The Single-Frame Movie: Jason Shulman

John Bailey, American Cinematographer, July 17, 2017

At 86, Jean-Luc Godard is the “last man standing” of the much vaunted auteurist generation of French movie directors. (Of course, this “man” epithet excludes the wondrous Agnes Varda, who continues to surprise us at 89.) The French “politique des auteurs” argument was that the film director is the de facto “author” of his movie, a questionable thesis to anyone who has been on any movie crew, and a laugh-out-loud absurdity in the American film industry.


So, it is interesting that an artist can aspire to capture the entire visual content of a feature-length film in a single photographic exposure — auteurism reduced to and frozen in a single frame. This is the technique behind the recent work of British sculptor and visual avant-garde artist Jason Shulman, who has reduced the running time of many iconic motion pictures to, well, an abstract photograph. The resultant images evoke the sensual dynamics of 20th century color field painters, or even the 19th century crepuscular marine landscapes of J.W. Turner: