Fotograf Magazine

Martin Arnold

Arnold In Action

In 2002, Martin Arnold realized a rather ambitious project in the venue of the Vienna Kunsthalle – a series of three digital video installations titled Deanimated. Within the overall body of work of this most illustrious figure of Austrian experimental cinema (found footage), this gallery triptych represents a radical shift from his original stance as a film-maker. After his film Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy (1998) and a hiatus of several years, Arnold departed from “celluloid-based cinema” and the imposed limitations of the traditional cinema space – that is, the flat single screening surface. In doing so, he also rejected the idea of fossilizing within his previous working method, both original and painstaking, of “faltering” repetitive frame-by-frame editing. He had employed this technique to unmask the most innocent and seemingly unmarked one-second shots from Hollywood classics (i.e. the 432 frames from a scene of a husband’s arrival home in piecè touchée, 1989). On the other hand, a constant feature of Arnold’s work with the moving image remains his focus on using already existing material, chiefly of American provenance. He might use as the basis for his intervention – and the resultant outcome – an entire film, a single scene, or a static frame. Embracing the medium of digital video, the use of non-linear editing and animation software as well as other possibilities for “surgical” operations (pixel-by-pixel graphic work) opened for Arnold also the perspective of a more delicate form of manipulation of both sound and image, with the same objective: to focus attention on everything that the system of cinema normally hides, suppresses and makes invisible. The concept of a stuttering film image (repeated jumping forward and backward between frames) is replaced in his videos by the principle of de-animation, a pointed obliteration of various characters from the film or from selected shots. The blatant absence of actors or a narrative draws attention to the faltering fiction, to the suddenly questionable framing, or various elements of the mise-en-scene.

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#19 Film