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– Autumn/Winter 2003

Empire as Cinema

Andreas Spiegl

This text attempts to outline a relationship between images and 'image-spheres' (or image-spaces) to provide a way of tracing the political and cultural dynamics of the present. Starting from a theory of cinema, it will suggest an image of politics that escapes visibility by conjuring up images. The space of politics can thus incorporate all possible images in order to expand its own image-sphere, without ever appearing as an image itself. Power is therefore animated by a space at the boundaries of the image; boundaries that are necessary only insofar as they are rejected again. Seemingly without a reason.

The analysis of the out-of-field and voice-off, of the space outside the frame, plays a central role in Gilles Deleuze's attempt to work out a comprehensive theory of cinema. At issue is nothing less than the question of the limits of the image. The fact that the frame establishes a boundary, defining what is part of the image and what is not, leaves in question what still belongs to the image without actually being visible inside the frame. The voice-off and out-of-field constitute the space outside the frame that belongs, one could say, to the image-regime. For instance, when the voice-off announces a person or a space that actually appears in the subsequent frame, or when the space outside the frame contains a point of reference or a vanishing point that never appears directly, then Deleuze speaks of an 'absolute' function of the out-of-field, representing 'a more radical elsewhere, outside

Footnotes
  1. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1. The Movement-Image, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983 (1986), p.17; and G. Deleuze, Cinema 2. The Time-Image, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985, pp.235ff.

  2. G. Deleuze, Cinema 2. The Time-Image, op. cit., p.265

  3. Ibid., p.278

  4. Ibid., pp.277ff

  5. Ibid., p.278

  6. Ibid.

  7. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001, pp.186ff.

  8. Ibid., p.189

  9. Ibid., p.189

  10. Ibid., p.190

  11. G. Deleuze, Cinema 2. The Time-Image, op. cit., p.265

  12. M. Hardt and A. Negri, op. cit., p.189

  13. Brian Massumi, 'Everywhere You Want to Be: Introduction to Fear', in Brian Massumi (ed.), The Politics of Everyday Fear, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993, p.11

  14. M. Hardt and A. Negri, op. cit., pp.189 and 201

  15. Ibid., p.202

  16. Ibid.

  17. B. Massumi, op. cit., p.31