The Act of Seeing With One's Own Eyes
Stan Brakhage & David Kamp, curated by Ed Atkins
9. February – 24. March 2019
Opening: 8. February 18:00

Taking its title from the notorious Stan Brakhage film of the same name, The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes will try for an acute assessment of silence and medium-specificity. Silence as a consequence of loss, as conscious withdrawal. Silence as social consensus, as a tool for organising and subjecting bodies. Silence as synonymous with seriousness and so with realism.

With the advent of the talkie in cinema, silence becomes a decision. To choose silence is, by degree, political. Sound is scarcely resistible as a presumption of veracity within the moving image, so silence becomes a trope of anti-illusionary filmmaking: a way to emphasise the impossible gap between a representation and its subject. As a result, the subject’s integrity is affirmed as irrecuperable; ‘reality’ is adjourned and, perversely, stressed. The absence of sound serves to deafen the viewer into a kind of submission to their own immanent reality, rather than the seeming reality onscreen – revealing the viewer’s interiority to themselves in a manner that is entirely reflexive. In the silence I hear my thoughts; silence describes my body. Adding new foley to an originally and deliberately silent moving image work is, perhaps, to puncture the silence, the seriousness, the realism. Despite its title – which is a literal translation of the term, ‘autopsy’ – Stan Brakhage’s film, The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes, is a film about listening.

In the basement of the Schinkel Pavillon, Brakhage’s 16mm silent film of autopsies in Pittsburgh in 1971 will be screened at regular intervals. Upstairs, in the octagon-shaped hall, a new naturalistic sound effects track to the film will play in perfect sync. Commissioned especially on the occasion of the exhibition, the soundtrack will be performed and recorded by David Kamp, a professional sound effects and foley artist based in Berlin.

These two separate works – Brakhage’s film and Kamp’s sound piece – will never be able to be experienced simultaneously and will remain materially disjunct, only ever speculatively sutured.