At the end of the corridor On the concept of “obversion A white, quite narrow corridor, lighted by a few lamps is before

you. It is somewhat cold and uninviting but an atavistic instinct lures you forward to see where it leads. The purpose of a corridor is , after all, to be run along to the end. At the end of the corridor there is something surprising which can be perceived as soon as you enter: there are two monitors. They are not , however, simply television screens, they are control monitors. On the top one you can see an empty hallway while on the bottom one you can see the back of a walking human figure. As you approach the monitor to see who that person is the figure draws away from you but it does not take long to realize that that person is you. It is undoubtedly you because every one of your gestures corresponds to the gestures made by the figure on the monitor. You do not recognize yourself because you are taken from the back and the angle from which the image is shot, along with, the distance between the video camera and the monitor which sends back the image makes it possible for you to see yourself from an unusual standpoint which, nevertheless, concerns you directly.

In synthesis this is what visitors will experience at the famous installation of the American artist Bruce Nauman entitled Live Tape Video Corridor (1969-1971) better known as Video Corridor. Never before has the spectator been able to experiment the disquieting situation of seeing himself from a standpoint which is foreign to him , which does not belong to him. Even in front of a mirror we see our image as different from ourselves as not belonging to us in the same way that we watch our hands at work or our feet as we are walking. Nevertheless the image we see in the mirror is undoubtedly ours because we see it from the viewpoint of our eyes and we are the viewpoint: the image we see in the mirror more or less satisfies our expectations (we consider ourselves attractive, aging, ugly or simply different)but without a doubt we ourselves are looking at ourselves. It is also true that if we look at a portrait or photo of ourselves the image as such does not belong to us because it was taken by a viewpoint which is not ours (we could snap a photo of ourselves in front of a mirror, but even in that case we would not see ourselves, we would see a face hidden by a camera as in Any Warhol’s famous self portrait taken by Jean Baudrillard). However , even in this case we are holding the image of ourselves even if the viewpoint is different than ours (which could be annoying, especially if our image does not correspond to the one we imagine it to be, for example to light or pose are not right, unpleasant, distorted or simply comical.

But things are quite different when we visit Video Corridor. In fact in this case we see ourselves from a totally different viewpoint than our eyes give us. We see ourselves from a standpoint where we are not or could ever possibly be and we are in a place from which we do not and cannot see ourselves directly. We are well aware the image the monitor is showing is ours and yet it is foreign to us as though it were someone else’s- foreign yet familiar and thus even more disturbing.


So much so that he can describe himself objectively and even slightly maliciously “from the outside” as” a rather aging man in a lounging robe and nightcap on his head” who insists on entering into a compartment that is not his. unforeseeable event. however. takes place on a train. thus. rather an unexpected. the jolting of a moving train which for an instance moves the glance of the reflected image and gives Freud the impression o “seeing it from another person’s angle”. dated l989 in which the great French thinker defines the notion of videosphere as the space where the subject finds himself not only in a perennial 2 . The situation is almost the opposite if comparedto the Freudian one: Freud sees a stranger in a lounging robe whom he recognizes as being himself. which means domestic or very familiar and well-known. albeit not exactly in the same terms. Yet we find it hard to recognize ourselves because the image is captured and sent on the screen from a radically unfamiliar standpoint—that of the video camera.At this point we must refer to the well-known Freudian notion of Perturbante. in short. it is superfluous to underline that a great deal of our social and at times private sphere is spent alternately in front of a screen (as is my case at this moment writing these same words on a computer) or under the control of cameras. Is not the shape of a train along a railroad anticipating its length similar to that of a corridor? Freud’s disorientation is clearly not due to a close a closed circuit video camera nonetheless the image perceived even if in an ordinary mirror is not usual. In any case it is increasingly true that filming and viewing have become simultaneous creating situations similar to the artificially constructed one by Nauman’s exhibit: it is not uncommon in numerous public venues such as petrol / gas stations. in fact. dealt with cases of false recognition and does so in a well-known text entitled Das Unheimliche (1919) inspired by a German word heimlich. by Jean Baudrillard in a short yet not of minor importance text appropriately entitled Videosfera e soggetto frattale. that is ourselves—yet he attributes it to a singular. a typically modern means of transport which implies movement from one place to another and is in itself disorienting. Finally. The same episode occurred to Freud as he describes it here: Quote Freud’s experience is extremely important here. who look very much like us because they are us . identical. Freud recounts a similar experience which happened to Ernst Mach who” was quite frightened when he realized that the face he had seen was . shopping malls . The resulting disorientation is. Moreover. had already perceived the characteristics of this strange experience of not recognizing that which is most familiar to us. his own”. In note 15 of Das Unheimliche. This situation has already been described. in fact. in an already medial era . Freud had . It . Freud. ruled by a widespread media network . As a matter of fact. in this current era. it is noteworthy to point out the significant discomfort that Freud experiences. chance moment while in the Video Corridor this becomes a repeated. we have plenty of time to scrutinize our media “likeness” which is a stranger to our eyes even when we become aware that we are that person. shops and even on the roads to run into screens that display images of people dressed like us with our features . stable experience which is nevertheless upsetting.

