Cutting across the century: an investigation of the closeup and the long-shot in "cinechoreography" since the invention of the camera

Katy Pendlebury

A "different nature"1

By close-ups of the things around us, by focusing on hidden details of familiar objects, by exploring common place milieus under the ingenious guidance of the camera, the film, on the one hand, extends our comprehension of the necessities which rule our lives; on the other hand, it manages to assure us of an immense and unexpected field of action.2

This quotation, from Walter Benjamin's 1936 essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," alludes to two parallel themes in his essay. Firstly, the technology of the camera created, through its ability to capture and reproduce the world in a totally novel and previously unimaginable way, an altered reality, a "different nature."3 The second, parallel theme focuses on the coincidence of the creation of this technology with the changing nature of society and of art. Suddenly, "common place milieus," "taverns and metropolitan streets, our offices and our furnished rooms," become the subject of the work of art. Benjamin seems to be suggesting that film might bring about the democratization of art and of subject matter.4

The invention of the camera, with its ability to enlarge and make perceptible a small detail, as well as to slow down or speed up time, brings the spectator new information about the world in which she lives. Benjamin names this new ability to penetrate deeper into the structure of optical reality the "optical unconscious," and writes about how the close-up and slow motion have brought about a new way of seeing: "With the close-up, space expands; with slow motion, movement is extended. The enlargement of a snapshot does not simply render more precise what in any case was visible, though unclear; it reveals entirely new structural formulations of the subject."5 The camera not only allowed the spectator to penetrate a previously inaccessible aspect of reality; it also altered that reality, offering a new different perception of objects and movement.

In Benjamin's essay, the close-up draws the spectator in closer to the object of vision and opens up this new reality for the viewer. The following passage, from Jean Epstein's Magnification, illustrates how the close-up can also draw attention to the frame around the shot, and in doing so, how it tends to abstract the "reality" within it, its subject matter becoming the composition of movement within the frame:

A head suddenly appears on screen and drama, now face to face, seems to address me personally and swells with an extraordinary intensity. I am hypnotized. Now the tragedy is anatomical. The décor of the fifth act is this corner of a cheek torn by a smile. … The orography of the face vacillates. Seismic shocks begin. Capillary wrinkles try to split the fault. A wave carries them away. Crescendo. A muscle bridles. The lip is laced with tics like a theatre curtain. Everything is movement, imbalance, crisis. Crack. The mouth gives way, like a ripe fruit splitting open. As if slit by a scalpel, a keyboard-like smile cuts laterally into the corner of the lips.6

The passage describes the landscape of the face, and a writing with that face in closeup within the frame. The subject here is not only an interior emotion translated by the features of the actor's face (cinema as window), but also the activity of those features themselves, their movement within the frame. In this instance, the close-up presents us with that contradiction which is so beguiling in screen practice, the screen both as depth and as surface, as both a window onto (ano)the(r) world and as a flat plastic surface, an object that offers the potential of ongoing motion, to be organized in compositional terms.

The close-up has preoccupied practitioners and thinkers since the camera was invented. Later philosophers and historians such as Gilles Deleuze, Mary Ann Doane, and Erin Brannigan have revisited and reflected on the work of earlier theorists and filmmakers who wrote about the close-up, such as Bela Balázs, Walter Benjamin, and Jean Epstein. This essay endeavors to reflect on the genre of moving image practice, or "dancefilm," using a variety of examples from different but related disciplines, and by analyzing these examples in relation to the wealth of thinking around the closeup. Examining the frequent deployment of the close-up in dancefilm, I seek to understand whether the capacity to focus in—to get close to objects and people—is unique to this type of shot. The first part of this essay explores the autonomous closeup, linking its suggested independence with abstraction and considering its implications when combined with the non-hierarchical attitude to the body found in dancefilm. The second part compares scale in the close-up and the longshot and analyzes how the spectatorship of these two particular types of shot in a cine-choreography7 might differ. Has Benjamin's "deepening of apperception" through the close-up enabled the viewer to use her imagination to focus in, to perform the close-up herself?

