The moving image screen as a site for feminine pleasure
Radical British Screens Symposium, a Film Studies Research Group, Department of Culture, Media and Drama, School of Creative Arts at University of the West of England and Screen Studies South West Network Event
3 September 2010, Bush House, Bristol
My paper investigates the relationship between the screen and feminine pleasure. From a practitioner perspective as an artist film-maker and doctoral researcher, I examine the moving image screen within my own practice, and consider the potential for feminist methodologies to rupture the dominant paradigms of the mainstream and produce screenwork that is radical in intent, aesthetics, and content.

I illustrate my paper with examples of practice-as-research, such as the recent film Glass, which mediates Irigaray’s writing about the ‘feminine’ through close examination and ‘play’ with glass fragments found among the sand, pebbles, bladder wrack, and briny debris on Stonehouse Pool beach, Plymouth. This screenwork locates feminine pleasure in the liminal space of the strandline, between high and low water, at the intersection between the natural world and the urban environment. Through microscopic animation I manipulate found objects to create a miniature ’looking glass’, a ‘poetic text’ through which I may find a place for language of the body. I film using macro photography, manipulating the tiny objects and the digital camera with my fingers: touch and sight intertwine as I feel my way through the camera’s miniature dance in embodied time and space.

Therefore, my practice-based doctoral research suggests that the mainstream may be disrupted through the radical deployment of ‘essentialist’ strategies, and that ‘making as a woman’, from a gendered position ‘as a woman’, creates a language of the body that gives voice to feminine pleasure through the moving image screen.

“The day focused on the diverse ways in which the term ‘radical’ has been deployed in film-making and television, how ‘radical’ has been interpreted within various media traditions, and how it has been adapted to the changing contexts of production and exhibition. Eleven papers were delivered by a mixture of film-makers, experienced academics and PhD researchers from the UK and overseas, reflecting a renewed interest in this area extending beyond the UK’s shores.
A central theme focused on how the actual term ‘radical’ resonates in a variety of contexts, from contents and aesthetics to intentions and interventions. This diversity was reflected in the range of papers on offer. Some speakers asked what it means to be ‘radical’ and if this term can be used in considering mainstream products. Others considered whether feminist theory is inherently radical and how aesthetic experimentation can relate to politics. The symposium also considered the relationship between British audio-visual culture and the ‘radical.’”

“Other speakers considered ‘radical’ from a practice-led perspective, offering a contrast with the theoretical papers. Drawing upon her own media work, artist Kayla Parker examined how the camera can become a looking-glass through which a radical language for the human body can be found.”
Presence, S. and Robinson, M. (2011) ‘British Radical Screens Symposium’ [report] Journal of British Cinema and Television. Volume 8. Edinburgh University Press. Page 133-136 DOI 10.3366/jbctv.2011.0010. ISSN 1743-4521. Available online April 2011: