The cinema, images which dance
1/26/10

"And the cinema," continues Dick Tomasovic, "certainly has a filmic side, in other words that which is in front of the camera, that which it has to capture, but also a pro-filmic side: very quickly, smart alecks made the camera itself move. Cinema thus not only makes movement be captured, but it also creates it. The camera dances."

In this way Dick Tomasovic’s text thus mixes its two ‘studies of time’: "That of the different staging suggestions of the danced act and that of the diverse modes of incorporating danced movement within the cinematographic machinery. (...) Two sides of the same coin thus, on the one hand capturing the dancing body, on the other making the image dance."

Dick Tomasovic leans these two studies of time against each other, brings them face to face, and creates a dialectic between them, through ten chapters which are forms of pas de deux: one example from the history of cinema replies to another. And the spectrum here envisaged takes on the complete span of this very long history: from Walt Disney’s Pinocchio to a documentary on the footballer Zinedine Zidane, in passing through experiments on film negative made by Len Lye, the first films by Méliès or even...the clip of a song by Kylie Minogue!

"Everything I wanted to say was found in its entirety in the French cinema of the 1920s’" smiles the researcher. "But I also wanted the book to find its public, with thus examples which could speak to everyone. It was thus the search for the reader which guided the choices. I do nothing different with my students: putting together a very little known old film with a much more recent and well known film in order to show the parallelisms."

When nothing but the film negative remains

It is impossible here to travel across the whole of Dick Tomasovic’s chapters and reflection, but some of them deserve to be pointed up. Thus in its fourth chapter, Kino-Tanz draws parallels between the ‘serpentine dance’ of Loïe Fuller (in 1891) who, well before the invention of cinematography, was a precursor of the invention of cinema through her ‘cinematographisation of the body’, and the work of Len Lye. Born in 1901, this New Zealand artist is the inventor of ‘direct film’, without a camera, in which the artist intervenes directly on the film negative with brushes, pencils and a scalpel to create forms and textures. The most famous of his films is ‘Free Radicals’ (1958). "Here we have what is really a film of dance, but without a dancer and even without making the camera move," stresses Dick Tomasovic. "It is the image itself which dances. Lye was to go very far in terms of autonomisation: when you have removed everything, the people, the script, the movement of the camera and nothing remains but the film negative, it is still a danced gesture. It is still the same question: what is movement in space? We can go even further: the animator, the person who, with his precise and repetitive gestures on the film negative has traced out something in space, and thinks of himself as a dancer."


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