What is lacuna? Week 1.

The definition of the noun lacuna in English is :

1 An unfilled space; a gap.
1.1 A missing portion in a book or manuscript.
The definition of lacuna in  medical terms:
2 A cavity or depression, especially in bone. [1]

The term “Lacuna” derives from the Latin for “hole” or “pit from lacus lake. It was first used to describe missing text and appeared in Lauderdale Papers (1884) [2] Sir Robert Moray wrote: “You do well to leave no lacunas in your letters”.  Gaps in manuscripts (lacunas) can be done intentionally and unintentionally. Often decay and weathering to old passages of text can be responsible for lacunas. Alternatively lacunas can be used on purpose for example children’s books often have words missing in sentences blank spaces underlined for the student to them fill it in for educational purposes.

My interpretation of a lacuna is the modern day intentional use of lacuna to create a or enhance a human emotion whether its suspense , mystery or confusion.  Music in history has often used lacunas as a extended passage in musical work during which no notes are played. The most famous example of this is John cages piece (4’33) that I consider a piece made entirely out of lacunas. [3]

A more modern example is Radio heads use of lacuna in their “Motion Picture Soundtrack”, the last track on the album “Kid A” . Radiohead’s use of heavy music is juxtaposed with this 2 minutes of silence . The song is 6:56 minutes long with silent gaps from 3:15—4:18 and 5:08 till the very end 6:56. Radio head have used lacuna as  “negative music” to create a sense of serenity and build tension and it is a strong contrast to the “normal/heavy”  music that plays after the silence and in the rest of the album. This forces the listener to pay attention and reflect on the way the song is delivered and performed rather than just the beat and music. [4]

After researching the term lacuna and its definition as well as examples of how it is used. I am taught the important of silence and gaps and the idea that having nothing there effectively making the  listener or consumer come up with thoughts to fill the gap can be more effective in creating more off an impact. Silence and forcing someone to reflect with their own thoughts can  or be me more powerful than filling it with with your own pre convinced thoughts.

[1] Oxford University Press. 2017. English oxford dictionaries: Lacuna. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/lacuna. [Accessed 1 March 2017].

[2] Full text of “The Lauderdale Papers”. 2017. Full text of “The Lauderdale Papers”. [ONLINE] Available at: https://archive.org/stream/lauderdalepapers01camduoft/lauderdalepapers01camduoft_djvu.txt. [Accessed 1 March 2017].

[3] YouTube. 2017. John Cage’s 4’33” – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTEFKFiXSx4. [Accessed 3 March 2017]

[4] YouTube. 2017. 10. RadioHead: Motion Picture Soundtrack – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ju8xO_Zvfo. [Accessed3 March 2017].

W1 Interpretation of Lacuna.

Lacuna. A simple word used to describe ‘space’ or a ‘gap’. Visually, lacuna conjure up the notion of a missing presence or of a mist of unknown substance. It’s quite interesting to then discover how lacuna is present in the world of still and moving images. Lacuna is a glue that binds pieces to a cohesive whole.

Continue reading “W1 Interpretation of Lacuna.”

La Jetée by Chris Marker: Plot Summary

This week we analyzed the film La Jetée. The film takes place in a devastated Paris, after a fictional nuclear war has taken place. The survivors are separated into victors and victims, scientists and test subjects. These tests take the form of experimentation in time travel, where the victim must endure physical and psychological investigations of their body and brain. There is a consistent eerie tone to this film, created by the still images, the music and the narration.

The images, rather than moving film, trap this work in a foreign, past era. The pictures are dreary, stunted, sinister and mysterious, they are linear in order, beginning in a macro lens, setting up the story for the viewer. They then fade into close-up, emotive imagery, mostly of our main character (as seen below)

(Koyama, 2012)

(Koyama, 2012)

The music plays a really large part in this film; orchestral, rising, swelling and falling, the watcher is heavily informed of mood and tone due to the eeriness of the choir, or dreariness of the brass. The voiceover work is a mixture of a narrator, and then, at times, there’s an eerie whisper. This whisper is often in the ‘present day’ scenes, when the test subject is clueless to the plots of the scientists, and we as the viewer are slightly more clued in.

The powerful utilization of still imagery in La Jetée allows the viewer to rest and pause in these stunted spaces, it let the directer show more completely and compactly both “action and reaction… thereby [enabling him] to distill down to the raw, honest, and most candid emotions of the actors’ facial expressions in his chosen images.” The simplification of film draws us into a much more sensitive understanding of sound and sight. Hence, when there’s a break in music, or pause in the imagery, we notice straight away.

Oxford Dictionary, ‘Lacuna’, viewed 20 March 2017, <https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/lacuna >.

Quirk, C. 2014, ‘The Role of Emotion in Oppression in Marker’s La Jetée and Sembène’s La Noire de…’, Film Matters, vol. 7, pp.41

Vimeo, ‘Le Jetée by Chris Marker’, viewed 20 March 2017, <https://vimeo.com/31209852>