The Gulliver effect: screen size, scale and frame, from cinema to mobile phones

Posted on July 8, 2022

Beugnet Martine

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Parution : 08/07/2022

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The encounter between the cinema image, originally created to be seen on a large screen, and the mobile phone used as screening device, stands as one of the most striking instances of what Erkki Huhtamo calls the ‘Gulliverisation’ of our contemporary environments: “a two-directional optical-cultural ‘mechanism’” that works “against the idea of a common anthropomorphic scale”. In what follows, I focus on the aesthetic impact of the coexistence of images coming from extremes of the representational scale, from the cinema to the monumental projections that typify the contemporary trend in spectacular displays in museums and public spaces, to the tiny screens of our mobile phones. With reference to practices of collecting, archiving and possessive viewing, as well as to the relationship between off- and on-screen space, I suggest that strategies of making strange help us historicize, as well as appreciate the aesthetic complexity such shifts in scale produce.