specifically the visual ones. there is a precise moment in a child’s life whne he passes from indifference to his reflection in a mirror to a joyous reaction. implies a fundamental asymmetry between what the individual sees and what he is.mediatic circle but also influenced by the media in his own personal identity. do not relate to it as merely a passive insertion rather it is man himself who is inserted on his own image. Without a doubt it suggests a less calming notion of our relationship with our mirror-like image than that which we are proned to attribute to it The image we have of self would fill a radical void in the center of our being thus constituting the root of that structure referred to as the Immaginario which according to Lacan characterizes human status (along with the notions of the Symbolic and Real) Lacan repeatedly deals with the theme of images particularly in Seminar XI 1973 dealing with the sguardo(look or glance). (if ever he had been) with the model of subject/glance/image reflected . To the reconciling glance directed towards objects or our image in a mirror is added a “traumatic” one which we see on the monitor where we do perceive our image but returned to us from a glance that is not ours.neither subjective or objective which is traumatic. however. We can conclude that already for Lacan the “mirror stage”does not merely refer to the problematic relationship that the individual has with his own image reflected but 3 . In short he is no longer satisfied. in those pages he argues that the viewer never coincides with the ideal geometric point of a viewer in front of a painting. even if this awareness which is based on a virtual image of self (in the mirror). According to Lacan this is proof that the little man creates his own identity from the moment he recognizes his own image. Psychology has often questioned the existence of the mirror stage and Lacan himself is not explicit as to whether it has an authentically psychological role or merely a metaphorical one. The subject is fragmented and the media. According to Lacan the classic diagram defined by the humanist Leon Battista Alberti who sustains that “a visual ray” from the eye of the observer directed at perceiving the object should be completed with a second diagram which penetrates in the first and returns the glance back to the spectator. To better describe this entirely new conditions Baudrillard resorts to the effective image of “video stage” –that is condition an epochal and historic moment when the audiovisual media took over reality and human beings. The entire meaning of the Baudrillardian metaphor can. The “feedback” scheme of the glance reproduces exactly the closed circuit functioning on which Video Corridor is founded and which is traceable in the contemporary video sphere. In fact during those years he takes a fervid interest in optical illusions for which he draws complicated diagrams representing concave mirrors generating fictitious/unreal images. This occurs in the early months of his life. the entire visual field assumes the function of a monitor. The lacanian “glance” (which is according to him a “partial glance”) is precisely this returned glance de soggettivato. The psychoanalyst Joan Copjec adds to this the notion of monitor/screen (quote) It is not difficult to depict in these words a clear reference to the Freudian notion of Unheimlich with the difference that in this case it is the entire “visual sphere” which becomes “estranged”. he rather concentrates on the glance making it the theme of a serious psychological study/ research. only be fully understood contrasting it to the more dated one of the so called “mirror stage”. The latter is a particular transition in human awareness identified by Jacques Lacan more than half a century ago.

it is to an extent an anticipation of the disturbing/ disquieting consequences of the video stage determined by Baudillard. 4 .

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful