Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reclaiming Agency: The Emancipated Spectator in 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle

My project examines Ranciere’s notion of the "emancipated spectator" in Jean-Luc Godard’s 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle. As a filmmaker, I believe Godard assumes the role of ignorant schoolmaster, one who does not assume authority of the films “meaning” but one who is willing to engage in the process of learning with the spectator. 

This is clear in Godard’s use of the interview in 2 ou 3. By filming interviews with women in hair salons and clothing stores, Godard presents what Ranciere refers to as “a third thing,” that which neither schoolmaster nor ignoramus can posses authoritative meaning of. Instead both are left to engage in the process of translation: interpreting the signs in the interviewees words and body language to ascribe a meaning to the work.

I also examine Ranciere argument against Plato’s, and later Debord’s, critique of mimesis. Since theatre is traditionally merely a representation of reality, Plato claims this leaves the spectator in a state of ignorance. Debord likewise argues the appearances in the spectacle fail to communicate the reality of the spectacle: that there is a disconnect between appearance and reality. The spectator, lost in a world of false representation, becomes dispossessed of her selfhood. Godard deals with the problem of representation in 2 ou 3, however unlike Plato and Debord concludes the society of the spectacle does not have the power to rob people of their agency. Instead, like Ranciere, he believes the spectator, in the act of interpreting and translating the world of signs before her, assigns meaning to these appearances. This suggests the possibility of a society where the subversion of meaning by consumer culture may be reversed. 

 Mike O'Malley

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