Chris Basmajian / Work /

Looking Back (Series)
Interactive video (video camera, proximity sensor, projector, custom software, computer, film and text excerpts)

Looking Back is a series of interactive video works which explores the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the writings of Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Zizek. As viewers approach a camera, they discover how their location alters the layers of representation of the piece, and how their motion affects the flow of images and text.

This series contains excerpts from the Hitchcock films Vertigo, Rear Widow, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Psycho, and the Birds, excerpts from these films' respective screenplays, and excerpts from the book Look Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan Through Popular Culture by Slavoj Zizek.

Quicktime 7 is required to view the following documentation.


"The abyss Scottie is finally able to look into is the very abyss of the hole in the Other (the symbolic order), concealed by the fascinating presence of the fantasy object. We have this same experience every time we look into the eyes of another person and feel the depth of his gaze."
—Slavoj Zizek, from Looking Awry

Rear Window

"The whole final scene, in which the murderer approaches as Jeff attempts desperately to stop him by the dazzle of flashbulbs, is shot in a remarkable, totally "unrealistic" way...This renders perfectly the immobilizing, crippling effect the fantasy object has upon the subject: from the interpretive movement induced by the ambiguous register of symptoms, we have passed over to the register of fantasy, the inert presence of which suspends the movement of interpretation."
—Slavoj Zizek, from Looking Awry

The Man Who Knew Too Much

"This is the point at which the observer is already included, inscribed in the observed scene—in a way, it is the point from which the picture itself looks back at us."
—Slavoj Zizek, from Looking Awry



"In what does this scene's "uncanny" dimension consist? Could we not best describe the effect of this scene by paraphrasing the words of Lacan: in a way, it is already the house that gazes at Lilah? Lilah sees the house, but nonetheless she cannot see it at the point from which it gazes back at her."
—Slavoj Zizek, from Looking Awry

The Birds

"Thus the birds, far from functioning as a "symbol" whose "signification" can be detected, on the contrary black, mask, by their massive presence, the film's "signification," their function being to make us forget, during their vertiginous and dazzling attacks, with what, in the end, we are dealing: the triangle of a mother, her son, and the woman he loves."
—Slavoj Zizek, from Looking Awry