This essay was originally organized around the relationship between the images and the narration of Hollis Frampton's Nostalgia (1971), a 36 minute short film comprising one sixth of a larger cinematic project entitled Hapax Legomena. As I applied this question to Notalgia, I encountered a startling reversal in my thinking. It became clear to me that my understanding of what image means to narration (or, in a broader sense, what Structural Cinema means to narrative cinema) was predicated on the untested notion that language and image are fundamentally disparate elements, forced to coexist on the same piece of celluloid but, in the final analysis, basically foreign to each other. The extent to which this disparity is self-consciously displayed (either by elision, as in the work of Stan Brakhage who conspicuously avoids the use of narration altogether, or by subversion, as in A Film About a Woman Who... [Yvonne Rainer, 1972-74], which disrupts the soundtrack's coincidence with image by cutting into and out of narration in the middle of scenes, or narrating over black screens) seemed to me to mark an important difference between commercially-driven narrative cinema and the avant garde. What Nostalgia seems to occasion, however, is a conspicuous integration of language into the structural logic of film (it could also be argued that Yvonne Rainer has employed this same approach, but without the kind of explicitly registered schema that Frampton adopts - i.e. each segment of narration anticipating the image which follows it, and each image an echo of the narration that came before). In this regard. my original question about the nature of the relationship between narration and image was pressed into a slightly different shape - one that figures narration as a kind of off-screen framing, as integral to the overall structure of the film as the framing of images. What I hope to adequately explore, then, is not the extent to which Frampton coordinates the disparate elements of language and image, but the manner in which he deploys them as frames, to set apart levels of meaning, and the extent to which this kind of framing, or bracketing begins to suggest an infinite opening or expansion of possible sets of meaning. It also seems useful here to explore the manner in which this particular take on the function of narration distinguishes Frampton and his contemporaries from the older generation of structural filmmakers, and particularly Stan Brakhage, whose philosophical concerns were grounded in film's capacity to show apart from language.

The sieve of language
While considering the question narration and image, I came upon an article written by Annette Michelson in 1985 entitled Frampton's Sieve. She begins the article with a quote from Stan Brakhage regarding the work of Hollis Frampton. " 'Frampton,' Stan Brakhage in a conversation once declared, 'strains cinema through language.' "1
Michelson goes on to consider the possible connotations of the term 'strains', eventually settling on the notion of filtration. "The brewer," she writes, "would thus strain his juice through a coarse sieve, keeping back its grosser particles. We say that in so doing, he clarifies."2
I will not concern myself here with the merits of her argument, other than to say that the article deserves close attention for its illuminating treatment of Frampton's split from certain anti-narrative precepts of structural cinema (particularly in regards to Stan Brakhage). It is sufficient for my purposes to note that the model of language Michelson provides us - a sieve, or scrim of language that filters (whether to clarify or obfuscate) the visual - is merely one of several to consider in relation to the period of art history (the late 1960's and early 70's) in which Hollis Frampton's Nostalgia is inscribed. Indeed, given Frampton's own account of Nostalgia as a film that "represents a series of aesthetic postures disguised as a series of accounts of my life, my youth."3 , such a consideration of a larger art-historical context seems wholly warranted. A good place to begin such a consideration seems to be the black stripe paintings of Frank Stella (one of the artists alluded to by Frampton in Nostalgia ).

Beginning with the germinal Tomlinson Court of 1959, these paintings can be considered symptomatic of a larger art historical drift that posited art as a kind of epistemological project, a mode of investigation that shared something of the character of modern science. Saliently manifest in Grenebergian modernism, particularly in respect to painting, this account of the nature of art as both rationally progressive and fundamentally knowable was premised on a kind of introspection. In the case of Stella's black stripe paintings, with their self-reflexive, concentrically regressive frames, the shape of this epistemologism seems to be manifest in the order of self-knowledge. In other words, the kind of clarity that Stella and his most vocal proponents aspired to was grounded in painting's intimate knowing of itself - of it's own constitutive terms. In some ways, Stan Brakhage can be seen as rarefying his own medium in an attempt to glean the clarity of a pre-lingual experience - an original form of knowing.

Language as ground
The implications of art's epistemological predilections in relation to my discussion of Michelson's sieve become clear when we consider Stephen Melville's account of the philosophical shift that altered the way language was received in respect to the visual (and, I would argue, marks an important difference within Structural Cinema between someone like Brakhage and someone like Frampton).
In an article entitled Aspects, Melville notes:

The mid-to-late sixties saw this epistemologism increasingly complicated and modified by the emergence of a rather different philosophical temper. Its specific difference from the mood I have been exploring lies in its refusal of this fundamentally epistemological orientation (a refusal, then, to identify self-criticism with self-reference) in favor of a different imagination of how language matters for an apprehension of the visual: language is more nearly taken as a condition of a thing or a work's appearing (its being what it is) than as the screen, transparent or opaque, that stands between us and things, even threatening to supplant them (as well as more simply standing between us as the limit of our communication).4

This shift, from language as a screen (or "riddle"5 as Michelson has put it) to language as the absolute precondition of visibility, as that which makes the visual visible (as a work, or, more simply as a presentation), is evinced in the difference between, for instance, Jasper John's Jubilee (1959), and Joseph Kosuth's Five Words in Blue Neon (1965).
In the first instance, Johns seems to privilege the visual, to direct the viewer's attention to the object (in both the literal and art historical sense) painting as way of gathering the words orange, blue, red, etc. In the second instance, Kosuth anchors the work in language (the phrase FIVE WORDS IN BLUE NEON is rendered in blue neon, predicating the appearance of the piece), and the experience of color, of the visual, seems to vacillate between concurrence and estrangement. Or, better still, consider Bruce Nauman's photograph entitled Waxing Hot, from a series entitled Eleven Color Photographs (1966-67/70) . This is perhaps particularly relevant to my discussion of Nostalgia, in the sense that Frampton was clearly thinking of Nauman's Eleven Color Photographs , and of Nauman's relationship to Stella in at least one segment of the film. The segment in question displays Frampton's photograph entitled A Cast of Thousands as it is reduced to ashes on a hot plate, and pairs the image with narration having to do with a portrait, also taken by Frampton, of Frank Stella blowing smoke rings. A portion of the narration reads as follows:

Looking at the photograph (of Frank Stella) recently, it reminded me, unaccountably, of a photograph of another artist squirting water out of his mouth, which is undoubtedly art. Blowing smoke rings seems more of a craft. Ordinarily, only opera singers make art with their mouths.6

The photograph of the artist squirting water from his mouth to which the narrator refers is Bruce Nauman's Self Portrait as a Fountain (1966-67), which is part of the Eleven Color Photographs series I have noted above. The image that is presented concomitantly with the narration (yet out of synch with its diegetic function), namely Frampton's Cast of Thousands, is a photograph of a cast of the numerals 1,000, appearing twice, in relief on a white plaster square. The photograph bears a striking resemblance to Nauman's Waxing Hot , which, as previously mentioned, is also a part of the Eleven Color Photograph portfolio. In Nauman's photograph the word HOT is cast in wax as three free-standing letters. Along with the letters, there is an open can of what we can safely assume is butcher's wax, and a pair of hands busily at work buffing the letter O with a white rag. Returning now to the question of language in relation to these images, or, more precisely, to the philosophical and rhetorical structure that grounds the possibility of these photographs, we can see that the "aesthetic posture" that Frampton represents here is one that presupposes language as a determining agent. In fact, both A Cast of Thousands and Waxing Hot depend explicitly, as visual puns, on language to justify their appearance as works. In this regard, the narrator's musings on Frank Stella can be reagrded as a parting shot at a different aesthetic posture, one that assumes (and here we return to Stella's black stripe paintings) that self-referentiality is self-criticality (as Greneberg's Radical Self-Criticality) and that the epistemological function of art can and ought to be the result of each medium knowing itself fully. The purported resistance of this kind of model to the tug of language is demonstrated by Stella's adamant refusal of any interpretation of literal - or perhaps I should say literary - content in these works. What you see, to quote Stella's trademark axiom, is what you get. This insistence on the primacy of materials, of the constitutive authority of the medium, is, perhaps, what Frampton refers to when the narrator in Nostalgia states that "Blowing smoke rings seems more of a craft" - a mastery, in other words, of the materials and conventions of a given discipline. Therefore, as with the rings of smoke, the concentric rings of Stella's black stripe paintings evince a mastery of material and not much more. Nauman's squirting water, on the other hand, is said to be "undoubtedly art".

Framing the visual
It is important to recognize here that the whole project of representing "certain aesthetic postures" is in fact a matter of rhetorical framing. It constitutes, in this respect, a very particular aesthetic posture itself, one that demonstrates an intimate exchange between the visual and the discursive, a reciprocity between image and idea. This exchange between image and idea can also be seen as a circular exchange between the visible (the image), the not-yet-visible (the image invited by narration in this case, but also the imaginable in a general sense), and the utterly nonvisible (in Nostalgia this manifests itself in a number of ways - for instance, the final image we are never given, but also the out-of-frame that exceeds, always, the duration of particular films and, in a more profound sense, the duration of our viewing).
Frampton himself seems keenly interested in the out-of-frame, this space that particular films inaugurate but never reveal. In an interview with Peter Gidal published in issue 32 of October magazine, Frampton made the following statement:

I do carry along a ghostly freight of possible films that could have been made with the same material, the film I made is nevertheless the one you see. And presumably I have made the specific film out of the directly implied possible films. Not your guess, but my direct implication, for a specific purpose, you see. At this point I'm very interested in the why of a specific thing, the why of the cloud, the cluster of films that exist virtually...7

This statement was made in relation to a conversation about Nostalgia, but its sentiment re-emerges later in the interview in respect to Poetic Justice, a work in which the pages of a film script are presented for the audience to read:

These sheaves of paper are also a way of mediating the still life which we see and the imaginary film which you do not and which is totally loose, of course. Each one will presumably have a different illusion of an illusion...8

This comment speaks to the visible and the not-yet-visible in respect to the film frame, and even though we're never shown the scenes described in the script, they remain nevertheless conceivable, or imaginable, and in this sense, showable. But something else seems to be intimated in the final scene of Nostalgia - perhaps, to borrow a phrase from Gilles Deleuze, "a more radical elsewhere"9 . For while the narration makes most of the final out-of-frame photograph imaginable, the interest it holds for Frampton is ultimately beyond substantiation on purely visual (i.e. imaginable) terms.

The out of frame
Consider for a moment the following passage form this final scene:

When I came to print the negative an odd thing struck my eye. Something, standing in the cross-street and invisible to me, was reflected in a factory window and then reflected once more in the rear view mirror attached to the truck door. It was only a tiny detail. Since then, I have enlarged the negative enormously. The grain of the film all but obliterates the features of the image. It is obscure. By any possible reckoning it is hopelessly ambiguous. Nevertheless, what I believe I see recorded in that speck of film fills me with such fear, such utter dread and loathing that I think I shall never dare to make another photograph. Here it is! Look at it! Do you see what I see?10

I do not wish to deny the possibility that certain autobiographical readings may be applied to this passage in particular, but also to Nostalgia as a whole. Indeed, Frampton himself has offered this as one possible ingress to the work.11 But the final scene in Nostalgia is such a salient feature of the film's overall structure that it would be difficult to ascribe it to autobiography alone (or even primarily). Given Frampton's obvious interest in the out-of-frame, and given the complex way he works the issue of framing in the visible and the imaginable (within the visible frame of the film he situates interior frames - photographs and film scripts - while integrating the out-of-frame - the image not yet seen, but implied by narration, or the image described and imaginable but not demonstrated image as script - within the overall structure of Nostalgia and Poetic Justice respectively) it seems that a deeper understanding of the final, virtual photograph is warranted.
Frampton hints at a more explicitly metaphysical reading of the out-of-frame in the Gidal interview. Here he discusses his interest in a Latin treatise entitled Light, or the Ingression of Forms :

The key line in the text is a sentence that says, "In the beginning of time, light drew out matter along with itself into a mass as great as the fabric of the world." Which I take to be a fairly apt description of film, the total historical function of film, not as an art medium, but as this great kind of time capsule. I was thinking about this, which led me later to posit the universe as a vast film archive (which contains nothing in itself) with - presumably somewhere in the middle, the undiscoverable center of this whole matrix of film-thoughts - an unlocatable viewing room in which, throughout eternity, sits the Great Presence screening the infinite footage.12

