The cinematic has been a springboard for the work of many influential artists, including Victor Burgin, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Stan Douglas, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Wall, among others. Much recent cinema, meanwhile, is rich with references to contemporary photography. Video art has taken a photographic turn into pensive slowness; photography now has at its disposal the budgets and scale of cinema. This addition to Whitechapel’s Documents of Contemporary Art series surveys the rich history of creative interaction between the moving and the still photograph, tracing their ever-changing relationship since early modernism.
Still photography—cinema's ghostly parent—was eclipsed by the medium of film, but also set free. The rise of cinema obliged photography to make a virtue of its own stillness. Film, on the other hand, envied the simplicity, the lightness, and the precision of photography. Russian Constructivist filmmakers considered avant-garde cinema as a sequence of graphic "shots"; their Bauhaus, Constructivist and Futurist photographer contemporaries assembled photographs into a form of cinema on the page. In response to the rise of popular cinema, Henri Cartier-Bresson exalted the "decisive moment" of the still photograph. In the 1950s, reportage photography began to explore the possibility of snatching filmic fragments. Since the 1960s, conceptual and postconceptual artists have explored the narrative enigmas of the found film still. The Cinematic assembles key writings by artists and theorists from the 1920s on—including László Moholy-Nagy, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Victor Burgin, Jeff Wall, and Catherine David—documenting the photography-film dialogue that has enriched both media.
About the Editor
David Campany is an artist and writer and Reader in Photography at the University of Westminster, London. He is the author of Art and Photography.
“[Campany's] producing new ways of seeing and thinking by arranging textual elements into an organism of ideas. Readers will find themselves jumping ahead and then turning back to make new connections and assemblages...In short, you could call the whole thing an act of editorial metamorphosis.”—Chris Chang, Film Comment
“This anthology is brilliantly selected, combining key texts by critics and practitioners with less known but very illuminating ones. Every essay, interview, and artist’s text is a pleasure to read. Campany’s thought-provoking introduction, structured around fast and slow, moving and still, provides an excellent overview of the field, picking out a number of key ideas on the relations between cinema and photography, culminating in the digital transformation of both. A great point of entry with much for the aficionado as well.”
—Michael Newman, Associate Professor, Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago