Johan van der Keuken (2)

In a series of writings published on the occasion of the 42nd San Francisco International Film Festival, Van der Keuken said the following:

"The idea of the truth 24 times a second is erroneous. The acceleration that takes place in the mechanical process creates a gap between the function of mechanical repetition and its form as a continuous flow that is only perceivable in a purely subjective experience of time. "

Van der Keuken was referring to Jean-Luc Godard's statement: "Photography is the truth, and cinema is the truth 24 times a second," which was made in reference to his film, Le Petit Soldat.


Van der Keuken goes on to say, "The important thing is not the reproduction of a three-dimensional reality, but by way of the time elements in a film, the creation of an autonomous space."

An autonomous space — this means that the flow of a film creates its own time and space, because the viewing experience is never simply a function of what is shown or seen.

Vision — the cultural approach to seeing and thinking, privileges objects of sight, as if they will provide some clear answers to the dilemmas of viewing and understanding, as if the questions, indeed possible contradictions of autonomy, need not be addressed.

For example, hallucinations and dreams are sights not in the control of the conscious mind. It is more difficult to trace their origin because they suggest autonomy without specifiable external or experiential causes.

This could be reason for excitement, visible evidence so to speak, of the mind reconstructing and redeveloping conscious and unconscious relations. Instead, autonomy, which I am not suggesting is the only process at work here, is more often than not recontextualized into an objectivist language of description and analysis. In fact, the sense of estrangement attributed to hallucination or dream cannot be divorced from the hesitations which we feel in describing the “inner workings of vision — the often obvious way in which the reflective autonomy of thought challenges preconceptions of order and disorder.

So, van der Keuken is talking about the unique circumstances through which the cinema makes it possible to experience the world and those experiences are a product of the viewer's own consciousness as much as they are evidence of the world we inhabit.


There is a superb interviewwith Bill Joy originally published in New Scientist that is worth a read.