Lazy Suzy

Suzanne Doppelt



sight presumes a slight fissure and to start painting means to pierce a hole, one is enough to create a sieve, through it you watch history, the world or its reflection, its screen an unsilvered pane, the painting, a window that opens like an orange. Round, squared, a pyramid, or even a leaf of clover in the garden of the chinese emperor or somewhere else, it must give light, let in air, wind, scent but not too much, and sun, all the while framing the gaze, sight is always seeing through a hole of light. The painting is a window that contains another, its further pattern, wide open onto the landscape, a fragment of nature, fir and pines, rolling hills, varied greens, a river that sings, a bridge and rolling ground, the horizon line and the correct vanishing point, it's lovely to have so much greenery out the window of my room. With a 360 degree view, a panoramic vertigo that doesn't let up and again, watching the sky and up and down the street, each person who passes, a hat and a coat, a continuous ghost in streaks, you know it by its gait, motionless, well back in the shadows, the window replaces the walk, the theater, and everything else. To trace a frame is to open a window, 3 feet wide by 5 high toward the cold, a bright screen in a glass wall, leaning on it the better to see the world reflected, varied perspectives and their pictures; the translucent face, seen three-quarter, with and without contour, strictly obliquely presents a distinct form, a roman colossus. But what do you see? A large circle, 180 degrees in the sun, a canvas that forms the background of a system radiating dust and stone, a young man and an old one, it surges back, slowly magnetic, a socket, a single one straight on and strictly slanted, stunned, it's strange how things happen and then the forms they take. It was windy and the tense air hummed, sometimes one way, often another, the least insect was visible in the sky, but for the filming, the camera was put inside the sphere



balancing on each leg as if dancing, raise one up and don't put it down again, it's the ronde du pont, an old-fashioned 3-legged table stamps its foot and rises a whole 6 inches off the ground. Can you keep your lines coming from the table in its current position? Just lay your hands upon it, a real bit of legerdemain, and matter changes, the eye swivels, it's what gathers up the spheres as the ear does sounds and the illusions they cause, furniture adrift. Aerial, it glides in a circle, endlessly turning with its super-rotary lazy susan all around the earth, itself resembling a table or an egg, its borrowed light. Then landing on a mirrored carpet, one foot and then another, maintaining the night in furtive footsteps, dinteville, his beret lavishly adorned and de selve in a four-cornered hat. High up on the shelf, a globe and its satellites, 6 instruments for measuring the sky, and lower down, a lute, an open book, another closed, arithmetic for merchants and down near the ground, that object that defies the laws of weight, drawn and twisted like a nail of light



the ray emerges like an antenna, from the eyes, here, from the eyes, and propagates in a straight line or leaps without swerving from thing to thing or bounces back and forth and in between, vertiginous dazzle, the eye is a darkroom with a lens on one side and a screen on the other. All you need is some good sun and a tiny hole the size of a pin in order to draw an exact image of the world on the opposite wall, inverted but intact: a singular landscape well-lit, the colors, the shadows, the clouds, the ripples on the water, the flight of birds, all seen under a nicely brilliant sun. Like the owl's round eye even on moonless nights, the butterfly's, snow white, the spider's, jet black, and the fly's, a dome of mosaic vision, electric, panoramic, but blind beyond 5 feet. Or like cardinal colonna's, that grand bishop of bologna, on a piece of battered cardboard, wide-eyed and fixed, half-man half-beast when stretched, but cool and lucid when projected onto a column of glass. He could see through clothes and solid objects, his x-glance pointed as a ray, the light in spectral beams straight through the wall, underground, forms landing upon his stunning retina to photograph thought, the back of the moon, and to see as much in the clouds as in the leaves of tea. My eyes fill with tears; at what should I look? The damp eye cuts everything up one thing entire into many different objects - it's a better witness than the ear, especially in daylight, the imaginary ball that travels back and forth along a curving line, the park repainted green, its plants poised, a stain like a face, the void. It knows just what's missing from the painting, and in its place, puts cubes, spheres, cones - geometry is the real science of the blind and grows them by degrees, one explosion and one precipitate. Looked at straight on, it's a jumbled mix, like a felted carpet, an expanse of marks, dashes, swirling traces in black and white, the mixed ray in a frameless rectangle. The more one looks with a fixed and wide-eyed gaze, the less one sees, white on white, an open chasm, or black on black without end; there's got to be a trick therein. But looking at what? For example, that flying-saucer-shaped object hovering, actually basking, in its own light or perhaps a dark patch in the grass that looks like a face, the dead eyes turned inward. Reality is just a matter of fine-tuning, the reduced passage from one world, a gigantic painting, to another by simple rotation. And you see an object better by looking at it from the corner of your eye or with your hands, the eyes at the ends of your fingers, paws the equal of any mole who digs his underground network of straight lines and curves, echoing the spider's imprisoning weave, a darkroom for resting, one hallway for hunting and another for flight, familiar paths that it travels in every direction, blind


