Lens revealing power in Antonioni’s Blow-Up
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Teoria Crítica e Cinema



The conflict of the image, which historically oscillates between realist and formative tendencies, is invested by the power that the lens offers the photographer as a means of scrutinizing the captured physical reality and producing an appearance of material reality as not perceptible to the naked eye. This tension between a monstration device whose function of revelation passes through the lens of the camera-cinematograph and the physical reality will guide the reflection. To this end, I will take charge of the treatment of this specific capacity of the cinematographic camera in Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni. My problematic will consist in showing how Blow-up gives shape to the concept of the “cinematographic approach” through the disposition of a “medial photo-cinematographic” constellation, which considers together photography and cinema as “technical recording material device, optical-mechanical vision devices recording on a physical matrix (by chemical revelation)”. This link between image and physical matrix deploys in Blow-up photographic technical transfers such as “enlarging” and “cropping”, producing an enlightening towards the unlimited “endlessness” of the technical capacity of enlarging (to blow up) and cropping (to crop), paradoxically opacifying the “readability” of the cliché. This impossibility to “make-see” or “see-true” comes up against the “truth of the instantaneous”, singling out oneself the photo-cinematographic approach via the unstaged. Both of these photographic practices are invested by Antonioni in the manner and style of revealing a usually “voyeuristic” viewpoint in the face of the technical configurations and the photographer’s own work in his reading of the image. The tension between “desire to see” and “impossibility to read” is resolved by the intensification of the unstaged as the presence of “that which is not staged” releasing the energy of the raw material of the physical reality captured by the technical expertise of the filmmaker - mediated by the character of the photographer. This is how I will show that Blow-up is not simply a film, but the shaping of a concept.

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