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The Language of Loops

by Erik Loyer

When we combine the aesthetics of partial motion with the visual language of comics, some new rules start to emerge. If we’re still relying on spatialized panels to map the progression of time, then time within any one panel can only be allowed to progress so far. And when we talk about constraining time in an aesthetically pleasing way, we are naturally led to the concept of the loop. Loops, of course are extremely musical. Near the end of the book The Language of New Media, in a section entitled “The New Temporality: The Loop as a Narrative Engine,” Lev Manovich draws a parallel between early cinema’s reliance on loops (evoked here by this loop created from photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge) and the same phenomenon as it appeared in early consumer digital video and Internet pornography. Manovich suggests that early stage media technologies tend to rely on loops because they are easier to process, and certainly we’ve seen this pattern repeat itself in the mobile media with the advent of the looped video clips called Vines.

Animation created from photos by Eadweard Muybridge

An animation created from Eadweard Muybridge's photo sequence of a race horse galloping. Original photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge, created between 1878-1887 and first published in 1887 at Philadelphia.

from Unknown (1900)
Creator: Eadweard Muybridge
Distributor: Public Domain
Posted by Erik Loyer
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