For the very last event in the 2013-2014 ARTHEMIS Lecture Series, Raymond Bellour will be presenting a talk entitled “On Cinema and Other Moving Images”, as well as a workshop called “Cinema’s Body : Hypnoses, Emotions, Animal Nature.” These events will take place Friday April 4 and Saturday April 5 respectively.
Bellour’s presentation for ARTHEMIS will take place at 16h00 in MB 2,270. As for the workshop, places are limited and those interested in attending should contact Eric Prince <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Please join us for this final presentation in this year’s Lecture Series.
The heightened presence of photography in the cinema since the 1960s along with the growth of video beginning in the 1970s has long made it necessary to understand the nature of the operations for moving between various kinds of images, on the level of both the fact of the movement and the analogy of the representation. The digital revolution, however, helping give rise since the end of the last century to new ways of recording and disseminating images, has made it increasingly necessary today to distinguish between cinema images, which are essentially defined by the specificity of the experience that is unique to the screening of a film in a public venue, and every other mode of image consumption, in particular the increasing number of images shown in art galleries and museums of contemporary art.
Cinema’s Body : Hypnoses, Emotions, Animal Nature seeks to reach a better understanding of what a cinema spectator is, the body of a spectator caught in cinema’s body.
The book first takes up a comparison, which is widely used but never elucidated, between cinema and hypnosis – that enigmatic state between waking, dreaming and sleeping. This view of cinema as hypnosis, belonging to the history of systems of vision of which hypnosis has been a part since the late eighteenth century, takes three directions: a comparison of systems a meta-psychological interpretation; and the contemporary re-evaluation of hypnosis stimulated by neuro-biological research.
The basic starting point of the book is that there is equivalence between the state of cinema, understood as a mild form of hypnosis, and the body of emotions experienced while watching a film screening. Rather than conventional emotions of a psychological nature, however, these are primary emotions which Daniel Stern has called vitality affects: sentient reactions in small children induced by the corporeal and psychic structure of their experience, the premonitory signs of style in art. The cinema appears to be the site par excellence of these emotions with no name, constantly starting over and varying in nature. From this situation, cinema can pretend to be reality transformed into art.
Finally, this body of hypnosis and emotion is also the body of an animal. Man has an animal quality related to movement, to the most elementary aspect of the affected body. Cinema, since its conception and constantly throughout its history, has given itself over to depicting animals. Here it will be discussed in the example of American cinema, in which the animal, part pastoral and part wild, occupies a primary anthropological function. In modern European cinema, there emerges from this a more ontological vision. This book is largely conceived from the analysis of films. It seeks to reassess films in their most intimate details, where it is constructed out of micro-emotions and larger emotions. The choice of films was also as broad as possible, both historically and geographically: from Lumière films to modern and contemporary works by way of classical cinema and experimental or avant-garde cinema. It is hoped in this way to have touched the heart of cinema.
Certain authors inspired this approach in particular: in the case of hypnosis, Lawrence Kubie, Sigmund Freud, Léon Chertok and François Roustang; for infant development and neuro-biology, Daniel Stern and Antonio Damasio; and for film criticism and ideas about film, Gilles Deleuze and Serge Daney.
Raymond Bellour is a scholar, a writer and research director emeritus at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris. His work spans widely across several areas including romantic and contemporary literature (les Brontë, Ecrits de jeunesse  ; Alexandre Dumas, Mademoiselle Guillotine  ; Henri Michaux (1965) ; Lire Michaux ; has has also edited Michaux’s works for La Pléïade, 3 vols. [1998-2004]) and cinema (Le Western (1966) ; L’Analyse du film (1979) ; Le Corps du cinéma. Hypnoses, émotions, animalités (2009). A pioneer of the textual analysis of film (L’Analyse du film ; Le Cinéma américain, 2 vols. ), he has been especially interested by the place of the moving image holds with regards to mixed-media or inter-media arts practices and strategies – painting, photography, cinema, video, virtual images – as well as by the word/image relation (he curated the exhibit: Passages de l’image , and published various collections on these topics: L’Entre-Images. Photo, cinéma, video  ; Jean-Luc Godard : Son+Image  ; L’Entre-Images 2. Mots, images , La Querelle des dispositifs. Cinéma – installations, expositions  ; The exhibitions States of Images : Instants and Intervals , Thierry Kuntzel, Lumières du temps ). In 1991, along with Serge Daney, he founded the French journal Trafic, with which he is still affiliated.