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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDeserts of the Political
La Région Centrale (Snow, Michael), 1970

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indicate the boundaries of decentralization. This is what essentially differentiates his reflection of deterritorialization and disintegration from the deterritorialization discourse carried on by other cinematographers of the desert.

La Région Centrale

In 1971, Canadian filmmaker Michael Snow started the paradoxical task of observing the wilderness empty of people, without having anyone present at all. Snow had a special camera-like machine, resembling a satellite or a probe, installed in rough, mountainous Canadian territory. Mounted on a special robot programmed to move, the camera filmed the uniform, utterly nonpicturesque landscape for sixty hours. The material was edited down to three hours; people are only seen for a total of thirty minutes. Otherwise, the camera relies upon itself, in a wild, cinematic roller coaster ride. In 1969, that is, two years before making the film, Snow announced that the film «La Région Centrale» would become «a kind of absolute record of a piece of wilderness.»[54] He expected that the mechanical movement of the camera would result in something


comparable to the first rigorous film documents of the surface of the moon. At the same time, it « &will feel like a record of the last wilderness on earth, a film to be taken into outer space as a souvenir of what nature once was.»[55] After finishing the film in 1971, Snow thought that moments of ecstasy and totality prevailed. There was a zero point, an absolute center, a nirvana-like nothing, a lack of gravity, an orgasmic dimension, « &the ecstatic centre of a complete sphere.»[56] This kind of incorporeal seeing, which is «beyond all subjective finality» (Raymond Bellour),[57] reminds one of automatic recording and viewing machines that engage in viewing without seeing. This is a purely technical kind of viewing, which, in this case however, has no supervisory, controlling, guiding function. It is, as Alain Fleischer correctly wrote, «pointless,» mere performance (and thus also practically natural).[58] The things Smithson and Snow each move (translate) from one «desert» to another «desert,» could not be more different. Whereas Snow s (mostly) dehumanized camera movements completely obey the camera robot, and the «human factor» is limited to constructing the machine, programming it,

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