This is an ongoing study of Cinemagraphs, where I shall mull over what they are and what they do. I'll also make some examples along the way while I think about it.
I respond differently to moving images than to stillss and while I'm guessing most other people do as well, I’m not sure we know why. I’m keen to learn what different regions of our brains are fired by video opposed to still images. I’m also sure that people have studied this, I just haven’t found it yet. Neurocinematics, the study of how the brain responds to film is a new field but one which will surely grow rapidly.
I've always felt that (broadly speaking) photographs, can either capture moments or create moments. While obviously all photographs are capturing a moment, sometimes they are tasked to purely catch, as in the work of Takuma Nakahira (below left) compared to the work of Gregory Crewdson (below right) when there is considerable set up and a different kind of art direction is involved.
To some extent film and video capture stories and photographs capture a moment of a story. I think that cinemagraphs are capturing moments, but I'm not sure if they're moments of stories as their narrative is a touch different that that of pure photography. A lot of cinemagraphs exist seemingly to describe a process. A smooth looping image almost there to tech the viewer what happens to an item or location. For example here is one I made in Turkey while working there in 2013.
In the cinemagraph to the left the water endlessly trickles down the apple, as if it's only purpose is to explain how this occurs.
There's a psychiatric condition I have read about (the name escapes me) where people become obsessed with staring out to sea. They eventually go mad. I see something of the same compulsion in cinemagraphs. Not that these little looping images will drive people crazy, but they are engrossing. From what I understand we (humans) strive to find patterns in everything to understand the world around us.
Having an experience, mentally recording it and then understanding how to deal with it upon the next encounter. So perhaps seeing a pattern repeat and knowing what will happen is satisfying. Like that moment when playing a platform computer game and memorizing the time it takes for on screen activities to occur and then planning your move.
But with this pattern recognition idea, one must be able to determine the beginning or end of a pattern. In the flame example below (I created) it's pretty hard to see when it ends and starts.
They are so mesmeric but everything must end, unravel, or die. These unending taunting loops of images you understand, but ones which never end. Humans love to end things. Tasks need goals, films end, years end, ideas come to fruition and lives end. Some other aspects of our world never end though, the natural forces; the planet spins, the wind blows, the sun rises and sets, and the tides go in and out, forever.
The water continues to hit the pool and the coffee will never fill up. These ideas are akin to a brothers Grimm tale or an Aesop fable. There is a hyperreality to cinemagraphs, where we know what we see is somehow real but at the same time it's defying physics.
I'll keep exploring this and making new cinemagraphs when the opportunity presents itself.