[-empyre-] some thoughts on complicity

Sean Cubitt scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Sun Jan 10 11:02:04 EST 2010

Saul has a very bright thought.

Further etymological notations:

Theatre de Complicite, now just Complicite (http://www.complicite.org/), the
British theatre group, seem to understand the term, since they started in
the early 80s, to mean collaboration, including mixing various technical
devices and dramatic genres.

And a passage I¹ve been glossing for some writing, coming from André Bazin:
here¹s my read of it with quotes: as Bazin already knew, no technique is
integrally  and exclusively progressive. Observing that 'realism in art can
only be achieved in one way ­ through artifice', Bazin offers to 'define as
"realist", then, all narrative means tending to bring an added measure of
reality to the screen'. But every realism is a selection, and necessarily an
abstraction, which does 'not permit the original to subsist in its
entirety'. The resulting mix of abstractions, conventions and 'authentic
reality' produces 'a necessary illusion', allowing reality to become
Œidentified in the mind of the spectator with its cinematographic
representation. As for the film maker, the moment he has secured this
unwitting complicity of the public, he is increasingly tempted to ignore
reality . . . He is no longer in control of his art. He is its dupe¹ (Bazin
1971: 26-7, my emphasis)
Even Bazin's beloved deep focus is a technique open to this necessary
process, in which the technique becomes a goal, rather than a medium.
The essay is An Aesthetic of realism¹ from what is cinema vol 2

What¹s interessting is a) Complicite¹s decision to go for complicity as the
com-pliciting of technologies, genres, collaborators and b) Bazin¹s idea
that it is necessary to get the complicity of audiences in the illusion of
reality. Whether realism s the goal or not isn¹t important: what¹s
interesting is that there¹s a clash between necessary and voluntary
complicity. Saul is on the voluntary side, and it¹s certainly the case that
(even if you subscribe to some form of determinism) we do act (not under
conditions of our own choosing, but nomnetheless we do Œmake history¹).

That this isn¹t necessarly just tactical is clear from the (over cited but
still persuasive) example of Linux.

Perhaps after all we need to reclaim one bit of Bazin, and one bit of
metaphysics, and say we want to change the ontological (real) conditions
under which we work?


On 10/01/10 7:37 AM, "Saul Ostrow" <sostrow at cia.edu> wrote:

> Having once embraced our complicity ­ might we ask: first, what it is that we
> are participating and secondly, how our how does our being in  ³collusion²
> (cooperative) might give us a rhetorical (commendable) position  to advance
> (objective) - or are we forever limited to making tactical  moves within the
> domain (episteme, habitus) rather than  strategic ones ­ and doesn¹t our
> complicity lie in the former rather than the latter
> On 1/8/10 6:04 PM, "Gregory Ulmer" <glue at ufl.edu> wrote:
>> Johanna Drucker wrote:
>>> > I just don't want anyone to be excused from it.... I mean, it's like
>>> > not an opt-out category....
>>> >  
Right, but the desire to opt-out, 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: https://mail.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20100110/60d70805/attachment.html 

More information about the empyre mailing list