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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Telescopic Relationality: Visualizing the Archipelagic Americas in Burn!

  • Author(s): DeGuzman, Kathleen
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

This essay examines the narrative feature film Burn! (1969) to name a relation wherein the telescope serves as a tool for envisioning possibility rather than hierarchy. It argues that the film positions the telescope within its diegesis as a provocatively paradoxical tool of sight: characters use the optical instrument to magnify a vision of the archipelagic Americas without necessarily crystallizing the perceived image’s meaning. Approaching the practice of filmmaking as a symbolic telescope in its own right, the essay suggests that the broader implication of Burn!’s telescopic relationality is, once again, seemingly counterintuitive: it is a film that shows the Caribbean and imagines what it may look like after a revolution precisely in order to emphasize the phenomena of not seeing and not knowing. The film’s counterintuitive use of the telescope ultimately implicates viewers and compels them to understand islands in terms of alternative American connectivities rather than through discourses of insignificance.


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