The Autonomous Close-up

In her book Dancefilm, Erin Brannigan devotes an entire chapter to the closeup, its history, its prevalence in the dancefilm, and the effects of its deployment. She writes that the deployment of the close-up in dancefilm has "instituted new cinechoreographic terrain," a terrain of micromovements that dance within the frame.8 Proposing that in the Western contemporary dance tradition there is a nonhierarchical attitude to the expressive body, she writes, "choreographic strategies generally work to develop corporeal modes of articulation or expression that involve any and every part of the body."9 Combining this nonhierarchical attitude to the body with the use of the close-up, dancefilm-makers have, over recent decades, developed what Brannigan calls a "bodily, dancerly model of the closeup," which finds expression in a "particular mode of dancefilm … which I call decentralised micro-choreographies."10 These are moving image works that are also choreographies of a(ny) body part—for example a back, a navel, the toes—that happen within the frame, in close-up.11

Brannigan quotes Béla Balázs, who alludes to an emphasis on the facial close-up in the silent era:

In the first years of the movies the emphasis was mainly on movement … With the subsequent development of the silent film the place of dialogue was taken by a detailed expressive play of features and gestures, shown in closeup.12

Although Balázs connected this "detailed expressive play" to the expression of the "inner drama" of the character through the face, this passage could equally be referring to other bodily sites where such "expressive play" might occur. Indeed, Brannigan goes on to describe just such a migration from the face in her discussion on the film Hands (1995, dir. Adam Roberts). In this short film, Jonathan Burrows performs a dance for a static camera that consists entirely of the movement of his hands and forearms.13 The drama, as Roberts himself implies, remains; however, its location has migrated such that "the eventual framing is a close up of a lap—at once stage, proscenium arch and domestic interior."14 In the dancefilm, Balázs's detailed expressive play meets the non-hierarchical decentralizing attitude toward the body of the contemporary dance tradition.

According to Balázs, the close-up in the narrative cinema form also displays a power of transformation, an "ability to 'take us out of space,' distancing the image from the diegesis."15 In the first volume of his philosophy and cinema project, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, Gilles Deleuze devotes a chapter to the close-up and builds on Balázs model, asserting, as Balázs had written previously, that "the close-up does not tear away its object from a set of which it would form part, of which it would be a part, but on the contrary it abstracts it from all spatio-temporal co-ordinates, that is to say it raises it to the state of Entity."16 He continues: "The close-up is not an enlargement, and, if it implies a change of dimension, this is an absolute change: a mutation of movement which ceases to be translation in order to become expression."17 For Deleuze, the close-up is not a vehicle for expression through its juxtaposition with other shots; it exhibits an autonomy, an inherent ability to "express" of itself without reference to the preceding and succeeding images.

This, I would argue, is also how the close-up functions in a particular scene in the narrative feature film Gerry, by Gus Van Sant (2004). Stony ground appears, for an instant, before our eyes.18 Almost immediately the faces of two men arrive in shot from the right hand side of the screen. Their faces are in profile; the face of Gerry (Casey Affleck) fills the right hand half of the screen. That of Gerry (Matt Damon), partially obscured by Affleck, is slightly farther away. For the next three and a half minutes, we watch the faces of the two men as they walk together side by side. The camera, on a dolly, keeps the frame at the same level as it tracks smoothly alongside them. The tight framing causes their foreheads and chins to alternately "butt" the frame as they walk together, at the same pace. About one minute and thirty seconds into the scene, Gerry falls out of sync with Gerry and their steps, and faces, fall into a syncopated rhythm. For the remainder of the scene they fall in and out of sync and, by the end of the scene, back into sync. What the viewer sees is, in Epstein's words, "the orography of the face[s] vacillat[ing]."19 The action and content of this shot is the rhythm of the two faces moving up and down in relation to the frame and in relation to each other. The scene develops through subtle changes in rhythm between their walking patterns, tiny alterations in the inclination of the heads and minute changes of facial expression. What are tiny, subtle movements in "reality" create enormous changes in the rhythm and composition on screen. The scene does not further the plot—the men are walking in a landscape as they have mostly been doing since the beginning of the film. Nor does it provide further insight into the inner life of the characters. All we know is where the men are, and what they are doing, which suggests that the subject matter of this scene consists of a cine-choreography,20 a dance of movement within the frame.

