Films provide valuable spaces for aesthetic experimentation and analysis, for cinema's openness to other media has always allowed it to expand its own. In Aesthetic Spaces, Brigitte Peucker shows that when painterly or theatrical conventions are appropriated by the medium of film, the dissonant effects produced open it up to intermedial reflection and tell us a great deal about cinema itself.
The films studied in these chapters include those by Abbas Kiarostami, Alfred Hitchcock, Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean-Luc Godard, Carl Th. Dreyer, Peter Greenaway, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ingmar Bergman, Jacques Rivette, Fritz Lang, F. W. Murnau, Lars von Trier, Spike Jonze, Éric Rohmer, Lech Majewski, and others. Where two media are in evidence in these films, there is usually a third, and often theater mediates between film and painting. Aesthetic Spaces interrogates issues of cinematic space and mise-en-scène from different but interconnected theoretical perspectives, organizing its chapters around some of the formal principles—space, spectator, frame, color and lighting, props, décor, and actor—that shape films.
Drawing on the older arts to renew cinema, the films examined deploy paintings as material: Poussin and Bruegel, Rembrandt, Hals and Klimt, and medieval illustrations and modernist abstractions are used to expand our notions of cinematic space. Peucker shows that when different media come together in film, they create effects of dissonance out of which new modes of looking may arise.
In Bigger Than Life Mary Ann Doane examines how the scalar operations of cinema, especially those of the close-up, disturb and reconfigure the spectator's sense of place, space, and orientation. Doane traces the history of scalar transformations from early cinema to the contemporary use of digital technology. In the early years of cinema, audiences regarded the monumental close-up, particularly of the face, as grotesque and often horrifying, even as it sought to expose a character's interiority through its magnification of detail and expression. Today, large-scale technologies such as IMAX and surround sound strive to dissolve the cinematic frame and invade the spectator's space, “immersing” them in image and sound. The notion of immersion, Doane contends, is symptomatic of a crisis of location in technologically mediated space and a reconceptualization of position, scale, and distance. In this way, cinematic scale and its modes of spatialization and despatialization have shaped the modern subject, interpolating them into the incessant expansion of commodification.
Taking Place argues that the relation between geographical location and the moving image is fundamental and that place grounds our experience of film and media. Its original essays analyze film, television, video, and installation art from diverse national and transnational contexts to rethink both the study of moving images and the theorization of place. Through its unprecedented—and at times even obsessive— attention to actual places, this volume traces the tensions between the global and the local, the universal and the particular, that inhere in contemporary debates on global cinema, television, art, and media.
Contributors: Rosalind Galt, U of Sussex; Frances Guerin, U of Kent; Ji-hoon Kim; Hugh S. Manon, Clark U; Ara Osterweil, McGill U; Brian Price, U of Toronto; Linda Robinson, U of Wisconsin–Whitewater; Michael Siegel; Noa Steimatsky, U of Chicago; Meghan Sutherland, U of Toronto; Mark W. Turner, Kings College London; Aurora Wallace, New York U; Charles Wolfe, U of California, Santa Barbara.