Absence in Cinema: Naomi Uman and the Peekaboo Principle
Lecture and Masterclass by Justin Remes (Iowa State University), Amsterdam 14 May 2020.
14 May, 15.00 – 18.00 OMHP E 2.01 https://www.uva.nl/locaties/binnenstad/oudemanhuispoort.html
Abstract: To create her 1999 film removed, Naomi Uman used nail polish and bleach to erase the women from a German pornographic film of the 1970s. While spectators of removed still hear women moaning orgasmically and delivering sexually charged lines of dialogue, these women are no longer visible, as they have been replaced by unstable and jittery white holes. In this talk, I argue that removed foregrounds the centrality of both scopophilia (the pleasure derived from looking) and phonophilia (the pleasure derived from hearing) in the cinematic encounter. I also argue that removed exploits what the neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran has called “the peekaboo principle,” a psychological mechanism that leads humans to find images more enticing when they are hidden from view.
Bio: Justin Remes is an assistant professor of film studies at Iowa State University. He is the author of Motion(less) Pictures: The Cinema of Stasis (Columbia UP, 2015) and Absence in Cinema: The Art of Showing Nothing (forthcoming from Columbia UP). He has also written articles for JCMS: The Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Cinema Journal, and Screen. His current book project is a work of experimental scholarship entitled Found Footage Films.