IDENTIFYING IDENTITY (A Troubling Reality)
The composite nature of a modern Western identity poses a state of confusion, and at the same time there remains a residual sense of a delusional belief in self-made identity. The fragmented confection that we call ‘our personal’ identity, is greatly dependent upon the myriad of contextual circumstances that act as an interface to the accumulative aspects of the varied lives we live. Whether these contextual phenomena are experienced as mere objects, people or things, they are the Other (and ‘other’), and form the complex background met in a groundswell of discursive attitudes and circumstances (the mirrored interior or exterior representational reality). It is their specific characteristics that makes the actual formation of a separate individual identity possible.1 We are it seems only that and no more than that which others make us, thereby and in consequence live a condition of existent reality made in relation to those differing other(s) that are in some part alienated as the ‘not us’.2 This contemporary view is by now far removed from the ‘subjective ‘I’’ of the Cartesian cogito ergo sum; the belief in a purely insular subjectivity of ‘self proof’, or of a self-generated identity that has long ago slipped away.3 We are made in the world, by the world, and for the world. But in the forming of an inter-subjective self-conscious sense of identity, its formation is necessarily constituted by the multiplicities of extraneous consciousness. They act as background to the unbridgeable reality of the unsaying and the unsaid. There is always a gap between what is said or expressed as content, and the act of saying or expressing it. The reader as a result becomes uniquely the text of their own world, and this can only be the basis for the forming of an identity.
The relevance of these simple observations comes immediately to the fore when considering the art work of Zuzanna Janin, whose film and video practice, alongside her installations and three dimensional objects, frequently addresses ideas of social construction and formation of interactive singular and/or group identities. More specifically how both singular and collective identities are manipulated and played off against one another in today’s contemporary culture. A singular identity thus finds itself – as Janin makes us aware – in a continuous state of personal construction and displacement. in relation to the Other as experienced.4 This is the necessary condition of the projections born of our conscious and unconscious daily self-making. How we form and shape and thereafter transmit the nature of our personal identity through social and cultural interaction, whether by specifically conscious intentions or otherwise, is crucial to an understanding the artist Janin’s work. The shaping of identity is made in time and by circumstances, and it is not something that is a pre-given. This is most evident in her recent and ongoing major video serial project Majka from the Movie (2009), which is yet to be finally completed.
The five part video serial Majka from the Movie takes as its point of departure and as a framing narrative a television soap opera of sorts, called the Madness of Majka Skowron (1975), a popular series made in Poland in the mid-seventies and still shown. The original series story was based on a generational conflict between a father and adolescent daughter, as a result of which the latter (the artist as a young actress – Zuzanna Antoszkiewicz) runs away from home and spends the summer on an island, where she is assisted by a young man. The archetype of the lost heroine (Miranda) and the young man (a would be Ferdinand) draws loosely on the Shakespeare play The Tempest. The second Majka `09 with filmed elements directed and intercut by the artist (and in fact the daughter of Janin) is both a simile of the first character, and an extended metaphor of Janin as filmmaker.
By using her daughter as both an extension and part of her own personal identity formation, the artist presents herself both in front of an behind the camera. Indeed, throughout the five parts of the video serialisation the periodic intercutting or splicing in of Majka, and also her contemporary re-incarnation or life projection, operate as the shared unity against a backdrop or compendium of personal film and music appropriations that encompasses the metonymic (a contiguity of association between two ideas), metaphor (notions of comparative similarity) and continuous similes (shared aspects or common features).
