Birgit Richard

Drop hot shit on the spot! Understanding three-minute clip-culture

This article outlines a methodology for the analysis of two different kinds of moving technical images which show a lot of common features as well as basic media-structural differences: namely film and music video. On the background of the fine arts both of these pictorial forms are still regarded as trivial and thus, to legitimize their examination, the employed strategies usually contain the proof of references to the avant-garde in art.

But how are both medial forms connected with each other? Peter Weibel argues that the music-clip’s design features are partly derived from the formal language of classical avant-garde which then also radiates via film. However, his argument has to be relativized. In fact the interdependencies of both pictorial forms are more complex and not just a matter of moving image and commercial context. Intermediality, as so often self-evidently assumed, does not exist. Cinematic screen and video-monitor show in the audio-visual run off principally different space-time relations. And the difference of both gets even more evident in the phenomenon of the picture rhythm. Whereas cinema is dominated by a mechanical pictorial rhythm produced through the projector, the video image appears and disappears via the writing cathode ray. In contrast to the movie image, fixed in the projector, the video signal does not project light but an image from an image (Paech 1994: 48). The different medial principles are also obvious as the music video is in each scanning point a pulsation of the image itself. The rhythm turns into a figurative element and is no longer caused by the connection of the figurative difference in picture and beat, instead its pulsation blends with figures of musical vibration.

For Paech counts the medial-structural premise, according to which the electronic image, produced by the cathode ray, is connected to the arts only by a simulation and destruction of avant-garde pictures. Therefore, music-videos represent only to a very limited degree a hybrid link between artistic avant-garde forms of expression and mass-culture. The music-video is a non-linear, non-cartesian, recursive medium, determined by a permanent time axis manipulation. Kittler assumes that the age of the image has ended, in which the human being is the decisive standard. The music-video indicates the future of a mutated human double (Kittler 1990: 48). Standards of picture criticism are changing: now the artistic technique is in the center of interest. The digitally manipulated picture is the “acrobat” performing unbelievable stunts on the screen on a non-stop basis (Ernie Tee 1990: 8).

Digital pictures appeared first in music-clips not in commercials to which they are often compared because of the similar length. Meanwhile digital technologies play an important part in contemporary movies, too. Here the digital ornament embraces also actors and actresses, like in “Gladiator” (USA 2000) or MI:2 (USA 2000). But even before that many films polemized against traditional picture forms, respectively against terms like truth or reality. The concurrence of the following movies is actually quite scary: “Dark City” by Andy and Larry Wachowski, USA 1998; “The 13th Floor” by Josef Rusnak, Germany/USA 1999; “Pleasantville” by Gary Ross, USA 1998; “The Truman Show” by Peter Weir, USA 1998). The huge impact of digital sequences and invented images stirs a growing mistrust against the traditional. It falls upon the digital in these movies firstly to turn against the analogue and secondly to shake the basic belief in images. 

Music-videos recycle society’s pictorial memory, which contains all kinds of pictorial products, ranging from the altar-piece to the press photo. Due to the natural limitation of history’s picture and information storage, the magical circularity of technical pictures can get entangled in an eternal circle (Flusser 1990: 50). Because of the high demand for pictures the entire world is available as image data-bank. Independent from a content everything in pictorial form is used and can be used. Rhythm and cut merge even the incompatible into a new metamorphosis. Characterizing for this are split screens, simultaneity and a fragmentary narrative (Weibel 1986: 38). Features which can also be found in contemporary films. However, even if they are partly derived from film, in music-videos they gain a different quality and are not unavoidable system-immanent means. In movies these features form the basis for a particular way of dealing with images. The roots of this attitude may be traced back to Hitchcock, Godard, Greenaway and last not least Lynch. Currently, though, they become particularly apparent and actual movies are not even thinkable without them, as the continuos variation of “Romeo and Juliet” (by Baz Luhrmann, USA 1996 and Andrzej Bartkowiak “Romeo Must Die”, USA 2000) shows on the one side and “Lost Highway” by David Lynch (USA 1996) shows on the other side.

