SourcesFiction is the form of any work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not ‘real’, but rather, imaginary. Realistic fiction is supposed to simulate reality, or events that might conceivably happen, and is therefore connected to the idea of mimesis. However, both representation as imitation of reality, in the sense of mimesis, and purely fictional narratives- in the forms purveyed by the film and TV industries- may be seen to be highly questionable. Mimesis is no guarantee of privileged access to “objective”, “scientific”, “true” accounts of reality, and for their part, media products (and even more so, “reality TV” shows) are riddled with all kinds of racial, social, cultural and nationalistic clichés and stereotypes. So a reflection on fiction and mimesis should open a space for deconstructing both categories and simultaneously expanding their potential, questioning their structures and introducing new devices, as reflected in some artistic experiments going as far back as the 1960s. To name but a few: the hybrid “faux documentary” genre where fictional events are presented in documentary style; re-appropriations of archive footage that challenge or reinterpret dominant historiographical narratives; experiments with voice performativity; techniques of off-camera narration that highlight the artificiality of the moving image; or the whole range of alternative, critical imaginaries developed in science-fictional narratives.
Genealogies of practice
- La Jetée ("The Jetty"). (Francia / France) Chris Marker, 1962
A science fiction parable on the present, the past and the future of civilization. Constructed almost entirely from still photos, accompanied by voice-over narration, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel. In a destroyed, post-apocalyptic Paris where survivors live underground, only escape through Time offers a possibility of survival. A prisoner obsessed with a scene from his childhood is sent to different time periods "to call past and future to the rescue of the present".
- Aftenlandet ("Evening Land"). (Dinamarca/Denmark) Peter Watkins, 1977
A drama film depicting fictional political events in the style of a documentary, Aftenlandet shows 1970s Denmark becoming an authoritarian, quasi-fascist state in response to the threat of social dissent perceived as terrorism. At a time when the fictional elements in the film’s plot- workers’ strikes, anti-nuclear protests and terrorism- were hotly debated issues of great actuality, Watkins challenges their media representation, dominated by what he called the monoform- the internal language-form (editing, narrative structure, etc.) used by TV and the commercial cinema to present their messages and elicit highly controlled, predetermined responses from viewers. Filmed with a cast of 192 non-professional actors, Aftenlandet continues the exploration of the fictional documentary form initiated with Culloden (1964).