Affective atmosphere as a film production method focuses on the becoming of the event, in the sense alluded to above, hence making the method non-representational, through disrupting or dislocating purposeful representation in performance and the resulting film. The method aims to close the gap between the experienced present moment and the process of filming, thus blurring the line between reality and fiction, and, ultimately, blurring the line between the filmed/experienced reality and the resulting moving image. The method is about maximising atmospheric conditions within and without – within the mind of the participants and in the space surrounding them – and then making these two ‘atmospheric layers’ influence, amplify, and resonate with each other. The process of filming defines both the fiction and the reality of the event, while the event defines what and how it is filmed. The distinction between reality and fiction becomes hard to pin down, since the reality of the present moment – which includes the process of filming – defines and constitutes the fiction. The fiction emerges from the pure becoming of the moment – produced and shared by all participating individuals – rather than from ordinary being constituted by (logical) actions in relation to the context of one’s individual life. As explored and evidenced through practice, this approach to production can give rise to a sense of affective film performance, since it can lead to affects in the performance, while preventing coherent emotional expression and the formation of narrative/dramatic meaning. The affects emanating from the performance are sustained and amplified by the continuous, intense participation in the moment, and by allowing oneself to be affected by the sensual impression of the other participants and of the immediate environment. I establish what I mean by affective film performance later on, before discussing the two films that emerged from the affective atmosphere process, Becoming, Barcelona and Becoming Granular.
What is the unique expressive potential of film? As Shaviro (1993) claims, ‘the automatism and nonselectivity of mechanical reproduction make it possible for cinema to break with traditional hierarchies of representation and enter directly into a realm of matter, life, and movement’ (31). In this way, the camera participates in the unpredictable becoming of reality that is not designed or orchestrated by humanity and that eludes representation; this becoming, in turn, forms the basis for the permanent imprint of light on the photographic moving image, despite all its aspects intended by the filmmaker. This nature of the image – as a non-human becoming – can lead to the formation of affects: the undifferentiated-yet-singular impersonal feelings and sensations contained in the work, in contrast to meaning and language as the human world of being (Deleuze and Guattari 1994). Cinema, according to Deleuze, has the potential to form new realities, new affects, rather than represent specific things, concepts, and ideas. Deleuze's understanding of cinema as time-image (as distinguished from a more conventional mode of cinema rooted in narrative logic and audio-visual coherence) is then directly related to the wider concept of affect and is reflected in some of the audio-visual outcomes presented in this exposition: ‘in the time-image the image is no longer perceived as an image of this or that. It is the image in its singularity, so we see imaging as such, not yet incorporated into a viewpoint, not yet ordered into a line of time’ (Colebrook 2002: 53). This understanding of film and its unique expressive potential, in a nutshell, forms the basis of the affective atmosphere method.
The structure of this exposition is inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the rhizome, which also led to the development of the rhizomatic script and resonates with the wider sense of affective atmosphere. A rhizome forms a non-linear multiplicity, rather than the hierarchical or sequential structure inherent to rational thought. Therefore, this exposition tries to negotiate a balance between providing enough sequential meaning to allow the reader/visitor to properly consider the content, while offering the freedom and creativity of moving through the exposition in a rhizomatic fashion. While the lines connecting the various elements have arrows that help navigate a linear/logical sequence, this does not have to be strictly followed. These paths also bifurcate at times, forming meaningful detours where additional connections between the elements clearly exist. The Navigation menu can be used to explore each page, and the individual pages can also be accessed through the Contents menu, in or out of the prescribed order. The experience of this exposition might be disorientating to some, especially if viewed on a smaller screen. However, the sense of being 'too close' to the work and the absence of a clear context for the whole are consistent with the notions of both rhizome and affective atmosphere. Therefore, a certain level of disorientation is desirable, and can ultimately enhance the impression of this exposition.
The research surrounding affective atmosphere generates new insights into the theoretical understanding of film performance and leads to the production of original pieces of film art, which are informed and inspired by the theory. Furthermore, the research generates an applicable set of methods and production processes that can give rise to dramatic results liberated from the conventions of film performance and narrative representation, yet operating within the tradition of art cinema. These methods and processes were tested through the practice, and are evidenced through documentation, reflection, and the resulting film works. Above all, as the various sections of this exposition demonstrate, the affective atmosphere approach represents a distinct application of philosophy in creative practice – particularly the writings of Deleuze and Guattari, but also the theoretical fields surrounding film performance and the concept of atmosphere.