The Textured Screen

In Steven Soderbergh’s new film, the screen is no longer a neutral site for representation, a blank slate that is effaced by the images playing on it. No, here the image is inflected and so it inflects, a concavity that bends the action and images, just so. But the screen will never have been neutral, never have been blank, never have been receptacle: the screen is in the mix with everything else.
I love how the dancers contort themselves to stay in frame. Suddenly, the frame is not an outside limit term but becomes a line of force pervading the image itself.
For Frank Stella, there is no frame. Container and contained become one and the same. It’s funny, then, that while he effaces the limits to his images, he still finds such extreme geometric order, such propriety of form. You’d think things would get wilder. But not for Stella, it seems.
Kara Walker projects the shadows of the ghosts of our history onto the walls around us. Her images are not just what’s on the wall; they’re the ghosts around us that we can’t see—but she sure can. At some point, we come to realize that there is indeed a frame and that we’re milling about inside it.
Matthew Ritchie creates maps of emergent and possible worlds that become the territory itself. Frames abound for Ritchie—not as containers but as local sites of meaning, a meaning that sprawls unabashedly across the walls and floor around it.
Ang Lee’s film introduced a fresh architecture to the screen from within the screen itself. Rather than action always moving horizontally, it moves vertically, as well.

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Former Cal Rhetoric prof. Philosophy, film, pleasures. Wrote this, too: https://www.amazon.com/Reading-Way-Things-Towards-Technology/dp/1785354140

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Daniel Coffeen

Daniel Coffeen

Former Cal Rhetoric prof. Philosophy, film, pleasures. Wrote this, too: https://www.amazon.com/Reading-Way-Things-Towards-Technology/dp/1785354140

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