Water and Film: Fluidity of Time and Space and Its Somatic Perception

by | Oct 23, 2018

A recent WIREs Water review analyses the close relationship between water and moving images.

“There is so much water in this film” stated film critic Mark Le Fanu stated about the famous Soviet science fiction art film Stalker, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1979. What he said can easily be applied to numerous cinematographic works throughout the whole history of audiovisual media.

A recent WIREs Water review analyses the close relationship between water and moving images on multiple levels.

First, the study investigates the theoretical affinities: Water and the ways it can be perceived pose an apt analogy to conceptualize how the sensual relationship between moving images and the recipient can be understood. Second, the study is based on the hermeneutic analysis of filmic forms that stage water and expose fluidity in moving images. It quotes numerous film examples – as well as some recent music videos.

The analyses show how the transitions between dream and reality in moving images can literally be felt as being fluid. This is followed by the investigation of how films position the human subject in relation to liquid surfaces. What are the narrative as well as the atmospheric consequences?

Similar questions can be raised when the human body is shown as fully immersed in liquid spaces. Such floating bodies are often staged within specific settings such as swimming pools or aquariums. As an extreme existentialistic image, the drowned body occupies a special place in cultural history.

The investigation of human bodies in aquatic surroundings finally leads to the reflection of the fundamental relationship between voyeurism, eroticism and physical–tactile cinematic experience.


Kindly contributed by Franziska Heller.

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