In English

The Imagination of Touch: Surrealist Tactility in the Films of Jan Švankmajer


Kristoffer Noheden


This article is a theoretical examination of tactility in the Czech surrealist filmmaker Jan Švankmajer’s film Down to the Cellar (1983). Švankmajer’s deployment of tactile images in a surrealist context shows the need for a discussion of the imagination’s role in the embodied film experience. Departing from Laura Marks’s The Skin of the Film, this article seeks to explore the surrealist embodied imagination through surrealist poetics of analogy, as defined by Andre´ Breton, and the link between these and Walter Benjamin’s writings on mimesis. Finally, the film is viewed from the perspective of Gaston Bachelard’s ideas of ‘‘the imagination of matter,’’ where matter is seen as a highly potent stimulant for the imagination. Bachelard’s notion of the imagination’s multisensory properties further lends credence to Švankmajer’s aims to liberate the imagination of the spectator through images that invoke touch.

Visa mer


  • Typ:
    Artikel i tidskrift (refereegranskat)
  • Tidskrift:
    Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, Vol 5, Nr 1.
  • Sidor:
  • Publicerad:
  • Språk:
  • DOI:

Om författaren

Kristoffer Noheden

Kristoffer Noheden är forskare i filmvetenskap. Han disputerade på en avhandling om surrealistisk film i efterkrigstiden vid Stockholms universitet 2015, och har en fil mag i filmvetenskap och en fil kand i kulturvetenskap från Göteborgs universit... Läs vidare


Noheden, K. (2013). The Imagination of Touch: Surrealist Tactility in the Films of Jan Švankmajer. Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, 5(1), pp. 1-14. Available at: [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017]. doi: 10.3402/jac.v5i0.21111.