The Cinema Philosophy of Deleuze as a Methodology of Reading Screen Dance
스크린 댄스를 읽는 방법론으로서의 들뢰즈의 영화 철학
- Publish: 현대영화연구 Volume 10, Issue1, p229~263, March 2014
오늘날 우리는 대부분의 문화 이벤트를 미디어 스크린을 통해 경험한다. 라이브로 진행되는 퍼포먼스도 예외는 아니다. 댄스와 미디어 스크린의 결합 으로 탄생된 스크린 댄스는 이러한 문화 현상의 대표적인 예다. 이러한 맥락 에서 영화 이론 혹은 철학은 오늘날 시청각 문화를 이해하는 방법론으로 새롭게 제시될 수 있다. 본 연구는 일종의 영화 형식의 댄스인 스크린 댄스의 이미지를 해석하는 방법론으로 들뢰즈의 영화 철학을 고찰한다. 과연 들뢰즈 영화 철학의 운동 이미지와 시간 이미지의 분류체계가 스크린 댄스의 ‘생성 (becomingness)’과 ‘퍼포먼스적인 특성’을 드러내고 해석하는 방법론으로 활용될 수 있을까? 본 연구는 들뢰즈의 영화 철학과 이미지 분류체계를 연구하 고, 들뢰즈의 영화 철학에 근거해 댄스와 스크린 댄스를 이해함으로써 그 질문에 대한 긍정적인 대답을 도출한다. 들뢰즈는 소쉬르의 언어기호학 대신 이미지 중심의 비언어적 기호학을 발전시킨 퍼스의 이론과 베르그송의 움직 임과 시간 철학을 바탕으로 자신만의 고유한 영화 이미지 분류체계를 발전시 켰다. 그리고 언어와 내러티브가 아니라 시각 이미지와 기호를 영화의 기본 적인 요소로 간주했다. 들뢰즈에게 있어 영화의 운동 이미지와 시간 이미지는 탐구되지 않았던 삶의 잠재력을 드러낼 뿐 아니라, 서로 관련 없는 이질 적인 이미지들의 재결합을 통해 삶을 새롭게 보도록 고무하는 매개였다. 이러한 들뢰즈의 아이디어는 스크린 댄스를 이해하는 개념으로 확장될 수 있다. 우선 들뢰즈가 영화에서 보았던 것처럼, 댄스는 순수한 움직임 혹은 리듬 으로 표현되는 예술형식으로서 그 자체가 하나의 생성의 과정으로 볼 수 있다. 이 과정에서 육체의 탐구되지 않은 잠재력들이 실체화 된다. 따라서 들뢰 즈가 발전시킨 영화 철학에 근거해 본다면, 영화와 댄스는 어떠한 역설 없이도 새로운 관계를 정립할 수 있다. 스크린 댄스의 가능성과 힘은 들뢰즈의 영화 철학을 통해 보다 명확하게 이해될 수 있다. 스크린 댄스는 비언어적 표현인 육체의 움직임 이미지와 시간 이미지를 중심으로 표현되는 예술형식 이다. 또 일종의 ‘기계적 눈’인 카메라에 의해 숨겨져 있는 혹은 잠재해 있는 육체가 스크린 표면 위에 드러날 뿐 아니라 클로즈업, 편집 등의 영화 기법에 의해 ‘미세 움직임(micro-movement)’이 시각화 될 수 있다. 이런 것들은 우리로 하여금 새로운 생각을 하고, 우리 안에 내재해 있는 동물성, 타자, 기계성을 마주하도록 고무하면서 우리의 잠재력들을 깨닫게 한다.
스크린 댄스 , 들뢰즈 , 영화 철학 , 운동 이미지 , 시간 이미지 , 생성 , 머스 커닝햄 , 크래인웨이 이벤트
The audiovisual cultural phenomena of our time, especially in the form of moving pictures, seem to be a reasonable response to the dynamically and constantly changing world or our lives. Even live performance has been produced in the form of moving pictures such as screen dance. The influence and dominance of filmic form and technique throughout visualculture has been an important consideration. Since cinema was introduced at the end of the nineteenth century, it has unfolded the experimental ideas and thoughts of artists by visualizing imperceptible potentialities, and by techniques such as editing and camera work, as well as inviting the audience to interact with the images and ideas released from cinema. In this sense, I suggest that film or cinema studies could provide an inspiration to understand this audiovisual culture. ‘Cinema Studies’ has emerged as a contribution to cultural and philosophical debates about the issues of representation, and the relations between perception, movement, and affection. Film theory has contributed to the broadening of perspectives by leading audiences to a new form of dynamic interaction, and to realize potentials which film alone can achieve.
Deleuze has been shed new light on film through his cinema theory. He examined the images and signs of film from creative and sophisticated perspectives, focusing on the aspects of movement and time that film releases. Deleuze considered cinematic images as philosophical concepts rather than linguistic expressions. For Deleuze, the act of seeing as well as making film is involved in philosophical thoughts because new concepts can be created by a way of seeing and thinking differently. In this context, I consider that Deleuze’s cinema theory is appropriate in reading screen dance. Screen dance has been similarly involved in ‘seeing dance differently’ from the more traditional ‘dances on stage,’ as well as being a new art form in its own right. It is also expressed with movements as a non-verbal expression, unfolding in time, which Deleuze considers two major expressions of film.
The adoption and studies of Deleuze’s ideas in dance area has been conducted lately compared to other areas. Dance itself can be seen in a similarly ‘virtual’ dimension on the basis of Deleuze’s cinema theory. Claire Colebrook indicates that dance is both an undetermined virtual event and divergent becomings liberated into the dancer’s body, 1) and José Gil also sees that the dancer’s real body can be seen as a virtual body as ‘multiplicity’ by analyzing Merce Cunningham’s movements and his choreographic principles. 2) Erin Manning considers a body as a ‘becoming-body,’ not a predefinition, towards a final form. 3)
In this context, this paper asks the question: “Can Gilles Deleuze’s taxonomy of the movement and time-images serve as interpretive tools to ‘read’ or ‘unveil’ the ‘becomingness’ and ‘performativity’ of screen dance?” 4) In this paper, I examine Deleuze’s film theory in order to propose a way of reading screen dance, focusing on the main ideas such as the movement and time-images, becoming, power, and so forth. Also I interpret a screen dance work through the lens of Deleuze’s philosophy of cinema, in particular the taxonomy of the movement and time-image.
