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The time of gesture in cinema and its ethics

Cowie, Elizabeth (2014) The time of gesture in cinema and its ethics. Journal for Cultural Research, 19 (1). pp. 82-95. ISSN 1479-7585. E-ISSN 1740-1666. (doi:10.1080/14797585.2014.920181) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:61756)

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This essay explores the ethical and gesture in film, developing from Giorgio Agamben’s two ideas of gesture – of the movement that gesture constitutes, trans- forming the photographic into the cinematic; and what is pointed to as the feeling, or ethical stance that the gesture instantiates. In representation – whether literary or audio-visual, live or recorded, the time and timeliness of gesture as both the action of a moment, and the movement it constitutes, demands a reading, a recognition, that spurs understanding but also opens a gap in meaning. Gesture involves move- ment, an action in time, but it also appears as a moment of action, and not as a continuing movement, thus the moment of the gesture becomes stilled in its time of action as a communication. A gesture is a kind of event, crystallising meaning at a moment, while opening up to something next. Time here is therefore the time of the action itself, seconds or minutes, the stilling of that natural time in the moment of recognition by the observer or spectator of the action and its (potential) meaning, and the opening of implication of a time-to-be, a becoming inaugurated but not caused by the gesture. Agamben’s gesture is anti-realist, in his philosophy of ethics as the gestural as undertaking and supporting and hence of responsibility. It is the enigmatic, undecidable quality of gesture in Atom Egoyan’s Exotica that will be the focus of this essay. Gesture here is an action that carries the burden of responsibility in which the subject neither makes something nor enacts something.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/14797585.2014.920181
Uncontrolled keywords: gesture; embodiment; performance/enactment; time and gesture; trauma and mourning; ethics of desiring
Subjects: N Visual Arts
N Visual Arts > N Visual arts (General). For photography, see TR
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Elizabeth Cowie
Date Deposited: 17 May 2017 10:19 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2021 12:56 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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