Unreal Nature

May 6, 2015

Through the Darkened House

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:50 am

— the rotation of perimeter lines and corners, the drifting swatches of daylight through windows, the evanescent rays of the setting sun —

This is from the essay ‘House and Extension’ by Timothy Martin in … and of time by Uta Barth (2000):

If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace … Before he is ‘cast into the world,’ as claimed by certain hasty metaphysics, man is laid in the cradle of the house.
Gaston Bachelard

… The camera is as much like a house as it is like a mind that sees; and, as Bachelard would have it, the mind that sees conceives of itself as being housed, not only within the chamber of the cranium, or the body, but literally within the house of the earliest experience. That is, the house provides a primary, visible external model by which we may conceive of our own invisible interiors, indeed, our bodies, and therein becomes internalized. It is this internalized box-with-a-view that sets the stage for the notion of camera consciousness and grants its intuitive force.

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[book cover]

[ … ]

… One need only witness the sleepwalker or oneself wandering through the darkened house on an overcast night to realize that the house can be as invisible to the active dweller as the underside of his or her clothing. We barely need to see the house in order to live in it and most of the time do not really see it, nor particularly want to. [ … ] The living room in these images, with its featurelessness of the tacit, its pleasant embrace of habit, in-betweenness, and invisibility, poses a question to which the images themselves are given to respond. What does vision do when there is no need to see? What does it do around the house all day, all year?

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… the invisibility of duration is in part made visible in the images — the rotation of perimeter lines and corners, the drifting swatches of daylight through windows, the evanescent rays of the setting sun — and in part (re)enacted or similarly evoked through the real duration of looking at them, the sidelong glances and movements between the images made by the observer.

[ … ]

… Extension is indeed dramatic and full of untapped permutations, but it is so constant and so constantly active that it rarely pauses for reflection. This is where the house enters the picture. In providing the body of stillness and containment that is the reference point of the active body, the house provides this pause. [ … ] Here, in the house, in these images, perception cannot help but reflect, and in doing so both see and dream at the margins of its faculties.

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Last week’s Barth post is here.

-Julie

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