1)Claire Colebrook, “How Can We Tell the Dancer from the Dance?: The Subject of Dance and the Subject of Philosophy”, Topoi, 24, Spring 2005, pp.5-14. 2)José Gil, “The Dancer’s Body” in Brian Massumi (Ed.), A Shock to Thought: Expression after Deleuze and Guattari, Routledge, London and New York, 2002, pp.117-127. 3)Erin Manning, Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy, The MIT Press, Cambridge and London. 2009, p.6. 4)Screen dance is a genre of dance which unfolded through screen of media such as television, video, film, and electronic devices. It has been created in collaboration with choreographers, dancers, and film-makers with cinematic techniques. See about the definition of screen dance in Eun Yi Lee, “The Emergence and Definition of Screen Dance”, 『현대영화연구논문집』 [Contemporary Film Studies], Vol. 16, 2013, pp.171-200.
Amongst his broad ideas covering literature, art, theatre and philosophy, Deleuze’s cinema theory provides deep insights into audiovisual-centred postmodern culture. Deleuze’s two volumes on cinema,
Cinema 1: The Movement-Image(1983) and Cinema 2: The Time-Image(1989), show Deleuze’s perspectives on film, containing analysis of many specific films. Although their titles define the books as relating to film theory, Deleuze claims in the preface of Cinema 1that they nevertheless cannot be confined to film theory alone or indeed solely to the history of cinema. Instead, he notes that his study is “taxonomy, an attempt at the classification of images and signs.” 5) As he states, Deleuze specifies the movement-images in terms of six types, that is, the perception-image, the affection-image, the action-image, and so on in Cinema 1, considering films of pre-war period. The second book Cinema 2reveals his thoughts on time, focusing on the modern avant-garde cinema of the post-war period. 6)
However, of some importance in this taxonomy is the relation between movement and time, that is to say, a way of seeing the emergence of time through these types of images and signs, rather than just their classification and definition. Most of all, Deleuze examined how time emerges
throughimages, and further how new concepts and thoughts emerge in the process of change and transformation. In this sense, D. N. Rodowick claims that Deleuze’s film theory is essentially a philosophy of temporal phenomena: “Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy is, in the deepest and most complex ways, a philosophy of time.” 7) John Rajchman also defines that Deleuze’s cinema books are not about the history of film as such, but rather a philosophy defined through film in the manner of the ‘montage books’ of a roving philosophical spirit. 8)
Deleuze’s film theory represents his philosophy not of cinema, but through cinema. It reflects Deleuze’s deep philosophical insights and broad knowledge, weaving together the philosophies of Henri Bergson, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Baruch Spinoza, Friedrich Nietzsche, David Hume, and so forth with his own ideas. Unlike many French film theories, Deleuze developed a specifically non-linguistic semiotics. He adopted the non-linguistic theory of the analytic philosopher Charles S. Peirce, in opposition to the authentic Saussurian linguistic semiology which most culture and film theory adopts, because “for Deleuze, narrative is a secondary product of a structure of time and space” structured by common sense of human beings according to their needs, desires, purposes, and so on. 9) Deleuze tried to see more fundamental visual signs and images rather than linguistic and narrative signs in film. Deleuze explains Peirce’s semiotics in the following terms:
Rather, Deleuze considered linguistic signs an obstacle to seeing anew and thinking creatively. Deleuze insisted on the autonomy of visual images and signs, instead of their being subordinated to linguistic signs. 11) That is why Deleuze’s film theory provides a new way of theorising audiovisual culture, in particular screen dance which linguistic signs are excluded.
As well as adopting Peirce’s semiotics, Deleuze drew on Bergson’s concept of time in his theory. Bergson defined time as an ‘open whole,’ or so-called ‘durée.’ This means that time is experienced as a dynamic continuation or ‘infinitely divisible continuum,’ that is, the present is preserved immediately and continuously in past moments and projects towards the unforeseeable and undetermined open future; it coexists with the virtual past as a giant memory. 12) Also, in his book
Creative Evolution(1907), Bergson considered movement in a different way, stressing that it is a transition of quality as well as position in space. For instance, when sugar dissolves water, there is a qualitative transformation among individual elements as parts of an open whole, including sugar, water, glass, and a waiting person, not merely changes the form of water or sugar. The movements of individual parts of an open whole actualize durée in transforming, and also the relation of movements among the parts expresses the open whole via its changing insistently. 13)
5)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, (Trans.) Hugh Tomlinson & Barbara Habberjam, Continuum, London and New York, 2005, p.xix. 6)Ibid, p.xi. 7)D. N. Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2003, p.xiii. 8)John Rajchman, “Deleuze’s Time, or How the Cinematic Changes Our Idea of Art”, in D. N. Rodowick (Ed.), Afterimages of Gilles Deleuze’s Film Philosophy, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London, 2010, p.299. 9)Ronald Bogue, Deleuze on Cinema, Routledge, New York and London, 2003, p.66. 10)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, (Trans.) Hugh Tomlinson & Robert Galeta, Continuum, London and New York, 2005, p.29. 11)Ronald Bogue, “To Choose to Choose - to Believe in This World” in D. N. Rodowick (Ed.), Afterimages of Gilles Deleuze’s Film Philosophy, p.126. 12)Ronald Bogue, Deleuze on Cinema, pp.13-18. 13)Ibid, pp.23-28.
