The Double Side of Delay: Sutapa Biswas’ film installation ‘Birdsong’ and Gilles Deleuze’s Actual/Virtual Couplet – Maria Walsh

Abstract: In this essay I position the Deleuzian circuit of the actual and the virtual in relation to a film installation, Sutapa Biswas’ Birdsong (2004), in order to open up a reading of the film in terms of affect. Biswas’ film, in which a boy confronts a horse in a period living room, can be read in terms of maternal anxiety and against a background of colonial and psychoanalytic discourse. There is nothing wrong with these readings per se except that they all but ignore the affective dimension of the film, which largely derives from the slight time delay between the doubled shots. This gap exposes the other side of the image, its virtual side, which opens the spectator up to differences that exceed objectification. Following a Deleuzian trajectory, I argue that this gap exposes the double nature of objects of fantasy. Biswas’ film stages repetition and passive reception, generating an occasion for a poetics of becoming other.

Split screens abound in contemporary moving image genres from their use in mainstream films such as Timecode (Mike Figgis, 2000) to television series such as 24 (Fox Network, 2001-) as well as being a regular feature of TV news broadcasting. They also appear in the art gallery, an instance of which will be the focus of this essay. These different uses, where either disparate events or views of the same event are shown occurring at the same time, could be said to be characterized by an aesthetics of simultaneity. Whereas traditional crosscutting between scenes in film described a sequence of events, split screens evince a desire for a simultaneity of events that appears to parallel the a-chronological impetus of temporal experience in advanced capitalist societies. On a more practical level, editing technologies such as Avid make split/double screens automatically part of the editing process.[1] Digital technology has introduced a dramatic shift from cinematic media premised on the interval to those premised on the interface, whereby a spatial continuum characterized by layers overrides the sequential materiality of the cut derived from editing on a Steenbeck. In effect, digital technology instigates the notion of the viewer or user as editor “bringing to the forefront, one by one, numerous layers of looped actions that seem to be taking place all at once” (Manovich 2001, 320).

This aesthetic has also appeared in gallery film installation, which has shifted from the earlier 1970s interest in phenomenological sculptural space in film and video to an interest in multi-screen spatial narrative. Various artists such as Doug Aitken, Eija-Llisa Ahtilla, Bill Viola, and Jaki Irvine, to name but a few, create large-scale multi-screen installations, in relation to which the viewer has to fill in gaps in narrative as all the available image-sequences cannot be processed at one given time in a single-directional manner. This proliferation of narrative sequences is taken to extremes in Stan Douglas’ single-screen Journey Into Fear (2001), a 15 minute 4 second film which is screened on a loop, each sequence computer-generated to provide a slightly different order to the gestures and dialogue of the characters on a container ship. If the film were screened in its entirety it would be 157 hours in duration. In this short essay, I want to explore one film installation that acts as an anachronism to the contemporary spatialization of time which, whether in the gallery or the cinema, is used to both create and comment on dramatic and/or narrative cinematic tropes. Sutapa Biswas’ use of, not quite a spilt screen, but a double screened image in her installation Birdsong (2004) emphasizes the temporality of reception, which, while prompting the viewer to encounter times of desire beyond the actual image presented or shown, attends more to the interstice than to narrative progression. In my exploration of this encounter, I shall employ another set of doubles – Gilles Deleuze’s revolving axis of the actual and the virtual as the two-sided nature of imaginary production whether this be psychic or cinematic.

Birdsong consists of a 7 minute 8 second silent film, comprising four shots that are shown doubled, both editions being placed next to one another inside a black screen. The film sequence opens on a shot of a silver origami winged horse hanging suspended and revolving against a luminous green window in soft focus. As light glints and bounces off the origami corners and surfaces, one becomes aware of a minute delay between the projection time of the two juxtaposed editions. This minute delay functions somewhat like the passing of a baton in a relay, the repetition of the second doubled shot seeming to catch and extend aspects of the first as if the two editions comprised a sequence rather than a repetition in time.

