The point of departure for “Côte à Côte” (French, “Next to each other”) was my final project for Sam Ishii-Gonzales' class “Jean-Luc Godard: Art, Theory, Politics”, which I produced in December 2012, titled “Il n’y a plus d’images simples”. It is a video essay consisting entirely of Godard's original footage, which analyzes stylistic characteristics of his video work between 1974 and 2000 and their implications for the sense-making process in the filmic1 experience. The essay is inspired by Phillippe Dubois' essay “Video Thinks What Cinema Creates: Notes on Godard's Work for Video and Television”. My aesthetic strategy for “Il n’y a plus d’images simples” was to reflect on Godard's stylistic decisions by extracting key moments from his works and reassembling them in a 10min video, applying the same techniques as the film author himself. A voice over commentary explicates my inquiry on a theoretical level.
Based on my first foray into an analysis of Jean-Luc Godard’s work in video in fall 2012 I formulated the hypothesis that with starting to work in video in the early 1970s, Godard moved away from a post-marxist, foucauldian critique of the politics and aesthetics of film and their relation to meaning-making, which he pursued in the 1960s, to an aesthetic, videographic exploration of a new kind of knowledge production which relates images, sounds and bodies in new, non-representational ways. The goal of creating “Côte à Côte” was a) to prove this hypothesis through an in-depth analysis of Godard's video work with the terms of non-representational theory and b) to find the appropriate means of expression to do so. I also wanted to transcend the work I already did by considering how Godard's film and video work changed after he re-introduced analog film making into his tool box and by looking for traces of his later work in video in his early filmic works of the 1950s and 60s.
My main concern this semester was to find a form of expression that transgresses representational forms of filmic creation, a form of expression that would allow me to make the non-representational elements of Jean-Luc Godard’s work experienceable without merely imitating them. At the end of my production process, I am confident that the result meets this criterion. In it’s final form1, “Côte à Côte” consists of two nearly identical video loops, which are displayed next to each other either on two distinct screens or as a split screen within a single video frame. The loops consist of footage from several film and video projects of Jean-Luc Godard, which has been chosen for its degree of formal experimentation with the medium. I also 'remixed' original footage of Godard by applying techniques that are specific to his video works to excerpts of his film works, thus exploring alternate ways of creating meaning as medium-specific potentialities. The two loops differ from each other in the sequence, length and number of the excerpts as well as their degree of manipulation by me. Mine as well as Godard's artistic intervention in the creation of meaning through different motion picture formats will thus be explicated through their juxtaposition, without the need for explication by e.g. the use of voice over.
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