Paraphrases – Containment (Kissinger)

These stills are from a short film that combines video footage of an artist building a studio with audio recordings of spoken paraphrases of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of containment. It is part of a project from 2014 including four other films.

The artist built the studio to create a space that would be private and contained, in which to develop new art work. It took several years to build.

Containment is a widely used term with several meanings, each of which is specific to a particular context and discourse community. The articles paraphrased in this project are from different fields. In this particular film the article is from the field of politics, and was written by Henry Kissinger.

For this project I asked people to read an article (each person read a different one) and then to explain it to me in their own words. These participants range widely in age and experience with academic discourse. Their paraphrases vary in terms of how close they are to the original text. Some participants made careful and accurate representations of the subject matter in the article; others used the article as a starting point and invested their paraphrase with more of their own ideas.

The practice of paraphrasing can be seen as a key part of our engagement with art. The Italian philosopher Della Volpe wrote about what he called ‘critical paraphrase’, a process of identifying the core of a piece of work (essentially what remains of it when we strip away superficialities). By extension, the sense a viewer makes of a piece of work could be seen as a paraphrase of the actual work she sees; and, for the artist, the work he makes could be seen as a paraphrase of the intensions he had for the work.

The film is viewable on Vimeo.


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