Twentieth Century: Art in Motion
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
Created on Monday, 16 May 2016 11:33
After photography, the big innovation in the artistic world was film, when the attempt was made to put movement into the frozen image of photographs. In the early twentieth century, film developed rapidly when the successive projection of printed photographs onto a tape became possible. This projection works with a mechanism that blocks the image around 50% of the time, leaving the screen blank, but this is not perceived by the viewer, because the images are recorded on the retina.
This mechanism of visual deception is known as ‘persistence of vision’ and it is due to an imperfection of the human eye that allows the image to be recorded on the retina for a split second after it is seen. The retina adapts to the darkness of movie theaters and when combined with the brightly lit screen the duration of the vision increases. So movement in film is an illusion, just like television, video, the computer and virtual reality. All these technologies work under the same principle of visual deception.
The images that make up a virtual reality setting are constructed by modeling objects in 3D. Each object is modeled paying attention to the different angles from which it will be viewed during movement. The same thing happens with television, video, film, etc., where what you see is a series of still images.
Film was created with the influence of all the arts: narrative, painting, space, use of light, shadow and textures; music for rhythm, dance and its movement of figures and characters in a defined space, photography on the two-dimensional plane and the search for a three-dimensional reality through perspective. So film is made using methods and knowledge that come from several centuries ago. And the same applies to digital technology.
The application of film to art was considered from its inception, especially with the advent of German Expressionism, French New Wave and Italian Neorealism, and it reached high levels on many occasions. Film as a business emerged in Hollywood, although art was only detected in European cinema in the 1920s through Expressionism in painting and theater, as well as in images of Surrealism in France.
Although sound and color came later, making the image more real, it was found that film does not meet the expectation of faithfulness demanded by reality, because it is ungraspable, with film attempting to turn illusion into reality. In fact, virtual reality has been the result of visual and technological experimentation since the Renaissance. Technology has always been applied to artistic expressions and industrialization impacted the popularization of both the conventional work of art and the digital or electronic art of today. A film, video or electronic work has the same opportunity to be recognized as an artistic work as traditional art, regardless of the material medium with which it is created.
In 1909 ‘Futurism’ was born in Italy and it has been viewed as part of the artistic avant garde in the twentieth century. That was the time when several artists tried to bring into painting and poetry the principles and forms of expression of Futurist manifestos that included recklessness, the leap of faith, the slap or punch to promote aggression, violence, force and invincibility. The ideas of the Futurists revolved around the machine and speed, although they have been accused of glorifying imperialism, violence and Fascism.
Apart from a cosmetic change, the Futurists also sought to transform the lives of human beings and the dominant note in their manifestos was an anthem to the struggle, war, militarism, the omnipresent speed, the masses, light, electricity and metal. It was the movement from which Dadaist and Surrealist tendencies originated, as well as the culture of the masses expressed as pop art in Britain and the United States.
Since 1950 the exhibition of objects and industrial artefacts has been encouraged and they have been transformed into so-called pop culture. The idea of the participation of the masses in art emerged with emphasis being placed on the tendency for massification of objects to lead to a loss of artistry. However this gave birth to a different way of relating to art through objects such as serialization, comics, viewer participation in critical works, etc.
Pop artists directed their art to the masses and their intent was to reach the everyday life of all people, as was the case with Warhol’s Mona Lisa used to advertise Campbell’s soup. Unfortunately, there is currently a large number of digital images that are becoming commonplace and we have reached a saturation point with trite images that show little artistry, as happened in the heyday of pop.
Although some well-known art critics are making a kind of ultraconservative retreat to traditional art, mentioning the importance of contemplation of the aesthetic work and suggesting that art should remain in a serious academic space. This could mean that the works produced with new technologies retain their artistic value and expressive ability.
Addendum: The emergence of the digital world at the beginning of the 21st century leads us to think that the traditional artistic activity will disappear or be completely transformed, as is happening with literature, with dance and with music. But there is no doubt that artistic illusion in human beings will live forever.