Currently reading: Wretched of the Screen by Hito Steyerl, 2012, eflux Journal, Sternberg Press. Edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle.
In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective (p.12)
Steyerl discusses that with the abundance ofaerial views, overviews, Google map views and satellite views, “we also notice the decreasing importance of a paradigm of visuality that long dominated our vision: linear perspective.” She notes that our modern sense of time and space are based upon the stable horizon line. (p.14)
She goes on to say that in the twentieth century, “Cinema supplements photography with the articulation of different temporal perspectives. Montage becomes a perfect device for destabilizing the observer’s perspective and breaking down linear time.”
This is the cinematic device I choose to use in Rubbish (2011), for these reasons. There is no linear narrative – only images or rubbish flashing up on the screen in quick succession you hardly focus on one before the next appears.
Steyerl argues that there is a new vertical perspective, “the former distinction between subject and object exacerbated and turned into the oneway gaze of superiors to inferiors, from high to low. (p.24) This leads her to discuss the Politics of Verticality that she sees as a “metonymy for the more general verticalization of class relations in context of intensified class warfare from above. […] We no longer know whether we are objects or subjects as we spiral down in imperceptible freefall (assuming there is no ground, even those on the bottom of hierarchies keep falling). (p.26)
Back to the notion of montage (p.27), Stetyerl argues “Montage was the first step in liberalisation from cinematic linear perspective […] Similar things can be said about multiscreen projections, which create dynamic viewing space, dispersing perspective and possible points of views. […] The viewer is no longer unified by such a gaze, but is rather dissociated and overwhelmed, drafted into the production of content. None of these projection spaces suppose a unified horizon. Rather, many call for a multiple spectator who must be created and recreated by ever-new articulations of the crowd.
The viewer of Rubbish is (in multiplicity) the content generator as many Collections of the rubbish featured were of other people’s rubbish – what they chose to “donate to the museum”. If I were to make a video anew for every new Collection, and especially if this process was automated, then this would fit even more perfectly with Stereyl’s concept of liberalised cinema.
Steyerl concludes by turning to a positive (p.27): “What seemed like a helpless tumble into an abyss actually turns out to be a new representational freedom.” […] Falling means ruin and demise as well as love and abandon, passion and surrender, decline and catastrophe. Falling is corruption as well as liberation, a condition that turns people into things and vice versa. […] Perspective of free fall teaches us to consider a social and political dreamscape of radicalized class war from above, one that throws jaw-dropping social inequalities into sharp focus. […] But falling does not mean falling apart, it can also mean a new certainty falling into place.