Film as well as video are primarily pictorial media. Video interpretation concentrated up to this point on the interplay of music and image, on synaesthesia, whereby the image was subordinated to sound. However, in analogy to the technique of film-analysis as picture analysis we enter a new field, explicitly dividing the two levels of image and text. In film analysis the presented method concentrates on the film image, however, without ignoring the filmtext as context. Video as well as film produce an iconic surplus, which needs to be traced out with an adequate method. Two approaches, already expressed in the title of this work, have to be differentiated: On the hand images are “expression-carriers” with particular contents. This perspective is indicated by the rubric “picture sciences”. On the other hand images carry also certain attitudes, as implied by the term style-analysis. But this means not to ignore that both levels are continuously overlapping each other and cannot be clearly separated. However, the indicated “Entmischung” separation / de-mixing / un-mixing of two eventually connected elements should be understood as a methodological tool.

Music-video, short movie or another medium?

In the case of film, the scenes so rich of images can only hardly be elucidated. In the case of short music-clips the problem of interpretation is a different one. There is no opportunity to introduce the subject, that will determine the plot for quite a duration of time. Although this does not mean, that there is no central theme in music-clips. The clip can be seen as a compression of contents, therefore it is forced to present striking images or to force their circulation pace respectively.

Directors of music-clips are honored with art awards: In 1999 Chris Cunningham was awarded the Golden Nica for the Aphex Twin video “Come to Diddy” at Ars Electronica. Many directors are also engaged in movie films, like spike Jonze. The director of “Being John Malkovich” (2000) has previously produced clips for The Beasty Boys (Sabotage). Since 1999 the best German music-video is awarded the MuVi at the annual presentation of short movies in Oberhausen. Clips can be regarded as a highly important aesthetic phenomenon, which are since the 1980s also increasingly presented in art exhibitions.

The directory of the short movie festival in Oberhausen, understands the music-video as a medium which goes beyond the pure illustration of a product, it develops instead visual autonomy (Festivalprogramm 2000: 9). Music-videos, however, as specific media for young and post-adolescent viewers, are still regarded as a negative sign of the accelerated circulation pace of images in the new digital worlds. The catchword “three-minute-culture” expresses an undifferentiated disapproval to be found particularly in pedagogic literature (see Glogauer 1995: 157, 164). In fact, music-videos form a part of the possible training fields for the experience of future velocity and the new worlds of perception within the commercial laboratory. Thus they provide a preparation towards the requirements in the new electronic world. Clips contribute to the international expansion of youthcultural styles, they lead to national variants as well as to a homogenizing of scenes. Since the 1950s the film is the first global medium publishing youthculture’s style messages - until the start of the first pure music-channel MTV in 1981. Meanwhile the number of music-channels on television has grown. In Germany four programs are targeted at different age and style groups: MTV, VH1, VIVA, VIVA plus.

Music-videos are primarily commercials for artists and records, but they also transport the representation of a style. In the beginning the video-clip denies its artificial character (Body/ Weibel  1987: 249) and appears as a medial extension of the live performance in concert halls. The medial music-images offer new creative opportunities, however, as they are produced within an economically defined context, the percentage of innovative images remains - similar to film and video art - fairly small.