As described in this example, one way that the film or moving-image work moves towards abstraction is through focussing in, through the close-up. Jean-François Lyotard, in his essay "Acinema," talks about the defining feature of abstraction in screen practice being works that create for the spectator the enjoyment of "sterile differences": alterations, movements, and changes in light that have no productive consequence save that of the ocular enjoyment of the spectator.21 He illustrates this idea by describing a child lighting a match,

But when a child strikes the match-head to see what happens—just for the fun of it—he enjoys the movement itself, the changing colours, the light flashing at the height of the blaze, the death of the tiny piece of wood, the hissing of the tiny flame. He enjoys these sterile differences leading nowhere, these uncompensated losses: what the physicist calls the dissipation of energy.22

What Lyotard is describing is an enjoyment of movement, of energy, in other words of form, for itself and with no further purpose. The match is lit in order to see the match light and not to light something else. This analogy is deployed in relation to his notion of a cinema of production in which all movements in the narrative film (camera movements, choices of shot, movements of the characters) coalesce in the imposition of an order that creates the film's impression of a seamless reality.23

Through a deployment of the close-up, and a juxtaposition with the long-shot, I would argue that Gerry, ostensibly a narrative film in the Hollywood tradition, strains at the guy-ropes that attach it to this tradition and could almost equally be termed a dancefilm. Its spectatorship demands a kind of attention that is similar to that required when watching a film of the dancefilm genre as defined by Brannigan.

In addition to the historical roots of the dancefilm as enumerated by Branningan, one might also include the abstract art films of Yoko Ono. Ono, a JapaneseAmerican artist working in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was central to the emergence of the Fluxus movement. The strategies of this diverse group coalesced around an opposition to the institutionalization and commodification of art, an emphasis on the everyday as both the site and the inspiration for art, and a commitment to creating new possibilities for art by working across and between media.24 Ono's body of work at that time consisted of art objects, texts, performances, and music. In 1966, joining in the Fluxfilm enterprise of George Maciunas, she added a series of films to her oeuvre. Felicitously illustrating Lyotard's passage above, One (1966) is a film whose only action is the lighting of a match that is allowed to burn out, the spectacle of "sterile differences leading nowhere"25 in a poetry of light.26 Filmed on a high-speed camera, and projected at normal speed, the result combined a performative element and a filmic element to create a cinechoreography.

Four (Ono, 1967) is another film about walking. Or bottoms. Or the division of the screen into four parts. In closeup, and focused at the point at which the buttocks meet the top of the legs, the viewer watches as several bottoms in succession walk in front of the camera. The camera maintains the same distance from the subject as she walks. With only the patterns created by the legs and the buttocks and the shadows between them to watch, the viewer's attention is drawn to the "sterile differences" between the bottoms, to how each bottom reveals a different pattern of movement between the four parts of the screen. The film is not totally abstract—the viewer knows that she is watching a series of bottoms—yet there is a humorous tension between this knowledge and, through the tight framing of the shot, the mind's potential to focus simply on the patterns made by the four parts of the screen/body, to abstract from that knowledge. The enjoyment for the viewer stems precisely from this tension: from the possibility to switch between the window (I am watching a series of bottoms walking) and the frame (I am watching the relationship between four parts of the screen). In watching the scene from Gerry that I describe above, a similar switching of attention occurs, between the knowledge that we are watching two men walking through a landscape and the enjoyment of watching the dance between their two facial forms/ outlines in the frame. The closeup here functions as in Brannigan's model, as a "de-centralised microchoreography."

