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Video Essay: "From Void to Memory"

An exploration of the cinematic infusion of empty spaces with the ghosts of memory, using the films of Ozu, Ford, Akerman, and more.
Jorge Suárez-Quiñones Rivas
This audiovisual essay proposes an understanding of cinema as a transformative device able to affect a series of re-signifying operations, involving political and historical re-examination as well as shifts in the subjective experience of time-space.
The essay is focused on the transformation that takes place in the viewer’s perception of a specific kind of cinematic entity: filmed void spaces, and how they may turn out to be read as places of memory.
Cinema has the possibility of qualifying spaces, materializing information and connotations that, at first sight, seem invisible. This potentiality of cinema unveils the paradoxical complexity of filmed void spaces: something simultaneously is and is no longer there.
This is a double transfiguration between each unity of image and sound and what that specific image-sound brick communicates, since they effect each other respectively and at the same time, as a result revealing what is condensed in the shot, both formally and conceptually. Sometimes it is just a plain, fair operation: words echoing in the empty landscape raise awareness of the almost erased traces of violence in that scene, and those revealed imprints suddenly fill that void space, materializing an absence and bringing the past to burn the very surface of the frame.
In this process, the viewer is required to become an active subject, since it is in their perception where the vectors of this double transformation cross. As an active subject, they will be able to modify the trajectory of these operations in an intimate, subjective way: waking up their own repertoire of void spaces linked to memory; involving their inner personal, historical, and cinephilic imaginary; and recalling echoes of images and sounds already passed throughout the viewing. This shows their potential ability to intervene in the process of transformation from filmed void spaces to places of memory, since this transformation will never take place in the absence of a viewer.
Ultimately, the object of this research is in the specific operations and cinematographic procedures that certain filmmakers—Ozu, Guerin, Huillet-Straub, Akerman and Benning—undergo for this transformation to happen. Thus, what this audiovisual essay finally proposes is that this transformation from void to memory does not take place in the film or is produced by the filmmaker—if that were the case, this operation would lose all its potential power, belonging to a frozen past—but takes place in the space-time generated between the film and the viewer, always present, always anew.
Footage:
Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)
The Quiet Man (John Ford, 1952)
Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
An Autumn Afternoon (Yasujiro Ozu, 1962)
Fortini/Cani (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1976)
One Way Boogie Woogi (James Benning, 1977)
Too Early, Too Late (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1982)
Innisfree (José Luis Guerin, 1990)
Sud (Chantal Akerman, 1999)
One Way Boogie Woogie / 27 Years Later (James Benning, 2005)
Works Cited:
Gilles Deleuze, "Cinéma 2: L'image-temps", Les éditions de minuit, 1985. Translated from French by Jorge Suárez-Quiñones.
Jean Narboni, "Allí", Spanish translation appeared in Revista Lumière, originally published as "Là" in Cahiers du cinéma Nº275, 1977. Translated from French by Francisco Algarín Navarro.
José Manuel García Roig, "Mirada en off. Espacio y Tiempo en Cine y Arquitectura", Mairea Libros, 2007.
José Manuel García Roig & Carlos Martí Arís, "La arquitectura en el cine. Estudios sobre Dreyer, Hitchcock, Ford y Ozu", Fundación caja de arquitectos, 2008.
Giorgio Passerone, "Marzabotto aquí y ahora y siempre", Spanish translation appeared in Revista Lumière, originally published as "Marzabotto qui e ora e sempre" in Alias (Il manifesto), 2016. Translated from Italian by Moisés Granda.
Claudia Pummer, "(Not only) for Children and Cavemen. The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet", included in "Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet", Österreichisches Filmmuseum y SYNEMA - Gesellschaft für Film und Medien, 2016.
Jack Olsen, "Silence on Monte Sole", London Pan Books, 1968.
Santos Zunzunegi, "El canto de la naturaleza. De la naturaleza al mito: la cuestión del paisaje en el cine de Straub-Huillet”, included in "Jean Marie Straub y Danièle Huillet. Hacer la revolución es volver a colocar en su sitio cosas muy antiguas pero olvidadas", Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, 2016.
Manuel Asín & Chema González, introduction to "Jean Marie Straub y Danièle Huillet. Hacer la revolución es volver a colocar en su sitio cosas muy antiguas pero olvidadas", Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, 2016.
Sharon Lubkemann Allen, "Chantal Akerman’s Cinematic Transgressions: Transhistorical and Transcultural Transpositions, Translingualism, and the Transgendering of the Cinematic Gaze, Bloque IV (Re-Inscribing the Female Subject in History)", included in "Situating the Feminist Gaze and Spectatorship in Postwar Cinema", Marcelline Block Unabridged, 2008.
Philippe Simon, "Sud de Chantal Akerman", Cinergie: le site du Cinéma belge, 1999. Translated from French by Jorge Suárez-Quiñones.
Mathias Lavin, "D’est, Sud, De l’autre côté", Hautetfort, 1999. Translated from French by Jorge Suárez-Quiñones.
Marie Liénard, "Sud de Chantal Akerman ou une Historie de Territoire et de Terre: Le Sud comme Espace de Mémoire", Anglophonia: French Journal of English Studies 19, 2006. Translated from French by Jorge Suárez-Quiñones.
Vincent Dieutre, "SUD", included in "Chantal Akerman, autoportrait", Cahiers du Cinéma & Centre Pompidou, 2004. Translated from French by Jorge Suárez-Quiñones.
Miguel Marías, "Innisfree", included in "Innisfree. Tren de sombras. Unas fotos en la ciudad de Sylvia. Textos", Versus entertainment, 2008.
James Benning, synopsis of his film "One Way Boogie Woogie / 27 Years Later" written by himself for the Viennale Catalogue, Viennale International Film Festival Website.
Catalogue of the projection of the film "One Way Boogie Woogie / 27 Years Later" at Barbican Centre, London, 2009
Celeste Araújo, "One Way Boogie Woogie / 27 Years Later", Blogs & Docs, 2008.
José Luis Guarner, "Un ensayo magníficamente informal”, included in "Innisfree. Tren de sombras. Unas fotos en la ciudad de Sylvia. Textos", Versus entertainment, 2008.
Ángel Fernández-Santos, "Cine eterno", included in "Innisfree. Tren de sombras. Unas fotos en la ciudad de Sylvia. Textos", Versus entertainment, 2008.
Stéphane Mallarmé, "Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard", Gallimard, 1940.
Serge Daney, "Cinemeteorology", English translation appeared in the catalogue of a Straub/Huillet retrospective at the Public Theater in New York in 1982, originally published as "Cinémétéorologie" in Libération, 20th - 21st February 1982. Translated from French by Jonathan Rosenbaum.
Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub interview with Hans Hurch, Berlin, November 10, 1981. Originally published in German in Falter - Wiener Programmzeitschrift, Nº1, 1982. Translated to English by Ben Brewster, and published as "Too Early, Too Late: Interview with Huillet and Straub", Kino Slang, 22nd August, 2014.Translated from English to Spanish by Francisco Algarín Navarro.
Jean-Claude Biette, "El cine se acerca a la tierra", Spanish translation appeared in Revista Lumière, originally published in Cahiers du Cinéma Nº 332, February 1982. Translated from French by Miguel Armas.
Interview to Chantal Akerman in the French television broadcast "Le Cercle", France 2, 1999. Transcripted and translated from French by Jorge Suárez-Quiñones.
Chantal Akerman, "Chantal Akerman, autoportrait", Cahiers du Cinéma & Centre Pompidou, 2004. Translated from French by Jorge Suárez-Quiñones. 

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