Free Association

The cinematic soundscape retroactively justified the massive accumulation of audiovisual images made possible by the industrialization of mechanical image-making. Prior to the automation of interpretation of a given flow of time through causal narrative setups (trains of thought), this imaginative exuberance could’ve been deemed mere chaotic nonsense. Decades later, ad breaks and channel surfing, both aesthetic innovations from the era of electronic images, shined a new light on this practice by seemingly restoring the anarchic juxtaposition of images and, thus, suggesting that non-sequiturs had a function within apparent causality. Precisely in an attempt to skip ads, the remote control granted the spectator the power to cut away from one show to another and, inadvertently, that of a limited kind of free association. The power of decoupage and juxtaposition, optimistically regarded as revolutionary by early 20th century artists, became a commoditized user experience. As the liveliness infused into imagery was no longer powered by a fantastic narrative, movement in images wasn’t only an optical illusion anymore, but the absorption of actual bodily motions. Instead of undermining fluidity and meaning, narrative interruption expanded the scope of the agency of moving images way beyond the diegesis.