The overarching thematic is that of a personal journey of identity, both mental and physical, one that is developed through the film and musical culture of the last forty years. Though each of the five parts may be read serially (or episodically as in the original television series), they are better understood if read in terms of simultaneous five screen channels or monitor(s) installation. To merely concentrate on one at a time is largely to miss the point of the artist’s greater undertaking, and also fails to recognise that the different lengths of the five looped parts in the juxtaposition of their contents develops through a continuous state of changed visual relations. At the same time the use of a fragmentary post-narratological approach adopted by Janin both broaches and exposes the nature of today’s media assimilation, and reflects the increasingly mediated synchronicity of events as experienced in the contemporary world.5 It also avoids the danger of an allegorical or homiletic reading as we pass from what appears an idealistic or pseudo-utopian provincial world, with what is a small scale act of teenage rebellion and experimentation, to the dystopian wider world presented by the numerous film, animation, and musical sources brought together in Janin’s film project as a whole. While there is a temptation is to try to read the work as an extended metaphor or simile of the Polish cultural and historical experience of the last forty years, it would be a simple error take such an literalist approach. The film stands as a whole only for itself (the impersonal Levinas-ian ‘there is’ or givenness of being there as a point of departure), as an imaginary journey of creative personal formation, and as a threading together and assimilation of perceived experiences of a life and encountered otherness. This is the intention even though the intercut film sources have obviously been carefrully chosen by the artist-filmmaker Janin. Hence Majka is cast as a lost heroine on a pilgrimage to find the completion of her second self in relations to experiences that are presented to her by cultural manifestations of otherness.
The first part The Way juxtaposes the sense of journey and escape that is embraced by the lost heroine(s) Majka. If the footage of Madness of Majka Skowron denotes much that is familiar from Polish film making in the seventies, the sharper focus and more exotic immediacy of Janin’s film images immediately suggests a far wider world of contemporary complexity. This is added to by such film locations as cherry-blossom in Japan, London and Warsaw, and highlights the singularity of the second Majka set against the backdrop of diverse ethnic difference. A world of familiarity and difference is therefore immediately created between the two adolescent girls and their composite identities. The cross referencing of the two Majka(s) is deliberately left opaque and unresolved. Before the second Majka’s journey begins – apparently at Warsaw railway station – she meets the contemporary guru and social theorist Slavoj Žižek, and solicits from him who and what she should seek out on her cultural journey. He speaks repeatedly of “don’t look for role models, look for role acts,” or “I don’t think you should look for people to identify with, you should look for concrete acts.” It is, perhaps, this conversation which lays down indirectly, or at least parallels, the basis for the actions and events that occur within the derived material film sources, and follow on as the accompanying events and displaced experiences of the two Majka(s) unfold on the subsequent journey. It is inevitable that filmmaking is always about the immediacy of actions (the enacted moment) since it is a time-based media, and consists of sequential actions and events no matter how discernibly small or large they may be. Even in those instances where there is no direct visual action in a film, there is always the enactment of the passage of time. Temporality and the nature of a-temporality (displaced time) become explicit within the cultural journey of the Majka(s) as they proceed. An outline of periodicity and temporal passage is developed, firstly, by the accompanying local music of the 1970s softer Polish blues and rock band Mira Kubasinska & Breakout, of the artist’s youth, contrasted in the latter part with Polish hardedge rock music of Dżem [pronounced as Jam – translator’s note], a drug addicted suicide of the 1980s. Hence sound and image becomes integral and forms the second sensory journey, a corollary understanding of the evolving Majka from the Movie project as a whole. It is constantly present and plays with, and at times against, the tone of the film images that accompany it.
The second part 70s shows the earlier Majka as she appears to embrace her father, the implied rupture and beginnings of the television narrative in the first instance. It at the same time reflects the beginnings of an increasing intensity and plurality of appropriated contents that will occur on the Majka(s) subsequent journey. While there remains an emphasis or predominance of home grown appropriations, like the Polish and award-winning animated short film Tango (1980), Wajda’s Man of Marble (shot at the time of an emerging Solidarity) and the popular Polish comedy The Cruise (1972), other wider cultural forms or nubs of associative identity are increasingly teased out in the film. A car scene from Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (1970), prior to the last violent desert explosion, is echoed in the cut to the second Majka’s driving the car. Michelangelo Antonioni’s film is always seen as one suggesting states of socio-psychological rupture, its leading characters (and the actors real lives as people) are themselves political and cultural rebels, who escape into alternative lifestyles of the 1970s. What is evoked is a sense of an alienated otherness, something developed further by the intercut elements of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979), where the evocation is one of a return to a seeming natural or raw state of alternative being. Film and reality, images of projected experience, are thus set out as visual platforms of different enacted and experienced moments. Images that are increasingly expanded upon as references through the different parts of Majka from the Movie as the journey continues.
A tension is created in this way between cultural assimilation, and the identification or associated effects to the first or second persona of Majka at hand, and whose felt responses deliberately remain unclear. It is important also not to read the experienced events and presented actions as if they were mere visualised diary entries along Majka’s imagined journey, since the visual effects are overwhelmingly kaleidoscopic rather than simply collated.
Things thereafter become faster and ever extended experiences and accumulations. In the third part BEFORE or AFTER, other social categories of wider cultural experience are included. An abrupt meeting with Iggy Pop, where the two Majka’s in black and white footage are spliced into a meeting initially replacing Tom Waits, and taken from Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes (1986-2003).7
Scenes with the Majka(s) and Jarmusch’s anti-cowboy movie Dead Man (1985) follows immediately, cutting back into the Iggy Pop and Waits, source, but in this instance with Waits responding as intercut and displaced from his original context.8 The Majka(s) flow into and out of these fragmented moments, listening and escaping in an increasing shoal of differing visual options. Intense desire and drug induced sexual eroticism is suggested as an alternative extreme, perhaps, to the adolescent or naïve love vaguely intimated by the first Majka’s fantasist escape. Shots from Tarkovsky’s alien science fiction film Stalker (1979) and Mirror (1968-75, 1983), a semi-autobiographical tale of memory and recollection, reflect upon and also begin to introduce hallucinatory language, dream, longing, desire and whispering. This conventional use of iconic films of cultural formation, composites that have become clichés in retrospect, is an implied means by Janin of loosening and opening out experiences that become ever more intense to the journeying Majka(s).
In parts four and five HERE or THERE and FUN FUN FUN, a welter of dystopian film materials counterpoint each other, beginning with the desert drive from Zabriskie Point (1970), contrasted to scenes from the nightmarish film by Valerio Zurlini, The Desert of the Tartars (1976), filmed on location at the destroyed citadel of Bam in Iran.9 Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1986) appears again as another obvious counter-narrative, as does John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981). They are images which further the general idea of haunting and anxious expectation. These elements are broken down by references to Polish crime serials and comedy take-offs of Communism. There is a continuous thread of expectation, disorientation, impending or threatened violence and release, David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997), Roman Polanski’ The Pianist (2002), and the film reconstruction of the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto, intercut with the Laurence Oliver as the Nazi Dr Christian Szell from Marathon Man (1976), Rambo: First Blood (1982), Emir Kusterica’s Underground (1995), each in turn are manifested against aspects of the two Majka(s) possessed and absorbed fascination, partial identity, and subsequent flight as they are placed in a series of detached observing relations. The fourth part finishes with images of violence and mayhem, desire and sensual abandonment, concluding with Nagisa Ōshima’s Empire of Passion (1978), and with the death and last words of Kurtz expressing his expiring exorcism of ‘the horror’.
FUN FUN FUN, is a sensory overload which uses many of the film sources already cited, but with a greater emphasis placed on science fiction, including Manga comics such as Arjuna Daughter of the Earth (2001), excepts from three of the Star Wars films (sequel and prequel) (George Lucas, 1977, 1983, 2005) Alien Resurrection (Jean-Pierre Juenet, 1997), Matrix (Andy and Lana Wachowski, 1999), and classic genre films like Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986), and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972). The point to be made is that there is an expanded sense of female heroine identity emerging within the series of films and footage chosen. Whether it is Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Medea (1969), or Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) and Kill Bill 1 (2003), or the sensual Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972), the women possess an increased autonomy and a sense of personal free choice. Indeed, there may also be an ironic take on Robert Altman’s Three Women (1977) having ‘fun…fun…fun’ hinting of the two Majka’s and the hidden supporting character Janin herself. Whether this is intended is not really that important, but the increased emphasis placed on female-led narrative sources is immediately apparent and reflects, perhaps, intentionally, a major shift in filmmaking in the intervening period. The musical accompaniment takes on a increasingly forceful presence, with the already mentioned Dzem, Pink Floyd, film footage and music by The Doors (Oliver Stone, 1991), as well as the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Throughout, however, the theme music of Mira Kubasinska & Breakout remains as a continuous unifying aspect tied to the original source of serialisation.
