The Blue Voyeur (2016)

Solo exhibition at Atelier Nord ANX, Oslo. With the video work Fading Dream, The digitalized Super-8 films The Blue Voyeur I and II, two denim quilts with peepholes to see the films, and a fanzine with a text by Nicolas Siepen and visual contributions from Sara Ursina and Jørn Tore Egseth. Exhibition Sound Design by Jørn Tore Egseth

TBV.jpg
ANX5.jpg
ANX.jpg
ANX8.jpg

The Blue Voyeur's Evil Eye by Nicolas Siepen

The Walls of the cells are made of heavy stones, solid and wet. The massive doors are made of rusty metal. Walls and doors lock and separate the captives from each other and also lock and separate the guard with and from them. In each cell there is one wounded prisoner of love, forced to surrender in solitude, but two tiny holes, legal and illegal ones, organize a whole system of surveillance and flux of desire. The peepholes in the doors put the guard in the position of a voyeur. He can see the prisoners suffering in their isolation and he enjoys the look of desire in vain, which makes the bodies locked and shaken by a restless stasis, until they run hot. When prisoners are hot and red, the guard is cold and blue.

His gaze is an instrument of torture that offers a fake solution for the desire to be circulated, a misguided way out, a dead end forever. This sadist gaze takes not only pleasure in the suffering of the prisoners’ madness of wasted longing, but it also splits the eye from the gaze, or more precisely, makes an evil use of the split between the eye and the gaze that has always existed. Seeing without being seen is the formula for a unilateral power relation and the expression of the deadly coexistence of prey and predator. If the gaze detects the prey, it is often already too late. This spell can only be broken when the guard unlocks the door and steps into the cell, armed with a gun, ready to force the prisoner to have sex. The prisoner can only escape this deadlock by drilling a tiny hole into the wall of the neighboring cell. He hides the hole with some chewed bread, and he uses a straw to blow the smoke from a cigarette into the other cell, right into the mouth of another, unknown prisoner. This exchange has to be secret and hidden from the evil eye and the restless lurking gaze. That is the only way to get relief, but its in no way a real solution. Its just an escape into an illusionary kingdom.

That is the other way to break the spell, to produce a secret and invisible short circuit between the cells so that, for a short moment, the tomb of the living dead is filled with too much joy, and the evil gaze has to suffer its exclusion from the scene unconsciously. In this manner, the prisoners cannot see but rather feel each other, and the guard can see but not feel them. The prisoners can see the guard only when he comes out of its shadow. That is the only moment of vision as "reversibility", and the body is both subject and object, the seeing and the seen. However, despite the reversibility of the seeing and the seen, it is the possibility of being observed which is always primary. It is a constant threat and violent act. Outside the cell system, this articulation of the gaze is still in action and entails that the human body is determined through a gaze which places the subject under observation, causing the subject to experience themselves as an object which is seen. Or as the psychoanalyst Jaques Lacan puts it: “The gaze alienates subjects from themselves by causing the subject to identify with itself as the objet a, the object of the drives, thus desiring scopic satisfaction.”1 (Love song, film by Jean Genet, 1950)

Everything begins with a giant eye on the screen, staring at you. Still in the outside world, the figure covers his eyes with a cloth and thusly terrifies the people he meets on his way through the staircase. Finally, he finds shelter in a tiny room in the house. Here, the old man with the eye-patch and the hat (Buster Keaton) is revealed. Now he tries desperately to escape the omnipresent real and imagined gaze of the Other in all forms. There should be no eye and hence no gaze and therefore no split between the eye and the gaze. Even a kitten has to be chased out of the room. This cell has a door that can be opened, but the old man tries voluntarily to suspend the outside world. Even a photo of an eye is too much and has to disappear. However, the given-to-be-seen co-exists in relation to an internalized or imagined gaze. Even when all eyes disappear from the world, the gaze would still insist on existing (the objet a always sneaks back in). Even if he would cover his second eye as well, rendering him blind, he would still be haunted by the gaze. When he sits in his rocking

chair, he realizes that his attempt was doomed right from the start, and he gives up. What is left is the terror of the gaze in its pure form. The spectacle of the world appears as all-seeing. Yet, in constructing the human subject as this objet a, the gaze denies the subject its full subjectivity. The subject is reduced to being the object of desire and, in identifying with this object, it becomes alienated from itself. This means that even if one locks oneself freely into a prison cell, one cannot escape. This depiction of the intermediate space between the eye and the gaze can be identified with the space of the screen itself. Therefore, it is consistent that, at the end, the eye fills this screen again. (Film, Film by Samuel Beckett, 1965)

Finally, the three figures find themselves together by chance in a motel in the middle of a rainy night. On the surface, this looks like a normal business encounter between the guest and the owner of the Motel Norman Bates, but the horror lurks already in every pore of the exchange. Bates has something to hide from the concrete eye of the stranger and from the universal gaze as such. In fact, he has to hide something from himself, from his own eye and internal gaze. In a way, he embodies the split between the eye and the gaze with his entire existence. He is wandering between the flat, modern motel and the old Gothic house on the hill, between his eye and the gaze. In this manner, the female guest (having a secret herself) is an intruder right from the start, because she represents a threat to the balance Bates established between the eye and the gaze, his terrifying split identity. Conversely, she does not realize how dangerous he is, because she is too preoccupied with hiding from the police. When she realizes the real double nature of Bates identity (mother and son at once) it is too late; he is already leering through a secret peephole in the wall. To us, he just looks like a passive voyeur who wants to see a female stranger naked. We too are clueless; we do not see it coming. The gaze is already on the hunt and creeps from behind. Later she takes a shower, and through the semi-transparent plastic curtain, we can see a blurred figure approaching her. When she realizes that he/she is there, ripping off the curtain, the first stroke of the large kitchen knife and her erupting in screams becomes one and the same reality. She is killed. It is agonizing to see her agonized. In the end of the vicious attack, we see the blood running down the drain in a swirl, which then becomes her dead eye, staring at us from the screen. Someone had to die in order for the gaze to find rest, until someone else shows up. (Psycho, film by Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

So when you are gonna peep through the hole to see the super 8 films, be aware; the The Blue Voyeur is coming for you. He is already behind you. The Blue Voyeur is you as the Other on the screen of your unconscious, a love song of a psycho whispered to himself through your ear and presented to your eye, when it is too late.

(The Blue Voyeur, by Vebjørn Guttormsgaard Møllberg, 2016)

1. Lacan, Jacques. "The Split between the Eye and the Gaze,"(1964). In The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis.