MLG 2013 Abstract

“‘Guerrilla Seeing’: Aesthetics, Subjectivity, and Mediatization in Emile de Antonio’s Underground

In this paper I give a reading of Emile de Antonio’s documentary film Underground. Motivated toward two, parallel ends, I survey the techniques utilized toward representing the subjects of the Marxist-Leninist Weather Underground Organization (WUO) on the one hand, and theorize the function of perspectival experimentation in revolutionary struggle. Following the contour of the lens and the intentional obstruction of its subject matter—the subjects of revolutionary struggle themselves —de Antonio deploys multiple techniques of self-effacement at the behest of the WUO in order to preserve their anonymity. But beyond its immediately practical function, I situate these techniques within a larger discourse on what Jean Genet and William Haver have called ‘guerrilla seeing,’ or, the elimination of objective and subjective difference in struggle. Theorized out of guerrilla discourse and tactics produced in the U.S. and abroad, Genet and Haver argue that ‘guerrilla seeing’ is anti-reflective and non-transcendent: it is the very experience of non-neutrality. As I move toward the conclusion, I theorize the function of this total perspectival immersion and film technique within contemporary discourse on the generation of political affects. In relation to one figure in particular, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s figure of ‘the mediatized,’ developed in their coauthored Declaration, I think the function of ‘guerrilla seeing’ as a response to a question derived from this figure: “How can we separate the repressive powers of media from the potential for liberation?”

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