Seen as a whole and presented across five screens Majka from the Movie, presents a kaleidoscopic life of synthesis spanning the last forty years. However, it should not be read as a simple accumulation of life sources out of which the identity of the Majka character has been made. Rather it gives greater insights into the filmmaker Janin herself, since she has chosen the cultural nubs of recognition as to the contents that contribute to the making of a life and an identity. They are the cultural ‘other’ out of which ‘identifying identity’ is made a necessary possibility. They are the ‘there is’, but an infinite space still remains, between what can be assimilated and what is actually assimilated to forge and create a singular sense of personal identity. The asymmetrical and temporal episodic format presents a mirror of mediated synchronicity. A synchronicity that is structured as a journey, but conversely is as much about the nature of how we assimilate the world of the continuous present as against the variety of cultural sources we derive from the past. Our experience of them is part of our contemporary consciousness, and this remains the necessary meaning regardless of the historical moment whence they were first presented.
ALL THAT MUSIC! (2009) is a video work that acts as something of a counter-current to Majka from the Movie, which is a compendium of retrieved sources of exterior otherness. The seven component elements of All That Music! concerns a greater sense of interiority in the making of an identity through music. Less about the notion of a temporal journey it relates to the self-construction of an inner sound world of identity. The interiority is expressed by the six young male musicians creating their relations to music in the privacy of their bedrooms and/or a domestic interiors. It is never explicitly made clear as to whether these musician constitute a band as such. A final component called Rehearsal (Homage to John Cage) is a film shot through the window of a rehearsal room of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. The last is silent except for the extraneous street noise of passing cars sometimes reflected in the windows, and of people walking and talking or just rushing by. There is therefore a specific interlude or disinterested passage (a lack of immediate awareness) and detachment implied by this component of the film. In Rehearsal the viewer/listener can only project an imagined musical outcome to the directed and orchestrated sound events taking place behind the closed window. Variable intensities of involvement and displacement are thus made to occur
However, what is unique to the DVD work, is the fact of a complexity of relations between part and whole. Only the viewer is made party to a potential concert realisation of the six separate musicians and their individual music sessions. Again as with her earlier videos the work is made in the mind of the reader/listener who must integrate for themselves the separately manifested music sessions. The viewer and listener becomes part of the ‘gestalt’ or field of integration, that is between the distinct musical parts or sessions, that are then put together as an imagined outcome and which is never fully defined. It is hardly surprising therefore that the origins of psychological ‘gestalt’ begins with a theory of music and later film, and in consequence became the basis of field and form psychology by Werthheimer and Arnheim.10 The psychology of sounds and its phenomenology of presence, is expressed through the bodies of the young musicians and gives shape to the visual experience. Janin is intensely interested in the issues thrown up by the self-involvement exhibited by the young male musicians.
In the case of Wiktor who is manipulating an acoustic guitar, simultaneously strumming and innovating sounds, we are left to consider whether we are party to a mere practice session or stages of personal composition. The posture of his body and its relationship to instrument reflects all the tics and anxieties of states of personal introspection, enacted as if he were pretending to be completely unaware of the camera. The psycho-physiology of self-presence is therefore extremely important in each of the filmed elements. Zones of comfort are sometimes disrupted by moments of vexation in relation to each instrument. In the case of Ignacy W who plays the upright piano, at a given moment he turns and speaks to the camera as if expressing a feeling of self-consciousness.
