Cul-de-sac, A constructed work by Courtney Catherine
A cul-de-sac is a dead end, an inescapable position. This work is a playful exploration of the human psyche as a whole, looking closely at the unconscious self and shadow in relation to the ego. From a young age I have regularly experienced sleep paralysis and lucid dreams, the initial idea emerged as I felt compelled to explore this. As I wanted to better understand the human psyche my research was primarily based around the works of Carl Gustav Jung. Jung’s theories are referenced heavily in this film, including his ideas on the constructed self (ego), archetypes, symbols of the unconscious mind and synchronicity. All the content in this film is a meeting of my conscious and unconscious mind. Jung theorised that the unconscious and the shadow self are the parts of us that our ego or conscious self has rejected. This school of thought states that in order to be accepted into society we suppress aspects of the personality and this often is projected.
Through my research the work unintentionally adopted the theme of duality. As I engaged with the formal and technical approach to the film, I found myself blurring the lines between documentary and fiction film techniques. By using a shallow depth of field and a handheld camera I was playing with the aesthetics of a dreamscape and an observational documentary. Therefore, the theoretical components of the film are supported by the chosen aesthetics. Cul De Sac plays homage to Nouvelle Vague cinema, in particular Jean Luc Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967). This film challenges traditional cinema, it is highly conscious using actors as the objects of Godard’s own narrative. This notion can be deemed unethical, yet as filmmakers we are always negotiating this space as we construct cinematic worlds. Godard’s work is challenging, stylised and most importantly playful. Godard’s work doesn’t hand feed the audience he refuses to give them the spoon at all. Instead, he forces them to take responsibility for their own thoughts. Considering the divisive state of the world this is an incredibly important notion.
Cinema is unlike any other art form as it has the capacity to represent the realistic world, which the audience has deep association with. By engaging with imagery, the inner world can be revealed and transformed. This is evident as cinema has the potential to stay with us, when watching a film, we have physical emotional reactions. By reflecting on these experiences, the human psyche can be better understood. By using symbolism in this piece, image acts as a conversation between the audiences own conscious and unconscious mind. Much like Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About her (1967), there is an ambiguous nature to this film which forces the viewer to reflect. This work can be interpreted in many different ways as it is a meeting between image and viewer, there is no definitive meaning. A cul-de-sac may appear to be a dead end but really it is an invitation to go deeper.