An interdisciplinary methodology for an analysis of the scene-topology (Richard 2000) as whole, including the medial representation of youthcultures, forms the framework of an image-focused analysis of video-clips. An aesthetic field study (Richard 2000) contains the collection and examination of all of a scene’s cultural products, including flyers, magazines and video-clips. In addition to Spradley’s social situations (Spradley 1980: 78, quoted in Flick 1995: 160) the music-video displays an aesthetic situation, integrating actions (dance), objects (dress) and interdependencies with real spaces. The following part of this article will develop a contextual method of analysis, concentrating on visual elements. Dick Hebdige’s interpretation of a style’s “secret signs of grace” in medial representation will be of importance for drawing conclusions regarding social and political conditions - even though Hebdige’s analysis chiefly neglects the cultural-industrial background of youthcultural production. The basis of the following analysis is formed by a general appreciation of Willis’ “grounded aesthetics and profane culture” (Willis 1991) as well as by the concept of “visual culture” (Mirzoeff 1999) extended by semiotic components and specifically the “pictorial turn” approach (Mitchell 1994). With respect to the analysis of art, the work-immanent analysis of color, form and material of an object concentrates on the vivid character of aesthetic appearances, completed by the consideration of the respective media-structural components (see the approaches by Kittler 1990, Baudrilliard 1987, Body/Weibel 1987). In its entire process of cultural and medial reproduction and the production of cultural capital and symbolic surplus value, the emerging visual universe can be understood in the sense of a critical style-theory (Richard 2000). I will now turn to the analysis of music-videos from the hiphop-scene, an innovative contemporary youthculture whose character as a classical street-corner society is reflected in the medium.

Hiphop Videos: Represent! Represent!

Hiphop is not a classical working class subculture, but a cultural expression of a socially margined youth living in the urban spaces of metropolitan centers. The inner differentiation of hiphop is expressed through visual means. Setting and creative means are varying with respect to g (gangsta-) funk or p (party-) funk. Up to the middle of the 1990s videos only rarely integrate techniques like electronic distortions, detailed sections or hard and quick cuts. Sampling and scratching techniques are yet not transferred to the visual level. Experimental videos accompany an involved rhyme style (Leaders of the New School: Busta Rhymes, Pharcyde, Ol’ Dirty Bastard). Flashbacks are exclusively used for scenes actually referring to the past, like film-documentaries showing Martin Luther King, Malcolm X or sequences from the history of black discrimination with references to slavery or beating policemen. The clips follow a narrative structure and are presented in real time. They have a documentary tendency and appear like live-reports on the neighborhood. The pictures form a pendent to what Ice T calls “reality rap” (McLaren 1995: 38). The reduction to black and white pictures produces an authentic touch of the videos and indicates the hard reality on the street. Masking people’s faces with black bars and blurred image details are particularly visible in gangsta rap videos. As a “veiling” of violence and guns these techniques are used to dodge censorship, even if the scenes make no secret of what is really going on. To express the respect of the gangster also formally, many videos are recorded in a low camera perspective.

Hiphop videos have recently become more differentiated with an increased use of digital techniques. Good examples are the videos by Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes, which represent quite eccentric characters. A typical stylistic means is here also the distortion through a fisheye, a 180 degree wide angle lens.

