moving image and non-linear narrative

breaking the narrative: my new book arrived in the post, suggested by MW during my last tutorial – ‘Broken Screen, Expanding the Image, Breaking the Narrative, 26 Conversations with Doug Aitken. there is an interesting diagram at the back which lists non-linear films, categorised according to how they can be considered non-linear, i.e. manipulation of structure and story-line, structural manipulation – subverting linear story-lines, immersion – overtaking the environment with image and sound, in particular, the category – broken image: challenging the content through image fragmentation resonates with some of my print work and also some of my split screen video work.

gender and non-linear narratives: i have been doing a bit of research into linear and non-linear narratives in film work as am interested in experimenting with sound and voice in some of my landscape video work. there are connections between linear and non-linear narratives and gender where as usual the rational linear structure is attributed to male objectivity and the non-linear structure acts as a female alternative. that said, there are many examples of non-linear narratives by male film makers. i started by looking into mike figgis’s Timecode (1999) and some of eija-liisa ahtila’s films.

mike figgis: Timecode (1999): four way split screen, he says ‘i’ve been trying to find ways to observe phenomena rather than be a prisoner of linear narrative.’ it’s still difficult to abandon linear narrative. to abandon it is a perverse statement of its power’ (p: 138). he believes the non-linear narrative is linked to memory and also how we progress through our lives, even with a split screen it still progresses from start to finish. non-linear narrative seems like a natural evolution from the barrage of information that is thrown at us everyday. fragmented narrative used to seem unnatural when first used but now it offers a lot of power and choice for the audience, perhaps its time to re-examine cinema’s relationship with its audience.

frame within frame: one of the things that figgis says is that he is interested in the frame within the frame – how the film is made is also apparent in the film somehow – this seems to resonate with all i have been reading about gendered binaries in relation to maker versus taker and in relation to the objective fact versus body and emotion – a way of showing the fact is actually fiction or maybe the fiction is for that moment fact – a suspension of disbelief. he also talks about the steady cam versus the use of hand-held cameras which is something i use in my own work as a way to get close to and be part of the camera and the image making process.


Aitken, D. (2006) Broken Screen, Expanding the Image, Breaking the Narrative, 26 Conversations with Doug Aitken. New York: Distributed Art Publishers.


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