1. Silverman, The Threshold, 195. All references to Silverman come from this book unless otherwise noted.
2. Borrowed from Haraway, 151.
3. By "the visual" I mean to suggest an understanding of the field of vision as including simultaneously a set of representational as well as material practices. When I refer to "the gaze," "the look" and "the cultural screen," I understand them as terms within the visual field that are constrained by the representational and material practices contextually and culturally available at a certain time, some of which also have a transhistorical permanence.
4. Sontag, 85, 161.
5. Silverman uses both terms, "cultural image-repertoire" and "cultural screen" throughout her book.
6. The "screen" does not represent exclusively the symbolic order, in a Lacanian sense. Nor do I understand the imaginary as an exclusively feminine or pre-symbolic domain. Rather, the imaginary is a necessary terrain to restore and intervene within the symbolic order, as it constitutes the realm where ideological interpellation occurs. Furthermore, the symbolic order cannot be entered without imaginary mediation.
7. It is helpful to understand the "gaze" as described by Ewa Lajer-Burcharth as "the imaginary apparatus that situates the self in the realm of the symbolic through the agency of the screen" and the "screen" as the site of the cultural articulation of the subject, a surface on which its body takes on a meaningful shape" (189). The camera/gaze is simultaneously a logic of representation and a series of material practices in a complex interaction with each other; it can be understood as the visual variant of the symbolic order and includes the look of the Other.
8. The audio lasts 16 minutes and is longer that the video loop.
The image and the sound are therefore constantly changing, and the spectator never
sees the same alignment between image and sound. The artist used five different
online meeting sites to create the sound for the installation, choosing the ones
that were not exclusively restricted to dating. Bierrenbach produced two
audio versions for the installation, one in English and one in Portuguese. The
personal profiles she used were originally written in either language, with no
translation on the part of the artist
9. In a Lacanian sense, the ego first comes into existence as a self-image during the mirror stage, making the ego "a representation of a corporeal representation." In this sense, all visual transactions involve a narcissistic stage that make the visible world possible only as subjects move through projective and reflective surfaces, through screens. Subjectivity is understood as a complex dynamic of projection and introjection, through an othering first of self and then of others, and that makes subject formation first and foremost an issue of surfaces. I use the terms "introjection" and "projection" in relation to Lacan's visual theory and through an elaboration of that theory by Kaja Silverman in The Threshold.
10. Krauss, 51-64.
11. Krauss's argument is that video installations exhibit the projections in a closed-up environment in which the viewer is encapsulated spatially as a captive audience. The viewer and the artist in most of the examples that I give are typically placed in a closed-circuit relationship with one another while detached from the outside world. The technology of video projection itself can also be understood as a closed circuit, as the projection device, the screen, and viewer are linked apparatically in an integrated system. Krauss understands this circuit as "smooth" and uses the narcissistic metaphor to make a parallel between the artists' projects and the libidinal self-investment typical of narcissism. Although I disagree with the idea of any smooth representational system, I want to stress that there is a significant difference between these works and Bierrenbach's. It has to do with the publicness of Bierrenbach's installation. I argue that Through the Looking Glass foregrounds interruption through a clearly open system of signification rather than a smooth spatial or psychic enclosure. Furthermore, the installation emphasizes the presence of otherness as an alternative subject position to the self-identical subject.
12. The allusion to Mendieta's work is mine. Cris Bierrenbach was unaware of Mendieta's early performances when she produced her installation.
13. For a description of Mendieta's early performances see Michael Duncan.
14. See Jones, 81-85.
16. Asselin, 9. Through digital screens individuals are not only receivers but also producers and actors by means of all the interfaces that connect them to the screen and/or enable interactivity such as the mouse, the keyboard, the touch-screen, the helmet, the suit, and the motion detector.
17. For a series of articles on the new status of the screen see Issue 113 of the periodical Parachute.
18. Virilio, 138-147.
19. For a discussion of the function of "the pose" in photography, see Silverman's study of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills, in The Threshold.
