Moving image 'before' and 'after' cinema
: 1920s Parisian experimental films and video installations

  • Elena Domaratskaya

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis focuses on the 1920s Parisian avant-garde films and their artistic potential as revealed in the contemporary art of video installations. Starting with an overview of the moving image arts in the early 20th century Paris, the project deals with both the theoretical and the practical aspects of the artistic experiment. Tracing the formation of the cinematic language from contemporary static visual arts, on the one hand, and the verbal art of literature on the other, the first chapter reviews the aesthetical content of the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde (cubism, Dada and surrealism) in general and as applied to 'moving image' in particular. In addition, the artistic and critical context of 'mechanical arts', i.e. photography and cinema is analysed, involving such issues as the categories of time and space, the visual nature of film and photography and the use of movement and the machine. The nature of video is reflected upon in close parallel with the above argument, being compared with and contrasted to that of film and photography. The second and largest chapter of the thesis is devoted to a detailed textual analysis of the 1920s Parisian experimental films. Within it, parallels are drawn between the films and a number of contemporary video installations to show the early cinematic era heritage in the 'post-cinematic' visual culture. In the last chapter the emergence and nature of new media and video installation art are considered. Multimedia installations are seen as an interactive montage in three dimensions: their 'textuality' is analysed via the concepts of narrativity versus database, while the screen is treated as a border between the artistic space of the work and the immediate space of the viewer. furthermore, the complex nature of image in multimedia installations, including its materiality and plasticity, is considered. Such issues as the role of medium in experimental art and the importance of self-filming/documentary are reflected upon. A textual analysis of some video installations with references to the 1920s Parisian experimental films analysed above concludes the study. An attempt to classify the installations is made, as well as to reveal some of their typical patterns and structures. Some terminology is suggested, along with a wider perspective for future research in the field of video installation art.
    Date of Award2006
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Nottingham Trent University

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