William Heise’s “The Kiss," from 1896, is marketed in Edison’s film catalogue as an unforgettable film: “they get ready to kiss, begin to kiss, and kiss and kiss and kiss in a way that brings down the house every time.” A film about a kiss, a scandal for its time. This is not that film, but it's also about a kiss.
“The Kiss” is comprised of an experimental film and a photography series.
2020 | FILM | PHOTOGRAPHY | 08:50
a film by Miguel De
The Kiss: the obscene off the scene
Challenging or subverting the morality of the obscene and the explicit sex, I decided to create a film that gathered several hardcore pornographic films, using only kisses, in reference to one of the first commercial films in the history of cinema, The Kiss, by William Heise (1896), scandalous for its time for representing an explicit kiss on the big screen. Linda Williams, in Screening Sex (Duke University Press, 2008), argues that, in a way, this was the first porn film.
Williams analyzes the insistence of the sexual act in cinema and its relationship with pornography, and puts at the forefront the relationship between the showing and concealment of the sexual act in films. From that analysis, I question whether this game between seeing and not seeing, what is off the scene (ob-scene) and what appears in the frame, this idea that it is preferable to leave something to the imagination instead of showing everything , is it not a product of inherited morality, combined with the clandestine excitement for the forbidden fruit? As Foucault thinks the paradox between the immense production of discourse about sex and its concealment as a secret, the possible paradoxical link between the attempt of hiding representations of sex and the consequent burning curiosity in unraveling them is also interesting. It is curious, therefore, how in cinema the trend is to normalize representations of the sexual act and on the internet merely suggestive content is deleted.
In The Kiss, the sexual act is reduced to its eponym: a long kiss multiplied on several faces, several lips and tongues, saliva, moans, the sound as an assault on the senses. The paradox of the pure act, the kiss, in an impure, pornographic film, reveals that the “problem” is not the kiss as a concept, but its application in the various forms. The "socially accepted" form of the kiss is not any of these and the insistence on showing them, listening to them, culminates in a saturation that bothers. The fact that the fragments belong to porn films (an evidence for their formal characteristics presented in the first fragment), throws the film into the territory of discomfort, depending on the context where it is presented and whether that context is a social experience (cinema) or individual (computer at home), institutional (museum) or casual (social networks). If, again, the trend of cinema is to show more and more, defending itself in the simulation of the act, and therefore safeguarding the viewer from the unreality of what he sees, such as when we see someone shooting another person in a film, with The Kiss I propose to show as little as possible, but of an object in which the act, although we do not see it in this context, is not simulated, making us complicit in moral illegality. We don't see sex, but we know that it exists and happened, just as seeing an image from any beheading video made by Daesh is disturbing, even if we don't see the act itself. The comparison may seem absurd, but let's think about the terms and conditions of social networks that combine violence, hatred and illegality and sex in the same article of prohibitions. The shame of the body, an obstacle to divine aspiration, a fallible, earthly, impure vessel. Would this film be accepted on a social network? Is it more or less obscene than the porn films that compose it?