Det figurala och den rörliga bilden Om estetik, materialitet och medieteknologi hos Jean Epstein, Bill Viola och Artintact
Sammanfattning: This dissertation is a comparative study of the concept of the figural in relation to moving images with three case studies on filmmaker and writer Jean Epstein (1897-1953), video artist Bill Viola (1951-) and the cd-rom art magazine Artintact 1-5 (1994-1999). The conceptually focused case studies also enable a comparison between the different media technologies of film, video and new digital media.The figural is a concept originally used by Jean-François Lyotard and has resurfaced in the works of Jacques Aumont, Philippe Dubois, Nicole Brenez and D. N. Rodowick. Building on ideas expressed by these writers I show how the figural is a concept describing a border zone between abstraction and representation, where focus is on the image as event and process, and various effects due to image manipulation. I argue that a figural approach enables a more nuanced understanding of visual materiality as well as of new relationships between image and text. I also show how the figural can be understood as part of a ”new aestheticism”, where the relationship between viewer and image is emphasised. On a conceptual level the figural is put in relation to the concept of a ”haptic visuality” and the so-called ”post-medium condition”. In the reading of Jean Epstein the figural is used to foreground aspects of ”thinking with images”, and of a ”temporal perspective” as a new visual matter. In the case of Bill Viola the figural is to be found for example in his frequent use of slow motion as an embodied visuality. In the case of Artintact the figural is used to show how digital media is not as immaterial as often claimed, on the contrary the digital brings a new importance for visual materiality. Taken together these aspects introduce the figural as an important element for our understanding of visual culture.
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