Displaying the Fluxus trademarks of an irreverent and humorous anti-establishment ethos, Four, according to Ono, comments on the institutionalization of film and displays a social purpose: she writes, "this film proves that anybody can be a director."27 She is reported to have labeled it a socially-engaged film for peace28 and wrote "this film, in fact, is like an aimless petition signed by people with their anuses. Next time we wish to make an appeal, we should send this film as the signature list."29 The taxonomical structure combined with the performative aspect of the piece creates this message of democracy. Bottoms may vary in look from one to the next, but they all exhibit the same structure and function, and everybody has one.

This deployment of the body in closeup for the purposes of a democratic message in Four, resonates productively with Benjamin's prediction of the democratization of subject matter. In addition, it recalls Brannigan's nonhierarchical dancerly model of the body, deployed in the close-up in dancefilm. Benjamin wrote that the camera "burst this prison world asunder," turning the mundane everyday of the new industrialist capitalist world into "an immense and unexpected field of action," and in the process democratizing the subject matter of art.30 A similar democratization occurs in dancefilm in the choice of bodily sites as subject matter for the film. Brannigan claims that the film Dust (1998, dir. Anthony Atanasio), for example, "creates new sites and spaces for dance."31 She describes the action:

… hard sand cracks and a hand emerges. This begins a series of close-ups of performer Miriam King's body: her back, fingers crawling across the sand, her eyes covered by goggles…. The second half of the film features King's body parts submerged in black water and shot in close-up, the solid form of the figure dissolving in the dark liquid and play of light.32

Concerned with expressing a relationship between the body and the landscape, the first sequence of close-ups of different body parts in contact with a tactile surface creates a palate of empathy for the viewer, a kind of indexing of their own body in a mimetic relationship to the body of King. The plethora of bodily sites as loci of expression and experience in this film echoes the increasing interest over the last half century in the body as the site of experience and knowledge, a body that wrestles with the supremacy of the mind or head as the center of thought and expression. This raises the question of whether the close-up in a cine-choreography has a further democratizing effect. In the separation of bodily part from the individual as a whole, does not the deployment of the close-up go even further, implying a reversal of the traditional mind-body hierarchy? Might it not also suggest that experience is as much understood through a multiplicity of bodily sites and surfaces as it is organized and synthesized through the mind's cognitive capacity?

Focusing In

Dreyer's Joan of Arc, a chain of close-ups that seem to constitute the very revelation of the soul, is the epitome of the genre. It is barely possible to see a close-up of a face without asking: what is he/she thinking, feeling, suffering? What is happening beyond what I can see? Or, in Balázs's terms, the close-up of the face allows us to understand that "we can see that there is something there that we cannot see."33

Mary Ann Doane, in her historical essay on the close-up and early film theory, writes here of the role most usually associated with the close-up in classical cinema, the emotional moment, the revelation of depth, the window onto the soul. Joan of Arc is a silent film about the martyr's trial, her pain and suffering detailed on her face which appears mainly in close-up. In Doane's treatise, she suggests that the two claims made for the close-up by early film theorists—its capacity to arrest the narrative, to "extract its object from all spatiotemporal coordinates,"34 and its parallel capacity to bring us closer to the emotions of the character we are watching—are contradictory. Analyzing how the close-up functions in several films, Doane arrives at the conclusion that it is through the juxtaposition of the close-up with other shots that the viewer deduces the emotions of the characters. Describing a scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Sabotage where a character called Sidney is resisting her urge to stab another character, Homolka, Doane asserts that the legibility of the close-up shots in this sequence "is intimately linked to their very lack of autonomy."35 She writes:

… the struggle between Sidney's desire and her resistance to that desire is produced between the shots of her anxious face, the knife and potatoes, Homolka's face, and her brother's empty chair, all of which signify through a relay of gazes.36

It is precisely because the spectator sees the shots of the knife and the empty chair that she can infer the play of emotions or motivations suggested by the close-up shots of Sidney's face.