The work-immanent analysis of hiphop images will now be demonstrated on a concrete example : Busta Rhymes’ video “Get out”, produced in 2000, is a mixture of typical hiphop video plots. But the video diverges from the common schemes especially in its critical message against the image world of gangsta rap. It also differs from Busta Rhymes earlier videos, which centered exclusively on his character as “mad nigga”. The aesthetics of “posers” (the term goes back to Isabell Brombach) and posh luxury in the video’s beginning is right from the start disturbed by the presence of a small child romping disrespectfully in the white enameled interior of a fake castle. Authenticity is constructed by the gold record visible on the wall in the background, belonging to the rapper. After teasing the child, the singer Busta Rhymes steps out of the door of the white castle and walks down the steps. The camera remains in the perspective at the landing. He is dressed in white clothes, wears a white unfastened denim jacket, showing off his naked skin, and sunglasses. He climbs into a white Ferrari. The color white plays the decisive role in his world of luxury. Standing for cleanness it forms a distinction against other typical representations of gangsta rap. It presents “someone who made it” and who now supports non-privileged kids. The camera still remains in a respectful distanced perspective, circulating now around the sports car. In the height of the car the camera accompanies the artist in the following driving sequence. With the focus on the car window it records the rapping Busta Rhymes who underlines his words by gesticulating with his tattooed, muscular arms. The limousine ride ties the whiteness of the world of luxury to the green of the normal neighborhood, which is represented through a fenced basketball field on which Rhymes appears amidst playing children, now dressed in anarchy-shirt and bandannas. The change of clothes demonstrates his solidarity with the community. The camera perspective changes to the children’s eye-level. Rhymes stoops to adopt the position of the kids. His rap is about prostitution and gambling in the hood, encouraging the kids to fight against these conditions. Signs of gangsterism are represented in a quite neutral and subtle way, for example by gambling men hanging out at the corner and ice-licking “chicks” standing for prostitution. The kids accompany Busta Rhymes and form into his posse. The camera adopts again the children’s perspective and records them how they start to appropriate objects from the adult world, like a monitoring van. The van’s content is introduced in a close-up: the door is opened and the zoom focuses a pair of hand-cuffs. The children start to dress up with sun-glasses, moustache and riot sticks. The following close-up from the cab of the van shows one of the child’s riot sticks in action expelling the gamblers. In a parallel sequence showing Busta Rhymes, the riot stick now corresponds to the pointed forefinger. The kids masqueraded as adults are then shown in suits with FBI cards removing criminals from the neighborhood. In a scene showing a raid of a club and a street-corner, the kids collar the gangsters and kick out all the prostitutes, drug-dealers and pimps. In the right side of the picture is a police car shown in front of the club, the zoom records gesticulating policemen. Then the car of the NYPD, indicating the setting of the video, drives out of the picture, implicating the police’s passivity and corruptness. The signs of unwelcome wealth in the neighborhood are displayed in the club scene showing status symbols like mobile phones, gold chains, women’s expensive designer clothes, bandannas and reversed baseball caps. These objects, in other videos rather positively connoted, are turned into negative signs which lead to the banishment from the scene. The neighborhood supports this operation and intermediary scenes show the entire hood backing up Busta Rhymes.

The video follows a narrative structure, only few passages show an experimental character: Busta Rhymes appears between the scenes in the gangster club in blue-violet lighting and the own stylish, light-blue dance club, accompanied by dancers dressed in orange. He is additionally shown in a gait illumined by black light, which plunges him in a blue tone nearly past recognition. The lighting separates the world of gangsters from the correct world of luxury, which in contrast offers space for kids and enables them to get rid of the surrounding dangers. Busta Rhymes is the linking figure between these worlds, nearly always shown in front-view. He is constantly approaching the camera, either by walking towards it or by gesticulating extensively with his arms. Vertical movements within the pictorial frame are reserved for the gangsters and their banishment out of the picture. The images in this video are quite traditional with a nearly chronological plot. Sequences from parallel plots structure the video without interrupting its linearity. The tempo in which the images are shown is rather low. The video has the character of a short movie, visible also in the reduction to a 16:9 format with white beams. However, the single images and the narration, detached from the usual context of the representation scheme in hiphop, appear rather insignificant. For this reason, the work-immanent analysis must be completed by the consideration of the social background.

Representational schemes and a-priori of interpretation

The content analysis of a hiphop video is determined by certain preconditions: the own fixed perspective as a white critic results into the problem of a different reception of the video. Certain postures and expressions are based on rhetoric strategies like the “signifying monkey”, a generic term for the interplay of rhetoric figures like distortion of words, repetitions and subversions. “Playin’ the dozen” is a rhetoric form alongside rapping, loud-talking, testifying, marking, sounding. The entire universe of discourse must be taken into consideration to understand the meaning of certain expressions. Hiphop is not simply a revival of African-American tradition (music, oral tradition) but a representation of a second level of medial narrative art (Rose quoted in McLaren 1995: 9). Topics in hiphop are the appropriation of citations from the image world of media like tv-shows, sport stars, video games and designer articles (Shusterman 1994: 169).

On the pictorial level four basic patterns can be distinguished regarding the contents and stereotypes of hiphop videos: 1. Gangsterism: hanging out with the homies, the homeboys of the (neighbor)hood. The scenes show boredom, assaults, gangbanging, shooting, fighting, drug dealing, gambling and collective posing with the gang. The scenes are aggressive, showing clenched fists, veiled gangster faces, guns and fighting dogs. Fire and destruction “illuminate” the dark and ruined spaces which form the background of the gangsters. Their representation is further subdivided into stereotypes of fighter, kid and macho (Brombach 2000).

