At Cinepoetics we inquire the interaction of cinematic images with other cinematic images, investigating how these emerge from other images and produce new ones. Thus, our research is based on the premise that audiovisual images are always involved in dynamic discursive processes and also initiate these processes in the first place. Consequently, we must develop an understanding of historical processuality in order to make this discursivity graspable in a both theoretical and analytical sense.
The historicity of cinematic images cannot be reduced to their context; it goes beyond a mere representation of historical facts and circumstances. Therefore, a specific dimension of historical experience must be explored and examined in the aesthetic mode of film. This has also been pointed out in recent approaches within the context of film historiography, as well as in research on the archeology of cinema experience and on the mediality of cultural memory formation. The historicity of a film (or a group of films) is thus to be conceived of as a specifically constituted space of experience. It is only in this space where different temporal modalities (be they cultural, cinematic, or subjective in nature) are put in relation to one another. Eventually, this relation can be defined as an always historically singular constellation.
At the center of our work for this winter term is the question how the thinking of cinematic images, the poiesis of film viewing, can be grasped as a construction of such space of historical experience. We assume that the poetics of cinematic images can be understood as a plurality of different world versions. In an interplay of film viewing and filmmaking, these different concepts aim at the creation of shared perceptions of the world—by means of demarcation, extrapolation, and variation. Synchronically, these poetological world concepts of cinematic images might compete with, or depend on, each another; diachronically, their history would have to be reconstructed as a process of permanent refiguration—a refiguration of various aesthetic forms of community building.
Talking about a poetology in this sense does not imply the identification of taxonomies and conventions; rather, it refers to the historical bifurcations of a poiesis of film viewing, and therefore points to the history of describing and re-describing a common world. This history is realized under the changing conditions of understanding, judging, feeling, and imagining in specific political, cultural, and media-technological constellations. We are not only interested in what might be historical about cinematic images (as products of a poiesis of film viewing) and could be related to any kind of history (political, social, etc.); above all, we want to investigate how these images define an understanding of historicity, or, in the words of Frank Ankersmit, how they produce historical experience as an aesthetic experience in the first place.
The ways to explore this in detail lead back to the work we have done in previous semesters: In connection to our research focus of 2015/16, “Metaphor - Film Images, Cinematic Thinking, and Cognition” we want to relate cinematic processes of metaphorization to analogous description models in historiological thinking (for instance Reinhart Koselleck, Hayden White, Paul Ricoeur). With Hannah Arendt und Michel de Certeau, we build on our research focus of summer 2017, “Poetics and Politics,” by looking at the relationship between poetic world views and processes of cultural and political community building. This relationship shall be specified using the example of heterogeneous communities of taste and their modern tactics of consumption. Tightly linked to this strain is a genre-poetical approach as we have formulated it within the context of our previous work on genre and affect (winter 2016/17). This approach seeks to reconstruct the differentiations of the poiesis of film viewing as an historical unfolding of different affect modalities. Here we will examine the bifurcations of various genres of cinematic images, their transformations (Fredric Jameson), affinities (Siegfried Kracauer), and their dialogical interdependencies Mikhail Bakhtin) with other generic forms of art and entertainment.
All these approaches, which will be discussed in colloquiums and exemplified with thematic workshops, are based on the assumption that the historicity of cinematic images is not an implicit cultural or historical knowledge applied to film; rather, and this is how this term’s core hypothesis could be formulated, the poetic dimension of experiencing cinematic images always concerns the possibilities of understanding history, as well: It shapes the conditions of this understanding.