20. Silverman uses Lacan's concept of the "given to be seen" to refer to the visual manipulation exercised through the normative representations made available by the culture image-repertoire. I see a more agentive dimension through the way the women manipulate their personal profiles in order to be seen, understood or read in a certain way—usually in a flattering manner, but often exposing less than "ideal" personality traits—by an imaginary or real audience.
21. I owe this reading to Kaja Silverman and her examination of Cindy Sherman's photographs, where she states that "the Untitled Film Stills go even further: they promote our identificatory relation not with the ideal imago which the women they depict so dramatically fail to approximate, but rather with the women themselves, and they make this identification conducive of pleasure rather than unpleasure" (207).
22. Silverman, 183-185.
23. See Lacan's "What is a Picture?," in The Four Fundamental Concepts, 107. For Lacan, the relationship of the subject to the screen is somewhat pessimistic and alienating. Silverman and others expand Lacan's visual theories by elaborating the concept of the screen through phenomenological models of subjectivity (Merleau-Ponty) and a more embodied and performative understanding of vision (Merleau-Ponty, Jones, and Silverman).
24. Jones, 76.
26. Silverman, 37.
27. Silverman argues that in order to escape the bodily ego, we need visual texts that activate in the subject the "capacity to idealize bodies that diverge as widely as possible from ourselves and from the cultural norm" (37). The representations of alternative bodies should also work in a performative manner, in order not to produce simply another reified ideal, as is often the case in the advertising industry.
28. It is worth considering the increasingly complex relationship between the screen and public space, as screens proliferate throughout as surveillance and advertisement mechanisms affecting issues related to accessibility, privacy, and common use.
29. Feldman, 73.
30. This return is significant, as it refutes tendencies in new media theory that insist in the obsolescence of the body in the information age. Bodies can never be made of digital data alone, no matter which side of the computer screen they are on.
31. Although "the gaze" is usually described by Silverman as extra-subjective and apparatical, aligned with the camera, "the look" is not exclusively subjective and the relationship between "the gaze" and "the look" is complex. Silverman describes the look as a function of the camera/gaze while the gaze depends on the eye for its operation "much as a machine uses the worker for its operation" (222). The subject's look then "is a provisional signifier of the gaze for that other who occupies the position of object in relation to [the looking subject]" (221).
32. Silverman, Male Subjectivity, 203. The difference between these two identificatory models is: "Heteropathic identification is the obverse of idiopathic identification; whereas the latter conforms to an incorporative model, constituting the self at the expense of the other who is in effect 'swallowed,' the former subscribes to an exteriorizing logic, and locates the self at the site of the other."
33. The idea of a second look is inspired by Silverman's idea of a "revisionist look."
34. Hannah Arendt (197) refers to the "space of appearance" as one of the functions of the polis for the Greek democrats. She describes this space as indispensable for one's subjectivity to become inscribed, as it is only in this common ground where one leaves a mark of one's actions and deeds and becomes visible to others.
35. The term "indifference" does not imply an equivalence to "sameness" or a return to the binary opposition between equality vs. difference. Inequalities of power matter, but as Joan Scott argues, the opposition of equality vs. difference is not antithetical to conservative agendas. For a discussion of these debates see Scott's "The Sears Case." Bierrenbach's incorporations stand in stark contrast to the homogenization of space and bodies typical of capitalist expansion.
36. Agamben, 16-19.
37. Agamben uses the terms "whatever" and "as such" in The Coming Community. In Agamben, "'whatever' refers to that which is neither particular nor general, neither individual, nor generic." Both terms are central to Agamben's philosophical meditations to designate contemporary forms of sociality through inessential commonalities.
38. Lacan uses the term "function of seeingness" to refer to the gaze as a function that pre-exists the subject's look, in much the same manner that language does, but from which emerges the look. In this sense, the gaze is equated with the symbolic within the field of vision and, like language, provides signification to the subject. In Bierrenbach's installation, the gaze is reconstituted through redeploying it as a determinate embodied and material practice. Bierrenbach puts the body back into the act of viewing through embodying the structure of the gaze.