I always felt that the TV show MIAMI VICE despite being known for its splashy neon colors is in fact an extremely dark meditation on futility and desperation. And the longer I watched I saw that this feeling of being caught in an endless return of the same is not only embodied by the characters who lose themselves in all those similar fake identities they have to take on repeatedly, but also in the show’s visual tropes, like the circling wheel of Sonny Crockett’s car that keeps moving while at the same time standing still in the middle of the frame. I knew these things.
But only when working on my little video essay TV DICTIONARY – MIAMI VICE I realized that in the seminal scene of the show we not only have all the visual tropes of the show but even a direct crossing-the-line that breaks with the 180-degree-rule: While in the first image the characters are driving from right-to-left (a direction, by the way, that feels like a backward movement) they are driving from left-to right in the next shot.
However, this break with the continuity system gives us the exactly appropriate impression: the feeling that these characters only pretend to move somewhere but are instead only going back and forth and moving in circles. On a journey where you move from right to left and from left to right at the same time there is no way out. Like riding on a möbius strip.
I am surprised, that I never saw it so clearly before. Once again, the video essay is not just the result or a representation of my research but is itself a form of research. While I was trying to show the things I knew, I encountered those other things I didn’t know before.