The term ‘moving image’ embraces a merging of film and video genres, referencing recently advancing digital technologies (including smart phones and multi-screen installations) as well as the once-thought ‘phased-out’ 35 (or 16) mm celluloid film. Moving image has gained prominence in contemporary art as evidenced by the 2018 Turner Prize exhibition, in which the four finalists were all nominated their for moving image works.Read More
Moving image can be as diverse as artists’ films, made to be shown in galleries or museums, sometimes as part of installations in exhibition spaces; experimental cinema, designated for selected theatres, curated ‘avant-garde’ festivals, art institutions, and cinema clubs; and spectacular installations on large screens in public spaces for big crowds.
The history of moving image can be traced as far back as 1877, when the British American photographer Eadweard Muybridge succeeded in taking consecutive photographs of horses in motion after experimenting for five years. Muybridge’s photographic studies of animal locomotion contributed greatly to the development of the motion-picture industry that would be pioneered by the Edison Company and the Lumière brothers, among others, in the coming decades.
The chronology of moving image as an artistic practices encompasses the histories of avantgarde and experimental film, video, and later digital technologies. Avantgarde cinema emerged in the 1920s, led by artists who rejected the conventional structure and narrative of film by focusing on form and employing innovative editing techniques such as montage and deconstructing and reassembling images. Seminal examples of early avantgarde films include Fernand Léger’s Ballet mécanique (1924), Marcel Duchamp’s Anémic Cinéma (1926), Man Ray’s Emak-Bakia (1926); and Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s Un Chien Andalou (1929).
Artists continued to experiment with motion pictures while consciously deviating from or twisting the rules of mainstream cinema. Oskar Fischinger’s combination of music and animated geometric forms in Study (Studie) series (1929–23) saw the prototype of animated music videos before the age of computer graphics; Len Lye’s A Colourful Box (1935) received both commendations and criticism in the art world for his use of bright colours and hand-painted abstract designs. In 1958, Lee further tested the materiality and boundaries of film with Free Radicals, for which he scratched the surface of film with a needle to create pictographic designs.
In the following decade, pioneering artists began exploring the possibilities of video technology. Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell were among the first to incorporate television into artworks, with the television set in Paik’s Kuba TV (1963) changing the size of the image on its screens according to volume while Vostell presented six televisions atop furniture in the installation Television Décollage (also 1963). Others challenged the established rules of film, such as Andy Warhol’s eight-hour long video of the Empire State Building (Empire ) that defies the cinematic convention of compressing a long duration into the time frame of a movie.