2. Luxury and consumerism: The status of a successful gangsta is displayed in symbols like a luxurious villa, swimming pool and cars preferably of European brands like Mercedes, BMW and Ferrari or American jumpcars and lowriding models. Further popular status symbols are mobile phones, whirlpools, luxurious bath tubs and chic interiors, gambling, expensive cigars, gold and diamonds as well as bubbling champagne bottles as a sign for uncountable and excessive orgasms (see the videos by LLCoolJ, Dr. Der, Parody by Aphex Twin Windowlicker). Last not least the scenes are completed by uncountable, sexually willing and only barely dressed women. Party-scenes, which are often situated in public space, can be divided in parties with the homies on the streets of the own neighborhood, at the pool or live concert - often without the (own) women - or parties with the entire family, like barbecues in public areas (for example Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince: Summertime).

3. The dark side of gangsterism: Death, funerals, prisons, police, homeless kids and widows (Ice Cube, Nonchalant: Five o’clock in the morning) show the results of discrimination and unequal opportunity caused by white authority. However, clips warning against the madness of killing one another among the black male youth are actually rare. The warning words are in most cases expressed by the female rappers who no longer want to suffer in the tragic role of the mourning woman.

4. The jumping and crazy gesticulating “mad nigga” who lives in an imaginary, silver-futuristic fairy or comic universe, different from the luxurious world. One of the prime figures is Flavor Flav of Public Enemy. Also a member of the Wu-tang clan, RZA, represents himself as a cartoon figure, named Bobby Digital. The scenes in imaginary spaces as well as the costumes of the mad characters are often presented in primary colors.

The categories one to three reflect - often slightly distorted - situations from the live of African-Americans, the “afro-diasporic culture” (Rose) at the margins of a post-industrial urban America. Many hiphop videos attempt to render the black’s discrimination in American society visible or to abolish it at least on an imaginary level.

