September 16, 1894 [Annabelle Serpentine Dances]

Annabelle is the first tinted Kinetoscope I've seen, the colors painted on in lazy waves, the colorist keeping pace with the dancer as she spins unhurriedly, the long gauze of her garment streaming behind, marking her passage.

Annabelle seemed at times a little child, especially when she smiled or circled on her tiptoes—not a ballerina by any stretch of the imagination, but charming me as my own little girls would, showing me some new dance they had invented. But she also moved me with certain flourishes, as she made her trailing veils circle like billows or rise like fairies' wings behind her. Again, the color tinting, delicate and almost smudged in the effort to convey her motions, brought her closer to me—a transporting thirty seconds, a glimpse into something as close to beauty as this contraption has given me so far.

I am reminded of Muybridge's nudes, attractive for their own sake—but not beautiful, not more than themselves. No accomplished artists, Annabelle and those who photographed her nonetheless provide a glimpse into the possibility of something that is more than visual, more than dramatic. Perhaps I can for now simply call it an “experience of persistent impressions.” An awkward phrase, but I’ll hold onto it as long as I can.


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