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Between graphic arrangement and film: Thom Andersen’s Flicker
Polonyi Eszter, 2021, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Abstract: When the California-based filmmaker Thom Andersen made his documentary Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer in 1973-4, he recovered an aspect of Muybridge’s work that most viewers had not seen before. Projected on the screen at the top of the theater, these iconic nineteenth-century chronophotographs were allegedly first seen in movement. Viewers could watch as his half-clad and nude subjects lifted water buckets, walked up and down stairs, ran, stood, heaved, threw, jumped, crawled and kicked. Throughout the film, Andersen shows each action multiple times, so that an athlete, for instance, leaps his hurdle firstly slowly, then at increasing speeds. Almost none of the sequences appear in the tempo in which they might have taken place in front of the camera. And, despite this being omitted from reviews, many of the passages drop to frame rates below the minimum necessary to sustain the illusion of motion, dissolving Muybridge’s images in a pulsing, jagged flicker. If Andersen’s recovery of Muybridge’s image sequences continue to appear spectacular, this is because watching the motion studies suddenly lurch into moving images proves just how little their “movement” can be explained by a history of the “movies.” This paper examines Andersen’s film as a way into an alternate genealogy of the moving image provided through the phenomenon of the flicker. As has become increasingly clear with the publication of a recent anthology of his critical writings (Visible Press, 2017), Andersen was part of a generation of North American filmmaker whose practice and writing resonated with the academic critique of the film apparatus as it began to emerge from France in the 1960s and 1970s. The fixed temporal parameters of film consumption constituted a recurring consideration for Andersen, for whom “clocked” time literalized the destructiveness of capitalism’s “eternal present” (review of Christian Marclay’s The Clock, 2011). His recovery of Muybridge, for which a frame-by-frame projector allows Andersen to reconstruct what were this pre-cinematic recording systems’s famously arbitrary time intervals, is read within the context of such a critique but also of an emerging tradition of expanded cinema practice. To this effect, comparison is made between Andersen’s process and the efforts of Tony Conrad in the 1960s to research the frequencies at which human vision registers photocelluloid film’s flicker. Conrad’s ability to produce the flicker is ensured not by modification of the projector’s microtemporalities, which would have restricted the number of projectors on which he could show his flicker film, but through alterations at the level of the photocelluloid. Both Andersen and Conrad are shown to turn the basic apparatus into a rhythmic instrument by accessing its frame rates through what I argue is a graphic rather than filmic method.
Found in: osebi
Keywords: History of American cinema, avant-garde art, media archaeology, Eadweard Muybridge, Thom Andersen
Published: 13.01.2023; Views: 210; Downloads: 0
.pdf Fulltext (55,18 MB)

The ‘Physiognomic Fallacy:’ An Archaeology of the Photographic Identity Document
Polonyi Eszter, unpublished conference contribution

Abstract: In an era of allegedly total surveillance (Goh, Galloway), possession of a biometric identity document can still result in being denied one’s identity or being mistaken for someone else. States have been outsourcing the processes of civic management and local governance to artificial intelligence corporations with increasing intensity since the pandemic despite awareness of systematic errors committed by facial recognition software, a “coded” bias (Kantayya, Buolamwini) that risks the further effacing an already marginalized population of non-white and non-gender conforming subjects. The project this paper is based on returns to the time it first became standard practice to validate state-issued ID documents using facial analysis in Europe of the 1920s and 1930s. While at this time images derived from human heads in photographic albums, personality tests and facial atlases purportedly aimed to record personality and character, they nonetheless often instructed their readers to locate these in parts of images that remain disconnected from the head, such as hands and feet, hair, clothing or in the subject’s immediate environment. Drawing on the concept of conjectural knowledge (Ginzburg), embodiment or tact (Balazs) and the optical unconscious (Benjamin), the project seeks to locate the “physiognomic fallacy” (Gray) in early attempts at humanizing machine vision.
Found in: osebi
Keywords: History of art, critical theory, surveillance studies
Published: 13.01.2023; Views: 153; Downloads: 0
.pdf Fulltext (58,21 MB)

Franz Ferjan’s Color Stereography: Expanding Sensory Perception
Polonyi Eszter, 2022, independent scientific component part or a chapter in a monograph

Found in: osebi
Keywords: history of photography, Slovenian photography, stereoscopy, modernism, history of art
Published: 13.01.2023; Views: 150; Downloads: 0
.pdf Fulltext (2,98 MB)

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