Thursday, July 29, 2010

Word & Image

"The second great event that affects the image-itself also closely linked to television, this great machine that speaks even more than it shows-is a more and more profound relation, penetrating the image itself, between words and images, making it more difficult still to speak about “the image” since it is so often permeated with language and voice. Here again, the history of cinema returns: words intimately linked with the image in silent film (following the old tradition of words in painting), the establishment of talking cinema, and above all the expansion of voice as the material support of fiction and reflection in all the great works of modern cinema. But here again, video precipitates things by making language return in force in the material of the image and everywhere around it, with enhanced freedom, strength, and an implied and disturbing power." (Raymond Bellour, "The Power of Words, The Power of Images," trans. Elisabeth Lyon)

"There have been several attempts, none very successful, to analyze the iconography of D.W. Griffith's melodramas. An iconographic approach to early cinema was advanced by Erwin Panofsky, who believed that a persistently iconographic stage was a necessary moment in the way cinema evolved its semantic strategies. Traditional iconography helps us to understand early cinema. It functions a little like the subtitles in silent movies, which, according to Panofsky, played a role analogous to that of medieval tituli . . ." (Mikhail Iampolski, The Memory of Tiresias, p. 10, trans. Harsha Ram)


Guillermo Krain said...

I was just thinking about this.

Electronic images are an interesting synthesis of son-image, maybe even the inevitable, foretold answer to the silent image.

ZC said...

Guillermo, I like your spare post (skirting the aphoristic): is the video smooth, or at least continuous, i.e., not in itself, but insofar as how it suggests/imparts a cut to the viewer?

(Perhaps completely irrelevant, but it just struck me: electronic sound distortion, in music particularly, is much more distracting - and grimace-inducing - than video distortion. Easier to fetishize the manipulations or degradations of video images than bad sound ...)