AFTER THE IMAGE - The Synaesthetics of Disappearance

Dieter Roelstraete

“We make a mistake, says Seamus Heaney, if, driving down a road between wind and water, overwhelmed by what we see, we assume we will see “it” better if we stop the car. It is there in the passage.” 1

This is a little bit how (and what) I feel, in a brief summation, when I ‘watch’ both the paintings and films of Roland Schimmel - both of which very consciously and deftly obfuscate the boundaries between the still (painterly) and moving (filmic) image, and hence also between ‘watching’ (I watch movies) or ‘looking’ (I look at paintings) and ‘seeing’ (I see art) as such. The images, i.e. the “it” of Schimmel‘s art, are quite literally “in the passage”, that is, in the exchange between both modes of viewing and types of motion (a still image is really only a very slowly moving one) - and our experience of these images precisely in the nimble footwork of “the glance” as our eyes stealthily dart across the painted surface or, alternately, casually scan the luminous, immaterial bodies of projected bundles of light. I do not see it better when “I stop the car” of my gaze, i.e. concentrate on an illusory ideal of ‘the’ image in front of me - and there is no getting “out of the car” (my body) either: my experience of the image is wholly conditioned by the charge of embodiment. I am a body looking at the world, always moving in and through the world.

1 Elaine Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999, p. 51.

Dieter Roelstraete, from ‘Psychoscope’, Roma Publications, 2008.

To read the full text, click here...