Totem 71

Crossing over the fourth wall

The fourth wall is a theatrical term referring to the imaginary wall separating actors from the audience. The wall is meant to help an audience suspend disbelief so that we may enjoy the fiction presented. 

In psychology, we tend to relax critical thought and respond aesthetically to a narrative. This helps dissolve our judgement of truth to remain absorbed in a story. Essentially, we rid ourselves of disbelief, awakening our mind from conventions and revitalizing it to a supernatural experience. 

In the scene, the photographer looks back at the viewer (we, the audience), breaking the fourth wall. Symbolically, the photographer and his camera are a microcosm of the fourth wall idea. So, we identify with him, as his situation is like ours. In essence, we sympathize; for just as he is a witness, we are witnesses.

His gaze then is instrumental, connecting us to him, and pulling us into the scene. And because we have opened ourselves aesthetically, and made the connection to the photographer, we cross over the fourth wall and enter the fiction. And here we stand now with the photographer, witness to the Totem in the distance, freely hanging outside of logic, floating in suspended disbelief, amongst the skeletons of the conventional world.