'Slow Cinema': Temporality and Style in Contemporary Art and Experimental Film
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis explores a stylistic current within contemporary art and experimental film that will be referred to here as 'slow cinema'. This type of cinema privileges a number of distinct and recognisable tropes: the application of the long take, an undramatic narrative or non-narrative structure, a tendency toward realist or hyperrealist representation, and a pronounced stillness of composition and visual content. This thesis details the evolution of slow cinema over the course of the last three decades (in line with both dominant and marginal cultural transitions under neoliberalism), and places its aesthetics in the context of relevant innovations in post-war modern and experimental film. The first chapter outlines the contemporary shape of 'slow cinema' by describing its most typical characteristics (in relation to narrativity and modes of realism); the second chapter focuses on the device of the sequence shot and the continuing relevance of the criticism of André Bazin in relation to contemporary durational film; the third chapter situates slow cinema in the context of an opposition to the compression of temporality in neoliberal culture; and the fourth chapter encompasses a study of two recent tributes to the cinema of Yasujiro Ozu, followed by an extended reflection on the digital regime of contemporary film production. As a whole, this thesis aims to map a set of unique aesthetic strategies across a number of post-war and contemporary durational films, and to place the field of 'slow cinema' within a suitably broad framework of related film-historical, cultural and socioeconomic trends.
PhD in English