Mourning, materiality and the feminine: Sarah Pucill’s films 2004-2010

Pucill, S. 2014. Mourning, materiality and the feminine: Sarah Pucill’s films 2004-2010. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Media, Arts and Design

TitleMourning, materiality and the feminine: Sarah Pucill’s films 2004-2010
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsPucill, S.

The writing-up of this PhD has examined experimental films I made between 2004 and 2010, in all five 16mm films: Stages Of Mourning, (17min, 2004), Taking My Skin, (35min, 2006), Blind Light (21min, 2007), Fall In Frame (19min, 2009), Phantom Rhapsody (19min, 2010). As I have been making films that have been exhibited and funded in the public field since 1990, the films included here constitute just less than half of my total films to date. The commentary is divided into three sections, each of which analyses the films from a particular perspective. In each section the five films are considered in turn, in chronological order. The rationale for having three different perspectives to analyse each film is that this provides a means of acknowledging and preserving a sense of the alterity of artists’ film, where readings are understood more as interpretations than as explanations. The choice of focus in each section summarises key considerations that have been relevant to my filmmaking practice over this time period, if not since the start of my filmmaking in 1990. In addition to providing contextual international film artists from both avantgarde and feminist film, I also reference theorists from philosophy to film and feminist studies who have been instrumental in the rationale for the films.

The first section explores the films from the point of view of cinematic space, examining factors such as camera frame, angle, lens and edit as well as qualities of lighting, and durational qualities where for example a slowing of time might expand an idea of the space. Cinematic space is as much expressed through sound, so where relevant this is also discussed. The second section focuses on qualities of texture through both image and sound. In particular, as all the films were shot and printed onto 16mm, the question of the haptic in relation to the films is discussed, as is the
low-budget hand-made texture of image and sound that is the materiality of the unpolished. Vivian Sobchack (The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience, 1992), Sobchack (Inscribing Ethical Space: Ten Propositions on Death, Representation and Documentary, 1984) Laura U. Marks (The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses, 2000) and Tom Gunning (The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde, 2006) are key texts I refer to. The third section focuses on issues of gender, in particular the female body, the female and lesbian gaze, and queer sexuality. Where the first two sections focus more on the structure and language or form of the films, this section focuses on social and philosophical questions of gender difference as points of critique or protest in the films. Luce Irigaray (Speculum Of The Other Woman, 1985 and This Sex Which Is not One, 1985) and Laura Mulvey (‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, 1975) are key texts that inform the writing.

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