On the basis of Peirce’s and Bergson’s theories, Deleuze created his own taxonomy of images and signs of cinema, translating their concepts into his own words and adding some new images and signs which he created himself. Deleuze’s taxonomy of the movement-images and signs consists of six movement-images and about eighteen signs. The six movement-images are named as perception image, action image, affection image, impulse image, reflection image, and relation image. Each image usually consists of three signs (one genetic sign and two compositional signs). Therefore, there are about eighteen signs in the movement-image, including dicisign, gramme, qualisign, synsign, etc. 14) On the other hand, the time-image consists of about eight signs, including opsign, sonsign, mnemosign, onirosign, hyalosign, chronosign, noosign, lectosign, etc. Deleuze classified them according to their ways of revealing time. For example, the crystal image as hyalosign is an image which shows the present and the past simultaneously, and Deleuze presented the crystal image as “the most fundamental operation of time.” 15) This crystal image can be explained in terms of Bergson’s concept of time, that is, the present being split into the two directions of the past and the future. While the past is preserved and the future does not come yet, the present is shown as an actual image coexisting with the virtual layers of the past like in the forms of memory. As a specific example, the crystal images are shown to be the coexistence of the real or actual with the fictional or virtual world, like a reflection in the mirror showing the real and fictional image simultaneously. 16) In relation to Deleuze’s film theory, we need to define carefully the meaning of the word ‘virtual.’ This is different from the usual use of virtual as ‘imagined’ or ‘simulated’ like in the term, ‘virtual reality,’ which is actual, rather than virtual. Deleuze defines virtual as ‘space of possibility or potentiality,’ like the past moments which do not ever become actualized. 17) Consequently, these time-images, which Deleuze suggests, make spectators confused due to the coexistence of real and fictional images.
Deleuze saw that the emergence of the time-image is caused by breaking of the sensori-motor schema which is “an instrument for translating an external movement via the senses into an ensuing motor action.” 18) In other words, it is a schema which induces responses or movements by connecting external stimuli and inner feelings or thoughts. According to the definition, breaking of the sensori-motor schema means that an external movement cannot be translated into a motor action in a ‘natural’ way. The connection or linkage between external stimuli and inner senses and action as ‘continuity’ of a chain of causes and effects are weakened or collapsed entirely. As a representative example, Deleuze saw this in the new images or time-images of the Italian neorealism cinema: “What defines neo-realism is this build-up of purely optical situations (and sound ones, although there was no synchronized sound at the start of neo-realism), which are fundamentally distinct from the sensori-motor situations of the action-image in the old realism.” 19)
In Neorealism, the connections provoked by the sensori-motor schema are collapsed, so that the images of purely seeing and hearing without any direct links to actions or responses emerge as if the characters are viewers rather than an actor. As Deleuze says, the characters “see and hear what is no longer subject to the rules of a response or an action.” 20) Deleuze defined these images as ‘opsigns’ and ‘sonsigns,’ and assimilates various phenomena to these types of images by exemplifying specific images, such as everyday banality, exceptional or limit-circumstances like disconnected or empty spaces called ‘any-space-whatever,’ subjective images, memories of childhood, sound and visual dreams or fantasies, and objective images. 21) Instead of being connected to a specific action or movement, time is revealed as a passage and as a becoming itself, without depending on any special plot or characterisation. The passage or becoming itself is time and also reveals time. Defining them as a ‘direct time-image,’ Deleuze states that time changes everything: “a direct time-image, which gives what changes the unchanging form in which the change is produced… The still life is time, for everything that changes is in time, but time does not itself change, it could itself change only in another time, indefinitely.” 22)
The opsigns and sonsigns make possible the perception of time as an image. Furthermore, Deleuze suggested that these images are liberated from the sensori-motor schema to become opsigns and sonsigns, and, by extension, they have to be re-linked with other images to reveal time directly. 23) According to Deleuze, ‘chronosigns’ are a time-image, ‘lectosigns’ are a readable image, and ‘noosigns’ are a thinking image. The lectosigns and noosigns are extended from the chronosigns. Deleuze found these chronosigns in Orson Welles and Alain Resnais’s films. Welles juxtaposes various shots such as close-up, mid-shot, and long-shot in a frame to produce a depth of field between foreground and background; he also thereby changes a spatial dimension into a temporal dimension. The chronosigns which are shown as the dimensions of the past coexist in his films such as
Citizen Kane(1941) in which chronological time appears suspended. Deleuze comments on the depth of the cinema concept that Welles created:
Whereas, Resnais mainly deals with memories of characters, in particular with regard to the victims of Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Guernica, and so on, as a main motif or background leading to a narrative or story. In Resnais’s films including
Je t’aime je t’aime(1968) and L’amour à mort(1984), the sheets of memory return to the present. Resnais was interested in the ‘cerebral mechanism’, ‘mental functioning’, the ‘process of thought’, and considered the ‘true element of cinema.’ 25) Therefore, a new image or the image of thought emerges through irrational linkages between contrasting elements, for example, reality and memory, or between full and empty space. Deleuze defined these cerebral components as “the point-cut, relinkage, and the black or white screen,” which induce the thinking images called ‘noosigns.’ 26) Deleuze saw the emergence of ‘lectosigns,’ through irrational linkages between audio and visual images. Marguerite Duras’s films are representative examples to show lectosigns, which Deleuze introduces at the end of Cinema 2. In her film India Song(1975), the visual image and sound are separated from each other, and subsequently become autonomous. For example, we see a character who keeps silent, but at the same time hear the voice of the character from outside of the frame. Consequently, as Deleuze indicates, a non-relationship between sound and visual image forces us to read the visual images without depending on the sound, such as dialogue or speaking, as if we are listening to a voice from a different time. 27) The sound and visual images work separately from the original context, and insist as pure visual and sound images. In the film, a pure visual image would be shown as an empty or disconnected space or flowing spaces such as seas and rivers. Otherwise, a pure sound image could be a cry emanating from the out-of-frame without being given its subject in the current frame. The time-image through lectosigns reveal the whole as time or sound in frames, and are expanded to the whole beyond frame or linguistic structure, shifting from a direct relation to a free indirect relation.
