This web project visualizes the relationships detailed in my dissertation, "Handmade: The Moving Image in the Artisanal Mode," completed in November 2011 (Cinema Studies, New York University).
"Handmade Cinema" allows users to explore the world of artisanal moving image production by providing information on the practices and themes of a sampling of the field's major figures. "Handmade Cinema" is also designed to allow users to quickly glean the many connections between artists, their ideas, and the media they used.
What is Handmade Cinema? Rather than represent the world by photographic means, handmade moving-image artists seek to create new ways of seeing. Think of a Pollock or a Kandinsky that moves, a hand-drawn score that produces music when read by a film projector, or a mechanical apparatus that fractures light and bends time. Handmade cinema includes: painted, scratched, and treated film, hand-drawn soundtracks, and the artisanal construction of devices to make moving images (color organs, kinetic sculpture, light show apparatus, analog video synthesizers).
In the popular imagination--and in the majority of scholarship and criticsm on the subject--the power of cinema is rooted in its photographic representation of the world and its ability to marshal images in the service of fictional or documentary narratives. This project contends that handmade films, which reject cinema's putative indexical relation to reality in favor of abstract form, otherworldly color, textural richness, and sensory depth, serve as ideal objects with which to challenge--and subsequently, to reshape--our definition of what constitutes the moving image.
By recovering the range of forms, tools, and intentions that make up the moving image's shadow history, "Handmade Cinema" seeks to enlighten our awareness of the intersection of art and media in the 20th century, and enrich our understanding--and appreciation--of what is to come.