Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on what the practice of screenshotting can teach us about how we watch movies.
Oh, what? So we’re just going to pretend like we all don’t have a folder on our desktop of screenshots of James Bond sneaking into places while disguised as various animals? Or a folder of screenshots documenting Nicole Kidman’s career-long wig journey? Come on, admit it. There’s nothing wrong with taking a screenshot when the urge moves you. After all, for the vast majority of film’s history being able to capture individual frames of the moving image was no easy feat!
For a long time, if you wanted a still image of a film, you had to blow up an actual frame of the print. Or you had to find some way of pausing and photographing the film with a separate, analog device. Publicity stills gave the illusion of film frames, but they’re typically staged photographs and often inauthentic to what actually transpires on-screen. These days capturing an image of a film is as easy as the press of a button. Well, several buttons. In sequence. You get the idea.
The video essay below looks to frame the practice of screenshotting movies in an admirably intellectual light. It is, the essay argues, the cinematic equivalent of highlighting evocative sentences in a book, underlining compelling ideas so that you can do something with them at a later date. A screenshot is potential material to work with. Maybe that just means holding onto frames for future amusing Tweets. Or maybe there’s something more to the impulse of capturing frames, a pull that compels us to want to grab ahold and possess specific artistic moments.
Watch “Practices of Viewing: Screenshot”:
Who made this?
This video essay on screenshots and the cinematic experience is by Dr. Johannes Binotto. Dr. Binotto is a researcher and film scholar, presently teaching at the Lucerne School of Art and Design and the University of Zurich. You can check out more of Dr. Binotto’s work on his personal website and you can follow him on Vimeo here.
More videos like this
- The above video is a part of a series of essays titled “Practices of Viewing.” To watch more entries in the series, click through for musings on auto-muted social media feeds, the pause button, and the ability to fast-forward.
- And for more of Dr. Binotto’s work, here’s an essay on how following cats in Alfred Hitchock‘s filmography leads to other cats, other films, to radical political notions, and a wary take on the cinematic gaze.
- And finally, here’s an experimental video from Dr. Binotto, on what happens when you rob a film of its keyframes (spoiler: it’s trippy as all hell).
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