Art History: The Interstitial Screen: On Eye in the Sky and the evolution of the language of the action cinema
The Interstitial Screen: On Eye in the Sky and the evolution of the language of the action cinema
Presenter: Richard Smith
Action cinema is often discussed in terms of physiological excess, as muscular skeletal on screen and corporeal in the theatre, but other modes of action have emerged. This photograph, known as ‘The Situation Room’, taken during the mission to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, captures perfectly the shift in the form and language of action cinema that I theorise in this paper. Command and control structures have made spectatorship a kind of distributed agency that operates on and through screen images. Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood, 2016) traces not only the form of action, teleaction, inscribed in situations such as the Bin Laden raid, but also the mode of power that operates in and through new media-visual technologies. The cinema is in the enviable position of being able to think through or imagine its own relation to these technologies and in its own turn, to recast the concept of action. Finally, I argue that Henri Bergson’s conception of the action-image, focused as it is on the “systemic coordination” performed by the nervous system, is the most appropriate philosophical framework in which to investigate cinematic teleaction.
This event will be held online via Zoom.
Art History Seminar Programme going forward:
9 September – Richard Smith, “The Interstitial Screen: On the Evolution of Cinematic Action”
16 September – Peyvand Firouzeh, “Coco-de-mer, Mysticism, and Material Histories of the Indian Ocean World”
23 September – Melissa Hardie, “The Girlfriend Film”
7 October – Kaitlin Lake, “Sartrean Nothingness and the Aposiopetic Film as Existential Philosophy”
14 October – Louise Marshall, “Coping with the Black Death: Giovanni Del Biondo’s St Sebastian Altarpiece for Florence Cathedral”
21 October – Yvette Hamilton, “Looking through a black hole: Photography at the limits.” & Nina Stromqvist,“Marja Helander, Christian Bumbarra Thompson and the ‘border’ in contemporary art from Scandinavia and Australia.”
4 November – Peter McNeil, “Fashion beyond clothing: the visual culture of Eurasian porcelain, glass and painted mirrors, 1500-1800”
11 November – Bruce Isaacs, “Literary and Cinematic Archi-Textualities: Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue”