The Poetics of Noir

by Dean Kyte



In this video essay lifted from a page of his journal, Melbourne writer Dean Kyte recalls a random encounter with a local during a late-night flânerie through the Sydney suburb of Paddington.

Watch the video on Vimeo:


As I walked Buster around Paddington after midnight, a girl—drunk (though I wouldn’t have known it if she hadn’t told me)—buttonholed me in Josephson street, beside her house, to pat the hound.

—He’s so cute, she said. You should bring your dog to the Village Inn.


—The Village Inn.

I didn’t know where that was. I didn’t bother to tell her that he was not my dog, that I was a stranger here. I didn’t say much of anything. I was tired and wanted to go to bed—mine, not hers.

She thumbed the code to her door and let herself in.

The prowling instinct, that catlike sensibility, an intuitive awareness of ‘the wonder’ lurking in the banality of the city at night, overtook me. In the play of light and shadow, in this unremarqued miracle of chiaroscuro hiding in the corners of the night, out of the sightlines of the drunken revellers, in these ‘miracles of ordinariness’, the flâneur finds some ephemeral bellezza. I guess the ‘poetics of noir’ is this ‘blackandwhite sensibility’, an awareness, an intuition for how scenes, exsanguinated, bled of their colour, may be abstracted to their essential elements and lineaments—the play of light and shadow.

And when I consider the girl in Josephson street, in an opportunity either missed or declined as she left me in sole possession of the quiet, melancholy street, lonely yet ‘friendly’, that abstraction into light and shade is the ability to perceive the mood—the essential mood—of places.


released June 30, 2020
Michelangelo Antonioni: Sound of wind in trees from the movie “Blowup” (1966)

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Dean Kyte Melbourne, Australia

Dean Kyte is a writer, artist, filmmaker and flâneur.

He is the author of five books and two collections of short films.

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