The bafflement at the discovery of this delay is cut short by the shock of the next two shots in the film. An image of something live and vaguely sexual slashes the screen in close proximity to a young boy’s face. (The boy is in fact Biswas’ son Enzo, who was five years old at the time.) The boy stares at, then looks away from this creature, his expression remaining one of deadpan acceptance. What seems like a tail swishes across the left side of the screen revealing animal genitalia. Again, the effect of the delay between the doubled shots accentuates the strangeness of the scene, their mechanical repetition seeming to secrete something mysterious in the slight interval between them. The following shot belatedly establishes the mise en scène – a horse stands in an aristocratic living room beside the boy who sits on a period sofa gazing up at him. What is inside should be outside, at least from an adult point of view. This sense of impropriety relates to the inspiration for the film, i.e. the artist’s son aged 18 months saying that he wished he could have “a horse living in his living room” (Biswas 2005, 17). The film closes by repeating the opening shot of the origami horse, the difference being that in the film’s traversal of the registers of imaginary and actual in the boy’s confrontation with a real horse, the figure of the paper horse acquires an ambiguous status between reality and fantasy. This is accentuated by the fact that the delay between the doubled shots of the two editions of the film generates a sense of boundaries being crossed in an off-screen virtual space that resonates with the questioning of boundaries in the on-screen confrontation between child and horse.

Fig. 1. Sutapa Biswas. Birdsong 2004. 2 screen, silent, colour, film. 7’08″duration. © Sutapa Biswas

Biswas’ film could be read in terms of maternal anxiety and against a backdrop of psychoanalytic discourse. Indeed, Biswas herself claims this reading for the film, referring to the importance of the writings of Frantz Fanon and Jacques Lacan (2005, 17). There are obvious psychoanalytic allusions to an Oedipal moment, recalling, in particular, Sigmund Freud’s famous case study “Little Hans” which discusses a five year-old boy’s fear of horses (1909). In Birdsong, the boy’s confrontation with the animal, which the viewer initially receives as an encounter with the horse’s genitalia, could be readily interpreted in terms of a displacement of a fantasized phallic maternal imago.[2] A psychoanalytic reading is also emphasized by the uncanny residues of the space itself, its skewed perspective giving rise to the perceptual confusion characteristic of the uncanny, a confusion which is doubled by the momentary inability to identify the dark pulsating shape of the horse as it initially slashes the screen.[3] Even the strangeness of the delayed projection time of the doubled shots could also be read psychoanalytically, as nachträglichkeit (deferred action) where an encounter in the present takes on sexual significance because it evokes residues of experiences that occurred at an age before one had the means to interpret or represent them. [4]

Fig. 2. Sutapa Biswas. Birdsong 2004. © Sutapa Biswas

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with these psychoanalytic approaches to the film other than the fact that in imposing a readymade narrative on it, the affective dimension of the film is cast into the realm of muteness. This would be congruent with the psychoanalytic theories of Lacan, where what matters is not affect “as it is ‘experienced’ in the obscurity of immanence but the affect as it is ‘transmitted by language’ […] that is, as it makes itself recognized in the transcendent exteriority of representation. Inner feeling […] remains ineffable (it cannot know itself) as long as it refuses to exteriorise itself ‘in the light of day’ in the form of discourse” (quoted in Borch-Jacobson 1992, 80). In writing about this film, I am interested in putting its affective dimension into discourse, but into a discourse that would honour the ineffable immanence of feeling. For me, a moment other than the Oedipal is occurring. The boy turns away from the horse, as if towards the black space surrounding the doubled shots whose repetition creates a staggered movement, a vectoral disjunction between them. It is this doubled movement, this turning away that is relayed or transversed in the black space between the two editions that moves me. How can I read this almost imperceptible movement, which generates a moment of pure poignancy disconnected from a mother or a child?

