Space Perception / Movement in Water

Creator's Statement

Shira Havron:

When I watched Catherine Grant's “Liquid Perception” and its portrayal of motion, I thought of the way cinema can capture movement. That made me think of Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, 2013), and of how it introduced a new way to depict movement in film. But other than motion, "Liquid Perception" made me wonder about emotion and the way it is connected to the outside world. In addition to its interesting treatment of L'Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934), and its depiction of a gallery of exquisite visual motion, the moving images in Grant's work stimulated in me feelings of wonder, sadness, and pleasure. It made me go on a short inner journey, making me progress along it point-by-point with each visual gesture it introduced; and it achieved all of this in under two minutes. “Liquid Perception” made me think of how all movements are interconnected, affected by each other, occurring on different levels and in different places simultaneously.

In this videographic response to Grant’s work I wanted to experiment with the use of dissolve and to explore the dimension of movement it adds to the film. Additionally, I attempted to draw an outline of the emotional movement of Gravity's protagonist, the movement she experiences throughout her journey. The use of dissolves helped me emphasize the heroine's emotional and physical transitions: her hardships, her struggles, her realizations. The editing process was almost instinctive, I let myself flow through the film and mark the sequences that felt most accurate for my work. Through the different rhythms of movement, its twist and its turns, I hope my work may arouse feelings in its viewers, as “Liquid Perception” had done for me, and an inner movement, if only the smallest of movements.

Ido Harambam:

The way movement changes in water has always interested me. Different factors affect the way we perceive movement in water, and the fact that it’s not so clear and smooth as it is on land gives it magical, non-human vibes. Therefore, when I watched Catherine Grant’s video “Liquid Perception,” I had to respond to it with one of my favorite films –The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017), which connects to the non-human aspect I mentioned.

I thought it would be very interesting to compare this movie, which tells the story of a sea creature who falls in love with a human woman, with what I consider to be a very human movie – The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993), which presents the painful and tragic story of a mute woman who communicates with the world with the help of her piano. Both movies represent water as a getaway, a liminal space in which characters don’t have to speak – only to be present. That representation of water in both movies makes us, the viewers, much more aware of movement in water, and therefore, I thought it would be worth incorporating both in my response to Grant’s video.

During my editing process, when I was trying to find the best images of movement in water from both movies, I realized that normally, when I watch movies, I don’t even look at the way the characters move, and that when I paid attention to this element, I discovered a whole new dimension of relationships between humans, and between humanity and its environment. I think that my video, along with Shira Havron’s video about movement in space, places emphasis on the gentle, fragile ways in which movement can be seen on different material planes, and highlights the way movement can affect how we experience and understand film.



Shira Havron and Ido Harambam are both undergraduate students at the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, Tel Aviv University, studying in the school’s honors track.

In the online short audiovisual essay form that has come to be known as the videographic epigraph, or the epigraphic video, the usual procedure is to overlay a continuous or edited film or television programme extract with a quotation from a text that has no previous connection to the extracted sequence. The lack of direct correspondence is normally helpful in opening up creative, and sometimes surprising, forms of relationality or interstitiality, akin in spirit, I like to think, to Laura Rascaroli’s notion of essay filmmaking as the art of gaps (Laura Rascaroli, How the Essay Film Thinks (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). 

In Shira Havron’s brilliant work “Space Perception,” a videographic response to my audiovisual essay “Liquid Perception,” Havron utilises the same quotation as I do: some sentences taken from a paragraph in Gilles Deleuze’s chapter “The perception-image” in his book Cinema 1: The Movement-Image (University of Minnesota Press, 1986, as translated from the original French by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam [p. 79]). But as she matches them to sequences from Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, she introduces an epigraphic modality not present in my earlier work, which matches the quotation with the precise scene that Deleuze is writing about: the underwater disappearance scene of Juliette, protagonist of Jean Vigo’s 1934 classic L’Atalante, and the fruitless search for her made by her barge-captain husband Jean. Havron’s use of the same music as “Liquid Perception” conveys, to me at least, a wonderful sense of her work being uncannily haunted by, as well as mimetically connected to my video. 

The insightfulness of Havron’s epigraphic adaptation of “Liquid Perception” reaches across a number of its subjects. Her video draws out the beautiful connections between the liquidity of Cuaron’s cinematic staging of the weightlessness of outer-space and the slightly more gravitational qualities of watery forms of suspension. It also beautifully works through the different references to and broader themes of personal human loss in Cuaron’s film by connecting it with Deleuze’s lovely evocation of the tragedy at the heart of Vigo’s film. In my view, “Space Perception” is a perfectly conceived and realised videographic work in its wonderfully chosen focus and scope.

In “Movement in Water,” a truly inspired video by Ido Harambam in which the first part of Deleuze’s “liquid perception” quotation is applied to a range of cinematic underwater sequences from two films—The Piano [Jane Campion, 1993] and The Shape of Water [Guillermo del Toro, 2017]—the focus moves mostly to filmic forms of intertextuality and influence. The video’s comparative aspect conjures most effectively a revelation not only of Del Toro’s seemingly deliberate reworking of Campion’s film’s famous sequence, but also of both films’ indebtedness to Vigo’s even earlier watery explorations, as well as to the theoretical understanding of liquid perception and cinematic movement that his 1934 film sequence helped to generate. Harambam’s video meditation also centres on cinematic treatments of gravitational force and watery forms of anchoring through its vivid contrasting of the sinking piano and the very linear rope pulling Ada under with the other scenes of suspension and environmental / embodied holding. The fact that the “Movement in Water” chooses not to use the full Deleuze quotation from “Liquid Perception” doesn’t prevent the video from engaging very directly with some of those passages’ same questions of terrible loss, magical reunion and the need (in either case) to give oneself up to the water. Indeed, the filmic scenes featured in the video fully fill in for the absent words, and their precise juxtaposition—with its powerful conjuration of L’Atalante—generates similar and very powerful kinds of poetry.