. . .in letting the abstractions of

light and texture, image and voice swirl around you and carry

you into a filmic experience, you become aware of what you are

experiencing. The active audience members don't lose a sense of

themselves while engaging in the physical sensations of abstract

cinema, but feel more the possibility of being.1


In the beginning I could not see. Slowly as I opened my eyes, soft and blurred shapes and colors moved. I was between them, up and down and down and up. This was my playpen. These were the slats of my playpen. These were my frames. These were the spaces I would fill and dissolve again in a lifetime of play and work, work and play, love and sadness, hope and despair: this perceptual feeling life I breathe.

In this structural play and recontextualization of images there is no distance between you and me, between projector and projection, maker and viewer. The viewer is the maker leading to a nowhere mirror while somewhere expands to the distant collision of images and words we cannot see. Caught between frames we find a space to walk, a hesitation between breaths, a ragged line, an endless adventure. The available space is the empty frame, the half frame, the stuttering frame, shuttering frame. So, hold in your mind what you have seen before. Forget your drive to conclusion. Remember the in-betweens, the faded, the throw-aways and cross your genres while dialoguing with surrounding areas.

You say: “I see the frames, I see the half lines, I see the shuttered stares, the bi-focaled split, I see what you see you tell me, but I cannot feel.” Return then to your mind’s eye, your distanced bi-focaled eyes, return to the site within, the body site. Feel the rhythm of your breath, your tight and unstretched limbs, find the chest walls that open, connect. Deep breath, connect. If I can touch and I mean touch deeply inside, I can see. The world made whole still full of holes and gaps and blurs. One of the things that 'queer' can refer to: the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone's gender, of anyone's sexuality aren't made (or can't be made) to signify monolithically.2

There is a tendency to fulfill our wishes but we cannot, to project our beings one into the other (not onto the other), to empathize, to feel. There is a tendency but no completion, no fulfillment, no resolution. Hesitating we find our unexpected beings. We read between the lines, we repeat, we underline, we need to know but we resist. We repeat and find an interlude. An inter-ludic play between. We are an inter-ludic play.


They were regular in being gay, they learned little things that are things in being gay, they learned many little things that are things in being gay, they were gay every day, they were regular, they were gay, they were gay the same length of time every day, they were gay, they were quite regularly gay.3


Sedgwick holds hands with Stein and we discover a poetics of the liquid state.4 A place is conceived as mutable, contestable, leaky. Places and people become unstuck, flow into one another, creating alternate possibilities for temporary encounters and new understandings of community.


That behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern that we- I mean all human beings-are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. Hamlet or a Beethoven Quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no god. We are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.5




Barbara Hammer


3/2011, NYC





1 Barbara Hammer, “The Politics of Abstraction”, in Martha Gever, Pratibha Parmar, John Greyson (dir.), Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video, Routledge, New York 1993, pp. 70-75.

2 Eve Kosovsky Sedgewick, Tendencies, Duke University Press, Durham, 1993, p. 8

3 Wikipedia. Ludic derives from Latin ludus, "play," and is an adjective meaning "playful." The term is used in philosophy to describe play as an act of self-definition; in literary studies, the term may apply to works written in the spirit of festival.

4 Gertrude Stein, “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene”,in Geography and Plays (published 1922).

5 Virginia Woolf, “A Sketch of the Past”, in Moments of Being, Harcourt Brace, San Diego, 1976, pp. 72-76.