Sculptural Film

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Session for the Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians
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38th Annual AAH Conference & Bookfair
The Open University, Milton Keynes
29 - 31 March 2012

Session 19:
'Sculptural Film: Before and Beyond Richard Serra'
Session Convenor:

Katerina Loukopoulou, University College London,

Has process sculpture stolen the idea of the sculptural film? Richard Serra's Hand Catching Lead (1968) has become the locus classicus with which recent writings have engaged in order to reflect on the sculptural possibilities of film, screens and time-based, light-emanating media. In a 1978 essay Benjamin Buchloch deployed the term 'sculptural' apropos Serra's films, and pointed to László Moholy-Nagy's Lightplay (1930) as their only precursor; since then, this genealogy has been reiterated in writings about sculptural aesthetics and the moving image. Sculptural film has thus been mainly conceptualized in relation to a limited scope of artistic movements and historical moments: from interwar modernism to postminimalism. This session proposes to disentangle sculptural film from this narrative; it invites papers which pursue alternative lines of enquiry about the ways that sculpture and cinema have been in dialogue with each other within specific historical and geographical contexts before and beyond the process sculpture paradigm. To what extent (since their early days) have the 'new' media of photography and cinema turned to the 'old' medium of sculpture in search of models of reproducibility, monumentality and three-dimensionality? Why did Brancusi place his sculpture Leda on a turnstile and film it? What can we make of Agnès Varda's statement that she aspired to depict emotions in film as subtly as Henry Moore's rendering of solidity within transparent holes? How can we approach screen and light installations, which offer new types of sculptural constellations by knowingly pointing to aesthetic registers from pre-cinematic eras?

Papers with new historiographical, theoretical and conceptual propositions on sculptural film matters are welcome.

Call for Papers, application deadline 7 November 2011