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TitleDeleuze and Cinema: The Aesthetics of Sensation
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
ISBN 139780748617265
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size17.7 MB
Total Pages238
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Deleuze and Cinema:
The Aesthetics of

Sensation

Barbara M. Kennedy

Edinburgh University Press

Page 2

Deleuze and Cinema

Page 119

operate, according to Deleuze, as differential elements, which do not need

to have a conjunction in order to have meaning. Each faculty has a

differential limit or tendency. Something might be communicated from

one faculty (for example, imagination or cognition) to another, but does

not necessarily constitute common sense. This sensibility is one which

perceives signs, in the Deleuzian sense of an `encounter' rather than a

`meaning'. Therefore, the sign in Deleuzian ideas suggests an aesthetic

which is not dependent upon recognition or common sense. It operates as a

`force' and as an `intensity' in a differential relationship.
8
A sign then is an

intensity which is produced by differential relations. Sensations, therefore,

refer to a whole range of differences of perceptions of consciousness, at a

level beyond subjectivity. These intensive forces cannot be understood by

any empirical senses. With the notion of intensity, sensation ceases to be

representative and becomes `real'.

This has significant resonance for thinking of the cinematic encounter.

What we see on the screen may not operate merely as `representation' but

as signs of material encounter, as sensation. The cinematic experience

becomes `event' as well as representation. To explain this more thor-

oughly Deleuze's work on Francis Bacon: Logique de la Sensation is

illuminating. Deleuze indicates in Logique de la Sensation how Bacon's

paintings evince pure movement, force, modulation and process, because

of the nature of their multiple images. The images are formulated across a

triptychal structure.
9
They function as material forces, rather than as

singular representational paintings. They are material forces, not figura-

tive images. Deleuze takes from Lyotard
10

the notion of the `figural' as

opposed to figuration. Figuration, or representation, has meant an image

which is both representational and narrative. It relates the image to a

particular object of recognition. It thus loses any intensity in sensation.

However, Deleuze differs from Lyotard, in his belief in the role of

psychoanalysis as the framework of understanding this Dionysian

anti-art form, of the visual engagement. Lyotard's psychoanalytic inter-

pretation is too dependent upon transgression, deformation and the

negativity of unconscious processes as perceived in Freudian formulae.

Deleuze utilises the figural without the Freudian apparatus that Lyotard

employs. In Deleuze, the figural, is the concept of an immanent process of

forces. Sensation operates on a plane of immanence, through the pro-

cessual, and intensity. According to Deleuze, Bacon defigures representa-

tion and breaks the figure away from representation, with the aim of

rendering `sensation' as more significant. This method of defiguration is

used to achieve pure force and intensity, through the figural. In discussing

Bacon's paintings, Deleuze argues that the represented image of the body

110 Deleuze and Cinema: The Aesthetics of Sensation

Page 120

in pain and torture need not be read as that. Rather the images on the

canvas exist, not as `figuration' but as the figural of rhythmic movement.

The prostheses and the mutilations that the body undergoes in Bacon's

paintings are not read as a `trope' of horror (although they may of course

operate as such a metaphor) but as transitions, pulses, elements that allow

variations into paintings to thus allow endlessly changing `locomotions':

the body in `locomotion' rather than as a representational image. Polan

writing in his article on `Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation' quotes

Deleuze: `What is painted in the tableau, [or, as I would say, what we see

on the cinematic screen] is the body, not insofar as it is represented as

``object'' but in so far as it is lived as experiencing sensation.'
11

This has

significant reverberations for how we interpret the `image', say, of

`woman' on the screen. She may exist as figural, not as figuration,

and thus the `image' of woman might function as force, intensity.

How can the figural then epitomise force, and intensity, whereas

figuration is manifested through representation? To Deleuze, the figural

is the space of intensity. Deleuze explains how both abstract art, for

example, with artists such as Mondrian, and expressionist art, with the

work of Pollock, tried to refine sensation, by dematerialising it to a

specific optical format. Pollock, for example, in his work dissolves all

forms through a kind of fluid mixture of lines and colours. Such artists

have moved `beyond representation' by breaking with what was known

as a hylomorphic code. This is the code which explains how art is about

the imposition of form uponmatter. But abstract art was about freeing up

form, while expressionist artists wanted to free up matter through chaotic

use of colours and lines (Pollock). But, what is missing from this model is

that form and matter are in fact not so easily separable: they are more

interestingly connected. They cannot just be isolated as separate terms.

Matter is not just a simple, and singular, substance that can be `formed'

