Optic to Haptic Cinema (OH Cinema)

27 May–16 July 2017 / Casco HQ

In the transition to Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, we imagine the social experience of “commoning” and the forms of practice it might take within an art institution. While embracing the commons as an active, living process, we ask what Casco can offer to inspire self-organization. How can Casco’s building be engaged to create spaces to be together and relate to one another, within and beyond the exhibition form? How can we support the necessary acts of communication, experimentation, conflict, and negotiation, while working in common? Here, we envision communities that govern resources and how they are used.

The infrastructural experiment Optic to Haptic Cinema (OH Cinema) is established over the course of the exhibition period. It is a venue for a revolving film program and ad-hoc events and activities, providing occasions in which seeing becomes “touching.”

When attending to embodiment and sense perception, the division between optic and haptic vision is less defined. For instance, in admiring a lover or when a memory is triggered by a photograph, the optic (sight) slides to haptic (touch, smell, and taste) disrupting our figure-ground relation. Inspired by the theory of haptic visuality within intercultural cinema,[1] we think about film not just as a visual representation of experience, but supporting a physical and multisensory embodiment of culture. During exhibition hours, OH Cinema will screen the film El botón de nácar (The Pearl Button) (2015) by Patricio Guzmán as one of two contributions from Terra Critica (Casco’s “affective community” with Utrecht University). We envision the space of cinema also as a site where other kinds of collective engagement can occur, and we warmly invite you to join us!

[1] Intercultural Cinema, a term coined by Laura Marks, include films which, when dealing with the power-inflicted spaces of diaspora, (post- and neo-)colonialism and cultural apartheid, are concerned with embodiment and sense perception. In her book The Skin of the Film (2000), Marks offers a theory of “haptic visuality,” “a visuality that functions like the sense of touch” to explain the ways in which intercultural cinema represents embodied experience in a postcolonial, transnational world.


The Casco program is supported by Mondriaan Fund, the City Council of Utrecht, and DOEN Foundation via Arts Collaboratory.

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