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Viewership

Sunday, 09. June 2013 | 00:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)
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When you watch a film you are walking into a puddle of wet mud. Like participating in cross-talk, cinema has the firepower to ignite many cross-polarities and trigger an explosion. Which web of connections has the potential to lead to a tumbleweed of explosions? When do you escape the safe area?

All thoughts are only partially thought. You never have the time to follow a trail of thought all the way to achieve a closure. So your head is full of these live exposed webs of wires. Also you have no way of achieving insulation. In a web, bunches of nodes cannot be isolated from the rest. So everything is permanently exposed. You are always at risk of entering damaging situations which flare up all the loosely hanging live wires in your head and exploding. And then you watch movies.

Now, when we watch movies we are entering a spa. We lie back, relax and let the water touch the surface of our skin and then float away. Like oil-cooled engines, the experience becomes a way of loosing excess heat which has nowhere else to go. We uncoil, when we watch the space behind our eyes is made of cold and hard steel, no impression is made by default. The sensors and tentacles are out of course and if there is a sense that some pool of data is to be analysed for meaningful masses of substrate, material is scooped out and laid bare at the collection gates. And then slowly the material is analysed.

But when you watch a movie you lay yourself open. In a manner which reflects innocence and unnecessary trust, you let a story with uncertain futures mangle with your head. In a dark chamber, you let a story with unknown ambitions play havoc with the space inside your head. You should know that movies are safe to see again, as reruns, as known and tasted fruit. Only media which at first instance seems familiar is worth engaging with. Memories operate that way, don't ask me how you can remember things which didn't happen to you. You can.

Viewers are not caddies, they are not waiters, they are not servicemen, they are not paid henchmen. And if they have a mind of their own, no demographic study and focus group can let you scan the probable response. Let the language of cinema break down from a precipice of artefact, tradition and dogma to the vulnerable lingo of communication. With every word you utter, you do not know what is understood by the listener. Let cinema live with that risk.

When a movie plays to an empty theatre what does it think of itself? When it plays to an uncaring audience what does it think of itself? Can a movie think of itself? Is a movie a sentient being or just a fiction without a body, a fabrication without a basis? And if it is the latter why does it need to be held together? Why does it need to be coherent? Why does it need to be fashioned only in a particular way, leaving no room for the coarseness of our everyday enter the frame? How brave do we have to be to let our flabby, shapeless bodies be in the frame, doing something really really unscripted and artless? Documentary is the art of procuring a license to show things as they are and demand that we read something else in them. Things can only get better, meanwhile what's wrong with dealing with the disaster?

 

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