The Rhythm of Images

Cinema beyond Measure

2021
Author:

Domietta Torlasco

The Rhythm of Images

A rigorous and imaginative inquiry into rhythm’s vital importance for film and the moving image


Focusing attention on a concept much neglected in the study of film, The Rhythm of Images opens new possibilities for thinking about expanded perception and idiosyncratic modes of being. With innovative readings of artworks and critical texts alike, The Rhythm of Images fashions a vibrant, provocative theory of rhythm as the excess or potential of perception.

Focusing attention on a concept much neglected in the study of film, The Rhythm of Images opens new possibilities for thinking about expanded perception and idiosyncratic modes of being. Author Domietta Torlasco draws on both critical theory and cinema to elaborate a notion of rhythm in its pre-Socratic sense as a “manner of flowing,” a fugitive and irregular mode that privileges contingency and calls up the forgotten fluidity of forms. She asks what it would mean to take this rhythm as an ontological force in its own right, and her sustained response intermingles interpretation and creation, formal experimentation and theoretical precision. Rhythm emerges here as a pivotal means of resistance to power, and thus a key to defining the relationship between the aesthetic and the political.

Working with constellations of films and media works by key international artists—from Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean-Luc Godard, and David Lynch to Harun Farocki and Victor Burgin, among others—Torlasco brings to bear on them her distinctive concept of rhythm with respect to four interrelated domains: life, labor, memory, and medium. With innovative readings of artworks and critical texts alike, The Rhythm of Images fashions a vibrant, provocative theory of rhythm as the excess or potential of perception.

Ultimately, the book makes a major intervention in thinking about the relation between rhythm as a form that eludes measure and the world-making power of images. The result is a vision of cinema as a hybrid medium endowed with the capacity not only to reinvent corporeal boundaries but also to find new ways of living together.

The Rhythm of Images

Domietta Torlasco is a critical theorist, filmmaker, and associate professor in the Department of French and Italian and in the Comparative Literary Studies Program at Northwestern University. She is author of The Heretical Archive: Digital Memory at the End of Film (Minnesota, 2013) and The Time of the Crime: Phenomenology, Psychoanalysis, Italian Film. Her recent video essays screened at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

The Rhythm of Images

Contents


Acknowledgments


Introduction


1. Life


2. Labor


3. Memory


4. Medium


Notes


Index