Ceramics, Steel, PLA, Aluminium, Glass, HMA, Screens
Film length: 4 minutes
Sound by Vanessa Bosch
Developed during the Masters of Contextual Design at Design Academy Eindhoven.
The female body has been mediated and controlled throughout cinematic history, which in turn has been internalized in the audience’s bodies, gestures, and customs. With new advances in CGI, digital bodies are becoming more realistic and pervasive both in cinema and online, which in turn imprint a whole new range of gestures and customs on the audience’s bodies. On closer inspection, however, what is perceived as realistic is defined by digital constraints and proclivities that do not match the physical. Into Each Other is an auto-theoretical video and multimedia installation reflecting on the ideological infrastructures that post-produce (ala Hito Steyrl) the intertwining of our lives and screens.
Watching television created a communal experience for earlier generations, today it is a mode of isolation. The act of consuming moving images on screen has become a daily or nocturnal ritual. The television screen, the laptop screen, or the screen on our smartphones or tablets become escape rooms, through which we watch fabricated narratives around the idea of home, family, and relationships, mediated through profit-driven productions.
“What am I actually looking at?”
When I watched the index of my viewing history unfold into an infinite array of titles on the screen in front of me, I wondered in what way all these hours of consuming moving images could have influenced me. It must have transformed me somehow! The question is: “Into what?”
In popular films, the ones most have consumed already, such as Blade Runner (2049), Videodrome, or Ex Machina, the female character behaves in relation to the screen. From a holographic commercial success through an erotic object caught in a television nightmare to partly physical, partly digital bodies of actors mimicking motions of machinic gestures.
But that’s not all she does. Despite being the focal point on the screen, despite her body being subject to the cinematic cut on screen, she is being categorized off-screen. Her appearance, her choice of words, or her way of being intimate are captured within IMDb’s parents' guide, where it seems to be more important to highlight how many times a female character is presented naked while neglecting to look further into the context of each frame, which collectively compose the storylines, narratives, and tropes audiences become entangled with again and again.
Characters on the screen may be bound to the surface of the liquid-crystal display, but their behavior and way of being showcased do not stay within the screen's dimension. Based on Hito Steyerl's analysis of post-production, the project "Into each other" narrates the life of the CGI character Megan, caught within screens. Megan has a body, like mine. She is programmed to be female and so is the way she moves her body. Her motion library consists of gestures such as the “female kiss”. A stock body, that begins to question the inherently opposing presumption of hers and the audience's body. Aiming to expose how her digitally augmented body is entwined in the viewers, who distort their overall corporeality by adopting her cinematic behaviors. Reaching beyond the framework she was created in, to reach out of the screen into the audience's bodies, like mine.
Megan can run away, crawl backward, or kiss in a female way, looking upwards and in this case, she is not looking for the male counter gesture, but she is looking at us, at her viewers, her consumers, which is essential to what I was investigating: the production of and the relationship we have with female characters in popular films, the ones most of us have consumed already.
Frans van Lent's work “Geminus” captured my interest and fascination as it creates an illusion within viewers who assume they are watching two people kiss, when in fact it is two fists pressing against one another.
The “kiss” has become a central element in my work as it has a history within cinema production of being controlled censored, and cut away. Back then a kiss wasn't supposed to last longer than three seconds. A kiss would be the last gesture visible on screen before it evolves into something else, even more explicit. Today, the kiss acts as a censored stage on its own because we are often immediately transformed to the next morning.