One way of thinking about this kind of out-of-frame, the one in which each film - each conspicuous act of framing - is linked to every other act of framing, actual or potential, is to refer to the writings of Gilles Deleuze.
In an essay entitled Cinema and Space: The Frame , Deleuze defines the notion of frame as follows:

We will start with very simple definitions, even though they may have to be corrected later. We will call the determination of a closed system, a relatively closed system which includes everything present in the image - sets characters and props - framing. The frame therefore forms a set which has a great number of parts, that is of elements, which themselves form subsets.13

In regards to Frampton's Nostalgia and Poetic Justice we can see this kind of framing amply demonstrated. In each case, the film frame is carefully composed, and in a certain sense closed - at least in the respect that the audience is not asked to imagine an out-of-frame beyond the specific confines of the given image. Seeing the unseen aspects of the desk in Poetic Justice , or glimpsing a more articulate depiction of the space around the hot plate in Nostalgia is, in other words, beside the point. On the other hand, the integrity of the filmic set in these works is troubled by the presence of different explicit subsets within each frame (the rectilinear subsets 'photograph' and 'paper' are inserted into larger set defined by the form of the projection itself). This gesture works to paradoxically define the possibility of discrete sets, while also abating the complete closure of any given frame. As Deleuze has noted:

Doors, windows, box office windows, skylights, car windows, mirrors, are all frames. The great directors have particular affinities with particular secondary, tertiary, etc. frames. And it is by this dovetailing of frames that the parts of the set or of the closed system are separated, but also converge and are reunited.14

The implications of what I have been discussing so far in relation to Deleuze can be ascribed to the visible modes of framing already discussed. But they can also be extended into not-yet-visible but imaginable modes if we think of narration or text as subsets of the cinematic frame itself. In this regard the presence of the images in Nostalgia and Poetic Justice are only fully sensible in relation to the virtual images (narration in the first case, or the text of a script in the second) in their immediate proximity. But what of the utterly nonvisible, the presence which cannot be located (in Frampton's 'screening room in the sky' metaphor), nor substantiated visually (as in the case of the mysterious figure in Nostalgia )? Delueze takes this up in the following passage from Cinema and Space: The Frame -

In itself, or as such, the out of field already has two qualitatively different aspects: a relative aspect by means of which a closed system refers in space to a set which is not seen, and which can in turn be seen, even if this gives rise to a new unseen set, on to infinity; and an absolute aspect by which the closed system opens onto a duration which is immanent to the whole universe, which is no longer a set and does not belong to the order of the visible... In one case, the out-of-field designates that which exists elsewhere, to one side or around; in the other case, the out-of-field testifies to a more disturbing presence, one which cannot even be said to exist, but rather to 'insist' or 'subsist', a more radical elsewhere, outside homogenous space and time.15

Ultimately, the final frames in Nostalgia (the seen photograph, and the virtually seen narration) intimate the possibility of an unknowable sublime, of the photograph or film which can never be made and which belongs to an order beyond the visible that nevertheless makes seeing possible, and extends the act of framing into an infinite and terrible duration.

Annette Michelson, "Frampton's Sieve," October , XXXII (Spring,1985),pp.151 - 166
2. Ibid.
3. Peter Gidal, "Interview with Hollis Frampton," October , XXXII (Spring,1985),pp.93 - 118
4. Stephen Melville, "Aspects," in Reconsidering the Object Art, ed. by Ann Goldstein and Anne Rorimer (Cambridge Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1996), p.236
5. Annette michelson, October , XXXII (Spring,1985),pp.151-166
6. Hollis Frampton, from Nostalgia , 1971 (16mm, 36 min., b/w, sound)
7. Peter Gidal, "Interview with Hollis Frampton," October , XXXII (Spring,1985),pp.93 - 118
8. Ibid.
9. Gilles Deleuze, "Cinema and Space: the Frame," in The Deleuze Reader, ed. by Constantin Boundas (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993,) p.178
10. Hollis Frampton, from Nostalgia , 1971 (16mm, 36 min., b/w, sound)
11. Peter Gidal, "Interview with Hollis Frampton," October , XXXII (Spring,1985),pp.93 - 118
12. Ibid.
13. Gilles Deleuze, "Cinema and Space: the Frame," in The Deleuze Reader, ed. by Constantin Boundas (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993,) p.173
14. Ibid., p.175
15. Ibid., p.178