By Garrett Stewart
In Closed Circuits, Garrett Stewart analyzes a vast spectrum of flicks, from M and Rear Window via The Conversation to Déjà Vu, Source Code, and The Bourne Legacy, within which cinema has articulated and played the drama of inspection’s unreturned glance. whereas mainstays of the mystery, either the act and the know-how of surveillance, Stewart argues, communicate to whatever extra foundational within the very paintings of cinema. The shared axis of montage and espionage with modifying designed to attract us in and make us disregard the omnipresence of the narrative digicam extends to greater questions on the politics of an oversight regime that's more and more distant and robot. To the sort of worldwide technopticon, one telltale reaction is a proliferating mode of digitally more advantageous surveillancinema.”
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Additional info for Closed Circuits: Screening Narrative Surveillance
How, that is, might on-camera satiric portraiture reminiscent of the canvases of George Grosz, for instance, alongside shots evoking still-life photographic treatments of urban industrial Germany and its merchandizing displays in the interwar years—with their stringent geometries rejecting in every way the inward urgencies of expressionism—be seen as developing in M something, for want of a better 26 CHAPTER ONE term, more inframedial? This is to ask: without actual photographs on camera until the film’s climactic scene—where the serial child murderer, Beckert, is confronted with implausibly enlarged prints of his victims in the neutral photographic mode of studio portraits—how, building toward this, might the very different pictorial zeitgeist of the period find an impact in, rather than just on, Lang’s narrative?
It goes this way, in the earliest formulation of the theory. With obvious (even when occasionally unstated) shades of the Lacanian imaginary stage, the original screen trauma is the recognition of sight as mechanically directed. The task of subsequent cinematic narrative is to assuage this anxious notice in an almost surgical fashion—through a masked pastiche whose own functional invisibility as such, once acceded to, in turn sutures the viewer into the piecemeal shots of montage in order to anchor their credibility as world space.
But beyond that practical fallback, I’m hoping for something more—by way, if you will (and it certainly is in part up to you), of an enacted narratography of conceptual uptake. If I’m right, the most interesting of these films, at least in the most interesting of their images, have already translated some medial schema into narrative shot plan. Depicting shot or shot change in conceptual language, rather than just reproducing it in one or more stills, is a kind of reverse translation: a reading.