Rhythmic Trajectories is a series of short études set to accentuate, visually and sonically, rhythmic elements of specific film sequences. As film editor and researcher, I am interested in revealing and visually expressing cinematic rhythm. I am following hereby the idea of Karen Pearlman stating that “the functions of rhythm are to create cycles of tension and release and to synchronize the spectator’s physical, emotional, and cognitive fluctuations with the rhythms of the film.” (Pearlman 2009: 61) These are the rhythmic trajectories constituting a sensuous, kinesthetic knowledge about a film. In my work, I am interested in visualizing them, adding a layer of a visual ‘close reading’ to the given film sequence preserving the original sequence. The research project is situated at the intersection of information visualization, digital humanities and artistic practice and follows a mixed method approach.
The first étude uses a sequence from the short documentary Wagah (Supriyo Sen, 2009, Germany/India), edited by the author, showing the bizarre choreography of the flag lowering ceremony on the Indian-Pakistani border. The video essay examines how rhythm can be built out of different elements such as sound and movement, color, graphical structures, cuts, etc. The rhythmical structure has been deconstructed and formalized to reach an abstract notation and to represent a movement. The second Étude focuses on the rhythm of gestures using a scene from the film A Woman Under Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974, USA), edited by David Armstrong, showing the main lead, Gena. Rowlands, wildly gesticulating during a fight with her husband in the film, Peter Falk. This is a ‘close-up’ of the gestures that are defining and leading the conversation. Using a similar visualization method, gestures are transposed into colorful meandering lines.