“The physical anxiety of the form itself”

A Haptic Reading of Phil Solomon’s Experimental Films

in Projections
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Abstract

The haptic turn in film studies, which has been growing in currency since the late 1990s, is gaining support from recent studies in cognitive neuroscience. This article draws on this convergence, as a productive route to investigating experimental cinema. Phil Solomon’s concept of “the physical anxiety of form itself” is taken up as a point of departure for close analysis of three films: The Secret Garden (1988), The Snowman (1995), and Walking Distance (1999). The article investigates the artist’s optical, chemical, and manual working processes, as well as the specific choice of found footage. Relying primarily on Embodied Simulation theory, the focal argument pivots on Solomon’s “physical anxiety” as it is instantiated in somatosensory arousal. Solomon’s films are analyzed as effective mediators of intersubjective engagement, of the particular “haptic” type. Experimental cinema is thus approached from outside the discursive frame of avant-garde poetics, drawing attention to new perspectives that are currently opening up for moving image studies.

Contributor Notes

Hava Aldouby, PhD, is a member of the senior faculty at the Open University of Israel, Department of Literature, Language and Arts. Her research interests pivot on moving-image art, spanning experimental cinema, new media, and video art. She is the author of Federico Fellini: Painting in Film, Painting on Film (University of Toronto Press, 2013). She is a contributor to Ori Gersht: History Reflecting (MFA Publications, 2014), and is currently preparing a monograph on the works of video artist Ori Gersht, under the working title “Ori Gersht: Photography, Video, and the Quest for Presence.”

Projections

The Journal for Movies and Mind

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