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A responce to;

The Black Mirror

Focusing on themes from the film ‘Drowning By Numbers’ Peter Greenaway


This book is a theoretical response to the project ‘the black mirror’. we were asked to watch one of four possible films, upon watching the film ‘Drowning By Numbers’ I proceeded with development and reduced the film to its core themes. In this book I intend to express each theme individually using multiple media To help represent the films attitude and feel. Those themes will be of: Order Chaos Passion Control Conspiracy And rhythm. My hope is that after reading this book you will have an understanding of some of the messages of the film and understand how I have interpreted the material, I have used multiple media and techniques, and through the course of the project developed my own visual language, this should become apparent as you read this book. Our first theme is that of chaos, what it is and how it relates to the film.

Definition order: -An authoritative direction or instruction; command; mandate. -A command of a court or judge. -A command or notice issued by a military organization or a military commander to troops, sailors, etc. -The disposition of things following one after another, as in space or time; succession or sequence: The names were listed in alphabetical order. -A condition in which each thing is properly disposed with reference to other things and to its purpose; methodical or harmonious arrangement: You must try to give order to your life.


Description previous page: Using the concepts of numerology, patterns, rhythm, sex and control, I compiled this image. The zebra is natural yet has a pattern and unique rhythm that is distinctly animalistic. The buildings also have a distinct pattern. But this time of a very different nature, one of control and confinement, this and the pattern itself is quite numerological, and his draws the eye towards the saint, in prayer, back and white still and surrounded by parallel lines, she embodies repression and condemnation, the power of women and sex-denied. This also correlates with my own beliefs about the church and its use as a tool of manipulation and control, confinement. And in the foreground we have a twisted naked figure, in full colour, her vibrant form of course represents sexuality, being in the foreground as it is in nature and the film. She is faceless however, her head replaced with a gigantic black and white eye, staring. Indicating yet another system of control. Description page right: This image is conceptually similar to the previous one, in fact several key elements have been lifted from it. However in this image there are three female heads floating ethereally above the image, as-though they are ‘above’ the situation, this reflects the role of the three female characters in the film. I have represented the women differently, one (top left) is beautiful and alluring, but her perception is rigid and self serving, this is denoted with a grid in place of her eyes. To the right of her you can see the essence of the same woman’s face constructed from grids and patterns. Showing her nature more clearly, the element of a people that demand order, measure. But still she has red lips and seductive eyes, as she is still a woman. And bottom left is the merging of the two, we can see she is a woman, but her face has been compartmentalised and areas of grid cannot help but emerge and a dominating eye stares off the page. In this image I decided to highlight the outline of the woman’s figure to draw attention to her female shape, and how it contrasts the gridded theme.


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eo f ut Cha ter l a c - An k of confu os: y -T si o ma he infi confus rganiz on or d tter atio ed, nity iso ed suppo of sp disord n or or rder, a the a s d tota exis ed to ce or erly m er l o f a h r o t -O bso dered ence o ave pr rmles ss s ece u lete f d: a nivers the cha e sm or a bys s

Description right: This piece is intended to express the element of chaos inherent in the film. Many games are played in the film by the boy character ‘smut’ that have such convoluted and variable rules that often they resemble chaos, but as with any system of chaos, if one observes from a distant enough perspective, patterns emerge, as in a fractal, chaos becomes order and order into chaos- this concept can be inferred through specific dialogue throughout the film, as well as in smuts games. A girl counting stars says “Once you count the first hundred, all the other hundreds are the same” This image, although chaotic at first glance, closer inspection will reveal recurrent patterns, images and overall compositional balance. The image is a concentration of several key elements of the film, it features butterflies- to represent elegance and women (the film is laden with butterflies) alongside grids, repetitive patterns and mathematical equations, bringing a sense

of ‘order’, in spite of that order being fragmented. There is a female form and fiery reds, embodying passion and sharks and tools, representing danger and conspiracy.


Description of piece, right; Chaos is this image. A torrent of numbers and information overwhelm the space, with chaotic background textures and a repetitive base that holds up the woman that focuses the image. The colours of sketchy patterns in the background correlate with those of the woman, suggesting she ‘women’ give some relief from the chaotic and overbearing world beyond the intimacy of sex. However this world is not free of its own politics and struggles for control. To show this I covered the sensitive parts of her ( eyes, crotch) with more patterns and confusing numerical jargon. I believe this is how the director ‘peter greenaway’ sees the world and that is what im trying to demonstrate here.


Definition of passion; A very powerful feeling, for example of sexual attraction, love, hate, anger, or other emotion: An extreme interest in or wish for doing something, such as a hobby, activity, etc.

