Inf(l)ection of the Medium: Sándor Kardos’s Films in Between Eye and Hand
Abstract: Slitfilm (Résfilm, 2005) and The Gravedigger (A sírásó, 2010) are two Hungarian experimental films made using a slit camera. The director/photographer Sándor Kardos’s adaptations of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s short story “The Handkerchief” and of Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Gravedigger” expose a particular “physiognomy” of the filmic medium through the use of this technique. Likewise, the face as the privileged medial surface for emotion becomes an uncanny, stretched painting with grotesque associations, similar to Francis Bacon’s paintings. The sharp, clear narrator’s voice, layering the literary texts “onto” the moving image further emphasises the colour-stained plasticity of the visible. Both films attempt to articulate a liminal experience: the cultural differences between the East and the West that are inherent in expressing and concealing emotions (Slitfilm) or the questions relating to life and death, the speakable/conceivable and the unspeakable/inconceivable (The Gravedigger) that are embedded in the communicative modalities of social interaction. Through the elastic flow of images, the face and the hand become two uncovered, visible, corporeal surfaces engaged in a rhythmic, chromatic relationship (due to the similar skin tones of face and hand), and thus gradually uncover the medium of the film as a palpable skin surface or violated, wounded flesh. The article approaches the fluid, sensuous imagery that displaces the human towards the inhuman uncanny of the unrecognisable flesh through Deleuzian concepts of fold and inflection.