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A PEDAGOGICAL RUMINATION ON A 'TREATMENT' FOR A FOUR-MINUTE
CINE-VIDEO
Yvonne Rainer

So I'm riding the slow train from Boston to New York and, addicted as I am, I'm reading the NY Times. There's this whole page devoted to the up-coming World Economic Forum at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. It mainly focuses on police preparation for "unruly protesters," fouled-up traffic and broken windows. I'm also looking out the window at the passing landscape. It's a gray rainy day.

OK, if I had a camera I'd first scan the article, then maybe tilt to the window. Already you begin to make a connection: anxiety, apprehension, and the mournful landscape. But is this going to be about my interiority and subjectivity? About a private struggle between my anti-globalization convictions and timid caveats about mass demonstrations? No, I don't want to create a protagonist the spectator can fill with her own ambivalence and hopelessness. All we have to do is add a Schubert string something or other and we're into Elegy. Mournful railway journeys, flight, disillusionment, angst projected toward an unknown future. Next we'll be into the death of loved ones. Oy veh, I've been here before, this musky familiar bittersweet place. Let me out of here. I need a breath of fresh air.

Let's keep the first two shots and the Schubert, but go now to our first reading assignment, Carlo Ginzburg's "Morelli, Freud, and Sherlock Holmes." What if we now interweave close-ups of Morelli's ears and fingernails, Freud's neurotic hand flutterings, and Conan Doyle's footprints and cigarette ashes? Music fades out. But we're still in that musky chamber, only now with embodied memories and traces of ... what? whose vanished presence, whose last cigarette, whose telltale heel print? Youth cut short in its bloom?

Perhaps with a change of music, like something from a Hitchcock movie, we'll move into the detective genre or thriller. But what if the shot of the footprint dissolves into a fingerprint? Ginzburg's culminating image, the turn-of-the-19th century practice of fingerprinting stolen from Bengalis by their British rulers, now turned against them to identify suspected criminals.

Perhaps we use a short superimposed or crawling title to impart this information during the dissolve. What now? Through an ominous bit of historical knowledge are we taken out of our somnolent rumination and comfortable recognition? But the Schubert has faded in again, and we are dissolving back into the very first shot, returned to the Times's liberal cowardly apprehensions . Where are we? Cut again to the image of fingerprint supered over footprint. I want to convey the idea of SOCIAL CONTROL, POPULATION MANAGEMENT. Do I shoot a phalanx of cops? I want to turn the Times's CEO protectionism into a celebration of democratic dissent. Do I shoot a raucous army of protesters? That's too easy. How to transform a figure of private anxiety into a figure of ambivalent resolution? Does a PERSON appear, sit in an adjacent train seat, and whisper into the camera “I'm going to New York to join the demonstration”? Or will a segue from elegiac music to suspense-film music suffice? Will I end as I began, with a scan of the newspaper?

I have only 30 seconds left. Help me out, won't you?

An image in and of itself can mean many different things to as many different people. The pleasure of cine-video is its possibility of pushing the meaning of a given image in a particular direction through the merest trace of a word or sound, change in lighting, framing, or focus, or proximity to another image. Transformation is the name of the game. Images do not speak for themselves. They must be acted upon by their creators.