How Does the Split-Screen Bare the Device of Conventional Videography Techniques?
With this sentence, Cécile Fontaine summarizes her decadelong cinematographic practice, her poetics, and her editing technique. Her films are born of discarded material—reels recovered by chance in flea markets and rubbish bins, ephemeral films, educational documentaries, travel reports, commercials, home movies, and more—to sum it up, found footage. From these films, which she physically manipulates with aggressive techniques, Fontaine constructs an imaginary world, a phantasmagoria of colors and shapes that transports the spectator to a parallel visual universe.
The broadness is understandable. The authors are cautious enough not to limit what can be understood by the term, exactly because there are no other terms against which to define it. This case in point leaves the impression that the vocabulary of a field is also limited, since it may not cover or accurately describe some cases. It is this limitation that makes it continually open to improvements and additions – a way for scholarly work to keep responding to the renewed creativity of films, videos, and television series. This essay arises from these introductory ideas and aims to explore and define a new term that can be contrasted with split-screen: that is, mosaic-screen. In this stylistic device, used in regular moments of the television series 24 (Sopocy, Martin. 1978), images that commonly vary in characteristics are arranged on screen.
Recent advances in digital technology make it easier to incorporate the fragmented frame into visual narrative strategies. I argue that properties inherent to the split-screen technique (including simultaneity, symmetry, visual irony, omniscient view and visual style) also emerge as attributes of a split-screen aesthetic.
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Carroll, N. 2003. Engaging the Moving Image. New Haven: Yale University Press. –––. 2008. The Philosophy of Motion Pictures. Oxford: Blackwell.
Sopocy, Martin. 1978. A Narrated Cinema: The Pioneer Story Films of James A. Williamson. Cinema Journal 18 (1): 1-28.