Body Architecture

Whitechapel, in association with Lux, screened:
The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes, Stan Brakhage (1971) 16mm, 32 min
Stan Brakhage has often described his films as documentaries, referring to his investigations of how we see, whether in experiments with cinema's unique capacities to view the world or attempts to replicate "closed-eye" vision. In 1971, Brakhage was allowed to photograph an autopsy, a word which comes from the Greek, meaning "the act of seeing with one's own eyes." In the resulting difficult, intensely disturbing work, Brakhage attempts to understand death. In seeking the ultimate mystery-in asking why-he encounters the physical, anonymous human body, and in the process "sees" the limits of knowing through observation.' Kathy Geritz
The film is part of Brakhage's "Pittsburgh trilogy", a trio of 'documentary' films Brakhage made about the city's various institutions in 1971; the other two are 'Eyes', about the city police, and 'Deus Ex', filmed in a hospital.

Calmly I have seen the scalp chiseled from underneath with a slim blade, and flipped over the face, so dead lips kiss the crown of their own heads. I have seen bone smoke, the way limbs shift, weighted, the way organs quiver as they are liberated, lifted like infants from the hollowing. Subcutaneous fat is a buttery foam, which spreads like curds away from the dark red straps of muscle, punctuated with calcium white. The big toe supports the final words not cast in Latin.

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