From Still to Moving Image

Stop-motion animation: from a state of the art to an ideal process by Laura Saini/ Classical Hollywood as an Epistemological Network by Birk Weiberg/ Techno-human: New form of hybrid human; from science-fiction cinema to the post-modern society by Ozgur Caliskan/ Gestus by Hector Rodriguez/ From Still to Moving: An Almost Indistinguishable Moment by Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo
Tuesday, 20 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:45
Chair Person: 
Cinzia Cremona
Birk Weiberg
Özgür Caliskan
Hector Rodriguez
Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo

Stop-motion animation: from a state of the art to an ideal process

by Laura Saini

Stop-motion camera animation is a special animation technique where camera shots are made frame by frame. The camera is slightly moved between frames, and once these are assembled, it produces an illusion of movement. We are concerned with improving the existing stop motion camera animation practice. However, traditional animation methods in 3D software animation programs suffer from limitations. We present a state of the art for 3D animation of camera movements, outline its advantages and disadvantages in order to develop an animation interface capable to produce realistic camera moves. To this end we present an "ideal" process that overcomes the existing drawbacks and that is able to add constraints that greatly contribute to produce the imperfections and behavior of a real camera device. In particular, we are concerned with separating position and speed, as well as a curve representation that permits to control curvature. Linked to a motion control system, such a 3D animation method would produce realistic and handwork look camera moves for stop motion animation.

Classical Hollywood as an Epistemological Network

by Birk Weiberg

The technics of silent cinema and its ties to other media (photography, theatre, magic) have been discussed extensively as an intermedia construct over the last decades (Brownlow, Gunning, Robinson et al.). Early film theorists' quest for the essence of their subject has made it difficult to describe film as a self-sufficient phenomenon. In order to study mature cinema I take an approach that amends film analysis with methods of science and technology studies by means of looking at processes rather than results.

The proposed paper concretely focuses on the development of optical effects in Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s. What makes looking at effects within film production worthwhile is that they are not prerequisite but sought-after for various reasons and by various participants of cinema as a network. Not looking at film's more or less solid core (camera, projector) like apparatus theory in the 1970s did, but studying its periphery---i.e. techniques that 'come along'---enables a perspective that is neither essencialistic nor relativistic.

While silent film effects borrowed a good many of their techniques (glass shots, mirrors) from predecessors, the apparent hermeticism of the studio system found its equivalence in the self-referentiality of optical printing and process shots in the 1930s. Both of these techniques were couplings of the essential devices camera and projector but in closed circuit setups that carry out more copying and modifying than recording actions. Thereby film in its self-reliance turned effectively into image engineering and animation.

In my paper I will discuss structures, machines, people, and institutions than built this network. This includes namely the visual effects cinematographer Linwood G. Dunn, RKO Radio Pictures, the Acme Tool and Manufacturing Company, the United States Navy, and others. This research is part of my current PhD thesis Aesthetics and Techniques of Cinematic Composite Images at the University of Zurich, Institute of Art History. Coming from the field of media art myself I clearly regard this as a prologue to contemporary image media.

Techno-human: New form of hybrid human; from science-fiction cinema to the post-modern society

by Ozgur Caliskan

Science-fiction cinema has always significant role as an art form to define and discuss the future of interaction between human and technology; telling the stories of altered identities and expanded bodies for instance; Videodrome (1983), the Terminator (1984), Crash (1996), the Matrix (1999), Johnny Mnemonic (1995) and so on.  As science-fiction cinema promises, today, in the non-fictional world, human being is exposed by machines; cars, computers, mobile phones, networks, prosthesis and others. Therefore, body and identity of human is changed by technology, especially by digital devices and it is necessity to find a new explanation for this new form of human in the renewed post-modern society. When Scott Bukatman (1993) explains this reformed human figure in SF cinema with the notion of “terminal” body and identity, after 10 years, Giuseppe O. Longo (2003) use the term “homo-technologicus” for man-kind of the 21st Century. Referencing these two approaches; this paper discusses the process of how human body and identity is affected by machines and how this alteration materialized from science-fiction cinema to the real life. In addition, this paper explains and uses a new term “techno-human” to define the new hybrid version of the human that lives in between non-fictional world of social networks, television, the Internet, mobile phones and fictional world of science-fiction cinema. Definition of hybrid “techno-human” includes implanted and virtual bodies, relocation of human limbs, devices as extension of bodies, digitized memories, technophilia and televisionized identities.


by Hector Rodriguez

This paper describes Gestus, a digital art project that investigates cinema as an art of gesture. The project comprises an archive of found footage from various genres and periods, all of which emphasize body gestures. Each sequence has been digitally processed using a custom software that analyzes its movements and compares them with the motion content of other sequences in the archive. The software uses this information to reorder the frames of each sequence and so alter the expressive content of the gestures depicted in them. The algorithm is a machine that (re)writes the gestures. The processed sequences constitute an alternative cinematic archive that can be exhibited as a multichannel video installation.

This paper describes the conceptual background to the project. Gestus was inspired by 19th century motion studies and by the simple actions recorded in early silent films. This tradition documented and displayed gesture as such, often against neutral or dark backgrounds. It isolated gesture from any spatial or temporal location and focused attention on its intrinsic kinetic properties. As philosopher Giorgio Agamben has noted, the original vocation of cinema was the purification, analysis, and exhibition of gesture. The hegemony of Hollywood narrative cinema, however, marginalized this gestural obsession. As character-driven storytelling became the dominant model of mainstream filmmaking, the purity of gesture was subordinated to the demands of narrative structure. The Gestus project returns to gesture as the fundamental aspiration of cinema. 

This essay describes how this project developed out of a critical investigation into the fundamental elements of the modern visual culture. It pays particular attention to the interplay between expressiveness and “mute speech” (Jacques Rancière) and the interplay of difference and repetition in the cinematic image.

From Still to Moving: An Almost Indistinguishable Moment

by Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo

Analyses on film and photography often characterize the photograph as a still image and film as a sequence of images (Campany 2007). As a practice-based researcher and digital artist I challenge this notion, engaging with photography as a time-based medium and creating work that is situated in that very short moment when still images become moving and therefore not definable as just one or the other. Instead, they should be situated in media or electronic arts and not in the traditional label of photography.

I use the production of my artworks as an opportunity to challenge and redefine existing media with an ongoing interest in space and time – how each can be captured, represented, and redefined. In this paper I specifically discuss the principal techniques I incorporate into my image-based work, such as pairing and layering (digitally and physically), pushing it far away from the realm of the “still image”.  I question our capacity to perceive slow changes and multiple temporalities through works that explore both. Furthermore, I argue that in this fast-paced era in which 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute, we have lost our ability to slow down and really see images and small changes.

The work of contemporary artists such as Bill Viola, David Hockney, and Hiroshi Sugimoto offer a framework for my own artworks which, through physical and digital layering and pairing, superimpose various temporal moments to create “still” works in constant motion.  They exist more as time-based media that incorporate photography as a vehicle for the production of images, and less as “time-fossils” (Orlow 1999).