Project: The Art of the Arts: Art-house Cinema Allegories of Creation as Authorial Discourse of a Coenaesthetic Intermedial Nature

This research project is based on the idea that cinema is, in terms of versatility, the first of the arts, although it was deemed by Ricciotto Canudo, partly for chronological reasons, the Seventh Art.

Its intrinsic spatial and temporal dimensions together with its technical nature grant it a specificity not held by any other of the preceding arts. Genetically, cinema was already considered by Canudo, in 1911, a sum of the other art forms, but at the current moment of the 20th century the profusion of technological means only confirms that status. Films, wherever they exist and are consumed, are an absolute artistic form because they allow us to conceptualize its nature further, in allegorical artefacts as well as in essay form. Both types of films – allegories and essays - concern the self-reflexive questioning of the creators in relation to their artistic artefacts, undertaken in a constant dialogue with the other art forms (i.e., self-reference as well as metaphoric and metonymic representation). This meta-intermediality is here considered an extension of the authorial metacinematic discourse of certain creators.

However, it should be noted that not all metacinema is intermedial and inter-artistic. For this purpose, the project will analyze:

  1. the art allegory and its spectacle
  2. the ars poetica essay film which conveys a cine-vision (i.e. worldview of the author). The existing relationship between these two modalities of authorial discourse and narrative modes will also be considered.

This research project grants that cinema is an instrument of aesthetic experience, implying a creator, who is the genesis of the work of art, and a viewer endowed with decoding abilities. Thus cinema is taken to be a communicational act of an artistic nature, which immediately presupposes a content. The plasticity of the materials is in itself a content. In this scope, however, it is preferable to apply the mutable and versatile dimension of cinema to arthouse films - known in French as "cinéma d'auteur" – instead of to Avant-garde or experimental films, where the message is just the medium. In the context of this research, the message should, simultaneously, be looked for in the form and the content (i.e., the ideas). Still, it is not enough to investigate what the authors want to convey; it is necessary to consider to whom the message is destined and what the effects will be.

The intermedial and inter-artistic variety of arthouse cinema communicates with the viewer in a rather different way than commercial entertainment cinema (known as mainstream cinema) and the more linear and classical forms. Instead of the traditional identification of the viewer with the characters, these films focus on the appreciation for the physical matter. In general, these arthouse films possess a lyrical and poetical dimension, just like poetry; a plastic, sometimes volumetric, excess, just like painting and sculpture; a strong rhythmic nature, just like dance, music and theatre. Ultimately, and understandably, the fusion between cinema and the other art forms generates a coenaesthetic phenomenon which engages all the viewer's senses (and not just sight and hearing) which is more engaging than other forms of spectatorial involvement. Consequently, this research analyses the sensorial effect of the art forms on the body of the viewer, inasmuch this experience is simultaneously immersive and cognitively challenging. These films are works of art about art, appealing to the totality of the viewer (mind and body).


Fátima Chinita, postdoc