Mostly known for his experimentations with ‘maladjusted’ individuals and autistic children, and for his influence on the revolutions in post-war psychiatry, Fernand Deligny was neither director nor scriptwriter, certainly not a historian of cinema; his writings do not constitute a theory of the image. Nonetheless, cinema is constantly called into his practice, and images can be regarded as one of the main sources of his conceptual reflection. Deligny’s experimentations take form also through and within cinema; he elaborates on the image to reflect on autistic perception and memory and to radicalize his critique of humanism and discursive language.
In the 1955 manifesto ‘The Camera, a Pedagogical Tool’, Deligny emphasizes that the camera is a ‘dispositif’ (apparatus) mediating collective relationships. Later he uses the neologism ‘camering’: ‘I maintain that camering doesn’t come to an end and it’s perhaps here that it differs from filming’. He favours the tool over the finished object (the film) a non-subjective and endless action, cinema as process.
In his social, pedagogical, and clinical experimentations, the energy mobilized through the cinematographic practice does not exhaust itself in the effort of creating a film-object. Freed from the need to produce a finished film, it is the ‘film to come’ that is emphasized. The film projects in turn structure Deligny’s experimentations inasmuch as they emancipate them from their supposed aim — that of normalizing psychotic or re-educating deviant subjects.
This workshop proceeds from the idea that tools can establish new forms of mediation between the members of a group, installing a scene and a milieu. The presence of the tool — the camera in first place, even when used ‘without film’ (taking over thus the gesture of the Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov) — prepares and structures modes of action, it installs the milieu ‘there’, wherever it is wielded. Can Deligny’s practice, with all its implications, suggest new forms of social, political, clinical, and pedagogical interventions through mediation that construct or assemble milieus?