Academic Session 5: Loughborough 2017

43rd Annual Conference & Art Book Fair
Loughborough University
6th to 8th April 2017

Body, Motion, Image: Legacies of chronophotography


Ruth Burgon, University of Edinburgh,

When he first saw a geometric chronophotograph, Marcel Duchamp observed that ‘there was no flesh, just a simplified anatomy, the up and down, the head, the arms and legs. It was a sort of distortion other than that of Cubism.’ It inspired Nude Descending a Staircase (1912). Chronophotography has continued to stimulate such fascination in artists. It was invented in the 1880s, when Étienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge, among others, experimented with ways in which to capture movement as a series of stills. For Walter Benjamin this process introduced the viewer to ‘unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses’. These images sat on the cusp between stillness and motion, capturing minute incremental changes. The most tangible legacy of these discoveries is cinema, though these images inspired the exploration of motion in Futurist art, and found practical use in studies of industrial efficiency. In the 1960s and ‘70s, the chronophotograph chimed with a rising interest in seriality and performance in the work of many artists and dancers. This legacy continues today, with cinematic techniques such as stop motion, time lapse and bullet time all derived from the experiments of early chronophotographers.

The papers in this session focus on the impact of chronophotography on art made from the late 1950s onwards. They take us from the appropriation of Muybridge’s imagery, to the adoption of Marey’s approach to line, trace, time and movement in conceptual and performance art, right up to the after-shocks of chronophotography as seen in gaming and online self-representation.

Click here to download a .pdf of this session's paper abstracts

Ed Kr?ma  (University of East Anglia) Mobility, Contingency and Constraint in Robert Rauschenberg’s Solvent Transfer Drawings

Joana P. R. Neves (Kingston University) Following the Indexical Line: Etienne-Jules Marey’s chronographic legacy and its conceptual re-definition in the art of the 1960s

Gavin MacDonald (Manchester School of Art) Temporalities in Tension: Mapped traces of movement in art

Darshana Jayemanne (Abertay University) Benjamin, Shock and Digital Media: From the optical to the tactile unconscious