Built in the late 80s to monitor revolutionary Cuba, the watchtower rising above Havana’s Russian embassy remains perfectly intact to this day.
"When, as tourists, we commit the act of looking, we make subjects out of citizens. We can move on from the question 'How is this act of looking shot through with power relations?' Such a question would be philosophical.
Ours is more practical: 'Is it possible to look without violence? If so, how?'
Where recording equipment and representation
exacerbate the performative indignity of subjectification
(the violence already inherent in simple looking) the voyeur seems beyond, or beneath, redemption:
'Let's turn off the camera and leave these people alone.'
From this postcolonial paralysis we can begin:
There is an immediate temptation to assume the role of invisible surveillance, to spy unseen. We are not groping for the fiction of unadulterated representation. We are past that pretense. But we have enough respect to acknowledge that becoming a subject- being stared at- does not feel good. Perhaps in our secrecy, we can minimize the impact of the gaze.
But when when our vision becomes real voyeurism it enters a strange and intangibly nefarious territory. What, indeed, gives us the right to look? From whom were we given this permission?
Will there be any sympathy for the well-meaning voyeur
who attempts to celebrate or venerate his unknown subject?
There shouldn't be. This is nothing but concealed narcissism and it is one of the ugliest ways to look.
As long as alienation is the fact of our relationship, we cannot traverse this chasm to Otherness without some kind of weapon. Apprehending is exactly what we want to do. For now we have no choice but to own that violence.
But maybe in admitting our inescapable perversion,
we can still dream of a different era:
When the chasm between subject and object is not quite so great, we might be able to look neutrally. Some time after that, we might even learn to look with love and benevolence. Perhaps one day our gaze will even nourish and sustain."
Written/directed/produced by Damien Zielinski, 2010
Score by Blameface, 2009