Description of piece, left; In this piece the eye is immediately drawn to the gun, a weapon, used for violence and control. However from the barrel of this gun springs snapshots of the female form, in held in splashes of pink and purple, with numbers and sequences falling from the page, this image expresses passion as an explosive and dangerous force. But still with heavy overtones of a method of control, as used by our female characters.


There are multiple women in this representation of passion within the context of the film. Large , bright and in the foreground, a beautiful and glamorous woman, she is, as in the film, the most powerful element of the composition. Overshadowed by her is a strong looking man displaying a dominant posture, almost satirising the idea that men are the dominant sex, whilst true men are generally physically stronger, women ‘hold the keys’ , and combined with cunning and a sense of sisterhood, are inherently the dominant sex. (I believe this is the main concept communicated by the film.) This is represented with the sharks circling him, showing his impending danger, and his head as a skull, showing his inevitable fate. The skulls attention is cocked away from the ‘main’ woman in the image, and towards the numerousness of women in the background, showing his promiscuous-ness, and a possibly reason for his upcoming unfortunate end.


Definition of control; -To exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command. -To hold in check; curb: to control a horse; to control one’s emotions. -To test or verify (a scientific experiment) by a parallel experiment or other standard of comparison. -To eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of: to control a forest fire. -Obsolete . to check or regulate (transactions), originally by means of a duplicate register.

Description of piece, right; The background of this image is littered with examples of different methods of control, organization and compartmentalization, this is all forced from focus however by the delicate female form, literally framed, in the centre. The idea here is that the control a woman may hold over a man super-cedes all other forms of influence or control that said man might be under.


Another image representing order. Resting in the centre of the page is a moth, witch are integral to the film, I believe representing decay or betrayal. Contrasting greatly with this is a pair of giant red pliers on top, being licked with a female tongue, this is very suggestive, I believe the way the pliers are spread hints towards a woman’s spread legs. Accented in this way by the tongue, however they are also very foreboding and violent to look at. Again this illustrates the women’s use of sex as a tool to there own ends and even as a weapon (in the film). At the end of the antennas of the moth are women’s eyes, suggesting a sense of dominance and a woman’s uncanny awareness. You can also see that this whole image is rooted by the hands holding the pliers. A woman’s hands.


Dentition of conspiracy; -The act of conspiring. -An evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot. -A combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose: He joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government. -Law. An agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act. -Any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result. Description of piece, right; This piece shows two women standing alongside one another, with intertwining hands covering each others crotch. This is supposed to indicate the conspiracy between the women of the film. To that end we can see two clouds ‘of thought’ emerging from there heads and merging into one. There are some things in this cloud like the sign for man and a heart, showing the different motives the women might have, such as love or lust. We can see the womens’ crotch are covered by butterflies, these combined with the third butterfly hovering between there heads, with a pair of scissors for a body, symbolises the mens imasculation and metaphorical castration.


Definition of rhythm; -Movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beat, accent, or the like. -Music. A. The pattern of regular or irregular pulses caused in music by the occurrence of strong and weak melodic and harmonic beats. B. A particular form of this: duple rhythm; triple rhythm. -Measured movement, as in dancing. -Art, Literature. A patterned repetition of a motif, formal element, etc., at regular or irregular intervals in the same or a modified form. -The effect produced in a play, film, novel, etc., by the combination or arrangement of formal elements, as length of scenes, speech and description, timing, or recurrent themes, to create movement, tension, and emotional value in the development of the plot.

Description of piece, left; In this image I was focusing on vertical lines and trying to express rhythm, within the context of the film, if we start with the vertical lines of the white paper already there is a steady rhythm, overlaying that is a somewhat ‘faster’ pattern of rhythm and this introduces us to the woman, the focus of the page, she is colourful with long slender legs, that harmonise with the vertical lines. To the left of the image are three staring woman’s eyes. These represent the three female characters in the film, in the top left of the page and on the top layer , contextualising the image and emphasising there significance. Whilst also you could say adding to the images ‘tempo’, in the background are some loose numbers that follow a steady rhythm, these lead us to a grid of repeating ‘sorry’s’ being observed by a deflated looking man, this relates to the film and the theme of female power through out.


Summary In summery the film ‘Drowning by numbers’ by Peter Greenaway is a complex journey of symbolism and metaphor, a deeply personal representation of his personal world view. It is idealistic in style and created a strange, twisted version of the world. The director seems to be interested in the power of woman and his relationship with them, he also seems to have a mistrusting and suspicious outlook. Death is also a big player in the story, and is coupled with a lot of sex, binary opposition occurs through out the film, as the main concepts are order and chaos, passion and control. I chose to respond to the material in the media I did, photographic collage/ digital manipulation, as I felt this best represented the fragmented but idealised, colourful execution of the film, I believe this was very effective at presenting an overly glossed image and thus communicating the source material.


Black mirror - a response