Vol. 12 No. 2 (2019): Bodies and cultures. How we become ourselves

The technical object and somatic thought: Theories of gesture between anthropology, aesthetics and cinema

Barbara Grespi
Università degli studi di Bergamo
Published November 13, 2019
  • Gesture; Film theory; Body agency; Prosthetics; Mimetic
How to Cite
Grespi, B. (2019). The technical object and somatic thought. Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi dell’estetico, 12(2), 63-75. https://doi.org/10.13128/Aisthesis-10726


This essay explores the lines of thought focused on the relationship between gesture and technique, examining the theories which have conceptualized the transfer of gestural matrices into inert matter, and understood technique as a result of this process. Although associated mainly with the writings of the palaeontologist André Leroi-Gourhan, this thought actually predates his work, and consists of multiple branches: having first taken root at the end of the nineteenth century, it became diffused throughout the following decades in different forms. These nevertheless shared a constant reference to cinema, both as a privileged place that captures gestures, and as a technique that can absorb their quintessence. From Espinas to Simondon, via Jousse and Eisenstein, the theory of gestural transmission breaks down various polarities, such as body and environment, organic and inorganic, animated and inanimate, performativity and inner life. It foregrounds the imaginative logic of the body and the many forms of somatic thinking developed by man. Such forms lie at the heart of the creative processes and have found their highest appreciation in cinema, as a machine that, from its very origins, has been grafted not only on the eye but on the whole body.


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