Re-Framing Labour
in the Flattened Stereoscopic Film

Americana Honey
Re-Framing Labour in the Flattened Stereoscopic Film
April 2018

Published in Caméra Stylo (vol. 18).
Presenting at Spiral: Film and Philosophy Graduate Conference (May 2018).

This paper analyzes the 2014 experimental film Curtains by Lucy Raven as a 3-D work that deconstructs the traditional stereoscopic means of viewership, relieving 3-D cinema of the tensions between flatness and depth. I consider Curtains as a flattened stereoscopic film, that is, a film that encourages eye divergence to break away from the spatial cues of stereoscopic imagery and interrupt the illusion of three-dimensional representation. In doing so, Curtains complicates conceptions of depth and flatness for the purpose of re-configuring erased labour.

Scholars have focused on the aesthetic and ideological construction of 3-D and its relation to depth and volume. Instead of building upon this discourse, I borrow Jacques Derrida’s notion of “hauntology” to argue that 3-D cinema’s ontology is defined by a lack of identity and erased labour. The spectral echoes an inability to situate oneself. I regard 3-D cinema as a ghost trapped in its desire to overcome its immateriality with material three-dimensionality. Through theories of hauntology and perception, I account for the tensions within the synthesis of three-dimensional space and potentially extricate 3-D cinema from them.

Raven’s artistic practice explores the intersection between still photography and moving images. Curtains, which reflects upon erased labour practices in the film industry, elucidates the presence and absence of bodily labour in 3-D cinema. In its conversion of three-dimensional depth to two-dimensional flatness, Curtains reveals the invisible work behind illusory depth. The film annihilates the illusion of depth and allows the viewer to revel in flatness; through this disavowal, Curtains materializes the invisible acts of labour. This analysis of haunting and representation in Curtains contributes to a larger project in new media studies that seeks to subvert ontological constraints. I hope to demonstrate that a lack of ontology may relieve the irreconcilable tensions in 3-D and reassert the primacy of labour in the construction of space.