Video for performance at SPECTRA, Kansas City, MO.
New Video, Bar-Beds. To be played on loop.
Mobius SPEED review
Thank you for the well-articulated read on my 10 minute performance.
Click Here for the link to the whole article
Traumatic Viewership: Laura Palmer and Complex Diegesis
I’ve recently re-watched Twin Peaks, and, for the first time, Fire Walk With Me immediately after. In doing so, not only was I, personally, incredibly triggered, but found myself struggling with the affect of a moreholistic uprooting on the dead/not-so-dead Laura Palmer.
Instead of considering this idea within the framework of narrative against other narratives like it, or even within the context of production- i.e. trying to unpack D.Lynch’s intentions behind shots, angles, and character development, I wish to examine this topic through the embodied experience of viewing this piece. That is, taking into consideration how my personal experience affects my understanding of the piece, and, as a result, how I- as Jessica Viewer- may come to understand personal meaning about my own trauma through narrative andvisual codes presented within the story.
While I am not an avid television viewer, there are some serial narratives I thoroughly enjoy. I prefer to watch serial shows alone, meaning, I tend to not watch something while it is actively being shown on television, instead, viewing as many episodes as I can, and relate to the narrative structure and characters as an ever-evolving process (Netflix Original Series may be a response to this kind of viewing, as it has become increasingly popular to “marathon” television shows within the internet audience). I find the serial structure to potentially work against more normative understandings of character development, in that, the room for flexibility and growth within the character/plot is much greater. Simply put, there are more variables at play when something can extend for multiple episodes. Contemporarily, this trend seems to be taking off; spin-off shows have been popular for a while, however, now there are internet-based webisodes, which can extend and activate character and plot development in more elastic and non-traditional ways. Clearly, I am not the only person that enjoys the way a character can build, fall apart, and build again due to the amount of serial-based (trilogy or more) films that are currently produced. This is something that, as a culture, we have begun to devour at a most-seriouspace.
What strikes me about character development within this form is the ability to begin toconsider characters outside their initial context. Of course, fan-fiction also functions through this expectation- extending the life of a character intoother forms that were not previously considered by the original writers. Fan Fiction also develops its own cosmos of narrative, think 50 Shades of Grey.
When characters can become so fleshed out, so three-dimensional, we can begin to consider them beyond the frame of the picture; we can see them as peers,acquaintances, enemies, and lovers. This capacity to capture the audience isdone so through adequate writing, direction, acting, and camera work; and, sometimes, this formula works better than others.
In the case of Laura Palmer, Sady Doyle in “Violently Killed Femmes” on the website In These Times*, discusses the more thorough ways in which her character functionsas catalyst for action throughout the show, and, as a result, challenges the dead girl as prop often used in prime-time television series. And certainly, I agree. Watching Fire Walk With Me, then, becomes really interesting after watching the series, and considering it within the chronology of the narrative as both produced after the show while functioning as precursor to the show.
At first, in watching Fire Walk With Me, I discovered myself annoyed with seeing so much of Laura Palmer Alive. I wanted more of the larger-picture narrative development; how people in Twin Peaks came to meet one another, perhaps more information on the whitelodge/black lodge and its space within the setting of Twin Peaks- both as location and character within the show, etc. This desire to not want to deal with Laura Palmer in my viewership made me check myself; was I satisfied with only understanding this female character through the stories and responses ofother characters throughout the series? Having this desire to want Laura Palmer off screen was feeding into that notion of leaving, and keeping, Laura Palmer dead- only to be unpacked and made more valuable, more whole, through the bodies and voices of other characters. Keeping Laura Palmer at bay, in this way, was also to keep trauma invisible. Certainly, throughout the show, trauma is discussed and made visible in so many ways, however, if the narrative functions on the premise that Laura Palmer’s death is what makes the trauma, pain, and evil of Twin Peaks alive and visible, then to create this preface- watching Laura Palmer as Alive character- to that catalytic action, is to actively deal with trauma embodied.
