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Film Still #1 The Speed of Violence by Isabel Rocamora, 2011.

"In pulse with late nineteenth-century modernity, Edward Muybridge's motion photography deconstructed the body's movement through space. Through film

media – the animated photography envisioned by Muybridge – Rocamora analyzes the psyche's movement toward cultural identity. The trail of 'stuff' we gather

in that process both binds us and sets us free."

Jill Glessing, Afterimage, NY

"The beautiful is just the first degree of the terrible"

Rainer Maria Rilke

How is form affected by the impulse and velocity in the gesture of aggression?

Looking at combat frame by frame, The Speed of Violence exposes the deformations – at once beautiful and horrifying – that occur on the subject as it is captured on celluloid over time, inviting reflection on our inherent attraction to, and terror of, human violence.


The Speed of Violence takes the visceral fight that opens Body of War, and breaks it down to reveal each still frame long enough for us to lose the illusion of continuous temporality through motion. In this way, the film further dissects the impulse, action and aftermath of the act of killing. The shifts in and out of form produce a sense of defamiliarisation that results in the figuration of monstrosity. The images preserve the grain of the S16mm negative. This enhances the pictorial qualities of the brushing movements across the screen, while reminding us – together with the fragments of black inserted where the edit points would be in the referent film – of the image-making apparatus. Refused the comfort of immersion, we are compelled to remain awake to the realities of war.

Film Still #2 The Speed of Violence by Isabel Rocamora, 2011.
Film Still #3 The Speed of Violence by Isabel Rocamora, 2011.
Film Still #4 The Speed of Violence by Isabel Rocamora, 2011.

Film stills of The Speed of Violence

This film is part of The Intimacy of Violence exhibition, a solo show that examines the nature of military training in a series of interrelated moving and still image works, at the core of which is Body of War.

The Speed of Violence and Fear Defence Disappearance elaborate on Body of War's themes of fragility and repetition by quoting from the film to further interrogate the existential implications of conflict and its defence systems.

The Intimacy of Violence premiered as an expanded exhibition at Senda Gallery and Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona in 2011.

An artist essay on the making of Body of War and Faith is published in Cinematic Intermediality, Eds. Marion Schmid and Kim Knowles, Edinburgh University Press, 2021.

Written and directed by: Isabel Rocamora • Featuring: Nick Maison, Robert Gajewski • Cinematography: Nic Knowland BSC • Film editors: Nicolas Chaudeurge, Isabel Rocamora • Sound design: Chu-li Shewring, Paul Cowgill, Isabel Rocamora • Costume design: Matt Price, Susan Gurley • Camera operator: Tim Sidell-Rodríguez • Commissioned by: SED •  Funded by: Jerwood Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn, Arts Council England • Supported by: Amister Collection, Mairie of Néville Sur Mer • Exec. Producers for Body of War: Vicky Bloor, Isabel Rocamora • Produced by: Stella Nwimo, Stealth Films and Isabel Rocamora for the Isabel Rocamora Studio. Year of production: 2011.

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