Vincent Grenier
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Texte tiré de
IRIS #12, 1991
Paris, Published by Meridiens Klincksieck

The Displacement of Architecture in Avant Garde Cinema 
by Maureen Turim

Cet article étudie les stratégies par lesquelles les films d'avant-garde transforment la représentation de l'architecture en un espace conceptuel plutôt que référentiel. Quatre approches distinctes sont examinées: tout d'abord une manière dynamique de transposer I'inscription temporelle de differents rendus spatiaux, ensuite I'exploration de I'intériorité comme illusion visuelle ou métaphore, ensuite encore, les incisions dans I'architectonique de la représentation de la monumentalité, enfin une réinscription critique de I'espace narratif.  Des exemples sont tirés des films d'Ernie Gehr, Vincent Grenier, Holly Fisher, Dore 0, Yann Beauvais et Michael Snow. A travers ce travail sur Ie rendu architectural, se produit un déplacement qui transforme la codification de I'espace et la position du sujet.

« …Interiority in films is a spatial construct dependant on visual illusion. In many cases, the notion of interior space accrues a metaphorical dimension, delimiting the space of the psyche, a mental dimension, memory. A film can resist this metaphor, or recast its processes in a different manner by examining the visual illusions nor­mally taken for granted in the filmic depiction of interiority.

            Emptying out not only referential space, but the referentiality of space is in part the project of Vincent Grenier's film Interieur/lnteriors (1978). The film's title transposes the opposition interior/exterior to one between connotations of interior in two languages and between singularity and plurality. The title suggests shifting ar­chitectural interior spaces, while maintaining the more philosophical, psychoanalyt­ical and literary connotations of the French, intérieur, as that which occurs dans I'es­prit, along with the specific notion of a tableau d'intérieur, familial genre painting.

            As this film unfolds we experience this duality as a coming and going of differ­ent indices and activities that might clarify this space. What appears to be a white wall is initially marked only with a vertical line on the left, but then a parallel line on the right appears to define a space behind this wall, more grey in tone, whose depth is hinted at by the movement of a partial figure (a sleeve?) within it. Then, for a moment, a shadow dominates the central space, until a large hand pulls what is clearly a string (formerly just the line on the left) which «causes» the stripe on the right to become black, as if this string controlled a light in the interior of a room on the right. This event then gives way to another as the «string» becomes a gap indi­cating a door opening through the mid-section; the film continues in this way to create ambiguous interior that later return to a surface flatness, while at moments the image appears to be closer to a book whose pages are being turned than to the space of even the most illusive of rooms.

            Interiority is ambiguous, subject at any moment to becoming flattened or revers­ing itself through a play of shadows which trick our cognitive functions. Film is granted a special power to interrogate perception and cognition informing the archi­tectural construct. If lntérieur/Interiors presents itself as a series of black and grey interventions on an expanse of white that tricks us into granting it the functions of spatiality and textuality, rooms and events, then in a sense it exaggerates the ludic illusions of all films in renouncing the singularity of their representational architec­tures. This exaggeration allows us to see architecture conceptually, not as a given, but as repetitive (continual) enforcement of oppositional strategies. This whiteness, this blankness, this minimalism of Interieur/Interiors can make apparent how even the most reduced traces may suggest a set construct, and yet how minor the re­versal need be to undo this construct in favor of another «reading» of architectural space. Delineation of space is a matter of a trace inscribed here rather than there; the similarity between text and achitecture is manifest…”  (excerpt from 13 page article)


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