Roland Barthes explained the “Effect of Reality” as a way to establish literary texts as realistic.
He said that some descriptions, in novels, have no other reason than to make us feel it’s a real place.
“…in one of his novels Flaubert describes the room of his main character and mentions a pyramid of boxes and cases standing under a barometer. These kinds of details are called notations by Barthes; he contrasts them with the main outline of the story, which he labels predictive, probably because on this level we can make certain predictions about the development of the story.”
F. R. Ankersmit
- We find this “tool” in some Antonioni’s movies, L’Avventura or L’Eclisse for example. A scene lasts a little to much. The camera shows something (a gaze, a street) without “real” reason. No other reason than this : suddenly you “feel” as if you touched reality, getting out of the-dream-of-watching-a-movie.
- We find this “tool” in Hopper’s paintings. For me, it’s his main talent, asset. We watch : some people are here, just “being” – they wait or think, who knows? These paintings stop you, wondering what these people do, if they’re bored…
- We find this “tool” in Chekhov’s short stories. His descriptions are not here just to “paint the scenery”, but (and very shortly/effectively) make us feel something. So much that I remember plenty of places of these books!
Of course, it’s used in many other art pieces and form.
I think this is linked to our idea of boredom. In Antonioni we often watch someone doing nothing – breathing, watching something, thinking. It breaks the usual “flow of events” we often see in movies. Or we see a conversation leading to nowhere. Blank seconds. We see people dealing with boredom. And maybe we are hurt, of surprised, or… bored a bit. And it’s an effect of reality, right?
Sometimes it’s just “a place shown”, like in Hopper‘s work. The light on a wall suddenly makes you “feel” the place. You can almost hear the little wind, or the street, the sea. It’s as if your brain suddenly touched the reality he wanted you to feel.
What will we do with this? Why and how does it work? Why is it… good? What about photography? One purpose of it could be to “make us touch” reality, instead of amazing us? What do you think?
Thanks for reading!