As speaking and seeing are reconnected after separating from each other, they could form a new relationship in a new context. This can be compared to that literature in which the readers try to outré-enchain new passages in a subjectively creative way, as Robert Brinkley suggests. Brinkley compares Deleuze’s suggestion of reconnecting the elements as an experimental reading or mapping, by mentioning John Cage’s statement:
The separation from the original context and its subsequent reconnection seem to be an essential process to the invention of the new. This represents the ‘power’ of cinema, which Deleuze theorised through both the movement-images and time-images. The images force the spectators to read, think, rethink, philosophize, and ‘at last’ face ‘the truth.’ However, they lead the spectators to face the truth not by presenting the truth itself but by falsifying it, in other words, by breaking spectators’ habitual thoughts or beliefs about what is ‘natural,’ because narration ceases the claims to truth, and makes a new relationship with visual images. The relationship between visual and sound is separated, changed, metamorphosed, replaced, and redefined by the ‘power of the false’ of the time-images. 29) Deleuze states: “the new wave deliberately broke with the form of the truth to replace it by the powers of life, cinematographic powers considered to be more profound.” 30)
As cinema forces the spectator to think or philosophize, it forces us to explore the domains of the virtual such as thoughts, memories, and abstract changes on the basis of the actual domain. Ultimately, the virtual and actual images become indiscernible, as if the virtual dimensions of memory intervene into the present incessantly. Therefore, the emergence of time-image is an “Event wherein each passing present yields to the unforeseeable, the unpredictable, and the emergence of the new.” 31) Due to the power of the false, everything can be expanded and changed in thought. That is the ‘powers of thought’ emerging through the direct time-images. 32) In this context, Rodowick defines that the powers of thought are a sort of “a deep and complex meditation on time.” 33) Colebrook also indicates that Deleuze’s cinema theory is not mere philosophy:
Deleuze’s cinema theory bypasses other theories of postmodernism which have been significantly influenced by media. As media develop, many people have thought that the result has been as transformation to think passively and uncritically. However, Deleuze could be distinguished here, because he considered media, in particular film, as a power itself, and in a positive way.
For Deleuze, cinema’s superiority over the live genres of art, and the concept of time in media, depends on the camera, because camera lets us experience this world beyond human beings’ normal perception. The camera sees the world without any perspective organized in advance, while we see and perceive the world according to our interests and subjective perspectives. 35) When the camera is connected to human eye, it becomes a machinic eye. Due to the machinic eye, a machinic image can be given beyond normal human perception as an inhuman perception. 36) Through the machinic perception, seeing differently and thinking anew can be achieved. Rodowick says: “To become-other, we need an image to wake the other in us as what yet remains unthought.” 37)
14)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, pp.221-223. 15)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, pp.78-79. 16)Ibid, pp.67-68. 17)Ibid, pp.77-78. 18)Ronald Bogue, Deleuze on Cinema, p.30. 19)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, pp.2-3. The spelling of sensory-motor from the original text was corrected to sensori-motor according to general usage. 20)Ibid, p.3. 21)Ibid, p.6. 22)Ibid, p.16. 23)Ibid, p.22. 24)Ibid, p.105. 25)Ibid, p.202. 26)Ibid, p.207. 27)Ibid, p.246. 28)Robert Brinkley, “What is a Minor Literature?”, Mississippi Review, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1983, p.14. 29)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, pp.127, 130-131. 30)Ibid, p.131. 31)D. N. Rodowick (Ed.), Afterimages of Gilles Deleuze’s Film Philosophy, p.xvii. 32)D. N. Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine, p.84. 33)Ibid, p.x. 34)Claire Colebrook, Gilles Deleuze, Routledge, London and New York, 2002, p.37. 35)Ibid, p.32. 36)Ibid, p.57. 37)D. N. Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine, p.201.
Deleuze did not leave behind any essays or books specifically about dance, although sometimes he mentioned dance or dancers in his books. 38) Nevertheless, it seems that dance is a ‘Deleuzian’ art form idiomatically, in terms of expression of the body itself without depending on language, and without leaving any specific formal product as an end. Dance is an extra-linguistic and open art form which is shown through process and movement. Colebrook comments:
It is worth noticing a special issue of
Dance Research Journal(Summer 2010) which deals with the issue of the states of the dancer’s body in regard to Deleuze’s ‘potential’ body. The editor Mark Franko points out that Deleuze’s philosophy has inspired researchers who analyze dances which resist traditional and representative structures, such as avant-garde or postmodern dance. 40) Furthermore, Franko suggests that Deleuze’s theory, which argues against the ‘cult’ of representation, can provide some clues to understand “what the body can do.” 41)
Dance is a very ‘Deleuzian’ art from because dance shows how virtual and actual are co-extensive in the act of movement, and in the dance as immanent construction, as well as being an art form that reflects the process or becoming of life. Consequently, dance can be considered as the “zone of proximity, indiscernibility, or indifferentiation” in Deleuze’s terms. Colebrook comments:
This comment “the art of dance is inhuman” is of some importance. By definition, inhuman means non-human beings such as animal, machine, rhythm, and so on. Reversely speaking, it can be said that non-human beings such as animal, machine, and rhythm are inhuman and also in/human. This meaning of a reversed sentence is rather closer to Deleuze’s idea of potentiality. In Deleuze’s perspective, every becoming is nothing less than becoming the Other, in other words, something suppressed and cut which could not be incorporated into history or into our consciousness. In this sense, dancing as pure movement and rhythm beyond representation is a releasing of animality or the Other in/human, in other words, it creates “the track of an animal” as Ronald Bogue puts it. 43)
