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The imagination of touch: surrealist tactility in the films of Jan Švankmajer

Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, 01 January 2013, Vol.5(1) [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    The imagination of touch: surrealist tactility in the films of Jan Švankmajer
  • Author: Noheden, Kristoffer
  • Found In: Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, 01 January 2013, Vol.5(1) [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  • Subjects: Czech Film ; Mimesis ; Walter Benjamin ; Poetics ; Analogy ; Materiality ; André Breton ; Gaston Bachelard ; Visual Arts
  • Language: English
  • Description: This article is a theoretical examination of tactility in the Czech surrealist filmmaker Jan Švankmajer's film Down to the Cellar (1983). Švankmajer's deployment of tactile images in a surrealist context shows the need for a discussion of the imagination's role in the embodied film experience. Departing from Laura Marks's The Skin of the Film, this article seeks to explore the surrealist embodied imagination through surrealist poetics of analogy, as defined by André Breton, and the link between these and Walter Benjamin's writings on mimesis. Finally, the film is viewed from the perspective of Gaston Bachelard's ideas of "the imagination of matter," where matter is seen as a highly potent stimulant for the imagination. Bachelard's notion of the imagination's multisensory properties further lends credence to Švankmajer's aims to liberate the imagination of the spectator through images that invoke touch. Kristoffer Noheden is a PhD candidate in cinema studies at the Department of Media Studies, Stockholm University. In his dissertation, he examines surrealism's attempts to create a new, re-enchanting myth with a focus on its expressions in surrealist cinema. He is the co-editor, with Daniel Brodén, of the anthology I gränslandet: Nya perspektiv på film och modernism (Gidlunds, 2013). He is also the translator into Swedish of books by William S. Burroughs, Leonora Carrington, Max Ernst, and others, and co-runs the surrealist-oriented publishing house Sphinx.
  • Identifier: E-ISSN: 2000-4214 ; DOI: 10.3402/jac.v5i0.21111

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