To a white audience the scenes which present extreme situations like gang-banging and exceptions from the daily routine like parties, appear as rather uncommon living conditions. The visualized situations follow a principle of “living on edge”: An existence between danger and pleasure - actually quite familiar to the male, black, lower class youth. For this part of the youth, which is usually ignored or reduced to silence in the U.S., rap is an instrument to construct the male black body as a location of pleasure and power. The young black man presents himself as dangerous and desirable (Hooks 1992: 35). A permanent feeling of inferiority to the white population entails black men to emphasize their specifically male characteristics: demonstrative sexuality, bodily virility and aggressive behavior (Wallace 1993: 57). Negative connotations like laziness and violence are turned into positive attributes of power and serve to resist white domination (McLaren 1995: 17). The videos show an excessive consumption of luxury goods. Expensive cars, clothing and high-tech equipment are status symbols for the ones who made it. In fashion, hiphop begins not incidentally with the overt citation of the elitist signs of haute couture, a world full of striking logos (see the emblems of Gucci or Chanel). Through strategies like blow up technique, the signs of unreachable wealth and power are carried to extremes. Black hiphop culture appropriates something which they are not entitled to - in the eyes of the white middle class. The citation of dream images and their transformation via strategies of hyper consumption testify that the dreams are in fact unrealizable in the social reality of black communities. According to Tricia Rose the excessive emphasis on expensive commodities in hiphop is a means to draw attention to class distinctions, social hierarchies and the conquering of new cultural territory. The representation of consumer power turns into an instrument of cultural expression, manageable also by the means of fakes and illegal practices. But a successful gangster is not only marked by allurement but also by the effects of gang-banging and criminality, ending in the fatal vicious circle of prison and death (Shusterman 1994: 171). The successful rapper - as somebody who could escape the ghetto, but who still decorates himself with the respective attributes (like Ice T, Ice Cube) - presents another figure for identification. Alongside his sexual attractiveness, personality and commercial success, his self-praise centers on his rhyme artistry (Shusterman 1994: 159). Urban metropolitan spaces form the setting for this: These are the ruined streets of the New York Bronx and Brooklyn in the videos of East Coast gangsta rapper (Onyx, Black Sheep, House of Pain). Whereas clean and sunny hoods with nice houses in suburbs like Compton in Los Angeles - not less dangerous, though - are the typical West Coast images in the videos of Ice T and Snoop Doggy Dog. The setting of those daily life scenes is precisely recorded, often indicated by street-signs visible in the videos. Abstract regionalism referring to East and West Coast and concrete regionalism (as in the title “Straight outta Compton” by NWA, Niggers with Attitude) form several levels of local color. The globality of the style is indicated by graffiti paintings. However, the videos are limited to images of the black communities. White people are only shown as neutral figures in party crowds or as representatives of white power, for example in the role of the either violent or stupid cop. Many of these videos present a documentary of an extreme discrimination of women. Along with cars and other luxurious items women are presented as a part of men’s property. These functionalized women exhibit their bodies in a very proud way. This is, according to  bell hooks, because they passed an education which mediated to them that they have no access to intellectual alternatives or other roles than the one of the serving body (hooks 1993: 43). Searching for the reasons of the limited number of black female intellectuals hooks states that African-American culture offers literally only two stereotypes of women: the whore or bitch and the feeding, caring mammy (see also Decker 1994: 110). To black women hiphop videos mediate that they have to fit in the role intended for them by the followers of the conservative Nation of Islam under Louis Farrakhan as well as by the original myth of the fertile mother Isis: and this is housewife and mother (Decker 1994: 107). The strong sexist tendency of hiphop is criticized by numerous black cultural critics. Greg Tate regards black male posturing as a culturally necessary basis for black practices like basketball, jazz or hiphop and understands them as style attitudes (Tate 1993: 226). He criticizes the phallocentric direction of male nationalism for averting from the real problems like daily discrimination (see Julien 1993: 218). To all critics the roots of black men’s sexism are white racism. The self-hatred of black people leads to black men’s hatred against black women (Wallace 1993: 57, hooks 1993: 43). And this can be understood as an extension of the functioning of white stereotypes. A critique of the thesis of inferiority and self-hatred is put forward by Stanley Crouch (Crouch 1993: 152) who claims that black American’s self-hatred is an ethnic variant of a discontent with contemporary beauty standards. Actually, a similar dissatisfaction can be observed among white people, too, whose wish of bodily change turns them into regular clients of beauty surgeons.  

With the exception of Queen Latifa hiphop assigns women a marginal role without any stylistic creativity. Producer Missy Elliot, with her real and medially impressive body volume, breaks with the principle of a massive, male bodily presence. While women stigmatized as “bitches” are only barely dressed, men demonstrate screen-filling volume with an ample body and voluminous clothing (Big Punisher, Notorious B.I.G.). In street reality the pendant to this is created by the enlargement of the male body silhouette into a threatening gesture (the principle of dread, see Hebdige 1987). Here the popular oversize-principle and the shrill colors of the clothes serve the deterrence of possible enemies. The street as concrete social space is occupied by graffiti as a sign of presence as well as by the cultivation of a certain shuffling and space-taking way of walking. In the videos this is reinforced by the rappers extensive gestures, emphasized again by the fisheye and a low camera perspective which enlarge the body. The body moves back and forth frontally to the camera, often culminating in extreme close-ups. They are less produced by camera movement or zoom than by the real movement of the figures. The representational images in the clips together with the street setting arouse the impression of a direct “documentary” transfer from material into virtual reality, thus producing a permanent reciprocal action between the two surfaces. However, certain stylistic features are less easily transferable, for example the crinkles in baggy pants. The medial aesthetic of hiphop can present voluminous, pseudo-three-dimensional, but non the less only smooth surfaces.           