Fig. 3. Sutapa Biswas. Birdsong 2004. © Sutapa Biswas

Birdsong is apposite to Freud’s “Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy” (1909) in which a boy’s castration anxiety is evoked by seeing a horse being blinded and pulled in the street, the horse’s teeth reminding him of the damage he could do to his father or his father to him. We are familiar with this story of Oedipal rivalry between father and son, which in a sense repeats on another level the boy’s earlier confrontation with the mother’s missing penis.[5] By contrast, in Birdsong the viewer’s initial confrontation with anxiety, repeating somewhat a mother’s anxiety for a child, is led towards another field of realization by the child’s dream-like acceptance of his encounter with the animal.[6] This shift in perspective, in conjunction with the gap between doubled shots, intimates the affective dimension of desire as a mobile entity rather than its symbolic constraints. The staggered repetition of each shot exposes the present moment’s constitutive splintering by the force of temporality, unleashing a dynamic absence which could be said to operate “to the side of stories”, a phenomenon Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit describe in relation to their readings of films in Forms of Being (2005).[7] In other words, in tandem to an ostensible story, perhaps centred around an Oedipal narrative, there might also be a movement towards an absence, which intimates the potential of being.

While Bersani and Dutoit only makes a few references to Gilles Deleuze in Forms of Being, it is clear that Deleuzian principles inspire aspects of their cinematic readings, in which they seek to move away from a representational economy of interpretation. For Deleuze images are fully real rather than referring to a supposedly real world outside of them or to a transcendent meaning beyond them as they would in a representational economy. Images are simply one type of sign in a continuum with other signs, other existents. As Deleuze puts it: “In the cinema, images are signs” (Deleuze 1989a, 20). Generally speaking, these images are signs that are comprised, not of meaning, but of affects and percepts which generate intensities that exceed our systems of representation. For Deleuze signs are never still but always revolving in a constant flux between the actual and the virtual realms of existence, both of which are real rather than the latter being imaginary as it might be in a psychoanalytic register. Although Deleuze seeks to avoid using cinema as a metaphor for this process, the medium of film literally operates according to its logic, both in the replacement of one image by another and in the fact that these images can be de-linked, their emergence from an infinity of paradigmatic axes unleashing the potential of the virtual to unhinge familiar perspectives or stories. In a Deleuzian trajectory, the actual face of the image is always opening up towards its mirror image, that is, the virtual, in a transversal motion that allows for stories and something “to the side” of them to commune and exchange places.

Stressing their relationship to time, Deleuze labels signs in cinema as chronosigns, which he then breaks down into three types of time-images. The first two concern the order of time and relate to “the coexistence of relations or the simultaneity of the elements internal to time” (Deleuze 1989b, 155). However, it is the third type of time-image that interests me in relation to Birdsong concerning the “series of time which brings together the before and the after in a becoming, instead of separating them; its paradox is to introduce an enduring interval in the moment itself” (Deleuze 1989b, 155). I shall say more about becoming later, but for now it is enough to note that becoming is a process which Deleuze contrasts to being, a process which is characterized by the back and forth motion between the actual and the virtual. Before exploring how Deleuze’s concept of the virtual might shift psychoanalytic readings of Birdsong, I shall discuss this concept further.

The concept of the virtual in Deleuze is both complex and simple. Complex in its derivation from differential calculus in mathematics, which provides Deleuze with a readymade language with which to formulate the operations of the virtual as a series of infinitesimal differences that are not reliant on a distinction to identity. Hence its role in the process of becoming versus the stasis of being. For Deleuze, the work of difference in the virtual operates without any mediation whatsoever by the identical, the similar, the analogous or the opposed (Deleuze 1994). This conceptualisation allows us to escape from, as Andrew Murphie succinctly puts it, a “primary consideration of relations only through objects considered in their identity, or through their negation if an identity cannot be found” (Murphie 2002, 198). For Deleuze, the world prior to identity is full of virtual differences some of which move towards actualisation, (i.e. the creation of beings or identities), and some of which remain as potential – meaning that they can be contracted into the actual at another time. Virtual difference is thereby imbricated in the differences we can identify. It is what prevents these differences from solidifying into unchangeable forms in the process of actualisation.

