Stephen Dwoskin’s experimental film records in a single continuous shot a woman’s face before, during and after orgasm.
A static camera records, in one single continuous shot, a woman’s face before, during and after orgasm. The act of looking and the limits of the film frame are highlighted in this intimate sexual episode with Tina Fraser. Stephen Dwoskin presents a powerful, personal moment while maintaining a distance and resisting the viewer being subsumed into the action on screen.
Stephen Dwoskin was a highly regarded underground filmmaker who had moved from New York to London and helped to found the London Filmmakers’ Co-op in 1966. His extremely striking work quickly received critical attention and he made several feature-length works through the 1970s with support from German television and the BFI. He continued with both personal and essayistic films and documentaries, and in the 1990s began shooting on handheld video. He made collage films and explored his family’s home movies as he reflected on age, sexuality and the passing of different generations.
How sound recording’s uncanny confluence of human and machine would transform our expectations of mourning and melancholia, transfiguring our intimate relation to death.
Currently sitting with this book in my reading queue… i.e. trying to wait until I have read the stuff I need to prioritise before diving into it, but having peeped the PDF I’m struggling to!
Breathless explores early sound recording and the literature that both foreshadowed its invention and was contemporaneous with its early years, revealing the broad influence of this new technology at the very origins of Modernism. Through close readings of works by Edgar Allan Poe, Stéphane Mallarmé, Charles Cros, Paul Valéry, Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, Jules Verne, and Antonin Artaud, Allen S. Weiss shows how sound recording’s uncanny confluence of human and machine would transform our expectations of mourning and melancholia, transfiguring our intimate relation to death. Interdisciplinary, the book bridges poetry and literature, theology and metaphysics. As Breathless shows, the symbolic and practical roles of poetry and technology were transformed as new forms of nostalgia and eroticism arose.
“By suggesting that sound recording changes the very notion of textuality at a key inflection point in Modernism, Weiss literally turns the field of cultural studies on its ear.” (Gregory Whitehead, co-editor of Wireless Imagination: Sound, Radio and the Avant-Garde)
“The extremely important, cogent analysis adds immeasurably to our knowledge of cultural production in the critical years between early modern lyric and our own post-modern, post-lyric age.” (Lawrence R. Schehr, Professor of French, University of Illinois)
“This is a city of heartless beings; what can I do?”
This provocative song featured in the 1993 film, Khalnayak (Hindi = “Villain”), starring an incandescent Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt. It was a huge yet controversial hit, largely due to the erotic lyrics.
Storyboarding is strangely interesting when it gives a view into how different nation-states construct and respond to sales stereotypes. I’m doing a lipstick ad for actual French people from Paris right now, and it is noticeably stripped of that subtext one inevitably finds in American or South African ads that says, “Don’t worry, she’s not dangerous and what she really wants is to be your submissive little wifey.” This ad would freeze the testicles off a Sarf-Effriken jock, even though all it’s about is glamour.
It’s odd, because it is all about women achieving an aesthetic perfection so intense they are geisha-like objects of contemplation, yet the glamour is also tangibly an end in itself which doesn’t necessarily include men. It’s not like we don’t already know this, but it brought to my attention that South African culture which considers itself sophisticated is not only colonial but downright rural. Sexuality is confined to breeding, like farmyard-style.
Lynne: Sounds like fun for a change! X are you gonna buy the lipstick? X
Lizza: Being briefed for a storyboard doesn’t necessarily go as far as anyone telling me what the product is! This time I needed to be told what it looked like, but I didn’t get the brand. Probably a load of bollocks. For all I know this could be the French version of Sarie magazine – I really wouldn’t be able to spot the difference.
The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognised feeling…
Of course, women so empowered are dangerous. So we are taught to separate the erotic from most vital areas of our lives other than sex…
The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need — the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfilment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. But this is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, and to enjoy the act of painting. It is not only next to impossible, it is also profoundly cruel.
. . . [O]nce we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives…
During World War II, we bought sealed plastic packets of white, uncolored margarine, with a tiny, intense pellet of yellow coloring perched like a topaz just inside the clear skin of the bag. We would leave the margarine out for a while to soften, and then we would pinch the little pellet to break it inside the bag, releasing the rich yellowness into the soft pale mass of margarine. Then, taking it carefully between our fingers, we would knead it gently back and forth, over and over, until the color had spread throughout the whole pound bag of margarine, thoroughly coloring it.
I find the erotic such a kernel within myself. When released from its intense and constrained pellet, it flows through and colors my life with a kind of energy that heightens and sensitizes and strengthens all my experience.
Lorde, Audre. “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1984. 53-59.