Gaze theory, which attempts to explain the power of spectatorship and of the eye, is usually supported by the role and power of pleasure. Clifford T. Manlove argues that attributing the power of the gaze to pleasure, as Laura Mulvey does, minimizes its meaning. He argues that the gaze, in three specific Hitchcock films, is actually about women as the true heroes trying to resist the male gaze and make sense of the world around them. Mulvey characterized the feminine gaze with “nostalgia and repression.”
He argues that there is a split between the gaze and the eye. The gaze becomes the invisible and the eye is the real. In Vertigo, Scottie's vertigo is the gaze and other objects or characters, such as the nun at the end, is the real. In Blackmail, it is Alice's gaze because the knife used to kill Crewe and the real is the portrait of the jester that reminds her of her shame. Manlove asserts that if the gaze could be verbalized than it wouldn't be a gaze resulting in death. If Alice had been able to express herself, would she have had to reach for the knife?
Call#: Van Pelt Library Rosengarten Reserve B105.I47 F75 2006
Friedberg’s 2006 book discusses the recent emergence of new ideas on visual media perspective through the concept of the “window.” The computer plays host to the idea of presenting several distinct, unrelated displays to the viewer at once. These windows have become the marker of a multi-perceptual outlook. Friedberg traces the development of the concept of a “window” throughout time, with the word becoming a metaphor for one of an infinite number of screens now available to computer users everywhere. The metaphor, she says, implies a delimitation of a view with variable size. She goes on to examine the window in metaphoric, architectural, and virtual registers. All three views emphasize a framed look at a particular subject; spectatorship plays a major role in all three parts. Ultimately, she examines how computer windows have changed these traditional views on spectatorship, demanding a viewer who can handle multiple, adjacent, and postperspectival consumption.
Her book is unique because it is thus far the most comprehensive view on this very specific topic of screens and windows. She lays out a history behind her theory of “windows,” incorporating the related concepts of perspective, frame, spectatorship, and identification. Though the history gets a bit heavy at times, it’s an incredibly thorough background and a great one to have when considering spectatorship and interaction in the digital age. I also appreciated the fact that she included a section discussing the physical aspects of screens as seen through the writings of Paul Virilio. This is the most thorough discussion I could find on the physical attributes of the screen itself, and the roles it plays as both a boundary for and a provider of information.
The end sections of the book interest me the most because they discuss new media, and the future of new technologies in terms of Friedberg’s “virtual windows” theory. Sequential narratives here make way for the multiple and simultaneous, within one device as well as among many at once. This can be applied to devices like a PDA, which allows for instant messaging while e-mailing and writing reports; the new iPhone will also hold such capabilities, providing an update on the iPod (which, interestingly, doesn’t provide multiple virtual windows in the same device, but rather allows you to use that while using other small devices). These technologies still differ a great deal, at this moment, from televisions and the cinematic experience, and thus Friedberg’s theory can be directly applied to my paper topic.