detached, the sun is eclipsed when the moon locks in, below, in a straight line, its masked light reflecting as in a glass, a mirror, a shadow's stain rearranging the landscape, the gleaming cubes, cones, and spheres branding the ground, and the sun multiplies itself through the trees. It's what gave aristotle the idea of a pierced box, a lovely little scientific toy: everything outside comes in and everything inside then leaves, the leaves and branches, the animals and faces, the enemies' armies, amazing information. Every little thing is visible, a tree trunk and the ants dancing a round, a 10-gallon tank and water running down the gutter, the light frames and floods the screen, zooms in on the streetlight, dazzling, a blinding discharge that then disappears in a sudden glaze of ice, the moon passes in front, igniting three minutes of nighttime at high noon in aden, five in florence. The temperature drops, the air changes color, insects stop in their tracks, birds fall to earth, and the dew strikes again. A silence different from every other silence, a gleam more matte than any other gleam, tending strongly toward violet, as before any disaster, the horizon changes and all feeling goes flat. Someday I'll make a film staring straight at the sun, a film about cruelty and its perceptible qualities - its grandeur and structure, even when the moon's shadow takes it out of the sky, plucking it from sight. And finding it again as the moon slides sideways, events evaporate, replaced by their birth-place, but remain in space, or look into a mirror, round for the sun, square for the moon, such graceful and charming illusions. When everything is perfectly aligned and the moon is as flat as a leaf and slides into the shadow of the earth, it disappears, then re-emerges an hour later in the half-light, a striated ghost and slightly stained, to regain its luster at a later time



seeing always happens through a small hole, first there was one, the wall fixed, then the door above, the one through which real thoughts leave, with a silent doorman, then they built the café, there was a cashier, 3 waiters, 2 pinball machines, and the customers, it's all made just for the hole, it's all for that. A house is pierced by just such things, doors and windows, all quartered, it's their emptiness that makes them useful, that lets the dense, luminous rays slip through, any object, a chair stretched till it becomes a bench, statues, cities, and forests. A simple model made of a screen with a peephole, two men at work in the stifling cavern of the room, a needle sunk into the wall, the straight lines running across it, the world that passes, in pointillism and perspective, through the monotonous flapping of the door. So go on in and let yourself be guided, kings never touch them, it turns and turns on itself, an endless revolution, the entrance and exit a single thing, and its center beats hard like a machine, it's the round on the bridge.

translated from the French by Cole Swensen


All images by Suzanne Doppelt.



Suzanne Doppelt is a renowned Paris-based contemporary writer and photographer, and currently professor of photography at the European Graduate School EGS. Suzanne Doppelt studied philosophy and became a teacher of literature and philosophy in Paris. It was during her time as a philosophy and literature teacher that she became interested in photography and decided to pursue a second career as a photographer. This decision led to a new picto-literary style in her work, which can be seen in her books Totem (2002), Quelque chose cloche (2004), La 4e des plaies vole (2004), and Le pré est vénéneux (2007). Suzanne Doppelt also works on ghosts and what the fantastic logic of their appearances and disappearances might imply for an economy of the living.

Cole Swensen is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, most of them focused on a single issue or question—formal gardens, illuminated manuscripts, the manufacture of glass, etc. Her most recent book, Gravesend, looks at the cultural history of ghosts, and her current project, Landscapes On A Train, melds photography and text to engage landscape as a fluid medium. She divides her time between Paris and Providence RI, where she teaches in the Literary Arts Department at Brown University.