Ways of Seeing and Feeling: Rhythm and Pulse

by Sharon Mee

e: mee.sharonjane@gmail.com

This podcast is of a seminar presented by Dr Sharon Mee at UNSW Sydney for SSSN on 6th March 2018. Sharon’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Dr Richard Smith and involving the audience present on the day.

DR SHARON JANE MEE completed her PhD in 2017 through the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales. Her dissertation conceptualises the cinematic pulse in horror cinema using theorists Jean-François Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze and Georges Bataille. She has presented her work at national and international academic conferences.

DR RICHARD SMITH teaches film studies in the Department of Art History and The University of Sydney. His principle research interest is the temporality and form of the cinematic image, the place of technology and thought in generic and formal change and the range of theories useful for considering these aspects of cinema.

This paper analyses various prototypes of the pulse in cinematic rhythm, namely in the work of American avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage, Structuralist/Materialist filmmaker Peter Kubelka, French Impressionist filmmakers and theorists Jean Epstein and Germaine Dulac, Dadaist filmmakers and artists Hans Richter and Marcel Duchamp. In these prototypes we find that rhythm is concerned with “perceived” movement, and the pulse, by contrast, is concerned with a response to the experience of a “felt” time. Exploring an economy of the pulse in an analysis of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), this paper shows how “splatter” images have the force of “felt” intensities insofar as the pulse is a flexible and momentary intensity that suggests the flow and flexibility of a “felt,” but unseen, operation. The pulse is the force of the intensities that are libidinally invested and which energetically open out the body in the arrangement, set-up, or dispositif. The dispositif is vital for thinking about the spectator as a component in the energetic system of cinema. Thus for cinema, I argue that it is by attending to the investment in libidinal energies that make up the forces of intensity that we find the pulse in the image.

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