element. Marathon even maps Lacan's notion of the gaze as a hostile other, in that one is constantly under threat of attack by aliens; one's presence when surfing the net however is more akin to the sense that one is on an infinite plane of information (perhaps Bryson/Nishitani's notion of sunyata?). But the element that links Marathon and the Net is the possibility of the dialogic. In Marathon, we may immediately enter this dialogic condition by joining forces with other humans 'jacking in' to the game; whereas on the Internet the immediacy of communication is slightly vitiated, but has much more content and more closely approximates Bryson's understanding of other. (These models both differ from the out of frame that we have unpacked above in that the fully dialogic does not emerge from a linear filmic narrative in the way it can through the Net. )

This model is has connexions to the one that we find developed for montage by Deleuze:

'What montage does, according to Vertov, is to carry perception into things, to put perception into matter, so that any point whatsoever in space itself perceives all the points on which it acts, or which act on it, however far these actions and reactions extend. ' p81, Cinema 1

I extend this by noting Deleuze' comment on Tarkovski's conception: '...Tarkovski challenges the distinction between montage and shot when he defines cinema by the 'pressure of time' in the shot. What is specific to the image...is to make perceptible....relationships of time which cannot be seen in the represented object. ' p xvii, Cinema 2 Thus we return to our initial concerns with instrumentality and find them irrupting within the technique of montage.

Let's consider Stan Brakhage's short film 'The Dead'; what seem to be formal camera techniques initially throw us as viewers into an abstract realm. Above and beyond the absence of an explicit narrative, he employs rotations of the camera as a frame, rotation of composited frames within the overarching frame, lengthy continuous tracking and travelling shots, various effects like solarizations and color value inversions of the composited elements, handheld movements juxtaposed against the interminable tracking shots, the overlap of different color treated composites of the same image, which are often rotated against one another, the composite against a tracking shot or a 360 degree pan of its color inverted reverse, and so on. These strategies are initially impenetrable; however, as in the minimal compositions of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and John Adams, after a certain acclimatization period a shift in perception occurs- a shift analogous to the one that an attentive subject also experiences in Dan Graham's pavilion projects, (cf. the installation on the roof of DIA Center for the Arts, Manhattan).

This perceptual shift opens the viewer up to continuously deepening levels of information and rhythms which the work begins to articulate. In this way, the work captures completely the level of simultaneous affect and effect that is a prerequisite for it to become a mise en abyme of the world- a Time-Image. {The performance of this kind of work takes place on many levels- within the enunciative, one can enact a whole series of interpretations on the work, in the way that Rosalind Krauss might- locating the work within an historic trajectory, analyzing the artist for their psychic investments, and so on. } However Brahkage's work also occupies a machinic realm that could be called a radical phenomenology, in the way that it functions purely upon the sensibility of the eye or the ear. It is this abstraction combined with a deep enunciative content that calls forth the question of duration.


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