Moving Cinematic History: Filmic Analysis through Performative Research

Jenny Oyallon-Koloski, Dora Valkanova, Michael J. Junokas, Kayt Macmaster, Sarah Marks Mininsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we argue for the value of motion capture-driven research that moves audiovisual analysis in a performative direction to integrate the dancer/researcher into the cinematic space. Like the work of videographic practitioners who communicate their findings through the audiovisual medium, rather than the written medium, this work seeks to engage with what Catherine Grant and Brad Haseman have called performative research by applying a practice- led approach to moving image analysis. Through a physical and virtual embodiment of film and dance form, we seek to better understand the formal implications of dance’s integration into cinematic space and the material conditions that affected filmmakers’ narrative and stylistic choices. The Movement Visualization Tool (mv tool) is a virtual research environment that generates live feedback of multiple agents’ movement. Accessible motion capture technology renders an abstracted skeleton of the moving agents, providing information about movement pathways through space using color-based and historical traceform filters. The tool can also replicate a mobile frame aesthetic, allowing for a constructed mover and a virtually constructed camera to engage in performative dialogue. We use the mv tool and videographic methods to recreate and disseminate two cases: Movement scales from Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies and dance sequences from narrative cinema. Rather than working from existing audiovisual content, we posit that the act of recreating the movement phrases leads to a deeper understanding of the choreography and, in the case of the filmic examples, of the formal practices that led to their creation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDigital Humanities Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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