The second Ignacy B who is playing the electric guitar is more enclosed both physically and emotionally in his world, never at any point making eye contact with the camera, and whose floppy hair largely covers his face throughout the session. The point being that they each idiomatically ‘have there own bag’ and emphasise different points of sound engagement or specific interests. It is only when we come to Jędrek, the vocal component, that we eventually realise that the six musicians almost certainly represent a band or ensemble. And, it is with Jędrek, not surprisingly that the sense of performance becomes foregrounded with his self-conscious awareness of the camera and another person in the room. The voice doubling necessarily as a social instrument. In contrast Paweł the drummer is locked in his own world wearing earphones and facing the wall. The band is completed by the bass guitarist Piotrek Pluto, whose accomplishment and aspired mastery is, perhaps, echoed by an icon of inspiration seen in the poster of Jimi Hendrix directly on the wall behind him.
The conditions that shape this world of music is suggested not only by the social-cultural aspects of the instruments that each young musician uses to express their musical identities, but the implied intimate and private world that surrounds them in each instance. We are made voyeurs of their private worlds, and infer or imagine life biographies through their personal associations and surrounding belongings. The six young men could be from anywhere in the Western world, and their dress and physical behaviour suggests that they emblematise a typological youth through their similarity of appearance. Clothes though they apparently pertain to individualism, only do so within a limited sense of prevailing attitudes to fashion and group identity. They are period ciphers that in but a few years will reflect their time and place. Nonethless the viewer therefore tends to build a group identity through these associations. There are the familiar sneakers, posters, art inferences, and popular graphics. They remain in terms of their initial presentation a temporarily displaced group or band ensemble. Group identities suggest a certain sublimation into a whole, but Janin makes us intensely aware of each singular identity. It is one of the paradoxes of music that the listener can mentally extrapolate a single instrument from within a band, or they can listen to the band sound as a whole. However, the listener can never listen to each singular instrument within a performance at the same time. This may be one of the many reasons why rock bands frequently feature solo instruments in their performances. A creative tension is always present in all forms of peer group identity. It is the psychical displacement necessary to creating a separate human identity or existence.
What remains clear, however, is what Zuzanna Janin exposes are the complexities of the relation between the instruments parts and their inferred or possible whole in performance. The parts, however, never create a complete or unified whole, but are presented as shifting realities depending on the particular setting for their installation at the time of exhibition. This is just one of the reasons why when the work in presented by the artist, she often incorporates separate sculptural elements, like Silence (24h) or other works from her wider artistic practices.
The second reason is that we know today that the summation of parts never create a certain whole, a totality may be achieved, but a totalising is an accumulation and not a whole. Hence my earlier reference to the issues thrown up by music as gestalt. And, it is this that reminds us that if there were any sense of a meaningful whole to be made, it must be made by the viewer and that ‘whole’ is one that is individually personal. This is how our modern ideas of personal identity are constituted. It is again the inexplicable unsaying of the unsaid that must be left to the viewer in their completion of the work. An artistic practice today is necessarily left open-ended to a variable sense of received comprehension, and All That Music! presents itself in just this way.
The most recent works Majka from the Movie and All That Music! are, perhaps only be fully understood within the wider scope of Zuzanna Janin’s evolution as an artist. It is important to note that her video and film works evolve over long periods of time as unfolding projects. For example a work like FIGHT (2001-2008) was a long investigation of role identity and behaviour within the boxing ring. Installed in different ways as round projections, or ‘white boxing ring’, the films are not to be thought of in any analytical or moralising sense, but rather as sights or role locations and their performative actions. Janin is deeply interested in how roles are formed and performed and how persons adopt and adapt to the identities associated with them.
In FIGHT (SHE) and FIGHT (HE) (2001), a male and female boxer are presented separately as if boxing to the camera. The viewer is thereby made a witness to the performative contents expressed by their performing roles. Apparently no attempt is made to create any pre-determined or value judgements as against the gender roles that are presented. The performance of roles and human responses are the subject of I’ve Seen My Death (2003-2006), in which one film Funeral & Fun (Ceremony and Games) juxtaposes on screen the ceremonial aspects of death and those of game playing presented on either screen or monitors. Another part of this work is the self-imagined passing away of artist by seven different deaths, called 7 Deaths (Seven Deaths/Seven Ghosts) (2003-2005) or a third part called simply Masonry (2003).
