Critical Writing Index

Moving Pictures: Cinema and Its Obsolescence in Contemporary Art

by Matilde Nardelli

Journal of Visual Culture, 2009, v. 8, no. 3, pp. 243-264

Increasingly, whirring film projectors, transparent filmstrips and cinema's apparently obsolete materials more generally have become prominent features of contemporary art. This article explores the widespread pursuit of cinematic obsolescence in contemporary gallery installations, and considers its relation to our current phase of media and technological change. Seen in the context of the much-vaunted transition to the digital age, this artistic phenomenon of engagement with cinema's materiality and historicity may seem an act of nostalgia, or even of mourning, for cinema itself. Even as nostalgic gestures, however, the most sophisticated of these cinematic installations, such as those by Rodney Graham and Atom Egoyan analyzed at length here, are a way of thinking cinema of (re)interrogating its very idea and the possibility of its future. Futhermore, and somewhat paradoxically, for all their courting of obsolescence - in fact, by very virtue of this process - these artistic practices configure not the death of cinema but its continuum.

ITEM 2009.141 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

SteenbeckettAtom Egoyan

Rheinmetall/Victoria 8Rodney Graham