Through its use in silent films and early classical cinema, the facial close-up has historically been associated with the expression of emotion and the outward appearance of the interiority of the character. By both enlarging the object within the frame and bringing it closer to the viewer, however, the close-up also emphasizes the physical and appears tangible. The director of Hands (1995), Adam Roberts, observes: "I tend toward the view that the close-up in cinema offers a means to convey a sense of the sheer physicality of the human body, its solidity, plasticity, weight, individuality."37 The close-up may bring us so close that, depending on the spectator's viewing situation (cinema, sofa, screen in a gallery), the image towers over the spectator, almost enveloping her. In tandem with its perceived status as the emotional moment, it is also partly in the scale of the cinematic close-up that its influence has been located.

This raises the question if there are other possibilities for creating emotional intensity, physicality, or abstraction. Has Benjamin's "different nature" that we are now so used to seeing impacted on our own imaginations? Has the suggestive force of the close-up produced a capacity to "zoom in" in the imagination, to engage the eyes to focus in and to produce a closeup in the mind?

In a scene in Cost Of Living, a short dancefilm by Lloyd Newson (DV8 Physical Theatre, 2004), a man and a woman meet on a pathway that slopes down to a beach. It is the second time they have met. The scene opens with a wide shot. The man repeatedly jumps through a hoop as he leaps down the slope towards the camera which reverses away from him. As he arrives at the foot of the slope the frame moves to the right to reveal the woman standing there, three hula-hoops spinning around her waist. A duet ensues between the two of them. At first they remain separate, each spinning their own hoop(s), however part way into the duet all hoops except one are discarded and they dance together with this one hoop. The two characters flirt and the woman, who is more skilled, teases the man and evades his attempts to catch hold of the hoop. This sequence uses a variety of shots between a medium wide shot—in which the head, torso and hips are all in shot—and a medium close up, where the viewer sees just the heads and shoulders of the characters.

A second version of this scene was made for Living Costs, a site-specific adaptation of this production at the Tate Modern in London in 2003. The whole performance took place in different parts of the Tate, making use of the diverse spaces that the building affords. At times the audience found themselves on the floor of the Turbine Hall watching a scene that appeared at a window several floors above. At times they followed the protagonists around the building, wending their way through the works of art. When watching this duet, the audience is situated on one of the highest floors of the building, looking down into the Turbine Hall through a glass wall. It takes place at least twenty meters below (the height of the Turbine Hall is thirty-five meters) and the dancers appear almost ant-like in their dimensions. Whilst the scene in the film conveys a sense of flirtation and confidence on the part of the woman and bashfulness on the part of the man, the same scene transposed to the enormous space of the Turbine Hall created a very different viewing experience. The Lilliputian size of the two bodies at such a distance juxtaposed with the cavernous industrial space revealed a fragility and tenderness in their tentative duet that was not present in my experience of watching the film. Reviewer Jann Parry echoes this recollection in words she wrote at the time: "A Hula-Hoop couple—Kareena Oates and Rowan Thorpe—are achingly puny seen from a distance, their struggle for love receding into eternity."38 Despite being twenty meters distant, it felt as if I felt the intimacy of their tentative fragile conversation, a tentativeness emphasized by their own physical fragility in the huge space around them. Although I was viewing the scene in "long-shot," my imagination focused in and brought the experience into metaphorical close-up. In a reversal of the traditional function assigned to the long-shot in narrative cinema—to provide information and to contextualize—it was precisely the distance from which the bodies were viewed and the scale of the environment in which they danced that created for me a moment of emotion, of intensity.

