Offerings for a ghost film: From fragmented work to cosmic assemblages

Clark, G. 2021. Offerings for a ghost film: From fragmented work to cosmic assemblages. PhD thesis University of Westminster Westminster School of Arts

TitleOfferings for a ghost film: From fragmented work to cosmic assemblages
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsClark, G.

This thesis takes as its starting point an unfinished film. The short history of cinema has been dominated by notions of what constitutes a film and what does not. While the establishment of technical standards enabled cinema to become one of the most pervasive global art forms, this curtailed many elements of the fragmented practice of making, showing and discussing cinema. This leaves us with many gaps in the ways we address the life of cinema; the entangled processes of production and exhibition as well as the many branches into other disciplines and areas of thoughts. With the thesis I propose an expanded notion of moving image practice moving from fragmented work to a model of assemblage taking into account several forms of writing, filmmaking and exhibition practice. I will draw on the concept of archipelagic thought to map the strategies employed by a cast of writers, artists, photographers and filmmakers, to make visible phantom and occluded histories. In approaching cinema as a site of potential I will explore how film practice can address political ruptures and nomadic lives. Through the project I attempt to elucidate an open model of cosmic assemblage sited at the intersection of a broad range of ideas, cultures and histories.

The particular details I will focus on unfold around a few weeks in November 1995 in north of Taiwan. At this time the Chilean filmmaker Raúl Ruiz (1941-2011) travelled from Paris to Taiwan with his producer, cinematographer and editor to shoot the film The Comedy of Shadows based on his script with a local cast and crew. The project was shot but never completed leaving scarce references to its production, a brief synopsis and notes starting it awaits post-production. Assembling new research into this lost film and the surrounding social, cultural and political history, the thesis will work through this material in relation the development of my new body of work proposing a different way of thinking of cinema, questioning the notion of an unfinished film and using the model of open assemblage to explore the diverse means by which Ruiz's ghost film prompts new thought and new creation.

The thesis is structured in four thematic chapters (Fragment, Projection, Cemetery and Constellation) employing a range of modes of writing and strategies of assembly. The practice elements are focused around the series of film works and exhibitions centred around my film Double Ghosts. This film is part of a body of work presented in international series of iterations spanning outdoor screenings with Temple projectionists, workshops and performances and series of exhibitions documented as part of the thesis. With emphasis on three key presentations of Double Ghosts at AV Festival (UK, 2018), Taiwan Biennale (Taiwan, 2018-19) and Berwick Media Arts Festival (UK, 2019). Together the text and films seek to find a way to move beyond fragmentation and displacement to a model of assemblage across space and time drawing of Glissant’s concept of relation and Deleuze and Guattari’s model of rhizome.

File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
Published10 Aug 2021
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Related outputs

Catalogue of the 6th Bangkok Experimental Film Festival: Raiding the Archives
Ingawanij, M.A., MacDonald, R.L. and Clark, G. Ingawanij, M.A. (ed.) 2013. Catalogue of the 6th Bangkok Experimental Film Festival: Raiding the Archives. Bangkok, Thailand Aan Publishing.

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