onbevangen.nl
07-03-2013 mag 7 /

article/

From Muybridge to Cinemagraph

Abstract: 

From Muybridge to cinemagraph: an exploration of the cinemagraph in melancholic retrospect through Barthes’ notion of Death in Camera Lucida.

Almost two years ago, a new type of image emerged: the cinemagraph. This is a hybrid between a photograph and cinema, displayed in GIF files on the web, suitable and meant for sharing with others. The cinemagraph is a very fascinating type of image, creating a magical feeling and a nostalgic longing. In this paper, I first describe the cinemagraph in retrospect, going back to its roots through a nostalgic trend: starting at the devices made by photographers like Eadweard Muybridge in the late 19th century and ending with a lineage of the usage of the GIF, ending with the cinemagraph as the most recent development. Second, the appeal of the cinemagraph is explored, connecting it to the writings of Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida, who explicitly relates the photograph to death; all of his writings about photography seem to be even more accurate and applicable when it comes to the cinemagraph. What is the future for this type of image? Why do we find it so appealing, and what does this mean for the development of digital and analogue images overall?

These are just thoughts; with this paper, I hope to give a start for thinking about questions like these.