The Emaciated Spectator

This essay, original presented at Free University Berlin in 2008, was recently published in What Does A Chameleon Look Like? Topographies of Immersion. ed. Stefanie Kiwi Menrath and Alexander Schwinghammer. Cologne: Harem Verlag, 2011. PDF here.

This is the blurb from the introduction:
In reading the work of Guy Debord against that of Jacques Rancière, both of which describe cinema and theatre as immersive cultural practices that produce ›spectatorship‹, Jeff Kinkle’s paper takes spectators as a kind of responsive mirror. In Kinkle’s view, the world of mirrors of the spectacle can be put to use not only for stultifying reflection but also for emancipatory creation. Kinkle departs from the active/passive dichotomy that Debord opened up in his writings on cinema and spectatorship, and critiques this by way of Rancière’s notion of the aesthetic regime as a ›distribution of the sensible‹. According to Rancière, this puts forward hierarchies of activity/passivity or capacity/incapacity within populations, places, senses, etc. On this basis Kinkle turns to Debord’s praxis as a film maker, which offers a less categorical notion of cinema; and while moving away from Debord’s writing and towards his praxis as a filmmaker, Kinkle finds that it is not cinema in itself that Debord criticises, but rather only a certain quality of cinema: namely, its stultifying quality. Kinkle concludes that while there still remains an emancipating side to it, such emancipation cannot be studied without its application.