Lev Manovich defined the term “spatial montage” for a type of montage that modifies the traditional form of perceiving time in narration and that opposes the idea of succession and sequence. It’s a montage whereby there is no continuity among associated images. It’s therefore no longer one image after the other, but one image plus another. The spatial organization does not seek to prioritize or to offer a fixed path. It’s not so much the images that are of interest, but the relations that can be found between the links and connections of the images.
This “between” implies being aware of what is not in the image, that which remains outside. A “between” that Gilles Delluze singled out as the starting point from which modern cinema developed new relations with thought:
“[…] the deleting of an everything or a total of images in the benefit of an “outside” that can insert itself between them”.
Spatial montage thus seeks to become more an image of thought that a reflection of reality. The intention is not to retell a story but to present an image in which we can get lost, that we can construct, de-construct, and find different senses or non-senses.
Although there is a broad range of artists and works that have tried to reflect the concepts and forms hereby described, my intention is to develop this narrative concept through an interactive montage that uses programming and new technologies. This structure, with hypertext features, gives us access to different connections among the three stories.
The development of the spatial montage will imply working together with a programmer and will be one of the fundamental pillars of the research project for the Master.
What resonated most for me within Manovich’s chapter “The New Language of Cinema”, and which relates to our ‘space-time’ theme, is his discussion of the spatial montage. He cites cultural geographer Edward Soja in prefacing the renewed interest in spatial montage, stating that “…it is only in the last decades of the twentieth century that this mode has made a powerful comeback, as exemplified by the growing importance of such concepts as “geopolitics” and “globalization” as well as by the key role that analysis of space plays in the theories of postmodernism” (323). I’d like to briefly explore filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem as emblematic of this particular claim, specifically drawing on her film In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee (2009). Deann becomes a integral player in this kind of wave of spatial montage (or experimentation with such within the documentary filmic form) in a service to a geopolitical analysis of her identity as a Asian transnational adoptee. The film serves as a sequel to her first autobiographical documentary First Person Plural(1999), and takes us on her journey back to South Korea to find the girl Cha Jung Hee who she replaced years ago at the orphanage and whose identity she has assumed throughout her adolescence. Deann’s personal exploration and journey becomes a story about a collective, historically-infused experience of transnational exchange that stems from neocolonial economics and politics from the 1940s onward between South Korea and the United States. She takes up the use of spatial montage within her documentary in order to provide a visibility as well as spatiotemporal simultaneity to the different identities that she has simultaneously assumed her entire life.