Letting the brush lead: Mark Cousins, film-maker of the floating world

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A hill of salt in the Belfast docklands shimmers like an iceberg at sea. A laminated photograph of Sergei Eisenstein drifts in front of a camera as it moves amongst the streets of Mexico City. A grey mist hovers across Stockholm, obscuring the city behind it. These three images are from a sequence of essay films directed by Mark Cousins. In this paper, I discuss the work of Cousins in terms of its floating aesthetics and mobile methodologies. Throughout his films, Cousins’s camera drifts through urban spaces, tracing the images and sounds of cityscapes that typically escape us. The films are attentive to the colours infused and refracted through their urban environments, prompting an understanding of cities as studies in fleeting colour, light and luminosity. I engage with Japanese aesthetic theories in order to draw out resonances between the historical art of urbanising Japan and the city scenes of Cousins’s films. This paper offers a reflection on the capacity of Cousins’s films to evoke an understanding of cities as lively, sensuous and evanescent harbours of a floating world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100770
Number of pages10
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Early online date16 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

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  • Mark Cousins
  • essay films
  • affect
  • embodiment
  • atmosphere
  • zuihitsu

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