Cine-Writing Degree Zero: Between and Beyond Boundaries in Creation and Criticism
A trans-boundary between creation and criticism: Such an unprecedented consilience is found only in the field of film. This article traces the epic chronicle of convergence between these two different worlds. This genealogy of crossing borders started with the origin of textuality research, “All films can be read,” the main view by early film semiologists. Also, French film critic/director Alexandre Astruc’s notion of “La Caméra-Stylo” (camera-pen) was used as an important catalyst in improving trans-boundary movements. Especially the unique aesthetics of “écriture” (writing) and “grammatographe” by Roland Barthes can be appropriated for the core concept of boundary-crossing because these metaphors traverse a lot of borders, e.g., texts and images. More specifically, Barthes emphasized in Le degré zéro de l’écriture (Writing Degree Zero) that zero-degree writing can trigger far-reaching, transparent border-crossing, and this is the task of the grammatographer, a scholar who performatively writes the writing of a picture. After that, the term écriture was extended to the compound word “cinécriture” (cine-writing) by Agnès Varda. At the same time, Nouveau Roman writers worked in cooperation with directors, including Marguerite Duras and Alain Resnais, such that the distance between film and text narrowed. In addition, film journals ― Cahiers du Cinéma, Positif, and Filmkritik ― were actually a functioning open space tearing down the boundaries between creation and criticism. Meanwhile, a group of essay filmmakers of the time enriched the conceptual layers of the so-called “Filmkritik-Style” film, using commentaries. Ultimately, these great strandswere dramatically intertwined through German critic/director Harun Farocki. He belongs to the counterculture 68 generation of artists who pursued social revolution through the creation of a more subversive and political avant-garde cinema and the criticism it produced. During and after this period of upheaval, he consistently presented the practices of self-criticism and self-reflexivity in his works to explore trans-bordering degree zero. As an extraordinary role-model for cross-boundary work, he also transcended the boundaries between film and contemporary art and between activism and pure art, as well as between textual critic and visual critic.