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Water and film – fluidity of time and space and its somatic perception


Heller, Franziska (2018). Water and film – fluidity of time and space and its somatic perception. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, 5(6):1-15.

Abstract

Throughout the history of cinema, water has been — and still is — omnipresent in various forms. The relationship between water and moving images extends to multiple levels. First and foremost, there are interesting theoretical implications: Water and the ways it can be perceived pose an apt analogy to conceptualize how the sensual relationship between moving images and the viewer can be understood. This approach is based on the analysis of aesthetical forms that stage water and expose fluidity in moving images. The study of numerous film examples — as well as of some recent music videos — shows that the dissolution of stable distinctions between what is perceived as reality and what as a dream becomes crucial: the transitions become literally fluid within the images. This leads to the investigation of how films position the human subject in relation to unreliable, fluid mirrors. Moreover, the human body can also be shown as fully immersed in liquid spaces. Such floating bodies are often staged within specific settings such as swimming pools or aquariums. As an extreme existential form, the drowned body plays a significant role in cultural history. Finally, the discussion of the physical and tactile experience in aquatic surroundings and cinema's voyeurism leads to the topic of eroticism.

The potential of audio‐visual images to convey the experience of fluidity of time and space is pivotal for the specific imaginary and for the sensual and corporal perception mode in which we not only see but actually feel films.

Abstract

Throughout the history of cinema, water has been — and still is — omnipresent in various forms. The relationship between water and moving images extends to multiple levels. First and foremost, there are interesting theoretical implications: Water and the ways it can be perceived pose an apt analogy to conceptualize how the sensual relationship between moving images and the viewer can be understood. This approach is based on the analysis of aesthetical forms that stage water and expose fluidity in moving images. The study of numerous film examples — as well as of some recent music videos — shows that the dissolution of stable distinctions between what is perceived as reality and what as a dream becomes crucial: the transitions become literally fluid within the images. This leads to the investigation of how films position the human subject in relation to unreliable, fluid mirrors. Moreover, the human body can also be shown as fully immersed in liquid spaces. Such floating bodies are often staged within specific settings such as swimming pools or aquariums. As an extreme existential form, the drowned body plays a significant role in cultural history. Finally, the discussion of the physical and tactile experience in aquatic surroundings and cinema's voyeurism leads to the topic of eroticism.

The potential of audio‐visual images to convey the experience of fluidity of time and space is pivotal for the specific imaginary and for the sensual and corporal perception mode in which we not only see but actually feel films.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Cinema Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
900 History
Language:English
Date:28 September 2018
Deposited On:21 Jan 2019 16:12
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 09:24
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:2049-1948
Additional Information:UZH-Angehörige haben via ZB Online-Zugang.
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/wat2.1315

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