Returning to Gerry, the scene described above ends with the two faces walking out of shot. For the next three minutes, the landscape and the bodies of the two men appear together in a sequence of longshots. There is no dialogue. In the first part of this sequence, the top two thirds of the frame is filled with sky, the bottom third is grassland, and the two tiny bodies trudge along the line of the horizon between them. The camera maintains the same relationship between the bodies and the frame, so that, although they are moving forwards, it almost appears as if they are getting nowhere. In the following shot the horizon is even lower, about one quarter of the way up from the bottom of the frame. The two Gerrys' heads and bodies appear from below this horizon line as they slowly gain the slope. They walk into shot midway across the frame (horizontally) and leave at the bottom left of the frame, their heads never breaking the line of the horizon. Subsequently, their bodies appear even smaller in the frame as they climb a steep slope in the middle distance (from the bottom right hand corner of the frame to the top left), in front of a mountain in the far distance. This climb takes forty seconds. In the final shot of this sequence, the men climb closer to the camera and we begin to hear their footfalls and their breathing. At the end of the shot, they are closer to the camera than they have been for some time, taking up approximately one third of the frame. This sequence of shots creates a similar viewing experience to the hulahoop scene in Living Costs. The spectator witnesses, and indeed in Gerry it is one of the subjects of the film, the fragility of the tiny bodies in the enormous landscape that fills the frame in the long-shot. Again, it is the spectator's ability to focus in and to separate figure from ground, to evoke or invoke their own physical response to the characters' experience, that renders the image legible.

This sequence of long-shots arguably reflects a tendency that Brannigan identifies in the genre described as dancefilm, namely the transference of movement across people and things.39 Walter Benjamin writes of this tendency, "The action of reaching for a lighter or a spoon is a familiar routine, yet we hardly know what really goes on between hand and metal."40 Brannigan, following Benjamin, associates this tendency with the close-up, with the capacity to get so close as to be able to see what "really goes on." She includes Amy Greenfield's Element (1973) in the category of dancefilm, and writes of Greenfield's body "struggling in thick black mud … emerging and disappearing in a study almost entirely shot in close-up."41 "The drama," she writes, "is spread across various surfaces, substances, and the body of the performer equally."42

Interestingly, in Gerry this transference of movement across people and things occurs in the deployment of the long-shot. In the sequence I describe above, the landscape appears to be static and the bodies move over it. Constantly present, however, in its ominous scale, its wildness and its exposure to the elements is its potential for movement. The horizon is often at least halfway down the frame and the sky is as much the subject as the bodies and the earth. Indeed, in a later scene the action consists of the clouds scudding across the sky as night falls in one speeded-up long-shot that lasts sixty-three seconds. The movement, or potential for movement in the landscape, and the sheer amount of time that the viewer spends watching these two men walk and climb over this terrain recalls Brannigan's definition of a dancefilm, a film "characterised by a filmic performance dominated by choreographic strategies or effects."43 It could be argued that in Gerry, a choreography of bodies and the landscape in the frame is as much the content as the story itself. Whilst the plot eventually resolves in a dramatic denouement, the cine-choreographic content of the film asks once more of the viewer a different kind of attention, an appreciation of Lyotard's "sterile differences"44 in the frame of the camera as she watches the action unfold, often in long-shot.


Prompted by lengthy consideration of how the closeup and the longshot function in the dancefilm, writing this essay has proved a fruitful exercise; an attempt to investigate my experience of watching a particular type of film through the rich history of the closeup in film theory. I have written about works from a variety of genres and find myself grateful to Erin Brannigan for her insistence on the descriptor "cinechoreography," which identifies an approach to an interaction between movement and camera, rather than implying a given content as does the term "dancefilm". Brannigan's analysis of the closeup in the dancefilm has also recognized a set of strategies that are often seen in this genre: the "decentralised microchoreography" and "a transference of movement across people and things,"45 the performative element extending out from the body into the physical landscape that it encounters. I have found it useful to consider, when analyzing works that utilize many different types of shots, whether or not these strategies are present.

