Jacque Lacan derives the concept of the split by recasting central Freudian concepts such as unconsciousness and the compulsion to repeat. According to Lacan, one can hear the unconscious in repetitions, in the way desire has accommodated itself to the drives. The split that occurs in the subject in relation to the encounter enables us to apprehend the real, and through the split the real finds itself to a degree the accomplice of the drive. (p.69) The gaze is the lack that constitutes castration anxiety, and the gaze functions to determine the subjectivity of the human being within the "scopic field," the field associated with the scopic drive . (p.73) The scopic drive works in a similar way to the other drives, such as the oral, anal and invocatory drives.
Lacan appropriates Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological model of vision that identifies a fundamental "reversibility" in vision; the body is both subject and object, the seeing and the seen. Lacan takes up this notion of reversibility, but changes the emphasis of Merleau-Ponty's model through insisting that, despite the reversibility of the seeing and the seen, it is the possibility of being observed which is always primary.
Thus, Lacan asserts the pre-existence to the seen of a given-to-be-seen in relation to an internalized or imagined gaze (p.74) His formulation of the gaze entails that the human being's subjectivity is determined through a gaze which places the subject under observation, causing the subject to experience themselves as an object which is seen. "The spectacle of the world, in this sense, appears to us as all-seeing ...this all-seeing aspect is to be found in the satisfaction of a woman who knows that she is being looked at, on condition that one does not show her that one knows that she knows."(p.75)
The gaze alienates subjects from themselves by causing the subject to identify with itself as the objet a , the object of the drives, thus desiring scopic satisfaction. Yet, in constructing the human subject as this objet a , the gaze denies the subject its full subjectivity. The subject is reduced to being the object of desire and, in identifying with this object, it becomes alienated from itself.
Lacan's depiction of intermediate space between the eye and the gaze can be identified with the space of the screen. The screen such as of television, movie and computer is currently a particular site of media studies as an in-between space of projected and perceived images. Furthermore, its role can be extended to many visual media. Thus, Lacan's scopic field as imagery space is one of the primary resources to investigate how our subjectivity is mediated by the images appearing on screens.
Through the notion of the gaze, the representation of gender, sexual identity and human relations have been discussed through media in general. It has especially become a dominant tool for interpreting film patterns; it takes as a starting point the way film reflects, reveals, and even plays on the straight, socially established interpretation of sexual difference which controls images, erotic ways of looking, and spectacle. Even in the aspect of new media technologies such as the internet, ubiquitous computing, and remote sensing, the idea of the gaze unlimitedly extends its discourses to various forms: the object of information, the subject in communication, interactivity, and the centralization of power.