Watching Fire Walk With Me was more challenging than watching all of Twin Peaks alone. Scenes of Laura at the dinner table reminded me of my childhood in a way that was both affirming and drastically damaging: the way she looks at her father, responds her his physicality is so on point with my own experience of domestic sexual violence and rape. Even her”outbursts” of pained violent physical and vocal expression are, for me, reminiscent of ways I feel when confronting what has happened to me, and how trauma surfaces in the body at any time. It was so difficult to view that kind of trauma, after having been exposed to the entirety of Twin Peaks,in such a visceral way- not through memory, but through the character showing rage and fear in a more directed visual plane.
Viewing Laura Palmer as a character that was understood in “real-time” in Fire Walk With Me and not through memory or dream made me confront embodied evil and trauma, as I have come to understand it, in my own life and reality in new ways. I am not meaning to discredit the importance of dream and memory space as a way to come to terms with and understand trauma (in fact, I find these spaces to be paramount to understanding/accepting/living with trauma), but as it is understood within this context on the show, seeing Laura perform her pain more directly challenged, for me, ways in which trauma continues to be dismissed assurreal/not-real. As a viewer, having freshly marathoned Twin- Peaks, Fire Walk With Me gave me no respite, noanswers. I just felt lost. Nothing was attained, nothing gained. Yet, this is often- at least for me- the experience of unpacking/reliving/understanding/livingwith trauma, more acutely in my circumstance, complex-PTSD. All one can learn to do is to live with it: there is no finite narrative, there is no ending, it is always a rupture that continues to develop as intertwined with walking/waking life. Living with trauma is episodic, is it not a well-packaged Aristotelian narrative.
Laura Palmer is NOT dead in so many ways, as we understand throughout the narrative of Twin Peaks, yet to see her in Fire Walk With Me, is to directly confront trauma in a different way. And this confrontation, in my opinion, is dependent upon that already developed serial-narrative. That embodied moment needs its viewer to have witnessed the entirety of Twin Peaks, the show.
The result is unsettling, as it has already happened at the time in which one sees the narrative unfold, you cannot help her. Furthermore, I felt like I was becoming complacent to the violence, condoning it even, if I was finding solace/acceptance/importance in this character’s narrative and response to the evil flooding her father, being forced into her.The imagery presented to me through Fire Walk With Me gave me a sense of reality about my own history, which was difficult, and certainly triggering.
However, this pro/epi logue took the concept of full, not fixed female character, to another level. Laura Palmer is not just a catalyst for action that drives the show, she is a three-dimensional character who struggles with A LOT, and, on top of it, has tenacity and vibrancy rarely represented in “living” female characters, more or less, “dead” ones.
A few days later, and still processing the feelings that arose for me in Fire Walk With Me, but feel certain that the film gave credence to traumatic affect- through the uprooting of events leading to Laura Palmer’s death. This corporeal study of the character allowed, for me as viewer, to visualize and examine trauma within narrative structure, furthermore, giving me a space to reflect on personal trauma and abuse- instark and important ways.
*Link to thearticle: http://inthesetimes.com/article/15006/the_violently_killed_femmes/
A friend of mine shared this link.
While there is a lot more to unpack (comments’ section does this), it is nice to gather some language around this issue.
As someone who was recently in a poly-amorous situation, in that, i was in an equal 3person/3way relationship that was also “open”, I am dealing with how that worked and didtnt in many ways. While we lived and displayed public affection as a 3-person unit, and arguably challenged notions of queer romantic and sexual identity with our circumstance, there was also a lot of verbal/textual/emotional/substance abuse involved, that, for me, was triggering and resembled issues that ANY intimate relationship could foster. Just because we may have produced affection/imagery that challenged conventional narratives of romantic relating, doesn’t mean that there were not a TON of misogynistic undertones and possession at play. In fact, prior to my entrance into the relationship as full-on partner, not tertiary “other”, the two people outside of myself had actually been engaging in what the article sites as example 4. I could not agree more: it is not the label that inherently challenges these notions of patriarchal performances of gender/romance/emotion/sexuality within an intimate (for that matter, any) relationship, it is the way in which we navigate ourselves and the way in which we can relate to others that we can begin to unpack, dismantle, and actively, compassionately, challenge these westernized, normative-narratives of loving self/inter-expression.
Creighton Baxter + Grid ala Jborusky
CAA Conference, HELLYA