Reenactment of Cinematographic Past: Complex Temporal Objects Situated Between Cinema and Contemporary Art
In the last twenty years reenactment as a common strategy for re-articulation of film history and reconstruction of screen memories has gained a huge popularity among contemporary artists (e.g., installation films by visual artists Candize Breitz, Douglas Gordon, Paul Pfeiffer, among many others). In this paper I suggest that reenactment of the cinematographic past in contemporary art has to be considered not simply as reiteratiration of the images that have appeared on the cinema screen before, but as a spatial and political reassessment of how these images had initially been represented, who played them, and what implications for existing screen memories they generated.
In order to theorize a possibility of a productiveness of the reenactment of the cinematographic past with respect to screen memories, I will consult French philosopher Bernard Stiegler’s thoughts on the technological externalization of memory and its implications for human consciousness. I will closely analyze how functioning of tertiary memory is complicated in Deimantas Narkevicius’ Revisiting Solaris (2007), as well as Pierre Huyghe’s L’Ellipse (1998) and Third Memory (2000), three works by two well-known contemporary artists. Through establishing a-sinchronity between screen memories and their reenactments (the actor re-enacting his previous film character is a shared aspect of all three works) these installation films, I will point out, indiscernibly conjoin primary screen memories with secondary screen memories and assemble more complex technical spatio-temporal objects. In other words, I will argue that instead of routinizing the flow of cinema’s history, these gallery installations produce new images of the consciousness that are not repetitions of the same film (hi)story, but are new creative interpretations of it. The importance of questions such as: How the aging actor reenacting his previous roles epitomize the complexity of technical temporal objects?, How can creative strategies of the cinematographic reenactment counter existing screen memories? and What role does new space for of exhibition play in the processes of cinematic reenactment? will be accentuated in the paper.