Film as Fabric: A visual essay signalling the importance of clothing in expanded cinema performance | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2052-4013
  • E-ISSN: 2052-4021

Abstract

In this visual essay, I discuss how clothing made for an expanded cinema performance entitled took on significance. The live work shows analogue film as fabric and stitching as editing to highlight historical relationships between textile practice and experimental filmmaking. The work developed through iterations from 2013 to 2017 as a part of doctorate research carried out from 2012 to 2020. My position as an experimental filmmaker with a background in embroidery grounded the study. Annabel Nicolson’s seminal live expanded cinema performance (1973), in which she punctured 16mm film with her unthreaded sewing machine, was also a point of departure. Feminist critique from both disciplines – film and textile studies – supported the possibility of repressed relationships between the fields. Feminist scholars have repeatedly problematized contextualization of experimental filmmaking as narrow and misplaced (Blaetz 2007; Hatfield 2006; Reynolds 2009, 2012; Rhodes 1979). Until now, connections with textile practice in experimental filmmaking have been largely overlooked, most likely because domestic crafts have a long association with women’s work (Barber 1994), are central to deep rooted Western stereotypes of femininity, and remain denigrated art forms (Parker 2010). The development of led to the creation of hybrid tools, forms and gestures, such as optical sounds and moving images made from fabric and stitch patterns. These were measured on the body, cut with dressmaking scissors, stitched, spliced into loops and projected in former cotton mills. This process allowed sounds associated with textile production and my personal textile ancestry to re-surface in new ways. The live context demands attention is given to material practices, which typically take place out of sight in the home and the film cutting room and have also recently undergone significant shifts in cultural status.

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2022-05-01
2024-04-15
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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): dressmaking; expanded cinema; feminism; histories; stitch; women’s work
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