As a matter of fact, if we take Bogue’s suggestion in its literal meaning, we can see why the concept of ‘animal’ has been such a recurring theme in dance. ‘Animal’ dance is a ritual releasing animality or desire through human beings. For example, Merce Cunningham used to choreograph animal dances such as
Beach Birds(1991). Gabriele Brandstetter’s recent essay “Dancing the Animal to Open the Human: For a New Poetics of Locomotion”deals with Cunningham’s animal dance Beach Birdsin terms of ‘Biopolitics.’ Brandstetter sees animal dances as an expression of the ‘Other’ or inhuman separated from man in/human. In fact, this concept of ‘Biopolitics,’ which Brandstetter also adopts, was initially suggested by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, who has written extensively on the division between man and animal. Agamben sees that ‘man’ is only separated from animal by contingent logocentric and/or political operations or representations. On the basis of Agamben’s perspective, Brandstetter situates the possibility of reaching the non-man or animality suppressed by human beings’ logocentrism and politics in animal dances: “it seems that the physical reflection of the “animal” and “animal locomotion” in dance also implies the possibility of giving movement expression to the fleetingness, the vulnerability, the aliveness of the “Other”.” Brandstetter by and large divides animal dances into three categories; a) ritual animal dances, b) poetic animal transformation, and c) Biopolitics of animal dance. 44) Both ritual and poetic animal dances such as classical ballet Swan Lakeare based on imitation or representation of animal’s movements and poses, drawing shamanistic power into the human’s body or projecting desires, such as the wish to fly like a bird. While these two categories still imply man’s mastery power for animal, animal dances belong to the last category- i.e. that which affects and moves us, arousing our animality beyond mere imitation. As a representative example, Brandstetter describes that Cunningham’s Beach Birdsis as though a flock of birds move, but is not the dancers imitating birds’ movements: “Not expression (in the sense of mimesis) but a “showing” in which there is always a suggestion of a “showing of oneself” in the physical-gesticulatory-material sense (Boehm 2007) is as the core of Cunningham’s concept of an aesthetic of motion.” 45) Although he does not mention Deleuze in the essay, Brandstetter’s approach to animal dances seems to be quite Deleuzian with regard to ‘becoming the Other.’
“What also then, can the body do?” Or as Brandstetter questions, “where does dance come in?” A dancing body can be seen as a ‘regression to animal’ or ‘return of the Other’ as potentialities in terms familiar from Deleuze. In this sense, the dance or the dancer are aspects of a pure force, and let the spectator experience anew, and are also anti-historical and apolitical. Therefore, the dance or the dancer’s body becomes ‘any-body-whatever’ entering to “the zone of proximity, indiscernibility, or indifferentiation where one can no longer be distinguished from a woman, an animal, or a molecule” in Deleuze’s perspective. 46)
38)Deleuze saw that dance is a pure action or liberated art-form from “purpose and personal intention” when he commented on Nietzsche: “To create is to lighten, to unburden life, to invent new possibilities of life. The creator is legislator - dancer” or “Evaluations are so distorted that we can no longer see that the carrier is a slave, that what he carries is a slavery, that the carrier is a carrier of the weak - the opposite of a creator or a dancer.” Gilles Deleuze, Pure Immanence: Essays on A Life, (Trans.) Anne Boyman, Zone Books, New York, 2001, pp.69, 79. 39)Claire Colebrook, “How Can We Tell the Dancer from the Dance?: The Subject of Dance and the Subject of Philosophy”, p.7. 40)Mark Franko (Ed.), Dance Research Journal, 42/1, Summer 2010, p.v. 41)This question “what can a body do?” mentioned by Franko has been questioned by theorists who have tried to understand the body on the basis of Deleuze’s philosophy. In fact, this question is originated from Spinoza’s famous statement: “Nobody as yet has learned from experience what a body can and cannot do.” Spinoza cited in Ibid. 42)Claire Colebrook, “How Can We Tell the Dancer from the Dance?: The Subject of Dance and the Subject of Philosophy”, p.13. 43)Ronald Bogue, Deleuze on Literature, Routledge, New York and London, 2003, p.156. 44)Gabriele Brandstetter, “Dancing the Animal to Open the Human: For a New Poetics of Locomotion” in Mark Franko (Ed.), op. cit, pp.4-7. 45)Ibid, pp.8-9. 46)Herbert Blau, “Performing in the Chaosmos: Farts, Follicles, Mathematics and Delirium in Deleuze” in Laura Cull (Ed.), Deleuze and Performance, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2009, p.25.
Although it seems that Deleuze was not directly involved in dance, we can nevertheless understand dance on the basis of Deleuze’s philosophy because of common ideas in both cases, that is, in terms of a pure force or becoming. In fact, for Deleuze, this is likely to be of little importance, (distinguishing one genre from others), because Deleuze’s ideas are not ‘territorialized,’ like in his own taxonomy of images and signs of cinema, but also opened or ‘deterritorialized.’ Rather, he aimed to create new contexts by using extra-linguistic elements, and by ‘crossing-over’ to other genres of arts, for example, via a readable film (Duras), a performative philosophy (Nietzsche), a performative literature (Franz Kafka), a screaming painting (Francis Bacon), and a dance becoming animal (Cunningham).
To these examples, I would like to add one more work that is screen dance. Screen dance, the combination of two pure movements of cinema and dance, can be seen as a natural consequence, despite their non-relationship. Deleuze suggests: “What constitutes the audio-visual image is a disjunction, a dissociation of the visual and the sound, each heautonomous, but at the same time an incommensurable or ‘irrational’ relation which connects them to each other….” 47) Through the reconnections of heterogeneous elements, such as actual body/virtual force, movement/time, camera’s machinic eye/human’s natural eye, and media/dance, screen dance releases the unexplored potentialities of life and transforms it anew.
Over the last decade, philosophical and theoretical approaches to screen dance, in particular with regard to Deleuze’s philosophy, have been conducted, and these efforts started to come to fruition. I introduce several research works based on the ideas of Deleuze.
