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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDouglas
Le Détroit (Douglas, Stan), 2001Nosferatu (Murnau, Friedrich Wilhelm), 1921

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a co-actor invisible to the celluloid protagonist and leaving behind no lasting impression on the film. Once the viewer steps out of the light, the film runs on, repeating itself infinitely as if the connection had never been established. Nothing follows; the surface of the footage is not even scratched. What remains is the impression in the viewer's mind, irritating enough to disrupt what was seen on the screen. Reviews of Shirley Jackson's novel repeatedly admired the way almost all the phenomenal occurrences in the haunted house also permitted a rational explanation. Our movement through the installation space thus enables us to elucidate the story being recounted. But we cannot help the protagonist, even if the many camera angles enable us to see more, and more clearly, than she does. On the level of the set, our advantage is demonstrated when the camera pans through a wall into another room: when we are shown the hidden package, whose presence in the wall Eleanore can only guess at, or at most probe with her fingertips. We also see the consequences of her passage through the house, the changes made and subsequently revoked when she leaves. The sheet of paper and the clothes


point to past occurrences beyond recall. The only thing not blotted out is the footprint.

Reference systems

«Le Détroit» represents a passage from one world to another. The second world is parallel, but the wrong way round. Mirrored, on the one hand; gone negative, on the other amounting, in terms of film-stock exposure, to a reversal. While this simultaneity of the positive and negative plot is Stan Douglas' ingenious invention, the insertion of negative film into positive footage has historical precedents. The device was perhaps most famously deployed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau in «Nosferatu», his fantasy film of 1921. In order to make visible the bizarreness of landscape, the uncanniness of nature, Murnau copied negative film into the copy at the point where a horse-drawn coach is conveying the property broker's clerk through a haunted forest to Count Orlok's castle. This coach journey is taking the broker's envoy into the sphere of power of the metaphysical become incarnate he is leaving the sphere of apparently rational common sense. Douglas' film echoes this early fantastic film

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