TABLE OF CONTENTS

PERSISTENCE OF VISION: THE FILMS OF PAOLO GIOLI

Paolo Gioli, L’operatore perforato (The Perforated Cameraman), 1979, 16 mm, black-and-white, silent, 8 minutes 53 seconds at 18 fps.

After the history of the rectangle in film, we’ll have

to write a history of the meaning of darkness in

the cinema.

Paolo Gioli

IN HIS DE ANIMA, Aristotle identifies the human being as a blinking animal—at once capable of vision but also, and more importantly, able to close his eyes, to choose not to see, and therefore able to reflect. “[Human eyes have a certain superiority] over those of hard-eyed animals,” the philosopher observed. “Man’s eyes have in the eyelids a kind of shelter or envelope, which must be shifted or drawn back in order that we may see, while hard-eyed animals have nothing of the kind, but at once see whatever presents itself in the transparent medium.” It is the eyelid—and the rhythms of its opening and closing—that enables the passage from perception (vision) to reflection (thought). If the outside world registers in our consciousness as

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