Le Manifesto De Mouvement

“Movement brings us volume and volume suggests life.”

This apparent observation declared by Metz in reference to film theory falls short of elaborating the intricacies of movement. The product of movement is stated as a phenomenon that “suggests life” without explaining how this might be possible. In an attempt to seek the relevance of movement to HCI, we search for the essence of movement responsible for its potency. What is it about movement that might indicate it could have volume, and how might that suggest life?

Movement is more than just change relative to time. We might phenomenologically describe time as an intersubjectively experienced dimension that we also share with perceived matter. Movements of observed objects are related to the perceiver through the revelation of the objects’ capacity for seeming change in the shared dimension of time.

Must an object spatially move for us to recognize its volume? Obviously a stationary object can be viewed from multiple angles when perceivers move around it. An object’s revealed size, sides and reflective properties can depend on the position of a perceiver. As perceivers move, changes are revealed about objects’ characteristics, causing objects to presumably interact with perceivers. This suggests that both perceivers and objects are participants. When a perceiver is not aware of its own movement around a stationary object, then the non-moving object may be perceived as changing. Due to movement, perceivers may structurally discern what an object can and cannot be. Interaction with objects undoubtedly surprises perceivers when objects change in unpredictable ways. Recognizable contextual order prevents confusion in the presence of surprise.  This surprise entices perceivers to participatingly redefine an object’s abilities.   The above analysis focusing on objects serves as an example for explaining movement in interpretations of situations encompassing all our sensory and cognitive abilities.

Movement is relative.  Two dimensional representations of reality in paintings and photography flatten the dimension of volume and time. The two flattened dimensions are generally limited to only providing predictable reflections and responses. However, the represented dimensions are not limited, and the perceiver is stimulated to cognize and relates the image to memorable experiences or movements. An image will still inspire movement despite its flattened dimension of time (such as noticing new detail after moving close to a large canvas or seeing an optical illusion in a different way). The meaning to the perceiver may also move as the perceiver’s memorable experiences or movements change and develop (such as in seeing the same photo of a relative before and after the relative passes away). In both situations, the image reflectively interacts with the perceiver in a different way because the perceiver moves.

I end here leading to an important point about movement that makes film more powerful than an image. We have not seen this point explicitly elaborated by Metz, Prince or Kracauer yet.  What is it about movement that additionally makes film so powerful?


  1. jeffreybardzell

    What is it about movement that additionally makes film so powerful?

    I think the issue is that prior forms of art (painting, sculpture, the novel) lack perceptually real movement, and yet our life takes place in constant motion amongst 3D objects (with volume). Thus, cinema creates an illusion of real life more compellingly than any earlier form, and that is its power. Because even in your example, we can perceive the volume of a stationary object–but only if *we* move. Thus, the perception of volume and of life are dependent on movement (of objects or perspectives).

    If you are interested in this concept, French philosopher Gilles Deleuze talks about the “movement-image,” which is the idea that by combining a moving camera and moving objects (e.g., a camera on a track that follows a driving car) film was able to give us views/experiences of reality that were humanly impossible beforehand.


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