Double-Deleuze: “Intelligent Materialism” Goes to the Movies


  • Bernd Herzogenrath Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, Germany


materialism, matter-image, Deleuze, Bill Morrison


This essay will focus on the nexus of film, time, and materiality. I will begin by introducing film’s constitutive|constituting move as the attempt to represent time in film which was already being discussed at the birth of the medium. Taking my cue from Bazin's influential article on the “Ontology of the Photographic Image,” I will shift my focus to the materiality of film: time leaves much more direct traces on film than any representation of time in film could ever achieve. Taking Bill Morrison’s film Decasia (2002) as example, I will direct a more “materialist” approach to the filmic material.

Material Culture is based on the premise that the materiality of objects are an integrative part and parcel of culture, that the material dimension is as fundamentally important in the understanding of a culture as language or social relations — but Material Culture mainly focuses on the materiality of everyday objects and their representation in the media [literature, film, arts, etc.]. Thus, a further and important step would be to re-direct such an analysis to the materiality of the media itself, to put the probing finger not only at the thing in representation, but the thing of representation. The medium “film” seems to me most fitting to test such an interface of Material Culture and Media Studies, since film has entertained a most complex relation to time from its early beginnings onward: film promised to [re]present temporal dynamics — and the temporality of things — directly, unmediated, a paradox that gives rise to the different “strategies” of what Deleuze calls the movement-image and the time-image respectively. Such a representation, however, is not only an effect of a perceptive illusion, but also of the repression of the very materiality of film itself.

If such an interest in the possibilities of the celluloid had already driven much of the 60s avant-garde [Brakhage, Jacobs, etc.], Decasia in addition does not only focus on film’s “thingness,” but also its own, particular “temporality.” Put together from found footage and archive material in various states of “dying,” this film reveals the “collaboration” of time and matter as in itself “creative,” and ultimately produces a category that that I will call the matter-image and that, I argue, neither Deleuze’s movement-image, nor his time-image completely grasp: here, time and matter produce their own filmic image.




How to Cite

Herzogenrath, B. (2014). Double-Deleuze: “Intelligent Materialism” Goes to the Movies. Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, (6), 52–72. Retrieved from