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 Cinema e pensamento | On cinema and thought                                                                              @ André Dias

Three dogmas of documentarism [a Visible Evidence 18, NY conference rejection]

The larger theoretical context of an enquiry on the irreducibility of (documentary) ‘visibilities’ to statements (discourse) seem to require an analogous evaluation of the effects of discourse preceding, accompanying, justifying and legitimizing the cinematic practice of documentaries, as employed by critics, theoreticians, in pedagogic practices or, last but not least, the statements of directors themselves. In this enlarged discourse field we’re calling ‘documentarism’, three complementary capitalized notions — Real, Gaze, the Other — seem to lay around available to a constant and overbearing use, despite not being generally required to attain a proper conceptual definition, and undoubtedly providing a loose and easily accountable for community of meaning. Perhaps that conceptual inconsistency is not merely accidental, but a necessary condition so as to have some particular perspectives circulating more freely.
Such general notions are then to be taken as operations that, on one hand, block the emergence of more precise ones that would be closer to the filmic materials and simultaneously allow other more abstract and transversal approaches; and, on the other, somewhat paradoxically, these notions, serving as a background without definition, seem to allow some of its users the invention of nonetheless creative approaches. So, in this complicated setting, our starting theoretical effort will consist in trying to briefly sketch a three step genealogic path of these referred notions’ — Real, Gaze, the Other — discourse existence in ‘documentarism’. Firstly, we’ll acknowledge these topos apparently common conceptual origin in post-War Continental philosophy, namely on psychoanalysis (Lacan), art phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty) and the ethics of recognition (Lévinas); secondly, we’ll go through some important film theory instances (Bazin, Nichols, Mulvey, etc.); and, finally, we’ll evaluate the extension of these notions’ operations by exemplifying some contemporary pedagogic experiences, like Les Atelier Varan.

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