Film matters: Historical and material considerations of colour, movement and sound in film

Schroer, K. 2016. Film matters: Historical and material considerations of colour, movement and sound in film. PhD thesis University of Westminster Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media

TitleFilm matters: Historical and material considerations of colour, movement and sound in film
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsSchroer, K.

The narratives presented in most film histories seem to ignore the essential material components of analogue film stock. Film matters focuses on material components of the film image – specifically colour, movement and sound – with the aim of telling a material history in a contemporary, ‘post-digital’ environment. The aim of this history is to show how film as a material has
participated in the building of social and political realities that are still at work today. My practice-led research results in two videos on colour and a 16 mm
film on movement and sound.

In these works I practice alternative ways of history writing and telling that may not be written, but which leave their sediments in the materialities and projections of film. My research is embedded in a historical framework, but at the same time reflects upon the actuality of the political history of film. History
and memory images are disassembled into their components in order to make visible that which the image does not show, but of which it is made.

Setting out from this methodology, in Chapter 1 I research the representational and constitutional participation of these material components in film’s different temporalities. Through a close reading of several seminal films and moving image works I focus on the interplay between film, time and certain contexts of social and political structures, in order to understand how these are constructed along with material history.

Chapter 2 explores movement, rhythm and physicality in the materiality of film. Setting out from the experimental set-up of the film Fugue (2015), the chapter analyses the relationship between physicality(of a body) and materiality (of the film) founded on movement. I claim that movement on film and movement of film produce involuntary side products, which become readable in film through dance-like movements and rhythms. I discover micromovements and habit-formation in both the movement of the film and the movement of the body and seek to read their political and transformative potential in situations in which they were joined, or when transitions from one to the other took place.

In Chapter 3 I analyse the role of colour within film history and collective memory. Colour, as a chemical component of the film emulsion, has a temporal permanence, seeping into the grounds and bodies as chemicality, as toxic substance. Colour as a transtemporal figure is elaborated in the video Red,
she said (2011), which focuses on Technicolor, looking at the colonising power of colour film by characterising the film emulsion as an autonomous actor within the rules and boundaries of cinematic space. The research into colour continues with Rainbow’s Gravity (2014) – a cinematic study of the production, use and employment of colour in the Nazi period and the politics of memory it entails. I found that in many historical cases colour can take on an active role in processes of memorisation.

The thesis concludes in a reflection on the practice of working with a negative approach. In my search for forms of resistance within the moving image that interrupt constant reproductions of power and its representations, I detect the necessity of working with negativity in a processual way.

PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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