Screen dance has been produced by artists who have tried to expand the boundary of traditional dance and create new expressions. Their attempts remind me of Carmelo Bene whom Deleuze considered an experimental playwriter making the system ‘stutter’ by amputating and changing important elements such as characters’ roles from the original play. Like Bene, the artists would create screen dance with cinematic techniques such as editing and restructuring as if they amputate and reconnect some parts from the original live work or scenes from the rehearsals. In her short essay
“Through Screens,”Simon Ellis writes on the process of her work as a creator of screen dance: “Such fallings (onto the screen) involve repositioning a film’s subjects from the rehearsed and the responsive, to their manifestations in dance in the edit. It is as if a new choreography has begun and that which is already made is remade.” 48) Ellis starts this essay with an ontological question arising when a live performance in three-dimensional space is translated into a two-dimensional screen: “What happens on the surface of the screen?”
Ellis finds an answer in the article
“Falling into the Surface”(1999) by Pia Ednie-Brown who examines architectural process drawing on the ideas of Deleuze, Guattari, and Bergson. Although we see a building as a fixed form, Ednie-Brown argues that the building is a vibrating matter containing ‘living bodies,’ in Bergson’s terms. It is actualising the virtual dimensions through design or architectural processes. The surface of a building is not an exterior boundary but rather a process actualising or materialising potential energies or forces responding to the environment or exterior stimulations. Ednie-Brown says:
Adopting this idea of surfacing to screening dance, Ellis argues that screening is not falling into the “flatness of the screen” but arousing potential forces or energies from the screen. Although Ellis did not mention Deleuze directly, she tries to connect screen dance to Deleuzian idea of virtuality and actuality.
Manning also shows her interests in the ideas of Deleuze such as becoming, pure force, and virtual potentiality. Manning explores the durational force which is latent in the surface or final form of every object and event, preaccelerated until we experience an event or object. In particular, she suggests that the convergence of film and movement, represented in screen dance, is experimentation to explore durational flows. As examples to show this dynamic process, she considers two dance works; animation dance
Par de deux(1968) by Norman McLaren and Rosas danst Rosas(1997) by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and Thierre de Mey. The former is a technical experimentation with a chronophotographic apparatus to explore how to display the process of dance or movement in film. It traces two ballet dancers’ movements and films and captures intervals in between frames. As a result, it animates a trajectory composed of outlines of the ballet dancers’ bodies, losing their corporeality. Manning understands this work as a process of that the actual dancers’ bodies transforming into the virtual dimension. 50)
Manning also reads
Rosas danst Rosas, focusing on the relationship between camera, ground, dancer, choreographer, and viewer. She considers that these are related organically and work actively pulling and pushing one another. For example, the ground on which the dancers fall is not a concrete surface as we perceive generally but could be a “grounding of weightlessness” like a “landing into thin air.” 51) The camera does not work as a machine but as a protagonist dancing with the dancers and moving us, as well as directing with the choreographer. Viewers are involved in the dance physically, feeling the rhythm and moving with the dancers. Through these screen dance works, Manning points out a dynamic and organic transforming process of the actual objects and the virtual potentialities in the terms of Deleuze.
Although Manning tries to approach screen dance in its various aspects on the basis of the ideas of Deleuze, in comparison with the other authors it seems that her ideas are rather ambiguous and abstract because she does not put follow the views of Deleuze closely. Brannigan offers us rather a more developed reading of screen dance in terms of Deleuze in her book
Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image(2011). Brannigan draws on Deleuze’s ideas such as close-up, the movement-image, and the time-image in reading screen dance works. For instance, relating to the close-up, she mentions Hands(1995) by choreographer and performer Jonathan Burrows and film-maker Adam Roberts and Monoloog van Fumiyo Ikeda(1989) by de Keersmaeker and Walter Verdin. In Hands, we can see only the hands moving on screen. Fingers move like a dancer, flipping, tapping, twisting, and making various signals on the performer’s lap. The latter shows the close-up shots of performer Ikeda’s face. She speaks calmly to the camera at first but as her emotions run high, she starts shouting. Her face becomes distorted and hair flaps.
Brannigan focuses on muscular and “micro-movements” or “tiny local movements” of hands and face in these works in the terms of Deleuze, and calls these kinds of choreographies composed of the close-up shots “micro-choreographies,” which only camera-work makes possible. 52) Brannigan notes: “Close-ups of the surface of the body in dancefilm become the site for micro-movements and impulsions that rebel against any sense of outline, being both on, under, and across the skin, spreading into undermined locations within the corporeality.” 53) According to Deleuze, close-up deterritorializes cinematic images and “expression, feeling, intensity, and affect” shown mainly in the face spread to the body parts and objects: “there is no close-up of the face, the face is in itself close-up, the close-up is by itself face and both are affect, affection-image.” 54) In this sense, Brannigan points out that screen dance can reveal and restore the micro-movements and expressions of the dancer’s body through close-up.
Also ‘gesture dance’ is one of the important topics Brannigan deals with in screen dance. Brannigan mentions well known choreographers such as Pina Bausch, Wim Vandekeybus, and Burrows and calls attention to their choreographic styles transforming everyday or familiar gestural movements to dance performance with a dramatic theme. She reads the “power-qualities” sign of the affection-image in these gestural movement images in terms of Deleuze’s taxonomy. 55) Brannigan points out that in screen dance featuring everyday movements or gestures, unfamiliar events or happenings could be occurring beyond our expectations. This lets viewers see everyday life anew and draws new responses from them. In this way, screen dance has “power-qualities”; breaking our habitual thoughts and letting us see everyday life from a new perspective.
Although Brannigan tries to read screen dance images in terms of the philosophical concepts of Deleuze, it seems that she understands screen dance in terms of film rather than live events. In the next section, I interpret a screen dance work on the basis of Deleuze’s taxonomy of the movement and time-image, and in the context of live events.
