Handmade Films: Questioning and Integrating Cinematic Technology

Marina Estela Graca
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Norman McLaren's most important creation strategy was that of making a film completely by hand: not only the visuals, which he painted or scratched directly on film, but also sound and –most important– motion. He propounded muscular memory to control the formal differences between successive images, proclaiming the physiological development of a consciousness of movement. Thus reducing to nothing what has always been considered up to now the main ontological foundations of film: the automatic recordings of physical reality. At the same time he was questioning the epistemological model they integrate, i.e. the perception of order and the ways in which that order is imposed upon reality by films and technical workings which hold them. McLaren's ideas and methods (as those of Len Lye) have been taken further into conceptual analysis and using digital technologies by the Canadian filmmaker Pierre Hébert in his films, performances and writings.

In this paper I will try to demonstrate that, by overwhelming the cinematic technical workings with his gesture –literally with his body– authors expose its technological scheme to contingency, thus opening the production process to new unpredictable expressive and communicative possibilities. I will attempt to explain how this corresponds to a renewed way of comprehending technology by, simultaneously, revealing the human reality it contains and physiologically incorporating it.

Keywords: Film Theory, Direct-on-film Animation, Norman McLaren, Technology, Body
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Handmade Films

Marina Estela Graca

Assistant Professor, Department of Software and Media Technology, Aalborg University

Ref: H05P0226