"Kiss on the
glass" video installation, 1996
"KISS ON THE
GLASS". THE EXPERIENCE OF THE INTERTEXTUAL CONSTRUCTION
The main peculiarity
of the "Kiss on the glass" video installation determining the character of its
construction is that the film-text contains all its structural elements. "Kiss
on the glass" exists as a model constructed of the different-level elements
of the film narrative, existing in the video installation both in the materialized
form and as the pure conditional characters (the representations on the monitor
screens). The film of "Legacy of Sin. The William Coit Story" (by S. Schachter)
is used as the initial material for the "Kiss on the glass" construction.
of the "Kiss on the glass" is organized by means of editing - the main method
of the film-narrative organization. Moreover, the method of narrative organization
is characterized here as follows: separate stages of the personage´s individual
biography development are implanted in the context conceptually set. "Artificially"
constructed narrative ("horizontal" plan) exists here in the limits of the hard
expositional structure - three-step scale of ranks, on the first step of which
a personage is set, on the second - a personage and a detail, on the third -
a detail with a personage´s sign ("vertical" plan). The "additional" detail
(the phone receiver), existing on all of three hierarchical levels, symbolically
accentuates the act of communication which is an important aspect of the system´s
functioning. On the other hand, "Kiss on the glass" is a narrative about "William
Coit Story..." constructed by means of taking out and temporal placing the basic
structural elements of the "Legacy of Sin..." composition into consecutive order.
These structural elements are the plot, the culmination and the denouement.
Moreover, while the plot (the scene of blackmail) and the culmination (a personage
who has made a crime is waiting for the sentence) are realized in the action,
-- the denouement is realized by the "talking-detail" - a trace of lipstick
on the glass - on the internal side of the "prison partition", the farewell
kiss on the transparent, but insurmountable border of the world which the personage
of our narrative probability will never leave.
telling about the "Legacy of Sin...", "Kiss on the Glass" transforms (correct
semantically) the original film narrative. It transforms the narrative by the
means of the intertextual method, i.e. "Kiss on the Glass" is the outcome of
the "Legacy of Sin", it is reachable by the way of cutting down the original
narrative, by reducing it to the tree key situations which also represent the
The other peculiarity
of the "Kiss on the Glass" narrative intertextual construction is also essential:
the dialog of the "Legacy of Sin" personages is transformed into the monologue
(versus: internal dialogue) of the "Kiss on the Glass" personage by the means
of editing. One of the personages is "eliminated" from the fragments used as
the material: these fragments are the dialogue between two personages in two
different situations. The result of this operation is the establishing of the
specific perusal duality. On the one hand, preservation of semantic displacements,
characteristics of the dialogue, reduces thematic unity of utterance which must
be likely an evidence of extraordinarity of the situation (insanity, state of
drug intoxication of the personage, etc.). On the other hand, "artificially"
constructed monologue establishes a definite connection between the "Kiss on
the Glass" personage and the spectator perceiving the video installation. In
the situation of the internal dialogue when "the whole speech is being said
by the talking I; however, even in these cases the listening I also presents:
its presence is necessary and enough for the talking I utterance to get its
full meaning" (E. Benveniste), the spectator should be identified with the listening
As it has been
mentioned before, the "Legacy of Sin..." personage chosen by us is transformed
into the "Kiss on the Glass" personage whose individual biography stages (video
fragments) are being represented one after the other in the temporal sequence.
In the first of them a personage conversating by phone with the invisible interlocutor
him with the blackmail. In this fragment the "criminality" of the situation
is clearly recognizable, although the events preceding this situation are off
screen. In the second fragment that follows the first one we find out personage
"beyond" the prison partition and pronouncing incomprehensible monologue referring
to a some crime that has happened. Both fragments let us know nothing about
the essence of this crime and about what has been caused by. We can only offer
the versions apropos of this, turning into our "cinematographic" experience,
to "complete" the narrative, bringing it in correspondence with the genre canons.
The "talking detail", minimal sign of the woman-personage on the "prison partition"
glass in the hall where rendezvouses with the prisoners take place doesn´t
put at the end of our story a point, but three dots.
It is also necessary
to mention that the video installation "Kiss on the Glass" is supposed to be
of interest not so much from the point of view of the genre poetics (video installation
genre as instrument by the means of which the working "inside" the other genre
is carrying out, etc.), as from the point of view of relations between the different
levels of semantic tension - the level of just the "Kiss on the Glass" narrative,
the level of the relations between two plans of components placement ("situations")
of the "Kiss on the Glass" - "temporal" (liner development of subject) and "spatial"
(formal hierarchy of the components) and the level of the relations between
the "Legacy of Sin..." original film narrative and the transformed "Kiss on
the Glass" narrative. Moreover, we don´t concentrate upon the resemblance,
but upon the differences - upon what makes possible to speak about the "Kiss
on the Glass" as about the quite different story.
1996 Miroslav Kulchitsky