Flipped Hierarchies: Exploring Narrative Metalepsis As A Radical Critical Tool Through Artists’ Moving Image Practice
Kingston University, London
Year of enrolment: 2019
My practice-based research aims to critically examine the concept and processes of metalepsis, a condition experienced by moving-image audiences through a particular encounter with the uncanny.
Narrative metalepsis occurs when a story’s narrator intrudes into the narrative universe, or the inverse. The deliberate transgression of the hierarchic structure of author-narrator-character-reader occurs in narrative fiction, poetry, drama, as well as in visual art. Metalepsis is the central theme of an emerging field of research termed ‘Boundary Language’ (Kunze, 1998-present) a visual study promoting experiment in critical theory, through interdisciplinary study of topology, architecture and psychoanalysis. My own research seeks to employ this methodology as a means to test ways that radically shift the subjectivity of a spectator of moving image.
The effect of metalepsis on the audience, I will argue, is the realisation that what was once considered knowable has been thrown into doubt, an inverted subjectivity has radically disrupted the previous certainty, the previous identification of self is thrown into the place of the unknown. The realisation that the self can occupy a position of alterity becomes a means to profoundly reconceptualise the experience of difference. My research will explore the ramifications of such destabilisation for moving image practice and by implication, for wider fields of cultural articulation.
To test the particular conditions for transgressions through metalepsis, I shall set up a series of experimental moving image works that radically flip the subjectivity of the audience. The works will test how a spectator may be radically positioned in relation to the screen, author and auditorium, to confront oneself as Other.
I will contextualise this work in relation to modern and contemporary moving image makers who use metalepsis to critically engage with subjectivity, including the ethnographic films of Jean Rouch, Joshua Oppenheimer and the under-explored experimental cinema of Owen Land.