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The Paradigm Case

The Cinema of Hitchcock and the Contemporary Visual Arts


Bernard McCarron

With the migration of cinema into the art gallery, artists have been turning, with remarkable regularity and ingenuity, to Alfred Hitchcock-related images, sequences and iconography. The world of Hitchcock’s cinema – a classical cinema of formal unities and narrative coherence – represents more than the spectre of a supposedly dead art form: it transcends its own filmic and institutional contexts, becoming an important audio-visual lexicon of desire, loss, mystery and suspense.
Through a detailed study of the Hitchcock-related work of artist-filmmakers Matthias Müller and Christoph Girardet, Johan Grimonprez, Pierre Huyghe, Douglas Gordon and Atom Egoyan, this book facilitates a dialogue between the creative appropriation of Hitchcock’s films and the cinematic practices that increasingly inform the wider field of the contemporary visual arts. Each chapter is structured around a consideration of how the artwork in question has reconfigured or ‘remade’ key Hitchcockian expressive elements and motifs – in particular, the relationship between mise en scène and the mechanics of suspense, time, memory, history and death. In a career that extended across silent and sound eras as well as the British, European and Hollywood industries, Hitchcock’s film œuvre can be seen as a history of the cinema itself. As the work of these contemporary artist-filmmakers shows, it was also a history of the future, a paradigm case par excellence.
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Chapter 5: Participatory Remaking: Pierre Huyghe’s Remake


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Participatory Remaking: Pierre Huyghe’s Remake

Remake was shot over a two-week period in a suburban area of Paris and lasts for one hour and forty-four minutes (see Figure 5.1). It is performed in French and features an English subtitle track. Filmed on 16mm stock, it was then screened on video for exhibition purposes. In Remake, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window provides the scenario for newly mediated reality, where the spectator may critique their position in relation to a cultural product such as the Hollywood film. The main focus of Huyghe’s Remake is to reproduce shots and situations from Rear Window in order to engage the spectator’s processes of memory and encourage their participation by restaging profilmic elements of the film, such as mise en scène, framings, actors, location, sound design, and dialogue (see Figures 5.2 and 5.3). The film’s amateur actors, Christophe Pinon and Reine Graves (in the roles of Jeff and Lisa), perform the dramaturgical aspects of the film from memory, after viewing the original several hours prior to shooting. This is not immediately apparent, however, as the camera movements in the opening sequence mimic those in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. When the actors begin to recall the dialogue, the project of remaking fails. Maria Walsh explains: ‘[e]ach staged scene then is quite awkward and without dramatic effect (furthermore, not every scene from Hitchcock’s film is reproduced). This discourages any engagement with the story being told, instead focusing on...

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