Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 and Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory at York University, Canada

être-là: Discussion of Poetics of Space

Gaston Bachelard in “Poetics of Space” discusses how we must delve into topography in a phenomenological approach. By this, I mean, we must allow a sensory experience when interacting and exploring the containers of existence. He mentions several spaces (I also consider them containers, but not the same as) that are the architectural objects within which we and other creatures live: drawers, chests, homes, rooms, attics, nests, corners, and more. It’s important to note that he explores these in a very concrete way, and it is only through this material exploration of them that we can understand our own relationship with them. However, this ‘real’ way includes daydreams and oneiricism. But even in those ways, we are still thinking through the objects in a denotative way. Bachelard does not think that metaphors are meaningful (most of the time) because they do not allow us to imagine phenomenologically, and only when we understand something this way, we can then concentrate on its being. Throughout his work this is very clear, and he makes references to poems and poets that use metaphor for metaphor’s sake and finds them lacking meaning and use, ie. “But a klaxon made me come out of the angle where I was beginning to die of an angel’s dream (145), and, “The first time I saw the sea, I was most disillusioned…I seemed to see one of those long stretches of beet-fields that one sees in the country near Paris, intersected by patches of green cabbage, and strips of russet barley… (Bachelard, 199).”

I mention these examples to allow us to understand Bachelard’s perspective on poetic narrative. To go back to the oneiric experience, here are some examples of work that situates itself in a container through the imagination. These are not strictly metaphors as can be possibly interpreted as on a first superficial reading, but rather images and representations of topoanalysis, a topography of consciousness and of the Self, knowledge that can be ascertained only with working through the topography of architecture but simultaneously also informs architecture in a feed-back loop.

Bachelard says, “Poetic space assumes values of expansion because it is expressed (Bachelard, 201).”

When you are watching the videos, please also think about miniaturity and how they interpret space. Bachelard notes, the dynamism of miniature must be seized in a story, as it is a supplementary phenomenological instance – consider digital representations and their dynamic range.This range, I argue is a master of energies infinitely. In the digital realm, we are limited by resolution. Yet, it is in this resolution that depth can occur, and we must use this infinitesimal identity to guide our thought and guide the container/space. How can using a phenomenological approach to its poetic expand the resolution? Is it through imagination? Pierre-Jean Jouve says, “Poetry is a soul inaugrating a form.” Bachelard would agree with this. Thus, future cinema producers can potentially enrich narrative and experience not just through hallucination and imagination as traditional cinema, but by giving a concrete experience, a form. It is through our relationship with the miniature in resolution (for now!) we can create immensity in architectural space and its respective containers. This digital cinema milieu is also essential in deconstructing the binary of exterior and interior, a binary that Bachelard feels is reductionist and restricts a phenomenological reading of space.

What do you think that Bachelard misses in his discussions of space? Does he privilege certain senses?


Stan Brakhage, Commingled Containers (1996)

Person and Place from Kyle Phillips on Vimeo.

Kyle Philips, Person and Place (2009)

Solaris (1972)

2001: Space Oddysey (1968)

The Virtual Electronic Poem (1958)

Stan Brakhage Interview, he discusses how he sees and records the images of space and its accouterments (1970s)

Wonderful night nature full of dreams and imagination (By Fares Husseini) from Fares139 on Vimeo.

Wonderful night nature full of dreams and imagination, Fares Husseini (2008)

I realize this is a lot of different videos, but they all give something to the discussion of space in relation to Bachelard’s perspective.

Mon, November 2 2009 » Futurecinema_2009

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