Aesthetics in the Present: Powers of the Moving Image

Our project does not seek to completely overhaul the notion of aesthetics, even within the parameters of cinema, but rather to promote concrete effects which share an interest in the nature, powers, and impacts of the filmic form in its contemporary state. It aims to rediscover aesthetic inspiration for the present day — if aesthetics is indeed the discipline which studies the relationship between the perceptibility of form and knowledge of the world.

The scope of this project is not limited to a traditional definition of cinema, and emphasizes not the sociology of productions, but rather their capacity for formal invention. Our starting point is the idea that, if images are capable of having a mental or psychological effect on a human subject, this is due to the work that these images do to transform the fragments of the world that they represent even when they are produced by human hands. Contiguously, the capturing of sensation is, if nothing else, the central point of reflection on the semantic, cognitive, and expressive processes that are inherent in film.

We have defined three main research axes — though not to the exclusion of other potentially innovative approaches:

  the pixel : the pixel, as both a constituent (a “picture-element”) of the digital image as it appears on a screen with a higher or lower degree of resolution, and as an apriori condition of its digital processing, with all the different forms that such processing may take.

  the detail, whose stakes include both acts of visualization (including visualization pushed to its extreme: the act of showing that one is showing), and acts of signification (including meaning as an enigma), and which is thus located at the heart of any study of the powers of the image.

 the present, as a crucial question for reflecting on the various media of moving (and therefore temporal) images, insofar that this notion is, given its relationship to time, both inevitable and unthinkable.