Lines of Sight (425)

Here’s a fan video of Iggy and the Stooges’s “TV Eye”:

I want everybody to think outside the classroom about the ideas we discuss. Ideally, you’ll talk about the course materials with other people.

Upon reflection, the clip from Velvet Goldmine will resonate with Berger’s discussion of the nude painting and “publicity.” One issue here has to do with lines of sight– with where the seeing subject is positioned in space in relation to visible objects. An audience member watching Curt Wild and The Rats might have to strain to see everything. Her perspective is situated and thus partial, something that the camera work attempts to give form to by using rough panning shots. This technique effectively communicates the experience of being in the crowd viewing the performance on stage without descending into a fetishizing, obsessive gaze. The true voyeur’s looks linger; insistent and probing, vision becomes touch.

On the other hand, our view of Curt Wild may be controlled by Brian Slade’s (the Bowie figure) consciousness. After all, the editing pattern of this scene includes not only parallel edits which alternate between Curt’s performance and scenes from his childhood, but also a shot/ reverse shot dialectic between Curt and Brian. Are we looking through the latter’s eyes when we watch Curt’s performance?

Thinking about these kinds of questions should lead us to contemplate the issue of structure. To look is necessarily to be located in space, which confers a situate viewpoint. This emplacement determines the reach of our sight and in that sense suggests that looking is a question of power. An image or spectacle positions and addresses its viewers. If specific images demand particular ways of seeing, they are also “for” certain people.