Janin is also interested in how patterns of behaviour follow threads of repetition. In Streets (2003) she retraced the routes she had taken daily in her periods at primary school, high school, and when she was studying at the Academy of Fine Arts. Here again we see in cameo, as it were, the idea of a relived experience that are also a re-appropriation of life events, and which as a result displaces their original contents into another more immediate time period.
Relations to a past identity are also evident in the works called In Between (Daughters) (2005) and In Between (Sons) (2008), which are filmed room installations where three men and three women, speak of their shared and conflicting generational anxieties. The room settings are both different, the Daughter’s room being cross-generational domestic objects, and television monitor, while conversely the Sons room is made up of childhood memorabilia like boys’ toys and a teddy bear, and a plasma screen presentation. The distinction seems to suggest what is a home or domestic space to one, is a shelter or den to another, and touches upon the gender specifics that form a sense of individual identity and memory. The use of gesture and hand behaviour are found in a video called Fortune (2008), where women’s and men’s hands perform domestic or reassuring actions such as handshaking, touching or caressing. The psycho-physiology of hand-tasking is then transferred to tasks of mechanical dexterity in texting or typing, and where subsequently utility is replaced by the performed hand actions that are used in palmistry and fortune-telling.
The ephemeral and the intangible nature of an action and embodiment, something that cannot ever be fully grasped is central to Zuzanna Janin’s video filmmaking. But it is intimately linked also to her sculptural installations which have always simultaneously been part of her practice, and frequently accompany he video installations. There is a strong sense of ephemeral and transparent structures, where skin like fabrications produce metaphors of the intangible habitations of existence.
In works like COVER (Home) (1992), CORNER I (1995), and CORNER II ((1995), she reveals much of the ‘seen through’ nature found in the frangible lives we live. In THE DOORS (Homage to Harold Szeemann) (1998), matters are pared down to the limit, as a serial sequence of doors fabricated from copper wire. An idea she returned to in the following year in a work simply called CAR (1999). Janin’s more recent examples play with material extremes of the inert and the sensual. Her works PASYGRAPHY (SOLARIS I), PASYGRAPHY (SOLARIS II), PASYGRAPHY (Homage to Bellmer), represent floor-based sculptural configurations of bricks, socks, tights and pantyhose, and in the latter case a string vest.
The PASGRAPHY series still occupies the artist as seen from PASYGRAPHY (SOLARIS III). The viewer is thereby aesthetically tested by this opaque series of works which play with hard and soft, flexible elasticity on the one hand, and apathetic matter on the other. The artist’s sculptural creations have to be seen not only as co-equal but as a natural extension of her works as an artist-filmmaker. The extended appropriation and redirection of found material and their properties, is not fundamentally different from the appropriation and re-directed contents she finds in material film sources, or the observed interstitial aporia (or doubt) of our daily lives. It is fair to say that the creative other of our identities, the accumulated contents that relate both to ourselves and the world, are the essential building bricks of the personal sense of self. As stated earlier we are of the world, by the world, and for the world, and why should we ever want to think otherwise?
Berlin, Sunday, 03 January 2010
1 Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) took the term ‘other’ and ‘otherness’ from Freud (der and das Andere), creating
a distinction between the capitalised Autre and autre (or objet petit a). The former represents the ‘Otherness’ that supersedes the illusionary visual or perceived image generated by the ego (the Imaginary) and its projection autre, and places Autre as a radical alterity within the individual subject as part of the Symbolic order, that is to say with an ‘Other’ subject (in the context of psychoanalysis this would be the Symbolic role of the analyst), and is grounded in the language and the Law. See, La chose freudienne (The Freudian Thing) and La psychanalyse et son enseignement (Psychoanalysis and its teaching), both appear in Lacan’s Ecrits, Paris, Seuil, 1966 (and subsequent editions), pp. 401-436, 437-458. For a short account of their more precise distinctions, see Malcolm Bowie, Lacan, London Fontana Moderm Master, London1991, pp. 80-84 Or, alternatively the second chapter of Slavoj Žižek’s How to Read Lacan, London, Granta Books, 2006.