This process of becoming has ramifications for subjectivity/spectatorship. It is not simply goal-oriented, but is continually and dynamically in motion. Human identities are not the end result of a process founded on lack, as they might be in a psychoanalytic account of the subject, but are nodal points in a web of continuously bifurcating series of differences, the actual being punctuated by virtual differences. Due to the circuit of actual and virtual images in the cinema of the time-image, the actual present is always accompanied by a set of virtual components that can generate constellations of affect that are not reducible to what we recognize or remember, but can reconfigure our desire.

In Cinema 2: The Time-Image, Deleuze discusses the circuit of exchange between the virtual and the actual, which results in the becoming actual of the virtual: “When the virtual image becomes actual, it is then visible and limpid, as in the mirror or the solidity of finished crystal. But the actual image becomes virtual in its turn, referred elsewhere, invisible, opaque and shadowy, like a crystal barely dislodged from the earth” (1989b, 70). This citation alludes to the two-sided nature of the virtual. On the one hand, the face of the virtual turns towards the actual as if towards its mirror-image – this process endlessly allowing for the present of perception to be reflected into the past of recollection. On the other hand, the force of the virtual cracks open the image, a break that ultimately allows for the production of new circuits of connection.

It would be tempting to align this description to the delay between Birdsong‘s doubled shots, as the present moment is shown to be continuously and paradoxically both falling back into the past and on towards the future, while the halting motion seems to instigate an insistence in time that cannot be reflected, a blockage that expands to form a purely optical situation detached from motor extension. It would also be tempting to align the motif of the crystal to the stages of transformation undergone by the image of the horse in Birdsong, from winged origami figure to animal, and back to winged origami figure. But this would be to remain on the side of recognition of signs only, rather than being open to their other, virtual side. Rather than name the image of the winged horse as a virtual image per se, I am claiming that its doubled repetition at the end of the film figures the mechanisms of the virtual as a continuously mobile circuit of exchange and disruption between classes and times of image.

Fig. 4. Sutapa Biswas. Birdsong 2004. © Sutapa Biswas

Signs for Deleuze are comprised of two halves. One is their objective side, the side of recognition, the other is their subjective side as a force that dismantles the frame of recognition. In recognizing the sign we miss its significance, the way it signifies something other than the object we identify. We use recognition, memory and association to cover over the violence of the sign, the fact that it might put a force or pressure on us to think something new rather than resuscitate some tired or comfortable old formulation. This is “the natural direction of perception or representation. But it is also the direction of voluntary memory, which recalls things and not signs. It is, further, the direction of pleasure and of practical activity, which count on the possession of things or on the consumption of objects” (Deleuze 2000, 29).

Deleuze goes beyond these subject/object scenarios of possession or consumption. Birdsong also goes beyond the reduction of the object to the level of association, opening us up to the side of the object that cannot be recognized, but only felt as an affective force which moves the spectator to encounter difference-in-itself. Birdsong images the Deleuzian trajectory where every object has a potential beyond how it may be figured in a particular time and place by means of the delay between one shot and the next. Time is visibly disturbed. Chronology is halted, staggered. The only progression is a repetition that relays movement across an unfathomable divide.

Birdsong‘s singular images and their doubling could be said to comprise a dynamic image-machine which moves in stops and starts, the black space between the doubled shots creating both an inhibitive and generative cut and join between them. For example, in the close-up of the boy confronting the horse, the repetition of the boy’s movements in the juxtaposed shot lends them a strangely mechanical edge, yet the repetition also creates an exchange between the two shots that intimates something fluid and enlivening rather than the deathly trope of mechanical repetition. The point I want to extract here is that there is another (virtual) productivity at work in conjunction with the process of becoming actual and it is this dynamic instantiated by Birdsong that transports the viewer to a space that exceeds recognition. The disjunctive temporality between the shots in conjunction with the relayed movements of boy and horse that seem to cross over and move between their frames, opens up a virtual time-space in which the subjective enters. Here, “I” am captivated by the potential of new signifying connections and resonances.