In Gerry, a featurelength film in the Hollywood narrative tradition, the transference of movement across people and things occurs in the deployment of the longshot. The action and content consists of the men traversing the landscape, and the weather traversing the landscape and the men in lengthy sequences of long-shots. In addition, it is not only the scenes shot in close-up, but also these series of longshots that recall Jean-François Lyotard's reflections on how the moving-image work approaches abstraction, through the deployment of "sterile differences in an audio-visual field."46 To illustrate this idea, Lyotard uses the analogy of a child lighting a match to watch it burn. He writes: "… the changing colours, the light flashing at the height of the blaze, the death of the tiny piece of wood, the hissing of the tiny flame."47 At the risk of drawing a tenuous parallel, but one I still recognize, Lyotard could arguably be describing both a high-speed version of the action of the weather on the barren desert landscape and on the men lost within it in Gerry, and also the optical effects of this action in terms of the composition of colors and light in the camera frame.

Rather than additional examples of Hollywood feature films, the combination of the performative elements of the body and the landscape in this film immediately bring to mind abstract art films in the tradition of Yoko Ono's Four and One and dancefilms like Amy Greenfield's Element and Tides (1982). Indeed, the approach to filmmaking in Gerry seems closer to filmmaking traditions that are informed by performative or performance-based practices. Gerry makes use of similar strategies to the dancefilm in order to hint at the cellular through the celluloid and displays a comparable intention of communicating about the body in the world through the expressivity of surface, substance and materiality in the camera frame.

To return to Walter Benjamin, whose words open this essay, is it not possible to recognize "hidden details of familiar objects,"48 in the speeded up camera-work of the passage from day to night in Gerry, or in the shots of clouds slowly journeying over the landscape. Although examples of the longshot, are these not simply further instances of the camera's ability to reveal "entirely new structural formulations of the subject"?49


Aubert, Maeva. Introduction and accompanying notes to Flux Film Anthology. Translated by Pip Chodorov. DVD. Paris: Re:Voir, 2010.

Balázs, Béla. Theory of the Film: Character and Growth of a New Art. Translated by Edith Bone. New York: Arno Press, 1972.

Banes, Sally and Lepecki, André, eds. The senses in performance. London: Routledge, 2007.

Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." 1936. Last modified February 2005.

Blackman, Lisa. The Body: The Key Concepts. Oxford: Berg, 2008.

Brannigan, Erin. Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Conomos, John. Mutant Media: Essays on Cinema, Video Art and New Media. Sydney, N.S.W: Artspace/Power, 2007.

Curtis, David, and British Film Institute. A History of Artists' Film and Video in Britain. London: British Film Institute, 2007.

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. London: Athlone Press, 1992.

____. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. London: The Athlone Press, 1989.

Doane, Mary Ann. "The Close-Up: Scale and Detail in the Cinema." Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 14 (2003): 89-111.

Elsaesser, Thomas and Malte Hagener. Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Lyotard, Jean-François and Andrew Benjamin. The Lyotard Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 1989.

Marks, Laura U. The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses. London: Duke University Press, 2000.

Moore, Rachel O. Savage Theory: Cinema as Modern Magic. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

Ono, Yoko, Jon Hendricks, Alexandra Munroe and Japan Society Gallery. Yes Yoko Ono. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000.

Ono, Yoko. "Yoko Ono on Yoko Ono." Film Culture 48-49 (Winter-Spring 1970): 32-33.

Parry, Jan. "We should be so lucky." Observer, May 25, 2003. Accessed May 28, 2013.

Pearlman, Karen. Cutting Rhythms: Shaping the Film Edit. Oxford: Elsevier Focal, 2009.

Reason, Matthew and Reynolds, Dee, eds. Kinaesthetic Empathy in Creative and Cultural Practices. Bristol: Intellect, 2011.

Roberts Adam. "Notes on Filming Dance." The International Journal of Screendance 2 (Spring 2012): 107-113.

Sobchack, Vivian. Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture. London: University of California Press, 2004.

Turvey, Malcolm, ed. The Filming of Modern Life, European Avant-garde film of the 1920s. London: MIT Press, 2011.

Walley, Jonathan. "Identity Crisis: Experimental Film and Artistic Expansion." October 137 (Summer 2011): 23-50.


Cost of Living (2004). Dir. Lloyd Newson and DV8 Physical Theatre. London: DV8 Films. DVD.