2 The Lithuanian-French philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas (1906-1995), first coined the term the ‘Other’ as an ethical subjectivity, and as an infinite pre-condition of our ‘being’ prior to traditional perception or object-based metaphysics Though it has both a Fichte and Hegelian antecedence. Truth and its nature are founded upon the reality of understanding the ‘Other’, and in consequence deeply bound up in issues of language and representation. See Autrement qu’être ou au-delà de l’essence (1974, and Le Livre de Poche 2004), (Eng. trans, Alphonso Lingus, Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, Pittsburgh,Duquesne University Press, 1999); also Humanism de l’autre homme (Fata Morgana, Paris, 1972) (Eng., Richard A. Cohen (intro), Nidra Poller (trans.) Humanism of the Other, University of Illinois Press, repub. 2006).
3 René Descartes (1596-1950), the term cogito ergo sum is first fully defined and used in Latin Principia philosophiae (1644) and in French edition as Principes de la philosophie (1647), though the cogito is implicit to his earlier Discours de la méthode (1637)
4 The term ‘displacement’ is used here both in a literal and psychological sense, the latter being forms of aggressive or sexual social defence mechanisms, scapegoating, and numerous escapist behavioural rationalisations that forge a sense ‘separateness’. Though grounded in language it can also be extended into the visual field of representation. Displacement thus lies at the heart or our discerning a sense of personal difference.
5 The use of the term ‘post-narratology’ implies here a post-structural reading insomuch the post-structuralists argue that the signifier and signification are inseparable but are not united, and as a result there is a play of difference. This is in distinction from traditional theories of structuralist narratology which privileges the signifier. Janin’s video serial as indicated uses this through the role of metonymy (separate that is from any sense of a metanarrative), since it plays with ideas of viewer association and an irresolvable difference – they can never be fully united. To consider the beginnings of modern structuralist narrative analysis see, Tzvetan Todorov Grammaire du Décaméron, 1969, and most importantly Vladimir Propp Morphology of the Folktale, 1928. For post-structural analyses, consult the writings of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Julia Kristeva.
6 Emmanuel Lévinas, Totalité et Infini: essai sur l’extériorité, Paris, 1961 (Eng trans., Alfonso Lingis, Totality and Infinity, London, 1999.
7 The appropriated scene is derived from the three short films entitled Coffee and Cigarettes (1986, 1989, 1993), these three shorts were incorporated in a larger completed film of the same title, which was eventually finished by Jim Jarmusch in 2003. The 1993 short containing the Iggy Pop and Tom Waits conversation was called Coffee and Cigarettes - Somewhere in California was therefore part of the 2003 film that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, in 2004.
8 It is important to realise that Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1985), is a film that pays homage in part to the work of English poet William Blake, hence the Indian character Nobody recites lines from the poem Auguries of Innocence (1803). The relevance being that other lines ‘Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night’ are quoted byJim Morrison in the song End of the Night by The Doors (first album), and the group turns up in part five of Majka from the Movie.
9 The film is based on a novel by Dino Buzzati called The Tartar Steppe (1940). and deals with an army officer who spends his life waiting for a Tartar Army that never comes,. The Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee based part of his book Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) on the same novel.
10 Christian von Ehrenfels, ‘Über Gestaltqualitäten’ Vierteljahrsschrift für wissenschaftliche Philosophie, vol. 14, pp. 249-292. Gestalt psychology traditionally begins with the Jewish Czech psychologists Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), who took it from the Institute of Psychology (University of Berlin) to the New School in New York, in 1933, Kurt Koffka (1886-1941), Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967) who both similarly left Berlin for America after the Nazis came to power In Germany. Its influence on art and musical culture in the USA was enormous, particularly through Wertheimer‘s assistant and later major film and visual arts theorist Rudolf Arnheim (1904-2007), who became Professor for the Psychology of Art at Harvard University, see Film as Art, University of California Press, 2006 (Orig. 1932 in German), and Art and Visual Perception, University of California, 2004. All of his major fifteen books remain in print.