Comunicação no colóquio internacional Times and Movements of the Image

Alain-Delon-in-Le-Cercle-Rouge-1970No próximo dia 15 de Novembro (quinta-feira), às 14h00, na Escola Superior de Artes e Design de Caldas da Rainha, Auditório EP1, apresento uma comunicação com Ricardo Vieira Lisboa intitulada “Perpetual movement: the GIF before and after the GIF”. O âmbito é a conferência internacional Times and Movements of the Image.


For us the GIF – Graphics Interchange Format – is less a software-based technology than a visual trope that creates meaning through repetition and an amusing play with the (im)mobility of gesture, body or landscape. Also, the GIF gives access to an understanding of time through a spatial incongruence, that of an eternal cul-de-sac. Time runs in a GIF, it has duration – even if a micro duration – but you know that the analogon is forever stuck in the rectangularity of the photographic image. Where does the “ontology of the photographic image” (Bazin) stand here? In a way we spot a desire for GIFs in the thinking and practice – in the applied thinking – of Eadweard Muybridge when he tried to solve the controversy around the “unsupported transit” of horses through a repetitive process of rendering successive images in a protocinematic device (the zoopraxiscope). Or before that the two-fold image of the thaumatrope.

But let’s move forward: to the spellbinding presence of movie star Rose Hobart in Joseph Cornell’s pioneering homonymous montage film. Rose Hobart demonstrates the fetishistic nature of repetition and it responds directly to the spectator’s/filmmaker’s possessive demanding of the eye. But let’s move even further. To the monumental static characters of soviet filmmaker Alexander Dovzhenko and to the way his films theorize a “nascent movement” (Siegfried Kracauer). And what about avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs and his dissection of movement and immobility in Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son? How can we understand the possibilities of the GIF as an aesthetic trope of cinema, retroactively as a part of film history, as something dealing to the “photographic precedence” of film language, and as a mean of communication and (deconstructed) criticism in the age of digital technology and social media? And in which way did the GIF turned into a basic building block of Internet aesthetics recognizable in such media platforms as Vines, Instagram Stories or Facebook videos? Case by case we’ll try to figure out in what way is it productive to think about the GIF before and after the GIF.

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