47)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, p.246. 48)Simon Ellis, “Through Screens”, The International Journal of Screendance, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2012, p.86. 49)Pia Ednie-Brown, “Falling into the Surface (Toward a Materiality of Affect)”, The International Journal of Screendance, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2012, p.103. 50)Erin Manning, op. cit, pp.113-118. 51)Ibid, p.211. 52)Erin Brannigan, Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011, pp.44-45. 53)Ibid, p.49. 54)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, p.90. 55)Ibid, pp.94-99.
Craneway Event56) commences with a ‘bird’s eye’ view perspective (as if shot from a camera mounted on the back of a pelican). After the flying bird is in the air, the camera pans back into a building three walls of which are built of glass and iron frames. Inside the building, several technicians and dancers are spreading rubber mats on the floor, testing how firm and sound the floor is via repeated jumps. As fourteen dancers gather around a man sitting in a wheelchair, the camera closes in. The man is revealed as Cunningham. He proceeds to explain the direction and timing of certain movements to each of the dancers. His voice is clear and calm, and the white hair, full of sunshine, glows like a halo among the group.
The dancers enter the room at regular intervals in a line along the wall covered with huge white curtains, following Cunningham’s instruction, ‘O.K., go!’ This scene is repeated several times until one line succeeds as an actualization of the movement instructions. The camera shows the dancers as a group dancing, watching another group dancing, and practising by themselves. Also seen through the glass are waves, mountains, slow moving boats, and people getting out of a car. Sometimes the camera focuses in on the whole glass wall, or a huge glass door, and then the slowly waving white curtains inside. Cunningham is peering outside, and, inside, a pigeon walks among the dance mats. Towards the end of the film, Cunningham falls asleep behind the dancers, sitting near the glass wall. The setting sun glides over the floor. The dancers move in and out of the black shadow of the iron frames created by the backlight. As the event finishes, the dancers clap and take a bow to an unseen audience.
Craneway Eventthe rehearsal is not the main event. It does not show the full choreographed version but fragmented parts of it along with other scenes such as the landscape and birds, although the main focus is still the moving figures. There is no music. Instead, there is the sound of friction against the rubber floor in and out of shot, together with the occasional interjection of Cunningham’s or a dancer’s voice. Even the rolling sounds of the film equipment can be heard, adding to the sense of presence of both the inside and outside of the building. Additionally, Cunningham’s voice is sometimes cut short by interjected thoughts, and at times his voice seems almost superfluous or unnecessary (the dancers appear not to hear him). Verbal language is replaced by movements or silence or environmental noise.
The camera focuses on a group of four or five dancers in performance, and dancers who are waiting for their turn on the stage, watching other dancers in front of them, but out of the frame. The camera occasionally closes in on Cunningham holding a pen and paper, writing something, thinking by himself, correcting the dancers’ movements, and looking outside. It explores both the inside and outside of the space, often with long take durations. The camera angle is often fixed in one direction for a long duration, seemingly ignoring the flow of the dancers’ movements. Rather, the dancers move in and out of the frame, which the camera stubbornly maintains. The camera thus seems to work like a consciousness beyond a machine, imposing its will. Sometimes the camera is fixed at Cunningham’s eye level from the perspective of his wheelchair, so that parts of the dancers’ bodies are cut off. In each frame, dancers’ torsos, a half body, arms and legs move at the edge of the frame. The camera ‘divides’ the action from the beginning.
It cuts the whole flow of the event, the dancers’ bodies, and the stream of the audiences’ consciousness. Therefore, the film appears to have a ‘segmented’ consciousness, comprising bodies, objects and landscapes. In doing so, these ‘open’ frames, which only show a limited spatial perspective, appear broken and opened toward the ‘out of field’ or the ‘Open’ defined by Deleuze, because the dynamically and progressively moving fragments around the edge prevent the frames from closing. Deleuze explains that a closed set has force to extend to a larger set: “that which prevents each set, however big it is, from closing in on itself, and that which forces it to extend itself into a larger set.” 57)
Meanwhile, via the movement of passing time, many filmic elements are overlapped, layered, and integrated, becoming special images and signs, which Deleuze conceptualized as ‘emerging.’ The pelican’s eyes looking towards the sea during the first scene, Cunningham’s eyes peering outside, the dancers’ eyes watching dancing bodies, which the camera sees from behind, seem to overlap with the surroundings, the moving figures, and each other, exploring the inside and outside of the building. I consider this as a ‘perception of a perception’ which Deleuze defines as ‘dicisign’ in relation to the cinematic movement image:
In addition to the ‘perception of perception,’ the movement-images emerge as a way of conceptualising the spatial. The images of the moving dancers and the landscape are reflected on the rubber-covered floor. This is coloured with sky or marine blue mixed with the different shades produced by the reflections of the dancers’ clothes and bodies, which also allude to the swaying images from flowing clouds, waves on the sea, and the movements of boats and curtains. As a background, the surface of the sea also glistens with reflected light. The two surfaces seem connected to each other. As time goes by, the sunlight enters the building toward the direction of the camera very strongly through the glass, which was designed by Albert Kahn to maximize the hours of daylight. 59) The colour quality of the floor changes durationally, and eventually it becomes a shimmering black and gold like a film negative, absorbing or evaporating the other colours, the iron frames and the bodies.
There is a leap, and something new emerges - here I see the emergence of ‘time-images.’ The space is totally transformed, becoming an abstract, perhaps extra-worldly realm. It is impossible to distinguish between the dancers, the floor, and the frames of the glass or the exterior. The dancers and Cunningham seem to defy gravity, floating in the sky or the sea. They repeatedly disappear into the black frames or shadows, only to reappear into the light. There remains only the impression that the dancers’ moving bodies and the hard iron frames appear to evaporate into the air, or mingle into a whole, leaving behind them both light and shadow. The iron frames lose their original concrete materiality, and the dancers’ bodies also lose their sense of corporeality. The floor loses its flatness and solidity, reminiscent of the opening scene, in which the dancers are seen checking this same solidity.
