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Sarah Pucill
Despite the dramatic rupture of Pucill's third film, Backcomb, formal values and a rigorous formal analysis seem to be restored in the subsequent film, Mirrored Measure (1996).

Here the concern is with continuity; and the development of the two films is quite different. Mirrored Measure starts with a similar opening image - a woman lays a cloth over a table - but where Backcomb was in colour this is in monochrome. An old and a young woman, more or less still, are seen as elements in a sequence of correspondences and associations, each holding a glass of water or a jug at the table. The context is evoked through a play between image and sound. This creates expectations for us as viewers - a certain woman holds a certain glass of water, a certain glass of water makes a certain sound - but the associations are played with and challenged. No help is given. A thread of sound associates the women with the objects, as if a finger circles the rim of a glass, reflecting its volume of water through a fluid tone. This sound also evokes an interior space: the subjective spaces of - or the space between - the two women. But by crossing over from one glass to another, and cutting between shots of the women, the associations and relationships are made uncertain. And while the water in each glass creates a horizontal level and framing device for the camera, by the end of the sequence it is turbulent like the sea, and it comes out of an eye.

"The first four films had a starting point in a single or still image. ... This was partly because I was working with animation at the time, and ... the film would start with or come back to that. I would let the image work on its own, and see how that's going to affect the film ..."

Despite its formality, Mirrored Measure challenges our notion of rational certainty; and the factor of oscillation is made only more explicit in the structure of the film. By introducing people into the composition, Pucill creates a diagram of subject positions, including our own as viewers: one which introduces another level of instability into the image and challenges our cognitive abilities. She mentions an ongoing interest in theories of subjectivity: " In critiquing the [humanist] idea that subjectivity is unified and separate, I wanted to look at the links. ... In Mirrored Measure there is a slippage between mother and daughter, in Swollen Stigma a lesbian element, in Cast a bleeding between subjectivities ..."

Both Backcomb and Mirrored Measure deal, in different ways, with the impacts of the external world on interiority and the creative imagination. The complex exchanges within these films alert us to the way in which Pucill is using her films to explore the production of subjectivity through these visual processes. This is a pointer to this theme in the rest of her work. Her films deal, in different ways, with the construction of the self in relation to the world through visual images; and they are used to picture and reflect her own subjectivity with a critical eye for the parallel processes of film-making: the formation of mental images as representations of the external world; and the formation of psychic images or phantasies from the imagination. This is taken further in the later films, where Pucill stages key exchanges in the formation of her own subjectivity with the use of performers. In Cast (1997) and Swollen Stigma (1998), she explores the position of a woman who looks at, and is looked at by, other women, where the image of a woman forms the content of her imagination and her means of self-reflection: the subject matter of the film.

Still from Mirrored Measure by Sarah Pucill, 1996
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