A work-immanent analysis of hiphop is despite of all a priori so ambivalent and difficult, because violent and sexist image-clichés are dominating. It is the question if the mentioned sexist and often racist words of the rappers so openly directed against women, gay and Jewish people, are repeated because of commercial reasons or because they refer to particular tendencies in the scene itself. The black business, record labels like Def Jam, black producers like Dr. Der or rappers like LLCoolJ market gangsta attitudes offensively because they sell so well (Rose 1994: 124). On the basis of a work-immanent analysis, despite the awareness of a white recipient’s interpretation, this ascertainment cannot be pushed aside. The interpretation of the images in the context of different recipients renders a prohibition of criticism for reasons of political correctness obsolete. Its stereotypy can be explained from the commercial production context.       

Musicvideos in the perspective of a new picture science

The preceding interpretation should make plain, that in a precise picture analysis, the relation to the social context of a represented scene can be reconstructed even in the most trivial video. A further task following the presented interpretation, would be to examine the functioning of the pictorial realization of rhetoric strategies: for example if the refined linguistic strategies now fall a victim to simple pictorial stereotypes, or if the word plays in raps show similar mechanisms?

Entering more intensely than before into the meaning of the pictorial would bring up further levels of content to the analysis of video as well as film. 

Such an examination proceeds from the idea  that pictures first of all fulfill a specific function, which lies within the filmtext or story, respectively the video’s narrative level. However, after that the quality of the pictures must be taken into consideration, leading to new problems, which can only briefly referred to here: A film image is not a painting, although in its disposition it must be understood as such and needs to be compared with traditional (pictorial) media. This creates again a new kind of problem, which cannot be mastered in the analysis as there are far to many single pictures in a video and even more so in film. But despite of that also a scene, an angle or a sequence of a video can be compared to traditional pictures. Thereby the film image should be taken as serious as any other pictorial medium: it has a structure, a composition, figures are arranged more or less dominantly, spaces are created via objects, figures, light, etc. and of course the movement and angle of the camera as the point of view has to be considered, too.

The exemplary analysis of video images has shown how significant the function of images is within this media. Neither film nor video are a sum of their single images, they contain an optical surplus, their openness allows the access via different levels of reception. The creators of these images produce a structure, they pre-arrange a  culture’s pictorial archive. A particular “pictorial event” happens, when it comes to an explosion of images in the viewer’s  mind (see the term “punctum” used by Barthes in the context of photography). This allows a new perception, a new seeing. The work-immanent approach towards pictures enables a conscious process of “inner” seeing, it promises certainty and understanding. Thus we do not talk about images while overlooking them, but instead we follow all the new pictorial universes opening from the images seen.          

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Lynch/Fischer = Lynch/Fischer, Robert: David Lynch.
Die dunkle Seite der Seele, München 1997 (1992)
Kerscher 1998 = Bild - Icon - Eyecatcher. Zur Bildstrategie im Internet in: netz.kunst, edited by Institut für moderne Kunst, Nürnberg (=Jahrbuch 98/99), Conzeption: Verena Kuni, Nürnberg 1998, 110-117, see also the revised version:
Kerscher 1999 = Gottfried Kerscher,"Wenn man darüber reden kann, hat es nichts mit Kino zu tun" (David Lynch) - Hitchcocks Doppelgängermotiv und Pathosformeln in den Filmen von David Lynch, in: Kritische Berichte 27, 1999 (No. 1), p. 4-16.
Lynch/Rodley = David Lynch. Lynch über Lynch, edited by Chris Rodley, Frankfurt 1998
Meder = Meder, Thomas: Auch der Zuschauer ist Produzent. Prolegomena zu einer historischen Bildwissenschaft des Films (forthcoming);
Note: I am thanking Thomas Meder for the term “pictorial surplus”.
Mitchell = Mitchell, W.J.T., Picture Theory, Chicago 1994
Neumann = "Filmarchitektur: von Metropolis bis Blade Runner", edited by Dietrich Neumann, München 1996
(Exhibition: Deutsches Architekturmuseum und Deutsches Filmmuseum Frankfurt, Main 1996).