The Gestus project consists of a custom software that generates a vector analysis of the videos in a data set, and uses this analysis to search for sequences containing similar movements. It then renders similar sequences side-by-side as a split-screen display, enabling users to compare the movements that occur in them. The software thus brings together scenes from different locations in the story, finding echoes between very diverse moments in the film. Gestus cues the viewer to engage in an active process of visual thinking, comparing the two images in an effort to identify the similarities between them. Sometimes, the viewer easily detects similarities but in other cases the movements are very subtle and occur in different areas of a crowded image, posing a sharper perceptual challenge. The viewer’s gaze becomes restless as it scans simultaneous images, attempting to identify analogous movements. The system invites, challenges, and sometimes frustrates the spectator’s cognitive-perceptual skills. The current database contains shots from Louis Feuillade’s 1916 film Judex. This film is particularly appropriate for the Gestus project. Feuillade worked within a tradition of ‘tableau cinema’ that relied on deep space staging rather than camera movement or rapid editing. This approach creates dynamically changing geometric arrangements of bodies in space. Gestus foregrounds the rhythmic quality of Feuillade’s deep space orchestrations.
City University of Hong Kong