Filmmaking as an afterimage operator

Visual Notes

To induce the spectator to a simultaneous relation between effect-affection, in order he may question himself about how is himself/herself positioned as an observer in relation to what is being observed  and the inherent knowledge that may propel from these questions, is also of my interest as a strategy to compose artefacts and displacing them into public sites . The affect as a consequence of the effect, that is to say, the combination of visual distortion with an idealization/script of the new meanings for far-view and the further.

Pursuing this subject, I deeply analyzed Jules Verne’s novel Le Rayon Vert and the cinematic version by Eric Romer[1], alongside the studies about the astronomical and optical effect in itself; its first reports and integration as a scientific phenomenon during the XIX century, that replaced the mirage and optic theories.

The brief synthesis of the state-of-the art regarding the green ray, is particularly pertinent to perceive how an unclear categorization was enabling new approaches regarding either aesthetics, either emergent objections. Actually, I found Eric Rohmer’s own interpretation of Jules Verne’s novel, remarkably distinct than others. He induces a very quiescent dimension to his film, that for example, Verne excluded .

Rohmer plays directly with the spectator, motivating him to imagine the film at first glance, and then expecting from him a rational analysis, exploring the critical sense of the phenomenon within and outwards the narrative.

  “Il s’agit donc de disséquer le flux imaginant, en restant fidèle à l’émotion première qui indiquait, sur le mode d’une fulgurante intuition que nous appelons le Rayon Vert, ce qu’il importe de dire, maintenant, de ce film. Question de fidélité au spectateur d’alors qui s’impose à tout critique sincère: un détective dont le premier indice est un affect.”[2]

The same way, Rohmer’s main character wander without certainty, leading the spectator to lose expectations, as he was allowed to do meta-readings of the main phenomenon.

Heidegger refers to “this kind of seeing, that which is an issue for care does not lie in grasping something and being knowingly in the truth; it lies rather in its possibilities of abandoning itself to the world”[3]. Thus, concern doesn’t disappear in rest. However, it is in the lousy torpor that the observer, or the Dasein as Heidegger refers to, become more open, once there is no fixed aim, every possibility may play a role. This has an evident approach to the Eastern thinking.

The green ray appears in Rohmer’s imagery, within the silence of the affect, taking the spectator to a feeling of torpor, where no main occurrences really happen, while Delphine - the main character, who is having a vacancy period, feels the pressure to have fun, to be entertained, to attain some aims – instead, she wanders from place to place, from conversation to conversation, without attaining any conclusions from her own reflections, becoming affected by the idea of non-activity, non-efficacy and how she could relate with the openness of these summer days. Delphine uses a relevant formula to qualify her indeterminate states of melancholy:

"I am not operational".

In the gaping hole opened out of the operational, there is an absence of present normality. The word "obviousness" becomes unclear, because nothing is "self-evident".

Rohmer thus tries to escape the architecture of the narrative, presenting a décalage[4] between the authority of the character and the indeterminacy of the actions. It is about presenting the effectiveness of an ideal not in the order of choice, but in that of the evidence. " Rohmer rehearses the realization of an absent history, of a reality of which no narration can be entrusted" (Vicent Amiel)[5].   By assuming the insufficiency of the narrative, it gives place to an insubordinate real, that does not allow itself to be subjugated by the logic. That is to say, the common fixed aim, the logic, is substituted by an intrinsically relation between affect-effect, resulting as an embodied knowledge . Affect is neither objective nor subjective, and it is by imprecision that the story develops.

The green ray is equivalent to this possibility - the moment when it becomes possible, the retrospective understanding of what was so intriguing and trembling. Conjuring this up, I recall Michel Serres criticism of the scientific universal Enlightenment, directing it to examples such as Laplace’s work in astronomy attempting to define methods and systems of measuring that neutralize every aberration. Serres emphasizes the notion of randonée[6](wandering), similar to what is emphasized in Eric Rohmer’s Le Rayon Vert, where geography is settled as uneven and unpredictable – like the sea horizon.  Actually, we could see the green ray as the third zone that Michel Serres mention, where neither the Sun nor Earth is the center. He claims the real center of an orbit lies between the bright orb and the shadowy point (recalls the dark side mentioned in chapter 2.1), that is, in a third place[7].

Peraphrasing Maurice Merleau-Ponty:

We must habituate ourselves to think that every visible is cut out in the tangible, every tactile being in some manner promised to visibility, and that there is encroachment, infringement, not only between the touched and the touching, but also between the tangible and the visible, which is encrusted in it. [8]

This is precisely the condition of analysis, in which the production of new knowledge is achieved throughout an indiscernible torpor and therefore of major influence in my research in its relation to the Arts.

[1] Rohmer, E. (Director) and Les Films du Losange. (Producer)  (1986) Le Rayon Vert [Motion Picture]. France

[2] Retrieved from:

[3] Heidegger, Martin (1962) Being and Time. Blackwell Publishers Ltd. P. 172

[4] Notes: fig. Manque de concordance entre deux faits, deux choses. Le décalage entre nos théories et nos expériences

Perroux, L'Écon (1964) XXes., p. 27

[5] Amiel, Vincent and Vassé, Claire (1998) « Entretien avec Éric Rohmer : des gestes proches du dessin ». Cahiers du cinema. N° 452

[6] Notes: “Sans plan, comment visiter la ville? Nous voilà fourvoyés dans la montagne ou en mer, parfois même sur la route, sans guide.”

Serres, Michel (1996), Atlas, p. 11

[7] Notes: “Le centre reel de chaque orbite gît exactement à une tierce place, juste entre ses deux foyers, le globe étincelant et le point obscure.”

Serres, Michel (1991), Le tiers-instruit, p. 69

[8] Maurice Merleau-Ponty  The visible and the invisible, trans. A. Lingis (Evantson: Northwestern University Press, 1968) p.134.