Temporality has long been recognized as a defining trait of narrative. This article introduces new concepts, methods, and arguments to analyze the relationships between represented and representational timelines for a transmedia narratology with a strong focus on emotions, rethinking such fundamental concepts as complication, resolution, and illustration. Since Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1766) distinguished the temporal arts like poetry, where signs are consecutive, from the spatial arts like painting, where signs are juxtaposed, the latter have been considered to be limited when it comes to conveying stories autonomously. Opposing this point of view, this article explains how monochronic pictures can convey timelines by relying on the depiction of traces, as well as an appeal to anthropological and cultural knowledge. It then shows how some monochronic pictures intended as illustrations sometimes convey stories autonomously. The author argues based on a choice of photographs that inducing suspense or curiosity is possible even through a monochronic picture. The article also shows how single pictures induce experiences of duration or instantaneity, concluding that single monochronic pictures can convey essential story events in a predetermined order and reliably convey the timeline of these events. This implies that such single pictures can be narratives even according to narrow definitions of the concept.
“Telling in Time” Extended: Temporality in the “Spatial” Arts; How Single Pictures Convey Stories Suspensefully
Klaus Speidel is an art and image theorist, art critic, and curator. From 2015 to 2018, he headed the FWF Lise-Meitner Postdoc grant project “Towards an Experimental Narratology of the Image” at the Lab for Cognitive Research in Art History at Vienna University. He teaches at universities and art schools in Paris and Vienna. Publications can be accessed at klaus-speidel.de.
Klaus Speidel; “Telling in Time” Extended: Temporality in the “Spatial” Arts; How Single Pictures Convey Stories Suspensefully. Poetics Today 1 December 2020; 41 (4): 669–704. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-8720127
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