Thierry Kuntzel

Thierry Kuntzel (1948–2007) was a French film theorist and video artist. He studied philosophy, linguistics and semiotics with Roland Barthes and Christian Metz at l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, completing a doctorate there. Before turning completely to his artistic video practice, Kuntzel wrote significant theoretical texts on film. These works propose applications of psychoanalytical and semiological constructs, elaborating for example on the imaginary and the unconscious in regards to cinema, to explore the relation of the filmic and psychical apparatuses. Kuntzel also taught film semiotics and textual analysis of cinema at various institutions. Starting from the late 1970s, his focus shifted in favour of the production of video art, producing a significant part of these works, such as Nostos I (1979), Time Smoking a Picture (1980) and Le peintre cubiste (1981) in a relatively short period of time, after which another shift to primarily installation art took place. His work was the subject of a series of retrospectives and exhibitions, most notably at the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), The Museum of Modern Art (New York) and the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam). 

Thierry Kuntzel, 1972

Th[e] introductory intertitle, […] allows us to read in Sunrise (1927), far more than its inconsistent “philosophical” pretext, its major signifying articulations – namely, an in order of appearance: dramatis personae, but not characters in the traditional sense (the absence of names reduces the introduction of individuals to pure roles, networks of functions and attributes); time, but not history (the narrative refuses any relation to a real chronology, any temporality beyond the segmentation on which it is founded: the times of day); places, but not geography (purely fictive locations, referring to no extra-filmic reality); and finally the film’s tones, the curious “mix of genres” it produces.