Here’s a quick update and some images of the curtains as promised. Thanks to my Mum for the use of her kitchen table and sewing machine – we had two on the go at once, one of us zigzagging a seam whilst the other was attaching the fringe.
They look sumptuous – can’t wait to see them in situ in the park. The guys from Know Alternative, who do the solar-powered cinema for Encounters Film Festival are helping erect the curtains and we’re planning to recycle them at a further popup cinema screening of Mad About Music (1938) on Sun 24 March, so if you can’t make this weekend, then hopefully you can make that.
Been thinking a bit more about what it is about cinema curtains that fascinates me. It’s more than the simple remediation of the proscenium arch of the theatre, but something integral to the cinematic apparatus, the act of hiding the empty screen. As Dennis Göttel has pointed out in ‘Towards a Deconstruction of the Screen’:
“The function of the screen within the dispositive of cinematography is to be the surface of the projection of the film. In other words, its function is to disappear. Whenever the screen is in use as a screen, the screen is a screen, the screen itself disappears. The fabric body of the screen is a borrowed physique. The impossibility to perceive the screen is the precondition for perceiving the projected film. Even when the screen is not in use for projection, in many theaters the curtains are drawn to hide it – just as if to avoid a horror vacui.”
It aslo brings to mind the very materiality of the screen, itself made of fabric, explored in VALIE EXPORT’s ‘Tap and Touch Cinema’ (1968) which Göttel goes on to explore in the article
“Performance artist VALIE EXPORT ties a white wooden box around her naked upper body and walks through the street. While nobody could see her breasts, she invited men, women, and children to reach through the curtained front of the box with both hands and touch her.”
If as Laura Marks suggests in The Skin of the Film
“The Skin of the Film offers a metaphor to emphasize the way film signifies through its materiality, through a contact between perceiver and object represented. It also suggests the way vision itself can be tactile, as though one were touching a film with one’s eyes: I term this haptic visuality. Finally, to think of film as a skin acknowledges the effect of a works’s circulation among different audiences, all of which mark it with their presence”,
then what function do the curtains have, other than a kind of strip tease, the anticipation of cinematic pleasure?