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Repeat frame: how to do things with film

Baines, Jenny (2015) Repeat frame: how to do things with film. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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Repeat Frame: How to Do Things with Film (2012-14) examines the medium of analogue film and its apparatus: the camera and the projector. The artworks in How to Do Things with Film are an interrogation of analogue film and its performativity. Existing as a part of experimental filmmaking of the twentieth century, they reevaluate the core components of this practice. The methods in which the film apparatus are used in the production and exhibition of the films create an ongoing looped performance of action, which has no beginning, middle or end. The methods I apply that define the operation of the apparatus, impact on how each film behaves when installed in space and so the artworks have various stages of affect in the event of their performance as film installations. My research resulted in four interrelated films presented as an exhibition, foregrounding how the apparatus of analogue film and their respective limitations are integral in the process of production and presentation. The films essentially activate space by performing, which is explored on several different levels through material and mechanical considerations. The performativity of the medium, invoked in these works draws on experimental filmmaking practices including Hollis Frampton’s analogy of the film-strip as performed by the projector. Using experimental film techniques such as repetition, looping and specific use of the camera frame, the medium of film is emphasised. The use of repetition as witnessed in the four films draws attention to the projection frame through the action performed within it, which in turn highlights the out-of-frame. The use of repetition as a generative tool leaves a residual image and memory image in the already known and in the expectation of what is yet to come, therefore contributing to the illusion of a continuum of in-frame and out-of-frame action. The suggested continuum of action creates a tension around the film image, in shifting the experience of duration as a pattern or patterns witnessed in-frame and experienced out-of-frame as a between frames. It is in this space of the between-frames, that I consider as the site of affect in the films, coming about through what I term the performative apparatus. This written analysis, in addition to and accompanying the artwork, emphasizes the technological devices as central to the creation of film. The machinery of film is also central to the writing as I describe the methodological role of each apparatus and how together I consider their functioning as a whole as the performative apparatus. The title of this thesis alludes to the notion of the performativity of film, through referring to J.L Austin’s lecture series How to Do Things with Words, addressing how language performs through what it does. Here the visual language of film material is examined through what it does by performing. The practical processes used in researching Repeat Frame: How to Do Things with Film, determine not only how these works were made, but also how they are installed and subsequently how they generate affect to demonstrate and open up the experience of duration as a series of shifting patterns of ‘how longs’ which are in flux.

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