The last part of the film coincides directly with Hungarian film critic Béla Balázs’s analysis of
The Bridge(1928) filmed by Joris Ivens, which Deleuze mentions in his book, Cinema 1, in order to explain the concept of ‘qualisign’ and ‘potisign.’ These comprise the compositional signs of the ‘affection-image.’ The following is a part of Balázs’ analysis:
As the Rotterdam bridge loses its reality, so the building loses its architectural reality. The space seemingly changes dimension and affords a different time quality. As change and becoming, movement and object imply a certain quality of time. This is emphasised by the industrial location, an unusual place for performance. Cunningham had already constructed similar events in non-theatre spaces. Dean reflects on how much Cunningham liked this particular building:
The factory was built in 1930, but abandoned by Ford in 1955. Since the developer Eddie Orton purchased it in 2004, it has been mostly been used for private parties. 62) As Deleuze says, a modern ‘voyage’ can occur in a ‘disused’ or ‘decontextualizing’ space, which loses its context and connection with its surroundings, creating the possibility of a new linkage to other contexts, like a factory or station as an ‘any-spacewhatever.’ 63) Although the factory has lost its original function, it has nevertheless been changed into a new ‘potential’ space. The factory is changed into an imaginary site. It disappears into time, and through time. Immobile things hence achieve a mobile quality, that is, ‘qualisign.’ Although the documentary was filmed over three days, Dean tried to make it appear shorter, as only one day:
As Dean explains, the three day duration is implicit in the film’s construction, but never explicitly stated. Cunningham says ‘tomorrow’ twice very clearly, as the light changes subtly, and the dancers exit the building as they finish the day’s rehearsal with their coats and bags. Here is discordance between sound and sight. We hear the sound ‘tomorrow’ uttered by Cunningham, but the film seems to disavow this possibility. Sensori-motor schema has broken down and in the gap and interval, the ‘lectosign’ (which must be read) emerges, ‘read’ and not merely seen or heard. The sound is disconnected from the movement in the film, and seems to emanate from somewhere in the out of frame. While the camera portrays the landscapes, birds, Cunningham, and so on, the sound of the perpetual friction produced by the dancers moving on the rubber floor can be heard. Deleuze says that this is a time-image evoked from “a dissociation of the visual and the sound, but at the same time and incommensurable or “irrational” relation which connects them to each other.” 65)
Craneway Eventfilmed a rehearsal of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, but it seems that the real ‘Event’ here is not the rehearsal but the film itself. It exposes the ‘power of the false’ by alternately decomposing the whole into parts, and then totalizing the parts in the whole, changing the space into time, and most of all changing the screen into Cunningham’s consciousness, thoughts, and choreography itself. The screen is nothing less than the film’s brain, and also Cunningham’s brain. Every element and concept expressed in the film seems to coincide with many of Cunningham’s prior ideas and concepts, such as ‘non-relationship’ or discordance between sound and movement, between the body and the space as an ‘any-space-whatever,’ and so on. Therefore, it seems that Dean creates this work by becoming Cunningham and invites us to be Cunningham.
56)Craneway Event is a 108-minute documentary film which records a rehearsal of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company over three days between 3-6 November 2008, in the Craneway pavilion of a former Ford car assembly plant located in Richmond, California. The following year, during November 5-7, 2009, it was premiered at Performa and Danspace at Saint Mark’s Church in New York and was released in the Frith Street Gallery in London from 13 May to 23 June 2010. The documentary was filmed by Tacita Dean who was born in Canterbury, UK in 1965. She studied at Falmouth School of Art and The Slade School of Fine Art. David Velasco, “Tacita Dean”, Artforum, October 29 2009. 57)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, p.18. 58)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, p.31. 59)Tacita Dean, “Remembering: A Tribute to Merce”, Art in America, October 2009, p.51. 60)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, p.114. 61)Tacita Dean, op. cit. 62)Alastair Macaulay, “Light, Birds, Action! Cunningham and Company in Rehearsal”, The New York Times, November 5 2009. 63)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, pp.112-113; Cinema 2: The Time-Image, pp. xi, 8. 64)Tacita Dean, op. cit. 65)Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, p.246.
Deleuze developed his own taxonomy of the images and signs of cinema based on Peirce’s semiology of non-linguistic communications and Bergson’s philosophy of movement and time. Deleuze considered visual images and signs as fundamental elements, rather than linguistic and narrative signs in film. Deleuze saw that the cinema releases the unexplored potentialities of life and transforms it anew through the reconnection of heterogeneous elements based on non-relationship. This idea can be extended from the disjunction between sound and image, between image and image, and used to interrogate the free indirect relationship constructed between film and dance.
Dance is an idiomatic Deleuzian art form because it is expressed with the body’s movement image as an extra-linguistic expression, and does not remain in any closed form. Dance is a process of becoming itself as a pure movement or rhythm, actualizing the body’s unexplored potentialities, in Deleuzian terminology. In this context, film can make possible the emergence of “a new type of relation” with dance, without the paradox of their non-relationship. As Deleuze saw various creative images and signs in cinema, screen dance as a filmic dance affects us and makes us move beyond our ‘habitual’ thoughts. Screen dance reveals micro-movements of the body by close-up and lets us to meet the other in us as the hidden body, or animality, or machine. In fact, the genre of screen dance itself is a creative emergence. As Ednie-Brown, Manning, and Ellis point out, virtual potentialities or forces are actualised, being opened up from the surface of screen dance.
To return to my initial question, namely can Deleuze’s taxonomy of the movement-image and time-image, together with some other concepts serve as interpretive tools to ‘read’ or ‘unveil’ the ‘becomingness’ and ‘performativity’ of screen dance? My answer is ‘Yes.’