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Still ModernismPhotography, Literature, Film$
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Louise Hornby

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190661229

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190661229.001.0001

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Resisting Arrest

Resisting Arrest

Imagining Motion in Film and Photography

Chapter:
(p.18) Chapter 1 Resisting Arrest
Source:
Still Modernism
Author(s):

Louise Hornby

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190661229.003.0002

This chapter examines how early filmmakers had to invent what motion looked like on screen, imagining it as distinct from stillness, legibility, or clarity. The images of motion in early film are blurred and impressionistic—ocean waves, clouds of dust, puffs of steam and smoke—which render motion itself a kind of obscurity and reveal how film is itself an ephemeral medium of dust and smoke. The precursor to film’s absent materiality is found in photography’s own representation of motion as blur in Etienne-Jules Marey’s strange late nineteenth-century photographs of smoke fillets and the movements of air. These images, lesser known than his other motion studies, reveal how film casts back to its still antecedent to imagine motion in blurred terms of smoke and dust, even as it resists photographic arrest.

Keywords:   early film, motion, speed, smoke, F. T. Marinetti, Lumière brothers, Cecil Hepworth, Etienne-Jules Marey

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