Cinema is X, X is Cinema


 Like Someone In Love (Abbas Kiarostami / Japan / 2012)

Rodowick's book The Virtual Life of Film is perhaps the last film book I'll be reading for this year before turning to the books of Deleuze particularly his "Guide to Non-fascist Way of Life" Anti-Oedipus (forgive me Mark Seem, but it is a Marx-Nietzsche-Freud synthesis leaning towards Marx --- everything that I ever wanted to read) and the sequel, A Thousand Plateaus. My goal is to get through these books before I can jump into his Cinema 1 and 2 series. Along with these readings, I'm also in the process of back reading Adrian Martin's sources of his newly published book on figural analysis, Last Day Every Day: Figural Thinking from Auerbach and Kracauer to Agamben and Brenez.  My initial readings include the essays of Auerbach, Figura and Mimesis.  

Going back to Rodowick's The Virtual Life of Film, after following Rodowick's enunciation of the concept 'medium' thru his analysis of Carroll's essay "Medium Specificity Arguments and the Self-Consciously Invented Arts", it felt almost discomforting when he mentioned Carroll's five conditions or criteria for an object to be a moving picture:

"...something (x) is a moving picture: 
  1. Only if x is a detached display, that is, a visual array presenting an image whose space is discontinuous with the spectator's bodily orientation.
  2. Only if x belongs to a class of things from which the impression of movement is technically possible,
  3. Only if performance tokens of x are generated by a template that is a token; that is, the individual projection of a given 'movie' is inseparable from its presentation template (celluloid strip, videotape, MPEG-2 file). Nonetheless, the movie will also continue to exist as long as some token of it does, regardless of the physical basis of the template.
  4. Only if performance tokens of x are not artworks in their own right. The performance of a play is an autonomous and unique interpretation that may be judged as an artwork in its own right. But a movie 'performance' is only the repeatable display of a record (film projection , playing a videotape), which is why Carroll insists "that motion picture are not object of artistic evaluation, whereas theatrical performances are... [motion] pictures are not a performing art --- i.e., they are not something whose performance is itself an art" ("Defining the Moving Image" 69). Another way of saying this is that for Carroll all aspects of movie creation (scenario writing, acting, direction, editing, etc.) are integrated into a final record from which they are not detachable. And we evaluate not the recording, but rather the artistic activities embodied and fixed within it.
  5. Only if x is two-dimensional."
It seems complete yet there is something limiting in the way Carroll put it. I also wonder if there are other similar definitions of 'film' or 'cinema' (I can think of Thompson's definition in Breaking the Glass Armour) wherein the theorist or critic works on very specific a priori accounts to circumspect an object.  Would it be too essentialist to do so? I wonder.