Tuesday 19 July 2011

Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy | Germany | Switzerland, 2010)

Roman centurions in the back of a rusty old truck. This image throws out-of-joint the day-to-day linear time that has so far been experienced following the life, and eventual death, of Fuda, an aged goatherd in the southern Italian countryside of Calabria. While the ancients are revealed as participants in a modern-day passion play, this does little to re-anchor a linear temporal flow. Rather, it exposes the durations that subsist in the spatial field, and announces an ongoing series of such spatio-temporal disturbances. Director Michelangelo Frammartino uses the real time of the long take to make us feel the affect of time, reveal the clamour of times in the spaces we inhabit. The shot is simple, at least in terms of camera movement, panning this way then that through 180 degrees. A dog patters up and down a country lane, the truck and centurions arrive, people in costumes and every-day work-wear gather, the procession begins, from the village and out into the fields. The past subsists in this space and this present is the coexistence of all kinds of pasts, many different spatial strata. History, myth and cyclical time arise, real and imaginary events, yearly repetitions. Four Times: linear time, cyclical time, mythical time and time out-of-joint. The affects of these disparate but interfolding times are explored by Frammartino through the rigorous unfolding of the film: four sections on the duration of the existence of human, animal, vegetative and non-organic states. These four spatio-temporal series can be seen as four aspects of the any-space-whatever, Deleuze’s cinematic sign of indeterminate affects.

The any-space-whatever concerns affection-images. Affection-images, in the first instance, can be said to be close-ups of an expression on a character’s face, outward signs of internal intensities, after perception, before impulses or actions, and at the gateway of thought. Yet it is not only the face as sign that can express affect. The second sign of composition is the dividual, complex qualities and powers of the mass, group, assemblage. Then there is the any-space-whatever, genetic sign of the affection-image – from which the affects of the mass and the individual arise. A pure background, indeterminate space-times where the affect is encountered without the necessity of mediation of a character of characters. A setting as an intensity of forces, empty or disconnected spaces developing the indeterminacies of gaseous perception and resisting the determinate space-time of action. Ahuman affects, forces prior to the human or after the withdrawing of human centres. Any-space-whatevers – however – belong to the movement-image and thus tend to be captured up in compositions of the dividual and the icon, the ascension of the assemblage and an emergent central and privileged image. Ahuman affects are composed into human affects. Yet such mappings have a certain fragility: in other conditions (set free from the movement-image) an any-space-whatever can become an opsign-sonsign, a pure optical and sound situation, a time-image, an actual on-screen undifferenciated visual and audio image. Without human centres to express affects there is a univocal coalescence of genetic forces: the coalescence of indeterminacy. We experience time in its raw state, no longer an image of thought, but an image that is disruptive of thought. Accordingly, the four states of the any-space-whatever: (1) captured up through the icon; (2) sustaining the assemblage of the dividual; (3) in itself as reference to the affection-image and movement-image; (4) in itself as a condition for the time-image.

It is tempting to align these four states of the any-space-whatever with Frammartino’s Four Times...

To read the full exploration of Four Times through the Deleuze's sign of the 'any-space-whatever,' see Deleuze's Cinema Books: Three Introductions to the Taxonomy of Images...

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