Transparencies of Stasis and Movement: Architectures of Film and Video poised between Auditorium and Gallery

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The starting point for this paper is an observation in Adorno’s essay ‘Transparencies on Film’ identifying the “static character” of Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte (1961). It will argue that such stasis is inextricably linked with movement and will examine specific strategies of making – located within a range of examples – that combine movement and stillness with particular visual intent. Such methodologies will be considered in context with different modes of looking and viewing, as applicable to the auditorium, 'black box' – and gallery. The works discussed will include – as an objective and inherently static example – a documentary photograph by Bernd and Hilla Becher depicting industrial architecture, and Antonioni’s films La Notte, and Il Grido (1957) – featuring industrial structures (a visual theme that unifies the paper).

The paper will explore how the different manifestations of movement and stillness evident in these works – the movement of camera, on-screen objects and eye – facilitate their transparency and reactivate the viewer. The paper will further consider how such transparency and activation translates within different formats of presentation. It will argue that the activating affect of stillness and movement in Antonioni’s cinema remains radical – within and beyond the auditorium – and will draw critical comparisons with different forms of spatial and temporal construction evident in contemporary film, video and installation works of varying duration and intended forms of presentation – including James Benning’s Ruhr (2009), Ben Rivers’ Slow Action (2010), Wang Bing's West of the Tracks (2003) and Jean-Marie Straub and Danièlle Huillet's The Itinerary of Jean Bricard (2010).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2014
EventAssociation of Art Historians 40th Annual Conference: 40th Annual Conference and Book Fair - The Royal College of Art, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Apr 201412 Apr 2014


ConferenceAssociation of Art Historians 40th Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleAAH2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Film
  • Photography
  • Objectivity
  • Movement
  • Place


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