Looking with no eyes
the Lacanian gaze and the problem of the formalization of the visual field
Psychoanalysis has always been based on the eclipse of the visual and on the primacy of speech: this is evident in any clinical session where the patient should lie on the couch and never look the psychoanalyst in his/her eyes. The work of Jacques Lacan though, is strangely full of references on the visual field and on images: from the text on the “mirror stage” in the Forties to the elaboration of the visual dimension of objet petit a (gaze) in the Sixties. As a consequence a long tradition of film studies made reference to Lacan and used psychoanalysis as a tool in order to explain the inclusion of the subject of the unconscious in the experience of vision. What is less known is how the late Lacanian reflection on the topic of analytic formalization opened up a further dimension of the visual that goes beyond the subjective experience of vision: not in the direction of a mystical ineffable (the Real-as-impossible) but rather toward a subtractive mathematization of space, as in non-euclidean geometries. The outcome sounds paradoxical but it can have major impacts on the way we understand the visual field and we represent it in visual studies: sometimes abstract formalization can help us looking at the space even better than our eyes.
Pietro Bianchi (Bergamo, 1979) defended his PhD in Audiovisual Studies at the University of Udine-Gorizia (Italy) on May 14 th 2012 with a dissertation titled Can Images Be Thought? Jacques Lacan and Film Theory: Imaginary, Gaze, Materialism (supervisors: Mladen Dolar/ Francesco Pitassio). He was a researcher fellow at the Theory Department at the Jan Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht in 2009/2010 where he conducted together with Giuseppe Bianco and Tzuchien Tho the monthly seminar Versus Laboratory . He currently works as a film critic for the monthly magazine Cineforum and he is in the Editorial Board of the cultural journal Le Parole e le Cose. He also writes about cinema for the journals Filmidee, Cinergie and La Furia Umana. Since 2012 he is a member of the Scuola Lacaniana di Psicoanalisi (Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis) in Milan.