Overview, Images

The neigh

Lisa Radford

Satellite Yundi Wang

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The neigh.

The subtraction begins here, before the cropped square. Before the ambulance, the crowd and the (re)presentation of time, in reverse. In pitch black the neigh, sound-sans-image, is heard before we see the churning trail of agitated water. The contrails for a boat, somewhere beyond the frame.

Something is already perverse — contrary to what we expect

Quickly, I message a prompt to you — thesis or poetry? Caught between a desire for treatise and another for verse — rhythm per verses. Your images — pause and repeat. A synaesthetic symptom, images moving forward in reverse. What is it to think backwards? Sound and images swapping sense and inverting senses — to see the sound of galloping hooves, to hear the contact of lightning, to touch the density of the crowd — synaesthetic symptoms polyrhythmically becoming.

The moving images, your moving images — 8 minutes and 41 seconds in length. I watch it, listen to it, feel it, over and over again. Its medium descriptor — single channel video, and its durational quantification — time, are deceptive. The experience of the viewing is in conflict with what is read — each viewing makes time longer, then shorter. I hear a voice, is it you? What you are saying, is it to me?

Why do I need to tell you something?

So, what do you want to know?

It’s not that I don’t want to tell you.

I will tell you if you ask.

Are you saying I am being difficult to understand?

I am very sorry about that.

I didn’t mean that at all.

But if you think about it,

if I only tell you one or two particular things,

how would you know others? And how would you see me?

You see me, as related to the one or two particular things.

So you see, I’m actually trying to help you1

1. Y. Wang, Sleepless, single channel video, 8:41 seconds. 

The neigh of the invisible horse marks something. Neither a beginning, nor the end; a before or after. The neigh marks a presence, a being in time. There is no going back, you have made us see. Here, in your time, to reverse is still to progress. The flatline we reach, is crescendo of time. The mechanical sound of death, played over a magnetic resonance image. Sex in the machine, an MRI machine. The climax is a little death, isn’t that what they say? Images revealing less, rather than more. They fade as sounds click montaging storms, festival rides, architectural frames and those rainbow war planes. That neigh, nay. That desire, that groan.

Images in conflict, arranged in a way, a battle in time — moving forward in time, the battle is reversed. An advance becomes retreat as we are evacuated from narrative, better yet, from meaning. Instead, a fragility is found. Undefining oneself in relation to the power of images. An infinite? wave of images, selected and curated. Aby Warburg via Didi-Huberman describes this infinite potential as a movement — yours, a movement moving forward in reverse. Nothing in history is ever finished, right

We are rising up, so as to start again?

The bodies of the people in your film are not life, the movement in reverse emphasises the mechanism of the image. A memory of bodies moving. A lingering memory of what we might know, might have heard, might have seen. In perpetuity. How many frames per second? Silently speaking images, in reverse and without tongues — science without a name.2

2. G. Didi-Huberman, The Image as Symptom in The Surviving Image: Phantoms of Time and Time of Phantoms, p.177 

I must go on, I can’t go on. I will in spite of all, to desire to speak to say no to the know.

Mechanisations.

Re-arranging sense and senses, through image, time and sound — cutting between things to make cuts invisible. Your sequences are not a translation. Understanding goes beyond the languages we don’t share. The sound of the horse is primal, sexual, desiring. Neigh, nay — more us than them, more horse than horse. The sound slows, in reduction it is metronomic. Low doses at regular intervals. A reference to drugs but administered like love. The subtractive nature of moving images:

A film operates through what it withdraws from the visible.

The image is first cut from the visible.3

3. A. Badiou, The False Movements of Cinema in Handbook of Inaesthetics, p.78 

You are stealing images from life. He thinks this is what cinema does — steals without giving anything back. Stealing exhaustible multiplicities. He says, looking for the direct sources is useful but insufficient.4 And so, where am I left? And, what am I thinking? In regards to you and you and this film. It is a love story, no? And, poetry is our defence.

4. G. Didi-Huberman, The Image as Symptom in The Surviving Image: Phantoms of Time and Time of Phantoms, p.177 

It cannot, not be.

He names five filmic paradoxes asking can cinema be thought?5 Paradoxical images in paradoxical time, art catching you by surprise, presented for the popular, an ethical surprise.

5. A. Badiou in A. Ling, Can Cinema be Thought? in Alain Badiou and the Artistic Condition, p. 32 

Subtraction as production — mathematical procedures, painting time-images. A mechanism opening up visual markers, an aspect of historical memory, hithetro unexplored.6 Your stealing of images ensures nothing is of place. The footnoted from YouTube or time stamp by HEIC —direct sources might be useful, insufficient is best.7 A ferry from Sorrento, a square in Milan POV Museo del Novecento, snippets of Tarkovsky and long-lost Google threads. It is just as he said — an imposition and complex web. These are impossible relations seen to be felt: aristocracy and democracy; refinement and vulgarity; invention familiarity; the real and semblance.8

6. G. Didi-Huberman, The Image as Symptom in The Surviving Image: Phantoms of Time and Time of Phantoms, p.177 
7. G. Didi-Huberman, The Image as Symptom in The Surviving Image: Phantoms of Time and Time of Phantoms, p.313 
8. Re-arranged from A.Badiou, Cinema as Democratic Emblem, Parrhesia 6 - 2008. 

To end, if we must.

Subject to the accident of the crop, the skeletal mirror is forced to kiss. The horse is dead. The human is dead. And, our double centaur lives in an ever expanding grid. As butterfly is to moth, an algorithm may be to count. Your images are something and anything but sign. The placeholder displaced, our referent is breath.

Organ drone. Cut. Start again.

Lisa Radford, 2021.

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