Dust (1998). Dir. Anthony Atanasio. Accessed May 28, 2013. Web.

Element (1973). Dir. Amy Greenfield. Accessed May 28, 2013. Web.

Four (1967). Dir. Yoko Ono. Flux Film Anthology. Paris: Re: Voir, 2010. DVD.

Gerry (2004). Dir. Gus Van Sant. London: Film Four, 2004. DVD.

Hands (1995). Dir. Adam Roberts. Accessed May 28, 2013. Web.

Joan of Arc (1928). Dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer. Accessed May 28, 2013. Web.

One (1966). Dir. Yoko Ono. Flux Film Anthology. Paris: Re: Voir, 2010. DVD.

Sabotage (1936). Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. The scene referred to by Mary Ann Doane can be accessed at Accessed May 28, 2013.


  1. Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,", last modified February 2005,

  2. Ibid.

  3. Ibid.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Jean Epstein, "Magnification and Other Writings", trans. Stuart Liebman, October 3 (1977): 9, quoted in Mary Ann Doane, "The Close-Up: Scale and Detail in the Cinema," Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 14 (2003): 90.

  7. Erin Brannigan, Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 3. Brannigan first uses this term on page 3 of her book and continues to do so throughout the text.

  8. Ibid, 39.

  9. Ibid, 51.

  10. Ibid, 43.

  11. Ibid, 39.

  12. Béla Balázs, Theory of the Film: Character and Growth of a New Art, trans. Edith Bone (New York: Arno Press, 1972): 25-26, quoted in Brannigan, Dancefilm, 42.

  13. Brannigan, Dancefilm, 43.

  14. Adam Roberts, "Notes on Filming Dance," International Journal of Screendance 2 (Spring 2012): 112.

  15. Brannigan, Dancefilm, 45.

  16. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (London: Athlone Press, 1992), 95-96, emphasis original.

  17. Ibid, 96.

  18. This scene starts at 45 minutes 28 seconds.

  19. Epstein, "Magnification", 9, quoted in Doane, "Close-Up", 90.

  20. Brannigan, Dancefilm, 41.

  21. Jean-François Lyotard and Andrew Benjamin, The Lyotard Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 171.

  22. Ibid.

  23. Ibid, 170.

  24. Alexandra Munroe, "Spirit of YES: The Art and Life of Yoko Ono", in Yoko Ono, et al., Yes Yoko Ono (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000), 13.

  25. Lyotard and Benjamin, Lyotard Reader, 171.

  26. Maeva Aubert, "fluxfilm #14" in Maeva Aubert, introduction and accompanying notes to Flux Film Anthology, trans. Pip Chodorov, DVD (Paris: Re:Voir, 2010), 34.

  27. Yoko Ono, "Yoko Ono on Yoko Ono", Film Culture 48-49 (Winter-Spring 1970): 32

  28. Maeva Aubert, "fluxfilm #16" in Maeva Aubert, Flux Film Anthology, 34.

  29. Yoko Ono, "Yoko Ono on Yoko Ono," 32.

  30. Benjamin, "The Work of Art".

  31. Brannigan, Dancefilm, 43.

  32. Ibid.

  33. Doane, "Close-Up", 96.

  34. Ibid, 97.

  35. Ibid, 103, emphasis original.

  36. Ibid., emphasis original.

  37. Roberts, "Notes", 111.

  38. Jan Parry, "We should be so lucky", Observer, May 25, 2003, accessed May 28, 2013,

  39. Branngian, Dancefilm, vii.

  40. Benjamin, "The Work of Art."

  41. Brannigan, Dancefilm, 43.

  42. Ibid.

  43. Ibid, vii.

  44. Lyotard and Benjamin, Lyotard Reader, 171.

  45. Brannigan, Dancefilm, 43, vii.

  46. Lyotard and Benjamin, Lyotard Reader, 171.

  47. Ibid., 171.

  48. Benjamin, "The Work of Art".

  49. Ibid.