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UNDVIDED ATTENTION: THE ART OF LUKE FOWLER

Still from Luke Fowler’s All Divided Selves, 2011, HD video, color and black-and-white, sound, 93 minutes.

LUKE FOWLER’S All Divided Selves, 2011, a ninety-minute film centering on the once-notorious “antipsychiatrist” R. D. Laing, divides documentary filmmaking against itself. Assembling archival footage of Laing, his critics, and his freewheeling treatment sessions, the Glasgow-based artist offers an intricate composite of clashing opinions and incompatible filmic registers, weights and counterweights. For seemingly every clip of Laing calmly unpacking his thoughts on, say, schizophrenia and the military-industrial complex to a (typically hostile) interviewer, there’s a fusty mainstream psychiatrist spewing scorn. If a stretch of footage features Laing’s patients taking a sanctioned ramble through mazy verbal abstractions or getting thumped on the back of the head by a group-therapy leader—Laing advocated such protocols in lieu of medication or conventional therapeutic

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