into something. It is something which is mutable, kinetic, moving, malle-

able and never fixed. In other words matter has `singularities' (see

Chapter 4). The materials that artists use in forms, whether in art or

in film, are actually complexly mutable (for example, iron might melt at

specific temperatures; water will change states from liquid to solid). This

exemplifies Deleuze's notion of `intensity'; all matter exists in modulation

with the forms imposed upon it. `Beyond prepared matter lies an energetic

materiality in continuous variation and beyond fixed form lie qualitative

processes of deformation and transformation in continuous develop-

ment.'
12

In summary, the artistic venture, whether painting or film-making, is

no longer just a matter±form relation. What is significant in the event of

Towards an Aesthetics of Sensation 111

Page 237

Leon (Luc Besson, 1994), 9, 15,

162, 191±2n, 193±212

Leone, Sergio, 171

Lewis, Juliette, 185

Lichtenberg-Ettinger, Bracha, 52,

64n, 174

lines, 70±1

`liquidity' of image/perception,

119±20, 187, 203±4

Locke, John, 53

love, presentations in film, 132±5,

137±9, 145, 151±2, 156, 164±

5, 199±200, 213n

Lynch, David, 98±9, 144

Lyotard, Jean-FrancËois, 110, 121n

McClintock, Barbara, 31±2

`machinic' constructions, 23, 24,

36n, 68±70, 194, 195

McKinnon, Catherine, 11±12

Madonna, 206

maps, literal and figurative

significance of, 147±9, 150

Marxist theory, 16, 34n, 185

Massive Attack, 186

Massumi, Brian, 116, 172

`materialist aesthetic', 29, 34, 49,

165

Matter and Memory (Bergson),

118±19

Mazelle, Kim, 174

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 55, 56,

112

Metz, Christian, 125, 133

`micro-politics', 17, 85, 195

definitions of, 10±11, 23

millennial themes, 181, 185

Miller, Henry, 146n

Mondrian, Piet, 2, 111, 131, 166

Monroe, Marilyn, 206

Moore, George, 30, 34n

movement, impact of, 116±20,

134±5, 136±7, 171±2

see also forced movement

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 172

Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf),

114

Mulvey, Laura, 43±4, 51

`neo-aesthetic', 4±6, 13, 15±16,

31±2, 33±4, 38, 49, 59, 61±2,

165, 168±9

of sensation, 115, 178, 210±11

Nietzsche, Friedrich, 4, 36n, 85±8,

163

Nikita (Luc Besson, 1990), 186,

193, 195

Norseen, John D., 178, 203

nouvelle vague, 34±5n

Oedipal myths and theories, 39±

41, 44±5, 77±8, 79, 81, 82

O'Keefe, Georgia, 2

Oldman, Gary, 195, 199, 202,

208±9

Orlando (film, Sally Potter, 1992),

15, 125±45, 150, 152, 156,

159, 167, 183, 196

Orlando (novel, VirginiaWoolf), 125

Othello (Shakespeare), 129, 139

Pessoa, Fernando, 27, 32, 82, 211±

12

Plato and Platonist theory, 19, 24,

109

pleasure, 29, 34, 49±50, 72±8

Polan, Dana, 111, 112, 166

Pollock, Jackson, 2, 111, 189

post-structuralism, 1, 20, 30, 35n,

51, 97, 210±11

postfeminism, 1, 3, 5±6, 51

definitions of, 21±3, 32

and Deleuzian ideas, 24±5, 27

and film theory, 28±9, 69, 193,

210±11

pragmatics, 11±12, 23, 51, 69

psychoanalytic film theory, 38±50,

72

Radiohead, 172

Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese,

1980), 189

Reno, Jean, 198

resonance, aspect of sensation,

113, 177, 187, 204

`rhizome', image of, 69±70, 147±8,

183, 185, 194

228 Index

Page 238

Rodin, Auguste, 2, 138

Rodowick, David, 33

romanticism, 2, 145

Romeo and Juliet (Baz Luhrmann,

1996), 15, 113, 117, 162,

163±78, 183, 186, 196

Romeo is Bleeding (Peter Medak,

1993), 9, 188, 191n

Ruyer, Raymond, 90±1, 102

Saussure, Ferdinand de, 41

Schopenhauer, Arthur, 85

Scorsese, Martin, 170, 189

Scott Thomas, Kristin, 148

`The Second Coming' (Yeats), 180±

1, 187

sensation

`aesthetics of', defined, 53, 68

categories of, 113±14

impact of, 14±15, 29±32, 76±8,

108±14, 152, 157±61, 171±2,

186, 199, 207

types of effect on, 114±20

sexuality

in aesthetic response, 45±9

in critical theory, 41±5, 62n, 76±

8, 193

in film, 132±3, 158±60, 167,

171, 188, 202

The Sheltering Sky (Bernardo

Bertolucci, 1990), 131

Smith, Daniel, 109

Sobchack, Vivian, 51, 55±9, 60,

61, 78, 98, 112

Somerville, Jimmy, 128

Spinoza, Baruch, 4, 81, 96, 101, 136

Stamp, Terence, 172

Stern, Daniel, 90, 106n

Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow,

1995), 15, 117, 162, 180±91,

196, 199

Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann,

1992), 170

structuralism, 18, 20, 97, 149

style, 114±15

subjectivity, 23±4, 31±3, 35n, 46

definition of, 19±20

transcendence of, 82±3, 84, 88±

91, 100±1, 103, 108±9, 186,

207

Swinton, Tilda, 126, 138

Theory of Colours (Goethe), 54

A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze and

Guattari), 1, 88, 92, 137, 162,

193, 196±8, 202

`Three Syntheses of Beyond the

Pleasure Principle' (Deleuze),

74±5, 104

Tiananmen Square, 11

Tricky, 186

triptychal structures, 72, 110, 113±

14, 121n, 145, 158

Tristan und Isolde (Wagner),

172

Trost (writer), 198

Truffaut, FrancËois, 34±5n

Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gilliam,

1995), 182

Vertov, Dziga, 119±20

vibration, aspect of sensation, 113,

187, 204, 205, 207±10

violence in film, impact of, 180,

182, 183±4, 199

`wasp and the orchid', image of, 2,

36n, 115, 148, 213n

Wayne, John, 206

What is Philosophy? (Deleuze and

Guattari), 1, 2, 67, 70, 84,

90±1, 108, 112, 113±14, 114±

15, 135±6

Williams, Linda, 51, 61

Wilson, Edward, 84, 105n

The Winter Guest (Alan Rickman,

1997), 133

Woolf, Virginia, 114, 125, 145

Wuornos, Aileen, 94

Yeats, W. B., 180±1, 187

Zane, Billy, 126, 145

Zeki, Semir, 162n, 166±7, 178

Index 229

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