Fig. 5. Sutapa Biswas. Birdsong 2004. © Sutapa Biswas

Again, returning to the close-up of the boy, when, in the image on the right, he moves his head to the right, the repetition of this action in the image on the left seems to generate the boy’s next action on the right, as if in a retroactive loop. This is of course an illusion as the image on the right is chronologically ahead of the one on the left. However, rather than sequential progression as in the sensory-motor schema of the action-time that Deleuze discusses in Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, Birdsong’s breakdown into a doubled repetition creates a delay in time which delinks sequentiality yet maintains an affective connection between the times and classes of the image. What interests and moves me in relation to this temporal delay is the almost imperceptible exchange between the two images across the black space that surrounds them. A minute part of the gesture of exchange disappears in the dis/continuous trajectory between the two screens. In more usual forms of cinematic narrative, the story provides continuity in lieu of our inability to process the image in its entirety as it subjects us to the temporal constraints of continuous montage. Here however, where story elements are minimal, disjunctive gaps are created within, between and across the doubled images. The missing gestures become unsettling as our expectation that we will catch them in the repetition is shattered. The delay of the double image creates instead an irrational interval in contrast to the rational interval which “associated images in continuity and succession across space and time” (Rodowick 1997, 143). The irrational interval inhibits this sensorimotor trajectory where time passes in a chronological goal-oriented manner and affect and perception evolve into action. In the irrational interval, here figured by a staggered repetition that blocks but also connects in the vectoral crossing that occurs between the repetitions, affects and percepts are accentuated and expanded on their own terms which extend to infinity. The boy becomes a seer through whom the series of horses – origami/live/origami – become unhinged from logical continuity and begin to resonate on the plane of the virtual where differences are unbound. The viewer enters into this plane of creative becoming.

In becoming, a dismantling of the closed identity characteristic of patriarchal capitalist systems occurs. The latter systems set Man up as subject. Deleuze adds the terms woman, child and animal to becoming, claiming that there can be no becoming-man, as man, being the dominant term, is what Deleuze calls a molar identity and the force of becoming is to engage the molecular level of being where we find fluidity and change. Needless-to-say, these adjunctive terms have been seen as problematic in the sense that woman, child and animal seem to ascribe these identities to a pre-determined non-subject or devolutionary subject position. To counter this somewhat, Claire Colebrook articulates the process of becoming vis-à-vis the “original and differential power” of life itself. She states:

The forces of life exceed the simple actual bodies we perceive; we repress the excess, violence and disruption of life – the creative force that transgresses the boundaries of persons or intentions. […] The image we have of the child who must repress his desire for his mother in order to identify with the social image of his father represses a more radical and revolutionary desire and sexuality (Colebrook 2002, 142).

The process of becoming does not rule out psychoanalysis per se but would entail exploding the stability of its narratives, instigating them instead as a set of motifs that could enter into a transformative overturning of interpretation for the sake of the experimental. As Deleuze and Guattari state in A Thousand Plateaus:

We are not just criticizing psychoanalysis for having selected Oedipal statements exclusively. For such statements are to a certain extent part of a machinic assemblage, for which they could serve as correctional indexes, as in as calculation of errors (1988, 38).

For Deleuze and Guattari, desire is “not form, but a procedure, a process” (1986, 8). This economy of desire contrasts to Freud’s version in the fort-da game (1920). For Freud the boy overcomes the passivity of a situation which had overwhelmed him (i.e. the disappearance of the mother), by throwing the cotton-reel in and out of his cot and thereby transforming the mother’s disappearance into a game in which he takes an active role. In Deleuze’s slant to this scenario in Difference and Repetition, mastery and the overcoming of passivity is downplayed in favour of elevating an initial passivity into an intensified passion with no goal other than its own repetition. From a Deleuzian perspective, the Freudian mapping of passivity onto the disappearance of the mother is merely a way of binding the heterogeneous flow of differences to which the ego is subject by default. Therefore the creation of new objects and images for Deleuze are not substitutions to fill in an originary lack or separation, but are efforts to re-stage a scenario in which we are subjected to the qualities of liberating differences in themselves. As Dorothea Olkowski puts it: “in order for something new to be created, repetition will not be merely repetition of something habitual that conforms to the expectation of mother, father, or society; […] it also deepens in contemplation so as make real the virtual object” (Olkowski 1999, 152). Unlike psychoanalytic accounts of the subject, in a Deleuzian trajectory, we are not always returning to an archaic object of desire in the past (i.e. the mother), but have the capacity to encounter something, which is not tied to an object, but to a quality of becoming.

