CINEMA 10 CFP: PAINTING, MOVING IMAGES AND PHILOSOPHY

edited by 
Susana Viegas (IFILNOVA/Deakin University))
James Williams (Deakin University) 

 

Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image invites submissions for its issue on “Painting, Moving Images and Philosophy”.

This issue will be dedicated to exploring the relationship between painting and film, their irreducible heterogeneity, and the idea of establishing a philosophical propaedeutic to better understand the way the visual arts matter to us. It aims to question the limits, the adaptation and the irruption of the traditional styles and categories of romanticist and impressionist painting into the moving image; how they are challenged and how they are reworked.

The issue will address the following questions. Why is the relationship of painting to film an aesthetic issue? Why is it important not only to experience their differences and what they have in common, but also to reflect upon the implications of their difficult relations?

Film is not a pure art. Its impurity has been one of its main weaknesses in the philosophical debate about film as art, but also, we counterargue, its strongest quality and distinctive sign. The aesthetic answer to the iconic dialogue between painting and moving images has been manifold, as film borrows, eludes or reinvents plastic values and the static nature of painterly images. It is tempting to say that most filmmakers/cinematographers borrow their film’s visual composition from painting. Painting is then in the creation of a mood or in the presence of certain motifs and figures (for instance, where the tableau vivant becomes plan-tableau). However, to keep following this citation method, already criticized by Jacques Aumont, is a way of suspending the heterogeneity of painting and moving images. More importantly, it is to fail to think about their differences.

The debate around the quality and the suitability of films about art is longstanding. It is a debate where film, with its automatic techniques, is seen as a betrayal of the spiritual, unique and subjective effort of the painter. Painting does not need to legitimise film as an art. In his most famous essay on the topic, “Painting and Cinema”, André Bazin separates the two pictorial spaces — the centripetal screen and the centrifugal frame — but he is still limited by an essentialist point of view that, in practice, painters such as Degas and Monet had already challenged. Subsequently, painting reinvented itself with abstraction and suprematism, but how could film respond to this artistically? With its hyper-realistic images (tableaux vivants), film also exceeds the economy of the narrative. Its purpose is contemplation: without narrative, without plot, not coping with or representing a certain reality, just being … visually stunning. But can we say that experiencing this beauty make us any better as human beings? Maybe it makes us worse?

 Setting aside the orthodox paragone debate (while recognising the interest in discussing quotation in art documentaries, for example), what interests us most is Bazin’s statement that the encounter of the two art-forms creates a “new-born aesthetic creature” and that films such as Resnais’ Van Gogh and Kast’s Goya, Disasters of War “are works in their own right. They are their own justification.” Can we say that the imitation (film) has the same value as the original (painting)? Or do the terms not apply in this case? What then should we make of the aesthetic symbiosis of Clouzot’s The Mystery of Picasso?

For Gilles Deleuze, it is important to ask which artistic problems film’s audio-visual sensations answer. Within his nonrepresentational thought of the visual arts, images do not simply illustrate or narrate something; painting and film are not even in the present. The key question becomes: how to unfold the virtual movement, the forces of visibility, created with the expansion of space and the stretching of time?

Thus, for the 10th issue of Cinema, we wish to pay attention to cinematic images and to question them in their iconic status: how to create sensations with a certain visual tone and a visual rhythm; how to imagine (to create) moving images? We wish to put the technological concept of montage aside, as a secondary aspect, and focus on a phenomenological approach to the cinematic plan, to its duration, and also to its pictorality.

Particular themes of interest include the following subjects.
  • Revisiting Malevich, Tarkovsky, Sokurov, Jarman, Malick, John Alcott, Robert Burks, Kant, Bazin, Merleau-Ponty, Aumont, Deleuze, Bonitzer, and Lyotard…

  • Aesthetic thoughts about the sublime, excess and absence, aisthesis, the pregnant instant, the use of colour/black and white/shadows, plan-tableau.

  • Questioning Godard’s claim that Lumière was the last of the Impressionist painters (La Chinoise).

  • Analysing Merleau-Ponty’s rendering the invisible visible: how to express and film the invisible forces, the unseen, the spiritual, the suprasensible?

  • Comparing Benjamin and Epstein’s opposite perspectives on film’s metaphysics.

  • Film, the iconic turn and criticism of mimesis. Examining Tarkovsky’s claim that the metaphor is an image.

  • Film’s excess of visuality and the hyperrealism in moving images in dialogue with a criticism on the limits of aestheticism, mannerism and the abundance of clichés.

  • Film’s temporal ecstasies: the depth of field, the slow motion, distorted and blurred images, the sublime of the now.

  • The crisis of framing, double frame, mise en abyme, the screen as a canvas, from the diptych/tryptic to multiple screens.

Submissions are accepted in English and French and should be sent to Susana Viegas.

Prospective authors should submit a short CV along with the abstract. Abstract proposals (max. 500 words) are due on February 1st, 2018, and a notice of acceptance will be sent to the authors in the second week of February.

A selection of authors will be invited to submit full papers according to the journal guidelines. Acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee publication, since all papers will be subjected to double blind peer-review.

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For further information or questions about the issue, please contact Susana Viegas.

Cinema also invites submissions to its other sections: Interviews, Conference Reports and Book Reviews. Please consult the web site of the journal for further details.