What if everything important took place outside the frame? Not in what we’ve photographed, captured, committed to memory, but rather in the fleeting impressions and movement of life, the infinite maelstrom around the edges. Let’s expand the frame, take a step back. Ok, we’re living in a time of conformist dumbing down. Ok, reality is becoming impoverished as it is shrunk to fit our screens. So just switch everything offjust as some rock stars request when a constellation of cell phones lights up after the venue goes dark. To protect the feeling of togetherness, the ability to listen, the song. The world is on a quest for what’s off-camera. When Nadar, an avid balloonist and brilliant photographer, boldly chose to blur his images, he was seeking the light of the soul. When the Impressionists did their own take on blurriness, it was to render atmospheric movement. Degas, who collected photographs, altered vision and the relationship between seeing and being seen. Through high-angle shots and low-angle shots and different angles altogether, he reframed, framed asymmetrically and captured the imperceptible. But the magic of what’s off-screen truly erupted in the movies. To underscore the dramatic importance of the off-screen, Méliès stretched string to mark out the frame and insisted that his actors not cross these lines. Off-screen sound, used masterfully by Hitchcock, warns viewers and/or actors of unseen dangers lurking. Off-screen is an imaginary place, the key to dreams (and fears), evidence of a viewer’s foreknowledge of things unknown to the on-screen protagonist; it encompasses frustration, heightened desire and potential pleasure all at once. It adds space to space and mystery to the invisible. To really see, let’s get rid of the black frame and cross frontiers to “Reach a vibrating point zero within oneself . . . / Entirely still in the heart of the absolute star / The empty point supporting life and form / Which, depending on the circle of torments, becomes / The secret of blind metamorphoses” (Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, poet and founder of the literary movement Le Grand Jeu).