Biswas’ Birdsong is on one level about maternal anxiety, separation and loss. However, it also images a space to “the side of stories” that allows for the contemplation of difference as a quality not a quantity of being or, in other words, an identity. For the viewer, the encounter with this space that extends in time via the boy’s encounter with the horse and is doubled in the delay between the images suspends the world of predictability opening us up to the Deleuzian process of becoming, the value of which is that “gaps” in sequentiality can instead be viewed as points of exchange between a here that is constantly being unseated by a there always open to divergence and change. The viewer is absorbed into the cogs of this becoming machine that spins much faster than the revolving of the origami horse but is intimated by the scintillating curves and corners of this figure that returns “like a crystal barely dislodged from the earth.” In being absorbed into this circuit of exchange, we might encounter somewhere new.

Coincidentally, one of Biswas’ references for her work is the writings of Marcel Proust. According to Deleuze, Proust is the transversal artist par excellence because, in his relation to time, he exceeds the frame of the personal. In Proust and Signs, Deleuze puts a different gloss on the notion that Proustian revelation is a return to the past. Deleuze insists that the Combray (Proust’s childhood home) that appears to the narrator when he tastes a madeleine cake in the present is not simply Combray as it was experienced in the past, but Combray in a form in which it was never experienced. This new Combray “breaks with the subjective chain” of association (Deleuze 2000, 154). What is recovered is not a lost time or an experience of plenitude but rather a displacement of the self moving in time as open continuity, that is, as a becoming rather than a chronology. I find this example pertinent to the surpassing of Birdsong’s clearly personal frame of reference by the more impersonal trajectory of the doubled shots’ impact. In this configuration, the ostensible or actual realization of the boy’s fantasy does not complete desire, but opens it up to becoming.

To conclude somewhat by way of repetition: every object has two sides, totalisable objects (objects of fantasy and desire) and partial or virtual objects. The former is bound up with need and identification. They occupy the realm of representation and nominal articulation – “Mummy, can we have a horse come and live in our living-room?” For Deleuze, partial or virtual objects are absent in terms representation, but they are not absolutely absent as they might be in a psychoanalytic model. They are continuously folding over and exchanging places with totalisable objects forming a looped, intersecting pattern like a Moebius strip, and thereby producing new relations of desire. The virtual or partial objects are imbricated in the play of originary unbound differences, the encounter with which allows for their capacity to detach us from totalisable objects. Via the boy’s encounter with the horse and the delay between the juxtaposed images, something of this detachment from the totalisable side of the object occurs in relation to Birdsong. On the one hand, the boy’s encounter with the horse is overwhelming for the viewer given his proximity to the animal and the fact that this animal is clearly in the wrong place and could react at any moment out of fear of being enclosed in the house. On the other hand, the boy becomes a seer in the Deleuzian sense of a character whose being overwhelmed by a situation paralyses action and accentuates the optical visionary aspect of the image. The doubling of the shots enforces this.

In relation to the boy’s proximity to the horse, doubling does not increase the sense of danger, but displaces it in a repetition that allows for a crack to appear in the normal registration of fear and anxiety. “I” experience this crack as a moment of liberation. “I” am led by the doubled image and its delay to become a seer in the dark that continuously (in a loop) renews the spaces of desire between one registration of the image and the next. While the winged horse has symbolic resonance here in the sense of evoking escape and the imagination, more poignantly, the re-emergence of this image sequence at the end of the film intimates the continuous potential of the becoming apparatus to generate movements of desire that surpass form. Formally exposing the present moment to its bifurcation, Biswas’ Birdsong offers us a poetics of becoming where human, animal, and machine enter into multiple crossings over between image registers that release us from the stasis of mechanical and neurotic repetition and open us onto the freedom of the virtual. Hence, let’s have a horse come live in our living-room […] and again […] and again […]


Bersani, Leo and Ulysse Dutoit. 2005. Forms of Being: Subjectivity, Aesthetics, Film. London: BFI.

