Introduction

This can be applied in various ways as a working method- depending really on what is being juxtaposed, and the nature of the juxtaposition. As with the method of ‘framing’ – this term functions both literally and metaphorically. The most literal form of juxtaposition is visual juxtaposition, when two elements are brought together into some kind of interaction on the page/screen. The ensuing formal tension can work metaphorically to imbue the narrative with a deeper sense of suspense. This can also be applied to other elements of the visual narrative; creating a tension between the aural and visual qualities of a sequence, or even between two aural elements, such as two voices or two soundtracks. Usually – different levels of juxtaposition occur within the one narrative simultaneously. Just as Hitchcock created localized and meta-suspense within the one film – formal tensions also work on multiple levels to create points of focus within the sequence as a whole.

Juxtaposition can also be applied to less visible aspects of a visual narrative; a tension between story and plot. Subtle renditions of juxtaposition are created by playing with the clash between the narrative and the mode of narration.  Manipulating narratorial point of view can create suspense by bringing to the audience’s attention the friction between a story and the telling of the story. Juxtaposing two tones/genres/styles in the one narrative creates a similar effect.

Juxtaposing two or three points of view creates this tension even more overtly. By re-telling the story from various perspectives, the breadth of the original tale gets cracked wide open. The audience can tread the line between the fictional novel and non-fictional story at its core – and then be pulled back once again to realize they are hearing the voice of the author talking about his own life. This is reminiscent of the final scene in “The Wizard of Oz”, when Dorothy wakes up in Kansas and realizes the world she thought existed was in fact fictional, though overlapped with the real world being inhabited by non-fictional characters. [show image] Through different projects, I experimented with testing out different modes of juxtaposition in the service of creating visual narrative.

 

a. Multiple Points of View; Modernism, Cinema and Kurosawa

Modernism in the cinema may be said to begin with a re-examination of a structure based on flashbacks in order to bring out the ambiguity inherent in the construction of a narrative out of images derived from different points in time or differing personal viewpoints.” (p114; Kurosawa)

The method of telling a story through multiple perspectives is a modernist narrative practice (see 2.1; Modernist Narrative Forms). In Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon – one can observe the principles of fragmentation and multiplicity in shaping the film’s story. Following the first plot re-telling in Rashomon, “each subsequent plot reconstructs major story elements and implicitly deconstructs the other versions. Thus the progression of plot constructions also traces implicit forms of rebuttal.” Kurosawa plays with different forms of juxtaposition – by not only re-telling the same story through different narrators, but also shifting the mode of narration of these speakers. The three narrators at the gate, the priest, the commoner and the woodcutter tell the same story with their own motives  - bringing up the paradox of representation for the viewer.
Kurosawa therefore uses the juxtaposition of modes of narration to create a sort of conversation of voices, rather than a cacophony. In other words – multiple viewpoints do not overlap confusingly; this multiplicity actually works to ‘construct’ the story and flesh out its dimensionality. It becomes a three-dimensional object the viewer can walk around and see from different perspectives, rather than a closed system.