Theorizing the Construction of Pleasure 

Film Theory Project


Excerpt of the writing component:

"My video starts by showing all the raw footage used in the attempt to create pleasure. This initial display of my database is a way to expose the process of selection and combination and to make it clear that if the video created any type of pleasure, it was only through editing, through audiovisual manipulation.

In the creation of the video, I decided to purposely reject rules of causality – inspired by what [Marsha] Kinder writes about this “encouraging readers to take a more active role in reading” (126) – to let it all be about a pleasurable experience of the senses. I was also inspired by the way Elsaesser and Hagener described artist László Moholy-Nagy’s approach to film theory of the “aesthetic experience [becoming] more important than the aesthetic object” and focusing more “on the receiving subject than on the filmic material” (131).

While editing, I realized that temporality and the application of the slow-motion effect are very connected to pleasure. I think slowing down a video is pleasurable because it gives the audience more time to dive into what they are seeing and experience or feel it with more impact, something that cannot be done in real life. This pleasure also seems to be connected to memory, a kind of database narrative – we select and combine specific moments that we remember to create an emotionally charged memory. There is also a type of blur in slow motion videos that can even relate to how memories are not sharp images on our minds.

The video created a different kind of pleasure in line with its haptic quality, one that is not necessarily sexual. It is a pleasure of memory triggered by this haptic quality, of recalling the feeling of touch and having that come first, rather than a narrative. As I tried to augment the haptic quality of ordinary moments in life through playing with temporality, the video creates what I would like to call a “memory-pleasure”: a pleasure of emotionally carried senses being triggered by the memories related to feelings that the viewer associates to the images and sounds on the video.

Creating this video and theorizing about it confirmed to myself that theory is indeed a rich ongoing process of questioning, learning and unlearning. Every time that I watch it, I ask myself more questions and whenever I think I have a solid answer, I ask myself another question that challenges all my previous thoughts. It has been a very enriching experience that developed my critical thinking skills to a new level and I am only afraid to say that it has really taught me how to theorize because I know that I will then challenge myself and unlearn it."