Biswas, Sutapa. 2005. Birdsong. In Research@Chelsea 6, ed. Becky Parker, 16-19. London: Chelsea College of Art & Design.

Borch-Jacobson, Mikkel. 1992. The Emotional Tie: Psychoanalysis, Mimesis, and Affect. Trans. Douglas Brick et al. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Colebrook, Claire. 2002. Gilles Deleuze. London and New York: Routledge.

Creed, Barbara. 1993. The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. London and New York: Routledge.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1989a. On the ‘Crystalline Regime’. Art & Text 34 (Spring): 18-22.

–––. 1989b. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. London: The Athlone Press.

–––. 1994. Difference and Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. London: The Athlone Press.

–––. 2000. Proust and Signs: The Complete Text. Trans. Richard Howard. London: The Athlone Press.

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. 1986. Kafka: Or Towards a Minor Literature. Trans. Dana Polan. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

–––. 1988 A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. and foreward Brian Massumi. London: The Athlone Press.

Freud, Sigmund. 1920. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. In On Metapsychology, trans. James Strachey. Pelican Freud Library, vol. 11, 284. London: Penguin, 1991.

–––. 1909. Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy. In Case Histories 1, trans. James Strachey. Pelican Freud Library, vol. 8, 165. London: Penguin, 1990.

Laplanche, Jean. 1992. Notes on Afterwardsness. In Jean Laplanche: Seduction, Translation and the Drives, eds. John Fletcher and Martin Stanton, trans. Martin Stanton, 217-23. London, Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Manovich, Lev. 2001. The Language of New Media. Massachusetts and London: MIT Press.

Mulvey, Laura. 2004. Birdsong. Sutapa Biswas: An Anthology of Essays, 48-57. London and Portland, Oregon: Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva) in collaboration with the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery. Published in conjunction with the exhibition Sutapa Biswas: Birdsong, a major international touring exhibition organised by Iniva.

Murphie, Andrew. 2002. Putting the Virtual Back into VR. In A Shock to Thought: Expression After Deleuze and Guattari, ed. Brain Massumi, 188-214. London and New York: Routledge.

Olkowski, Dorothea. 1999. Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press.

Rodowick, D.N. 1997. Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Vidler, Anthony. 1994. The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely. London and New York: MIT Press.


[1] For a useful survey of recent split screen work across media, see Talen (2008).

[2] See Creed (1993) for extensive readings of cinema using this psychoanalytic paradigm.

[3] See Vidler (1994) for examples of how the skewering of space gives rise to uncanny effects.

[4] Psychoanalyst, philosopher and translator of Freud, Jean Laplanche has coined the term “Afterwardsness” to refer to deferred action. For an extensive account of nachträglichkeit and its appearance in Freud’s work, see Laplanche (1992).

[5] Creed (1993) re-reads Freud’s case study of “Little Hans” and makes the convincing claim that Hans’ fear of horses and their teeth is a displacement of a fear of the mother as castrator rather than castrated.

[6] It is worth noting that Mulvey (2004) also makes the point that the film modifies the classic Oedipal moment in its emphasis on the maternal and the imaginary world of the child.

[7] Bersani and Dutoit (2005) describe how the absence figured by the vanishing horizon-line at the end of Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mepris (1963) both absorbs and counteracts the neurotic characterizations in the film’s narrative.

Author Bio

Maria Walsh is Senior Lecturer in Art History & Theory at Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. She has published essays on film and video in journals such as Screen, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, Rhizomes, Senses of Cinema, filmwaves, and COIL. Her research interests include: artist’s film & video, performative writing, female subjectivity, and philosophy and film in a post-Deleuzian framework.

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