The arid shadow of a desert tree. The twilight of thunder light. The prismatic light of water ripples. The chromatic wisdom of the chameleon. The acrid urine paths smelt by sniffing dogs. The acoustic vision of the bat in flight. Poems carved on cacti leaves. A fire, as a first sequence of images made by words and delirious conversation. Panoramic landscapes drawn with the lens of a swirling body. A film, like a resilient sheet that rises from the burnt ground of a deep forest. This is a cinema of the body spelt everywhere, untaming the silver screen as its sole surface of reception, taking cinema back to the living world. Wind films. Animal films. Films made of ashes. Whispered films. Films one cannot see.
This is a proposal for a cinema against the Lights. For, if cinema was born from the metallic engines and silver metals extracted from the subterranean of the earth, from the imaginary of the Lights, from the unscrupulous thirst for demonstration and representation, from the ever increasing vice of homogenizing bodies and lives, from the morbid concentration of capital and power on the ever affective hands of palace owners and their gatekeepers, from the efficiency of the bounty hunter with its chasing eye, from the pristine optics of the military strategist searching to see the target, then how to escape the chase of cinema as instrument for inevitably shedding light?
Escape plans may vary from disappearing into the shadows to illuminating so hard you can no longer see; from reducing speed so that time becomes palpably elastic to speeding up so fast you find yourself in another temporal dimension. A constant play with the very elements of cinema — speed, light, focus, frame, narration — spells the path of the fugue taking us away from the cinema palaces towards the streets, beyond the parking lots, where the fire is lit and the owl howls into the night while the insects chorus. There, on the vivid margins of the palaces, you may be so close, one can no longer see you, or so far that you are momentarily forgotten. Another scene begins elsewhere, away from the stage or the screen. A plot, a creole garden.
How can we then see, receive and create desire and desirable places for this cinema? Learning to feel it surface, speaking to it, raving it together. This “Living Journal” is made from within our means. We have little, yet our imaginaries are unbound. Hence, we have a lot since we have decided to stop giving our strength, our hands, our breath to a market that consumes all forms of life that are offered to it. We have stopped adapting to this violence and moved towards the living. This is a first and modest contribution to the ecology of these other cinemas that we want to weave together with multiple voices and epistemologies in order to talk about transmission, imagination and the multiple situations of cinema that are possible outside the plantation economy.
This is The Living Journal, an ongoing series of publications with a life span of three months beginning in October and fading in December 2021. The journal will count with contributions varying in form, length and language from artists, filmmakers, poets of the image and thinkers from the global South and North. With two new contributions published each week, the journal thinks of its life span as a living tissue that is transformed by each new offering. In the riverbed of its movements, lie four currents of thought and practice:
Hallucinations: magic, irreverence and delirium
The master begins his parade while the crowds turn their backs to its spectacle. In the peripheries of the parade, small gatherings of people light small fires, collect rumours and enliven memories. If the master is lost in delirium, the crowds are found in counter hallucinatory forms.
The Living Archive: reparation, abolition and global justice
Modern archives have been historical accomplices to colonial Modernity. Constituted of robberies and displacements, the very principle of the modern archive is one of de-situating its evidences , elements and artefacts-made-documents from the territories of their belonging. How can we then conceive of reparation in regard to the modern archive? What other forms of memory and wisdom keeping can we conjure as tools for justice?
Embodied cinema: the body camera, the body archive
The camera has historically been a silent, undeclared observer of what it films incorporating the very Western separation between subject and object. If the camera was a body, perspectives would multiply and screens would be populated by partial perspectives. An embodied cinema calls for a connection with the living world beyond and within the screen. Not merely an aesthetic artifice, but rather a situated presence as an accomplice to the very conditions of the production of images. The proliferation of cameras has not been equal to a proliferation of perspectives, yet. Taking the body as a camera equals a reclamation of the corporeal intelligence that has been denied by the Western separation between mind and body, land and body.
New Practices: critical pedagogies and places to come
We need forms of critical pedagogy that invent ways of interweaving images and stories rather than manufacturing new properties and career strategies. We need new places, places in movement, events created like conversations. Amid the current overproduction, the saturation of attention and the competition of egos, we need new forms of hospitality to extricate film from its romantic nightmare and its economy of exhaustion. We do not need new heroes; we need to watch over and with images to come and habitable fables.